Robert McCurley

writing and Photography


It had been a good day and we were tired. But it was the good kind of tired when your body feels the effects of doing the things you enjoy, the things that matter, like swimming in the ocean and building sand castles and teaching a five year-old how to swim. A fine crab-cake dinner and a couple of body warming beverages ushered in the evening as daylight began to fade outside our window. With the kids tucked safely in bed, we wandered out to the covered veranda to enjoy the remaining evening light.  A lull in our conversation revealed the faint and distant rumblings of an approaching storm. Undaunted, our twilight chatter continued until an abrupt boom of thunder silenced us, immediately heightening our senses and anticipation. When the lightning started and it was no longer safe to be out, we stepped inside and waited.

Finally, riding the wind like a horse-back messenger hell-bent on delivering his dispatch, the storm arrived, shrouding the blue-green lucent waters of the Gulf we had so enjoyed earlier in the day. The vaporous gathering released a dark, gray veil of rain densely suspended between the clouds and sea, sporadically illuminated by charged flashes of light. In my southern-infused way of thinking, what we were witnessing was a gully-washer.

When things died down, we ambled back out to watch the luminous after-show. As I mounted my camera to the tripod, lightning continued to dance in the distant clouds. My first few attempts at capturing the familiar, yet ever-fascinating emissions of light were futile. Eventually, the stimulated air began to calm and the remaining elements of positive and negative energy collected in a single cloud. And I realized that I was running out of time. Doing my best to time the next burst, I opened the shutter and waited. Precipitously, in grand fashion, lightning flashed one last time resulting in a memorable image, at least for me.

Photographs speak to us in myriad ways. Some dig up lost memories; others summon an emotional response, pulling us, repelling us, reminding us. Personally, this image reflects a near-perfect summer evening with those I love the most, the freedom of an uncluttered vacation mid-set, the secret wish that life’s special moments could occur more often and last a little longer. Mostly though, the image reminds me that the Creator can engender miraculous, untamed spectacles of incredible power and beauty well beyond man’s mightiest attempts. And once again, I am humbled to recognize that He is God…and I am not.

© 2015 Robert McCurley

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