The spirit of my friend Tim Connor is this great light. And behind the light is the polished mirror of his soul, focusing his beacon on the world. That beacon regularly illuminates heaven, right here in our midst. I have roamed with Tim what he calls the “good lonely” when he clicks the shutter of his camera and freeze frames wonder.
The good lonely for us is mostly the Columbia River plateau, the scablands gouged by the great floods at the end of the last ice age, but also the Palouse Prairie wheat world, emerald green in spring, fields of gold in summer, and the Green Monarch Mountains of North Idaho, looking down the forested barrel of the Purcell Trench where the hardest rock on earth finally yielded to collapsing ice dams, loosing the inland sea of ancient Lake Missoula, sculpting the land with roaring water hundreds of feet deep moving at freeway speeds.
We are two beat up old men, hard used by life in some ways, but more blessed beyond measure. And our wanderings salve our wounds, and celebrate a precious friendship now five decades along.
We laugh a lot out there. We’ve cried some, too, brotherhood-watering tears.
When Tim clicks his shutter I look where he is looking and try to see what he sees. But I can’t.
I see the beauty of the good lonely, drink in its surpassing peace, often to the song of meadowlarks, honking of geese, overhead trumpeting of swans and Sandhill Cranes. Once to the irritated rattle of a snake we almost stepped on—it sounded like a garden hoe grating over wood, Tim said; I couldn’t hear it, even though in the gathering dusk I saw it zip across the trail like a snatched rope inches from our toes. Fragrance of sage and mock orange out there, and wild herbs volitilizing their oils in the hot sun, filling my nostrils like the sacred flower scent of a beloved wife.
The heaven Tim sees through his lens eludes me until I see his developed images.
They fill me with such gratitude, joy and hope that my home is something of a Tim Connor photo gallery. I have his visual Psalms hanging in every room of my house, making my heart glad and my spirit rejoice.
OHHhhhh OAK-LA-HOMA, where the wind comes sweeping down the plains…
That was Tim suddenly bursting into song on one of our scabland hikes. He listened to the musical countless times with his mother, who had been stolen by Alzheimers, because it bathed her in happiness. Tim also bathed her frail body, did her toilet, slept on the couch beside her for the last three years of her life, one of the most saintly acts I ever heard of.
That’s the soul radiance I’m talking about.
Tim once made a recording of washing his mother’s hair. (The link will take you to “Bath Day” on Tim’s Chirbit page. Click on the play arrow in the upper right hand corner.)
“I’m just trying to get Mom to heaven,” he told me.
You know there is a heaven, and you know there is a God if you know someone like Tim. And you know God likes you if that someone is your friend.
If, in these tumultuous days, you sometimes find yourself needing a hyacinth for your soul, I commend Tim’s photography to you. And if you have friends or loved ones also in need of a little soul hyacinth, you can’t do better that gifting them with a Tim Connor photograph. You can find Tim’s photos here. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org to order.
If you gift others with one of his photos you might share this ode with them so they can feel the full love medicine of the images. Tell them Tim’s friend sent you.