Story, Value, and Becoming More Real
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Oxbridge 2011 Slide Show

September 30, 2011

Lancia E. Smith

The C.S. Lewis Foundation brought us another superlative event this summer which took place in Oxford and Cambridge. Extraordinary speakers from multiple disciplines presented plenary sessions each morning preceded by worship services, then afternoon workshops covering a range of subjects from poetry to creative writing to business management. Evenings led into beautiful meals, world-class music or drama presentations and culminated in happy fellowship at Bag End Cafe. An experience not to be forgotten!

If you would like to view slide show in full screen HD (best viewing) I suggest that you let turn down the volume and let the entire set load first, then play it as many times as you would like. You’ll bypass the streaming delays that way of the larger files and have a more fluid viewing experience.

This slide show is the product of much labour. It represents something much more important to me than simply a recap of an event I had the privilege to photograph this summer. Much of its significance is based on things that cannot be seen. It is the product of love, commitments and costs, sacrifices made – mine and many others – a vision and skill that infinitely exceed my own. It is an offering of worship to my High King of Old, the Ancient of Days and the One Who makes all things new. It is a craftsman’s effort to portray an event, certainly. But deeper still it is my effort to make visible what is often overlooked, or when encountered, not readily grasped: the invisible message being carried by the Spirit of the present and living God.

The underlying message in the midst of ordinary exchanges is something that always draws me. That single thread is what lead me to be a writer and it is why I photograph. Photography, in many respects, is an ephemeral and intangible craft. Pictures can indeed say more than a thousand words, but apart from words, most images in themselves are not fully anchored in meaning. Written words give context, depth, and grounding to what we see in an image. Images give something else, however, something that eludes a multitude of words. I would suggest that images, like poetry, give a visible form to spirit.  They speak to the places in us that apprehend truth in its varied nuances but where we have no mechanism to voice that recognition. Images are a part of the essential vocabulary spoken by God to His creation in the great mystery of communication. Moved by incomprehensible Love, to Love, and to communicate that Love, He creates. We are each products of His vision and that Holy, Mysterious, Immeasurable Love. We are His beloved jewels of infinite value to Him, though perhaps we do not know why.

When I photograph I seek with all that I am to portray the invisible undercurrent of meaning in the given moment, to reveal that profound beauty resident in human beings.  In between the lines of physical and observable reality the Spirit is moving always. Much like a movie soundtrack that gives life to an entirely different dimension in a film, the soundless message the Holy Spirit’s presence creates an underscoring soundtrack to each event of our lives as well. It is the message beneath the visible that I want to capture and share.

A number of people have asked me about the music I used for the background of the slide show. The music is from the album “Immortal Memory” by Lisa Gerrard (of the film Gladiator fame) and Patrick Cassidy. The song is titled Amergin’s Invocation.

The music to a slide show is particularly important because it sets the mood and underlying theme.  This piece came only after I had already made seven or eight attempts to complete slide show and launch it. Every time something went amiss, one technical difficulty after another.  Expressing my exasperation, I was graciously offered the help of the photographer whom I most respect and admire, Regina Mountjoy of Regina Mountjoy Photography. She has dazzled me for years with her rapturous images and her purely gorgeous slide shows. Her work represents the standard of photography that I aspire to and that is particularly true of her magnificent slide shows. You all will be hearing more about Regina in the near future when I launch my new “In the Spotlight” series of interviews with creative artists who are living out the calling and cost of being light-bearers through creative venues.

After all the stops and starts of putting this together, it was Regina who found the music. She said “It was manna from heaven.”  And the minute I heard it, I knew that was true.  Everything about it fits with what I felt the deep core of Oxbridge to be about. For all its gentleness and refinement, Oxbridge was, and still is, a call to reclaim something that was once ours.  A call to intellectual and spiritual arms, where our weapons are the tools of our crafts, whatever those may be for us – paintbrush, keyboard, camera, musical instrument….  Malcolm Guite said it quite succinctly at Bag End one night “Fifty years ago the devil took our stuff and we’re going to get it back!”   During one of the plenary sessions, Vishal Mangalwadi spoke the two words that explained the calling most clearly to me.  “Gideon Band.”  We are a small band of people, like Gideon’s band of 300, called to go out into our wide world and reclaim minds and souls for what is Good, True and Beautiful.  To reclaim what is ours for the sake of Christ – not in the vein of brutal conquering, but in the spirit of releasing and renewing spiritual and cultural liberty.

The images used in the slideshow are (c) Lancia E. Smith and the C.S. Lewis Foundation.

Many blessings to you, friends!


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  1. What a lovely post. The slideshow is full of amazing images. I am fascinated by everyone you have photographed and feel like I would love to share a cup of coffee with each of them and hear their stories. It seems like such an intimate, intelligent and wonderful group! And that music is so powerful!! Really profound concepts regarding photography and the Holy Spirit providing our life with a soundtrack. I love it! Thank you for such rich imagery and reflection.

  2. […] First of all, God has no shape or form – therefore no image of God can exist. However He can take any shape or form and often times we mistake that image of God with God, then we start fighting each other over who is right. Anyway… all is how it should be. Here you find some images you can use as representations of God that are in no way accurate. Additionally you can look at this related post: […]

  3. Jim Motter says:

    Beautiful, both the images and the sound track! I see many new friends, and am reminded just how much I miss being there. It is exceedingly difficult to convey to those who have not yet been blessed to attend Oxbridge just how extraordinary this event truly is. Your video, Lancia, will help immensely in this regard. Thank you for your superb work.

  4. Margot Krebs Neale says:

    How much love of people and place!

  5. Nan Salinas says:

    Oh, Lancia…what a treasure you are and what a gift God has given in and through you. All our lovely, life-changing memories live on through your discerning lens.

    Thank you, sister.



  6. Nan Rinella says:

    Oh, WOW, Lancia, God has blessed you with the most incredible talent. It’s a delight to see the finished product, even more so for me who was your roommate & gofer for the conference. I got to see your photos at the end of each day & now I see them assembled in all their splender. In a matter of a moment I am back there again reliving the adventure. Thank you. Nan

  7. Cole Matson says:

    Lancia, you are officially invited to photograph anything important I ever need photographed. God really has gifted you with the ability to make the Spirit visible – and to show people as the saints they will one day be. Blessings on your work, and thank you. – Cole

  8. Lancia E. Smith says:

    Cole, thank you for your kind words and interest. I am sincerely honoured by both.

    Many blessings to you and I hope we see each other again in the not-too-distant future!

  9. Lancia E. Smith says:

    Bless you, Cole. You are so gracious!!

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