The Power Of An Image

I saw this picture last night on Facebook, with the description below:

The night before the burial of her husband 2nd Lt. James Cathey of the United States Marine Corps, killed in Iraq, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag. Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of “Cat”, and one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept.
“I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it” she said.
“I think that’s what he would have wanted.”

I have to be honest, I shed a tear or two. Something about it just hits you, you know?

Then I thought about how I am primarily a writer/reader. What I mean by that is I think, process, and learn best through written words.

But man, how valuable can images be? I’m sure a good writer could describe the weight of this scene well. But there’s something about the picture that just punches you in the throat.

I saw an article recently about Eugene Peterson. Before going into the ministry, a friend of his who hated the church because of bad experiences told Eugene that if he became a pastor it would be the end of him. So what did the friend do? He painted a portrait of Eugene with a black robe on, Bible in front of him–as a gaunt and very sick man. He wanted him to see what he thought would happen to him if he insisted on being a pastor.

Don’t you think that image haunted him? Here’s what he had to say:

“I still pull it out occasionally and look at those vacant eyes, flat and empty. The face gaunt and unhealthy. Willi’s artistic imagination created a portrait that was far more vivid than any verbal warning. The artist has the eyes to connect the visible and the invisible..”

I still love my words, but both of these things have me thinking about the power of an image. And they have made me more thankful for my fellow artists–painters, photographers, designers, videographers, and the like. Keep it up, friends. You never know when a picture or painting or video will stick with someone for the rest of their life.

38 thoughts on “The Power Of An Image”

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