Yvette and I are watching a documentary on John Denver, and I begin to weep. I’ve always loved his work. He was a troubadour, a model citizen, and a courageous crusader against the Vietnam War. He sang loudly, and with gusto. He tolerated criticism from people who were full of themselves.
Then the connection parades itself in front of me. John knew that in order to speak to people in a way they can accept the message it is essential to activate an emotion in them that corresponds to the message. The emotion opens receptors to the message itself. “Leaving on a jet plane.” Maybe leaving for a battle in a jungle in Vietnam, to do the bidding of insane politicians competing for attention and popularity, not justice.
After a quarrel, he told his wife in song, “You fill up my senses.” God bless. It was not enough, but he sang as a troubadour, a vanished species these days.
In general, I think we look for God in all the wrong places. When God is speaking to us, we feel stirred. We feel. I don’t mistake John Denver for God, but I recognize that God can hitch a ride on a man’s song. And in a man’s, or woman’s, photographs.
I endeavor to stir emotions with my photographs. I delivered more than 100 of them to the Whetten family today from a shoot this morning. I have noticed that most people do not connect emotionally with photos. They want to be aloof, as if that provides some kind of safety.
It does not. I’ve tried it. Better to open our hearts with the songs that praise the message we want to understand. Today I heard a message from God, and it was in Mr. Denver’s own voice. I am coming to believe that is how God prefers to work.