“Father, this prayer is for everyone that feels they’re not good enough.
This prayer is for everybody that feels like they’re too messed up
For everyone that feels they’ve said “I’m sorry” too many times
You can never go too far when you can’t come back home again.”
This prayer was uttered by the gospel music artist, Kirk Franklin, which was featured on the song, Ultralight Beam, which is a song on Kanye West’s album, The Life of Pablo. It’s a prayer that I find myself uttering alongside Kirk. Chaos is not an alien presence in my life. Chaos and conflict are friendly forces that come walk alongside me as I attempt to navigate my way through life. There are times when an ultralight beam is what I am desperate for.
One of the biggest issues that I struggle with is anxiety. When I feel anxious, I experience a state of extreme worry and fear. Peace and calm flee when I am anxious. I have learned how to deal with my anxiety using certain methods. Utilizing these methods isn’t always consistent and as a result, I sometimes have a difficult time coping with my anxiety, which only produces more anxiety.
I experience anxiety for a number of different reasons. Sometimes, there are difficult events that occur in my personal life. I am stressed out because of my work, a relationship with a friend of mine is damaged, I am worried about my future, or I lose someone that is close to me. At other times, there are events that are occurring within the world that cause me to feel stress and sadness. This is certainly the case last Wednesday when our country was given the decision of the 2016 election. The assurance that Donald Trump will be our next president is an extremely frustrating and depressing reality. Obviously, I am not the only one feeling anxiety as a result of this election. I feel anxious on a consistent basis because many social institutions uphold oppression and do not promote the values of respect and mutuality for all people.
The song Ultralight Beam is about the search for rays of hope in places of darkness. When I feel anxious and hopeless, those rays of hope are solely what I am searching for. The following photos are part of a project titled Ultralight Beam. Many of these photos depict spaces that are primarily dark. At the same time, there are rays of light that enter into those dark spaces. I feel that these pictures accurately represent the mental state that I find myself in at times.
These photos are part of an ongoing project because I will be seeking after ultralight beams for the rest of my life. Conflict and chaos will never be completely absent from my life. As a result, I will continue to struggle after those rays of hope because it is what I need to do to feel alive and well.
I am not perpetually condemned to frustration, sadness and anxiety. My relationships with people, relationships with the natural world and my faith in God give me hope and peace. Furthermore, I find that my faith in God is strengthened when I pursue relationships with people and with the natural world. There are times when those small ultralight beams intensify and illuminates those dark spaces. I am extremely grateful for those moments. Amen.
You can listen to the whole song, Ultralight Beam, here: