Deliver us from preoccupation with ourselves and our needs
Magnificat , Friday March 8, 2019, morning prayer
I reflected yesterday on film development. When I was in middle school, I was a writer and editor for our yearbook. But one day, our yearbook staff sponsor encouraged me to have some fun and pick up a camera, and so I did. It felt so much different and heavier than that trusted pen to paper I found familiarity in.
I found the camera itself fascinating. All of its parts and settings and intricacies; and I longed to have some fun with it and expand my creative side, exploring a side of me that I hadn’t considered before. It wasn’t the machine itself or the art of photography that captured my heart, it was the dark room. It was the glowing images that lined the walls. But more than that, it was learning the process of film development and watching my images come to life.
I could have stayed in that dark room for hours. It was an oasis of faces and places and spaces. More than my own images that I shot, I marveled at the images that those with some talent were able to capture. And how beautiful to watch them come to life in the dark! Especially since they were black and white and still.
That dark room could have been a holy mountain.
I didn’t realize it then, but I do now, that it is the process that is important. It is yielding to this development process that yields good fruit. We focus too much on the feel good notion of “all in God’s time”, rather than the importance of experiencing His process. How else will we help others to get through the hard parts?
Photographs are beautiful, but what happened behind the lens is even moreso. Who is the person who captured the image? How was it captured? And how many times was it taken until that perfect image appeared? The shutter clicks a thousand times before one image is published and sometimes a thousand more than that. So goes God’s hand and His mercy on us, although we don’t always realize it.
The lens focuses on our image, the one we want and hope to capture. But it is often the least expected image that garners the greatest attention. How many times have we heard a photographer say I was in the right place at the right time or it was the subject that allowed the image to be as beautiful as it is?
The camera focuses the attention away from the photographer and onto the subject. We are all familiar with famous images, like the one captured of JFK Jr. saluting at his father’s funeral procession, but can we name the photographer? Likely not. As it should be…
The same should be true for all things and gifts that the good Lord has given us- the lens should be pointed away from ourselves. As this culture thrives on taking selfies and self indulging behavior, we should be be thriving on the needs of others. Becoming counter-cultural is never easy, but it is the only means to becoming holy.
To live our gifts is to give them away. Lens pointed outward. And if you are like me, a writer, your keyboard should be your instrument in writing words that always lead to Him.
How will you use your the lens of your soul today?