The Good Shepherd film, Photoshop

The Good Shepherd

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

John‬ ‭10‬:‭11, 14-15‬‬‬

In the back of our church stands a 28-foot tall, 2,864-piece stained glass window depicting Jesus as the Good Shepherd from John 10. “The Good Shepherd” window was installed in 1952 after a windstorm collapsed the previous glass windows. It faces Polk Street and is visible from outside the front of the church, but from inside it can only be seen when standing at the front of the church facing the congregation or from the balcony.

The Good Shepherd film, Photoshop
The Good Shepherd Window, Polk Street Methodist Church
80 mm, Yashica-Mat TLR, Kodak Portra 400

Our beloved daughter Claire passed away on March 18, 2024. For Claire’s Memorial and Resurrection Service, we placed a portrait at either end of the casket at the front of the church. On the right side was a photo captured in January just before her last violin recital; on the left side closer to me was a portrait I had just taken a few weeks earlier in February as we were leaving for our annual Daddy-Daughter Date Night.

Claire and I had an annual tradition to attend the Daddy-Daughter Dance at the Country Club, but as she had outgrown that event a couple of years before, we continued it as an annual date night in February. This year we had dinner together at the Country Club (we both ordered her newly discovered favorite dish of Braised Short Ribs) followed by an evening at the Amarillo Symphony. Before leaving the house, I asked her to let me take her photo in the front yard, and because of the beautiful sunlight, I pointed the camera into the sun so that she would be backlit. Her portrait turned out beautiful although I felt at the time that she suddenly looked older and more mature than in previous photos.

Because I was seated closer to this portrait, I found myself staring at it often throughout the service, only seeing her beautiful eyes looking back at me. Sometime near the end of the service, I think at the conclusion of the pastor’s message, I looked at the portrait again and realized that the Good Shepherd window was reflecting off the glass of the picture frame, presenting me with an image of Christ holding the lamb standing over my beautiful daughter.

The Good Shepherd film, Photoshop

‭‭Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5‬:‭4‬

I am a Ph.D. Engineer with a rational mind; I understand that a sudden break in the overcast snowfall lit the window behind me causing the image to reflect off the glass and that the picture was placed and aligned just so that the image of Jesus would appear above and to the right of Claire’s face when viewed from the exact spot where I was seated. However, I am also a man of faith and I understand that God uses ordinary things like picture frames and stained glass windows to show us what we need to see when we need to see it.

I would like to extend a special note of gratitude to Blake Rudis of f.64 Academy for his assistance. I had a vision for the image I wanted to create to convey the reflection that I saw in Claire’s portrait, but I do not have the skills or knowledge to successfully realize that vision. Knowing Blake to be a father and brother in Christ, I reached out to him for help, and he very generously donated his time and expertise to this project. Just as importantly, he showed much love and support to a hurting father.

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