A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law stopped by the office with an unusual gift. It was the camera lens in the photo here. There was a reason she thought of me: her deceased husband (Scott) and I were close friends. He was a photographer and helped me to get started as a photojournalist many years ago. And it was she, Elizabeth Bookser Barkley, who referred me to St. Anthony Messenger when I was looking for work in a new town nearly 25 years ago.

Over the years she and I have enjoyed each other’s work. She’s a crackerjack writer for publications, including St. Anthony Messenger (she was here first!). She’s also written a few books, as have I. In fact, we both have new books, just out, from Franciscan Media. So I suppose there’s a competition, of sorts, between hers, Life After Death: Practical Help for the Widowed, and mine, Thank You, Sisters: Stories of Women Religious and How They Enrich Our Lives. (Don’t tell her I said so!)

So she brought by the lens. It looked a little odd—and, sure enough, when I pulled off the lens cap, there was no lens inside. It is a coffee cup! See it in the photo to the right? I use it daily. Very clever, Elizabeth (Buffy)!  Scott, my friend, Lens Cup 2brother-in-law, and photo mentor, now long deceased, would love this cup.

I suppose you could draw a moral here: all is not true that meets the eye. Or, perhaps you could go even deeper, something about relationships being the lenses of our lives. I’ll leave that reflection for another day. Thanks, Buffy. And Scott.


About the Author

John Feister is editor in chief of St. Anthony Messenger magazine. He has a B.A. in American Studies from University of Dayton, and master's degrees in Humanities and in Theology from Xavier University. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada, and was previously an adviser to the Communications Committee of the U.S. Catholic bishops (2000-2006). His latest book, Thank You, Sisters: Stories of Women Religious and How They Enrich Our Lives is available from the Franciscan Media catalog. He has cauthored four books with Richard Rohr (Franciscan Media), and coauthored, with Charlene Smith, the biography of Thea Bowman (Orbis books).
  • Mark Fischer

    The physics nerd in me suggests that you leave that “refraction” for another day.