Thursday, January 15, 2009

Time Stands Still

From NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day site, an impressive and evocative picture:

If every picture tells a story, this one might make a novel. The six month long exposure compresses the time from December 17, 2007 to June 21, 2008 into a single point of view. Dubbed a solargraph, the remarkable image was recorded with a simple pinhole camera made from a drink can lined with a piece of photographic paper. The Clifton Suspension Bridge over the Avon River Gorge in Bristol, UK emerges from the foreground, but rising and setting each day the Sun arcs overhead, tracing a glowing path through the sky. Cloud cover causes dark gaps in the daily Sun trails. In December, the Sun trails begin lower down and are short, corresponding to a time near the northern hemisphere's winter solstice date. They grow longer and climb higher in the sky as the June 21st summer solstice approaches.

Two things came immediately to mind when I saw this picture: the movie "Smoke", which includes the plot device of having a main character take a photograph every day from the same spot in front of his cigar store, creating a pictorial chronicle of the life of the city he lives in; and the Canadian rock band Rush's song Time Stands Still, a favorite of mine because of its melancholic, nostalgic, but ultimately redemptive view of life, friendship, and memory, themes the movie also moves among. Also, the background vocals of Amie Mann ('til Tuesday) are haunting.

A cigar, a glass of cognac or brandy, and an old friend in front of a fire...the kind of moments in time we wish we could hold on to--the moments that point us toward our eternal home, where we will be free from time's abuse, and time's loss. As we lean toward heaven, we ought to seize a few moments of worth for ourselves on a cold winter's night, both as comfort now, and as a reminder of the good things that await us.

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