“I used to have this appetite for my life, and it's just gone,” Elizabeth Gilbert wrote, “I want to go someplace where I can marvel at something.”
‘Yes!’ my weary spirit screamed, ‘Exactly!’
Turning my eyes from my morning perusal of the iPad screen, I took note of the birds hopping around on the tray feeder outside my living room window. I was especially drawn to one of the Goldfinches, whose feathers ruffled gently in the breeze.
My first thought was a statement- ‘That would make an amazing picture.’
My second thought was a light-bulb moment- ‘And that’s why I take pictures! My camera helps me focus on what’s important or fascinating or beautiful in that moment!’
Granted photography...like any hobby or skill...can take you to an unhealthy place where it becomes all about perfection. And that can be downright frustrating, wanting to get it right and beating myself up when I fall short.
Of course there’s always the tantalizing possibilities that Lightroom and Photoshop dangle in front of you- a Promised Land where no matter how bad your picture is, there’s redemption and the hope of perfection.
But lately, I’ve been less concerned about getting it right. I’ll probably never achieve acclaim for my photos...except through my gracious family. I’ll probably never win a contest or be on the cover of National Geographic.
Does that mean I should give up and give in? Sell my camera and equipment on EBay? For sure there have been times when in a fit of disgust over a bad shoot that I seriously contemplated it...times when it seemed I was never going to get the hang of it and what was the use anyway?
And yet, in spite of it all, I am still drawn to photography.
This morning, during my light-bulb-moment watching the birds, I finally understood that I enjoy photography because it causes me to SEE...to be awake and aware of what’s around me. Have you ever gotten into the car to drive somewhere and you take off and suddenly you’re there and you can’t remember how you got there? That you were oblivious to everything on the way, stuck in auto-pilot mode?
That’s how life can go if we’re not careful! The days and weeks, months and years fly by. Every week we look at each other and say, on Friday, ‘It can’t be garbage day again! Where did another week go?’
Recently, I bought a painting from a woman at JAARS. Her mother-in-law had painted it years ago and she was ready to part with it. It put a smile on my face because it’s a picture of my Happy Place...the place I go to when I need to be refreshed and renewed...Arizona...a place about as opposite the Southeast as is possible! The landscape, the weather, the birds and wildlife all offer me a chance to see with new eyes. Dare I say it’s like going from water to an energy drink?
So, what do we do when we’re just not seeing anymore? When life is monotonous and drab and washed out? When it seems our days are run on auto-pilot and it’s always Friday again?
Should we chuck it all and move somewhere else? Find something new to buy and add to our lives? Moan? Groan? Despair?
Well yeah, I definitely dream of the first...and have done the second...and find myself unfortunately doing the others.
I told someone yesterday it’s time to take my camera out and go shooting again...it’s been too long. I don’t think I realize it, but I think my spirit does- I’m not seeing life anymore, I’m just living through it. And if I’m not seeing, then I’m not marveling and oohing and aahing over the beauty and the gifts right in front of me. And I’m not so sure that God is pleased with that.
I think we can ask God to open our eyes again. I’m pretty sure that’s somewhere in the Bible. Because you know, the more we see what is around us, the more we see Him. And the more we see Him, the more thankful, and grateful, and praise-full we become. And I don’t know about you, but when that happens, I’m much nicer to live with and be around!
How about if we ask for the eyes of a child and the wisdom of an adult? I love having my grands around for this reason...they are alive with awareness, noticing things that I have become jaded to. Imagine mixing that with the wisdom we have earned over the years? We would be able to connect-the-dots in a way that should cause us to fall before our Maker in adoration.
So the next time we find ourselves hungry for life, let’s remind ourselves that we don’t need to go anywhere to marvel...we have a wealth of blessings around us that we are just not seeing anymore! Allow me to personalize Ephesians 1:18:
Open the eyes of our hearts, and let the light of Your truth flood in.
Shine Your light on the hope You are calling us to embrace.
Reveal to us the glorious riches You are preparing for our inheritance.
Amen and Amen! Shine on, dear ones!
Open the Eyes of My Heart~ Michael W. Smith