God in the middle of a chain-link fence
Clouds were scudding across the sky, fingers of light splayed between them in a cool, breezy dawn. And there I was, crouching under a swag of chain, then edging my camera lens through a chain-link fence. Remember my prayer walks the morning? This time my Canon was tagging along for some quality time, fitted with my hopes that I might capture in photo the beauty I described in my post.
But more than once, I sighed in mild exasperation. Not only was I confined to all the normal parameters of photography—the right moment, the right light, the right angle—now, I was butting up against a reverberating grid of metal that separated me from my subject: the eye-catching meadow and its resident heron, which so often seems to solicit my sigh of satisfaction in the mornings.
The red dirt of our lane only boasts snatches of nature. Three-meter walls of cement flank its meandering trail, each studded with forbidding concertina wire or jutting glass-bottle teeth. Our kids have had a “trash contest” more than once (“The biggest bag of trash gets a piece of candy! After you wash your hands!”). One of my jogging expeditions brought me by a large-kitten-sized dead rat. (Is that an overshare?)
And now, squatting to catch the heron’s curving neck in that black cylinder supported by my hand, I glimpsed through the viewfinder what I hadn’t seen all along: that cinder-block wall behind it. Oh, and the volleyball standard (i.e. tire filled with cement and skewered with a pole) leaning against the stately tree that looked so beatific each morning, arms spread to the sky. Any photographer worth her salt checks her background…but I was surprised by what had so often eluded my sight. Suddenly what had looked so uplifting each morning had a bit of mortar slopped on the top, a little trash garnishing the edges.
Yet—perhaps that is the arresting pleasure of time with God. Somehow He tips my eyes beyond what’s in front of me, upward. As I think about Moses’ brash, awe-stricken prayer, “Please show me Your glory,” perhaps beholding that glory is about actually learning to see. If the “eye is the lamp of the body” and “if your eye is healthy your whole body will be full of light”—perhaps that’s why our gratitude, and our ability to see God working and creating all around us—is so tied to our worship.
This morning, completely unrelated, I felt impressed to pray that I’d see the work God was doing in my kids; that I would see beyond the frustrations of the everyday and beyond, to the good work God was creating in them. As I reflected on this, I thought, Lord, show me your glory. Show me what you are doing and have done all around me.
In fact, show me beauty in the center of a gray cement wall. Show me You even as I peer through a small hole in a chain-link fence. In everyday grittiness—show me snapshots of You.