It was a gray, February day in Oregon. Rain fell softly. Fog slid between the trees and the foothills, rounding, smoothing, like a watercolor painting. A day steeped in emotion. And a wide slice of courage.
Heart pounding, I’d rehearsed the question, wondering if I was overstepping professional or workshop etiquette, wondering if I could ask my husband to ask for me. And simultaneously feeling ridiculous.
Oh, my gosh! How hard can this be? He can always say, “No.”
We met in the lodge later that day at the end of a long dining room table. A fire crackled in the fieldstone fireplace, respite from the icy drizzle glazing the world outside, and the aroma of grilled pears and rack of lamb emanated from the kitchen.
Hesitantly, I opened my laptop, and Jeremy, a respected photographer and studio owner in Pennsylvania, looked through a dozen or so of my images – in silence — before asking, “Do you want the long answer or the short?”
“Either,” I replied, no longer sure I was ready for Jeremy’s answer, yet acutely aware that I’d asked for it.
And suddenly, I realized that what I was actually seeking was validation, affirmation of my work, my vision, my art.
Maybe of me.
I don’t remember Jeremy’s exact words, though I wish I did. They were thoughtful and constructive. He pointed out what I did well. Then asked a question: “Are you intentional about your images?”
“You mean do I choose what I shoot and how?”
“No, why do you choose your subjects?”
“I’m not really sure,” I answered, searching for words. “I guess I pick up my camera to gain perspective, see something different, the way light reflects or colors refract or raindrops gather sunlight.”
“The next step is to be intentional. Do you ever ask God what He wants you to see in an image?”
“No,” I said, surprised. “Not ever. Never once have ever I thought to ask God what He wants me to see in an image.”
But I’m asking now.
Asking as I follow the long, thin ribbons of a cross-country skier along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Asking as a playful breeze shakes the dark pines’ winter white coats into heaps on the forest floor. Asking as I gather shards of colored glass and watch shadows dance in candlelight.
Asking, because isn’t that the heart of life in Christ?
Bringing every thought captive?
Every facet? Every moment? Every heartbeat? Every breath into the fullness of Christ?
Intentionally? On purpose?
Because isn’t that where we find life spilled over, poured out, abundant, love without borders, grace upon grace upon grace, Amen?