During her freshman year of high school, Judy took a media arts class. (Judy and her younger sister, Kelly, are international students at Wheaton Academy and have lived with us during the past two school years. They are currently at home with their beloved mom and dad but will return to the Underwood household in a little under a month. We are quite excited about that–at the same time we know it is very hard for their parents.) One of the emphases of the media arts class was photography, and Judy made good use of my Nikon. It was fun to download pictures and see the various styles of the three different users
(Judy, Emily, and I).
One day, while Judy and I were out walking, I saw something beautiful and bemoaned the fact I didn’t have a camera with me. “You have to take a picture with your inner eye,” she told me. It was something her media arts teacher, the very talented and bighearted Matt Hockett, taught her. “He said when we take special note of something beautiful, we carry it with us, and it is a gift forever.”
I’ve remembered that, and I was reminded of it when we recently watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Photographer Sean O’Connell (played by Sean Penn) has gone to great effort to take a picture of the reclusive snow leopard, but when it finally appears, he moves his head away from the camera.
Walter Mitty asks him, “When are you going to take it?”
Sean says, “Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.”
“Stay in it?” Mitty asks.
“Yeah. Right there. Right here.”
This scene in turn reminded me of a conversation I had a while back with a friend. We talked about not living in the past or the future but accepting the present moment as exactly where (or when) God wants us to be. We rob ourselves of His intent in our lives when we fail or refuse to stay in the present. We discussed the “waiting patiently” so often mentioned in the Psalms–that perhaps it is not waiting in the sense of wanting the moment or time period to pass so we can experience something different, but it is waiting in that place/time with the expectation that there is purpose in the moment/time period itself, no matter how difficult it is. We brainstormed other things that seem to relate, such as the “abiding” that Christ emphasizes in John 15. We brought in the creation of time, and how God has made and is making a day specifically for her and another specifically for me–with some points of overlap (the Amplified version speaks of it as God “bringing about” a day). That wowed us! We used the words “stay,” “sojourn,” and “continue” to help us grasp the idea of living in the present moment in a God-honoring way.
I’ve been practicing taking “photos” with my inner eye: the snail-like trail I leave behind me when I walk through the wet grass at the dog park, and how the sun’s early rays turn it silver; the house sparrow swaying on a thin limb above a gathering of other small birds–the white band around his neck reminds me of a clerical collar, and I imagine him delivering a well-crafted sermon to his audience; the exquisite spider web that glistens with dew.
Perhaps we can also practice the active treasuring of each moment, and as we practice we can learn to rejoice and be glad in each day, in each moment (Psalm 118:24). We can see our days with an inner eye that is informed by eternity and Truth, and we can carry them within as gifts that remind us of God’s faithfulness and sovereignty.