Rays of Sunlight

Rays of Sunlight © 2012 Bo Mackison

Rays of Sunlight © 2012 Bo Mackison

Spiritual and creative journeys are not so much about growing in certainty — in many ways it is about growing less certain — it is about about learning how to move deeply into the heart of mystery, into the great unknown.

During the first few days of each new month, I look for a photograph for Photo-Heart Connection from last month’s photos. I look for one that speaks to me in a special way, perhaps one with a message I overlooked the first time I worked with the photograph. Here is my choice from the many photos I took in March.

I took this photograph of three simply carved chairs in the stunningly decorated church at the Mission of San Xavier del Bac, just south of Tucson, Arizona.  Construction of the church began in 1783 and was completed fourteen years later. It is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona and is a National Historic Landmark.

The church is filled with original, hand carved statuary and murals on many of the walls – many of the murals depict items that could not be obtained in 18th century Arizona. There are paintings delicately rendered as substitutes for wall coverings, draperies, wood, and marbled surfaces.  Dozens of statues were also hand carved, painted, and then finished with materials brought from Spanish missionaries from Mexico into Arizona.

Whenever I take photographs of the Mission at Xavier del Bac or other holy places, I am often filled with a depth of connection and  spirituality that I seldom encounter in other buildings.

When I took this photograph of the sacristy, I was aware of the rays of sunshine illuminating the armrests of two of the chairs. I loved the contrast, the symbolic meaning of light opening a dark space. When I checked the photos on my computer, again the contrast struck me — this time between the ornate — the heavily ornamented walls and niches — and the simple — the carved chairs illuminated by a shaft of light coming through one of the few windows.

It was a photograph that made a heart (and soul) connection.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She has been living in southern Arizona for the last two and a half months, and has taken many photographs of holy and sacred places. She joins other photographers at Kat Eye Studio and posts a photo taken the prior month that “connects with her heart’ during the first few days of the new month.


About Bo Mackison

I’m a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place – a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I’d love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It’s my gift to you.


  1. I love this peacefull picture.

  2. I love the richness of color in this image and the ray of light that illuminates the space. I can see why you chose it for your Photo Heart Connection.

  3. I can really relate to your heart connection – I visited the San Juan Mission in San Antonio and took many photos that resonated with me back in December. I felt the connection of all those who had gone before me….thanks for sharing!

  4. Gandalf says:

    I agree. The contrasts and the light are wonderful.

  5. The light and tones in this image are beautiful! They create such a mood of serenity and peace!! Love your photo-heart connection!

  6. I love chairs, and I love light. Your photo is a wonderful blend, and it has such depth.

  7. I love the history – in the photos as well as the lesson 🙂 – The way the sunlight lands is striking. I feel as though I could take a seat and allow the peace that is evident surround me. Beautiful image.

  8. Your photo does an excellent job of showing us how sacred this space is. That you were able to capture that sunlight makes it even more beautiful.

  9. The moment that you’ve captured with this special lighting is just perfect! Light from on high certainly adds significance and drama to this piece. Wonderful choice for PHC!

  10. Kat Sloma says:

    I love how you describe your connection to these sacred places, Bo. The depth of your connection is felt in your words and the image. The contrasts you describe are wonderful, the simple vs ornate, light vs dark. Thank you so much for sharing this in the Photo-Heart Connection.

  11. Wonderful colors, love the light and also the first paragraph of your text, wich resonates deeply with me. Great PHC, thanks for sharing

  12. What a lovely church this is. Smaller than I thought, but with a huge courtyard and role in the area. For years, I wondered who San Xavier del Bec was. Then I visited and realized it’s St. Francis of Assisi and the town it’s in is the Tohono O’odham town of We:k, which the founders wrote down as Bec. It’s a fascinating place with a fascinating history, which your photographs show so well.

  13. The tones and lines in this really do create a spiritual aspect to your image. Simply beautiful!

  14. I was drawn back to your picture again and again. There were so many beautiful things to look at. I too like the way the light rests on the arms of the chair.

  15. This is really beautiful, Bo. It touches the soul.

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