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Sunset SillhouetteInspiration for Sunset Silhouette

The inspiration behind the images I love draws me just as much as the beauty in the image. This image in particular has a special place in my heart. The years leading up to 2011 had been uniquely gratifying, but at the same time heart wrenching. We moved to Idaho in 2007, and to me it felt like moving home as it is where I grew up. To us as a family, though, it was mixed emotionally as we had to leave behind so many friends and especially Mari Beth's sister Melinda and her family. In 2009 this intensified as Craig Hopson, our brother-in-law, Melinda's husband, was diagnosed with cancer of the liver. A hard battle ensued that ended his life in April 2011.

In the Fall of 2011 our family went on a camping trip to Red Fish Lake near Stanley Idaho. The beauty is always astounding to me anywhere in the Sawtooth Mountains, but Red Fish Lake provides a unique setting with beautiful reflections and a panoramic view of three major peaks. I am drawn back there again and again. Craig's death was (and still is) heavy on my heart. When someone leaves us too early in life, it is difficult to comprehend why God would allow such a thing. The pain seems too hard to bear.

One evening at Red Fish Lake I happened to go out to the beach as the sun was setting to collect missing items from our day of play. Immediately I was in awe at the beauty and knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I ran to get my camera and shot a series of images as I watched the sun's light fade and the moon drop to the horizon spectacularly lined by the silhouette of Thompson Peak, Mount Heyburn and Grand Mogul. At that moment I began pondering the message God was giving to me, begging for understanding and deeper insight.

On November 15, 2011 I sent Melinda an early version of this picture, telling her how God was inspiring me through the pain of loss and that I was thinking of her. After a conversation with Melinda in which I was able to see her pain more clearly, I prayed for God to give me understanding about the pain my sister-in-law was feeling in her grief for Craig. Why was it necessary for Craig to die in agony... to die at all. I could not come up with an answer that satisfied both my intellect and my emotions. Two days later, my world was turned upside down as I was struck by a car on my bike commute home. My wife and son had to see me lying helpless on the pavement, 10 fractures in my ribs.

In the hospital for two days, my Dad asked if I was in pain. I replied, "Only when I breathe." The physical pain was severe, but was calmed by the fact that I was alive and coherent. After a while I was able to move on my own and could not bear to just sit around the house. I came across the unfinished work on the sunset at Red Fish Lake and knew it was time to continue. My first time out of the house after the accident was to pick up a test print of this image on November 23, braving pre-Thanksgiving crowds. My son drove and all my kids went along. On the way we stopped by the accident site. As we stared at the broken glass in which I lay less than a week before as paramedics checked me, the song Blink came on the radio. "The only thing that matters is how we have loved."

God has just started to open up my eyes to his purpose and his ways. I cannot flippantly explain away the reason for pain in this world, but neither can I blame God for his wisdom in creating pain. Through this experience I realized that even Jesus himself did not come to have a pain free life. His purpose, after all, was to die a horrible death. Pain is a part of this life. It makes me long for the days in our future where this life will be a memory and we will forever be with God. That is the inspiration for Sunset Silhouette. It is what Isaiah is longing for when he says,

Your sun will never set again,
   and your moon will wane no more;
the LORD will be your everlasting light,
   and your days of sorrow will end.

                                      Isaiah 60:20


-Monty Moreland, 14 January 2012


Behind the image

I made this from a series of images. Below you can see the raw images I had to start with. This "before and after" was inspired by my daughter's blog "Follow God Every Day".



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