Life as a Candid Photo

We like to stash a disposable film camera somewhere in our car or apartment.

Since this camera is only used on occasion, the results of our random photography provoke some chuckles and phrases like “do you remember what we were doing?”

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Summer 2017. Life at seminary begins.
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Always laughing about something.

Some photos are too dark or blurry. Many are sweet and we frame them. A majority of these quick snaps captured quiet moments of a regular day. These are the best ones in my opinion, the candid ones.

You can’t edit or delete these photos. You can’t even see what the photos look like until they’ve been developed. Did you know that the ‘ole drugstore promise of “1 hour photo” is no longer true? (I was shocked!) Our little hunk of film had to be sent to Dallas to be developed.

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A long all nighter during my last semester of college in Oklahoma. Photo from the perspective of our dear friend, Justin. This photo hangs on our fridge.
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Early morning in Rockport.

It’s become easier to hide the candid nature of everyday life. There’s pressure to build an image, a brand, a lifestyle with certain color palettes and perspectives, with a certain aesthetic or alliance. Sometimes that’s really fun to do. It’s artistic. It puts us in the driver’s seat. But online profiles quickly become suffocating and often polarizing.

I recently read, “The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen” by Lisa Gungor. Her main emphasis was slightly different than the one I’ll make here, but she did highlight several complex, messy, but wondrous moments in her life. Her memoir points to the people and experiences right in front of us, reminding us to hold them with wonder.

“But we really don’t know just what will happen when we ask, “Open my eyes.” It may hurt more than we think if we are thoroughly grounded in a perspective. But the journey is a vital one. Our political, social, and very ecological climate hangs in the balance. What we value, and how we take care of what we value, how we view each other — it affects everything. Our perspective of the world informs what we put our hands to do or destroy. “Open my eyes” isn’t just a nice sounding refrain; I believe it is vital to the future of humanity. Who and what we are opening our eyes to affects who and what we are opening our future to. If we keep our eyes shut, much will be lost around us and within us. We will not only miss but kill this very beautiful life and world. I used to believe there was some line between what is sacred and common, miraculous and mundane. My perspective had to shift to see that actually all of the bushes are burning, the entire world is ablaze.”

— Lisa Gungor, “The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen”

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Pho for dinner. Husband’s finger over the lens. You win some, you lose some.

In these photos I am reminded of the subtle, yet outspoken beauty of everyday life. Reminded that the act of being loved and wholeness itself does not come from either the right or left, the poor or wealthy, the west or the east. Fully human, fully divine — only the Son of God comforts us with grace and salvation strong enough for all crevices of our minds and lives, allowing us the space to delight in the smallest details, to recognize the image of God in all of His creation, not simply the people and issues important to us.

“How many of us dare to open ourselves to that truth which would make us free? Free to talk to Roman Catholics or charismatics or Jews as Jesus was free to talk to tax collectors or publicans or Samaritans. Free to feast at the Lord’s table with those whose understanding of the Body and Blood may be a little different from ours. Free to listen to angels. Free to run across the lake when we are called.”

— Madeleine L’Engle, “Icons of the True”

I say all of this to myself mostly, although I’m sure there are those of you who can sense similarities in your own life. How hopeless our lives become when all we see is hardship and lack. There are many things we won’t be able to control. We should not ignore these challenging elements of our time on Earth, but open our eyes even wider to the beauty of life’s hidden treasures.

 

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