What is your sphere of influence? What does your Facebook profile say? Our actions influence those we know and don’t know more than our words.
I don’t think I could ever live in Denver, Colorado. Walking as an unarmed woman in the streets gave little comfort when faced by the different faces of the city—the man who called me, ‘baby,’ to the silent figures shadowing the pillars of the capital—the faces warned me to be cautious when venturing beyond the tourist destinations; then, I found the genteel Platte River near Speer Blvd with it’s ducks sitting alongside humans—both like still statues watching the flow of the river in peaceful harmony.
The different faces of Denver beguiled me with it’s quaint shops—namely, The Market on Larimar Street. It’s a place where you can find a chocolate shop, a deli, and a coffee shop in one location crowded by tables and chairs. I spent time at The Market mentally preparing for the Writing for the Soul Conference that would begin that night. I wrote and re-wrote my pitch, and still I felt unprepared in spite of all the work of the past month.
As I leaned back against my chair, I listened to the honking horns, the sirens, and the roar of the cars that kept a steady rhythm. Once I spoke of living on the outskirts of Denver to Tony because the pay is better there, but Denver’s way of life failed to excite me. If I lived within hearing distance of a city, it would need to have mountains around to shield me from the city’s constant light bleeding into the dark sky and fading the stars.
Have you ever been to Denver? Describe your experiences.
This week has been crazy! Time I thought I had free went out the window like a scrap of paper in the wind. With pen uncapped, I busily work to catch up. Meanwhile, I hope you like this photo by a dear friend named Gail McNeeley and her daughter, Brianne. Please leave your thoughts in the comments. You can catch her monthly blogs here.
Tony and I boarded the pirate ride. This was our second go-around. I loved this ride for its atmosphere. My mind wandered to the conversation behind us.
“C’mon! Jimmy, look!” begged the mother. “Oh, don’t bury your face in daddy’s shirt.”
The toddler whimpered.
“Is he going to do this the entire day?” A male voice, presumably the father, whispered.
“I don’t know.” mumbled mom.
“We’ll take him back to the hotel after this ride. Mom’s resting there.”
“Did you hear that?” the mother said sternly. “We’re going to leave you at the hotel.”
The conversation faded as the boat jerked forward. Tony smiled. I sat back and listened to the water and enjoyed the boat floating along.
I blinked again. I tried to clear the spots from my vision.
Was it illegal to tear the camera away from the mom and chuck it into the water?
This went on during the entire ride.
“Somewhere,” I said when we were out of hearing distance from that family and off of the ride. “She is going to post fifteen pictures of the same pirate ride on her Facebook or Myspace. There will be no people in it. Just ride pictures. You tube and other social networking stuff have millions of the same pictures.”
“No originality.” agreed Tony.
“There was a blog I read somewhere where our society now takes pictures of everything and seldom just sits back and enjoys the moment. We lose the moment because we are busy fumbling for the camera to capture a moment we didn’t allow ourselves to enjoy. Most people will seldom have the patience to look at fifteen pictures of the same ride. Typically, they have five hundred friends and know maybe half of them and tag everyone of those contacts in every photo.”
Tony nodded. “I think back to the Seventies when we had those big bulky cameras. We had to position the flash on it. No one took pictures on the ride because it was too big of a deal to put the flash on and focus it.”
“That’s true.” I sighed.
We held hands. The breeze crept between the crowds. The sunlight bounced off of the Rivers of America. Tom Sawyer’s Island tantalized us to play. I looked at my husband’s profile. He wore a smile on his tanned face. I inhaled the smells of Churros and hamburgers and squeezed his hand. What a great moment to cherish forever!
An espresso machine whirs. A handful of people walk into Starbucks. The funny barista cracks some jokes. Laughter ripples from one person to another adding to a delightfully refreshing break. I sip my frappacino and languish. The world is still the same in spite of the rapid movement of politics and the shift of ideas. People still remember to laugh. They still wear masks.
Have I changed?
A maple loses it leaves, right?
A person in a relationship with Christ changes like the maple. We shed our old nature and adopt a new nature. It happens gradually like a whisper growing into a roar. What a silly girl I was when I committed my life to Christ! I thought the journey ended there, but Christ does not leave His children where they are in the middle of a desert. He brings them to the Promised Land. At least, those who choose to listen. The Israelites did not listen. They wandered the desert. They erected a golden calf and worshipped it while Moses stood on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments.
I have changed.
A smile breaks my frown. It is refreshing to step from one place and into another place. To think it all began by making a choice. I chose to love. I chose to clean house and sweep away the darkness. I chose to make each day count for something. I chose to stand bravely in the face of fear and I chose to step into unknown territory. I chose to stand honestly. I chose to admit my transgressions and repent. I experienced joy, unconditional forgiveness, and freedom. It would look strange to lean my head back and throw up my arms to catch the flower scented breeze, but it is reflective of my feelings.
I have changed. I am free. I am loved.
And the journey continues.
Where are you in your journey? Are you still floundering in the swamps of hopelessness? Are you still carrying your emotional baggage? Let it go. Give it up. Set it free.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[h] and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies[i] and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. – Matthew 5:43-48
Anger oozes from the pores these days. No one is thinking straight. A car honked at me because I did not turn fast enough. Another car honked at me because I took my turn at the stop sign and he wanted to go first. A sports car tailgated me. A woman at the supermarket takes the initiative to move my cart out of the way. She did not acknowledge me. Even a humorous mommy blog got her share of rude comments. People have lost their humor and love. My words today will bounce off their heads. They will nod, understand, even agree, and then turn around and exhibit rudeness again. I do not make a big difference by myself, but together we can all shine the Sonlight into the world. It starts with small things like praying for your enemies.
When I am cold, I like to cover myself with the warmth of my down blanket. When I’m hot, I like to be covered in…not much. When I am happy, I feel secure, covered by my loved one’s arms. When I am sad, angry, frustrated…I am covered by a sheet of irritating burlap. Or so it seems. When my heart has been broken, I am covered with heavy, black grief.
Do you see and feel beauty?
Or is your lens clouded by malignant darkness?
My friend has a hobby. Her husband gifted her with a beautiful high-quality camera. With her lens, she captures beauty. She sees beauty even in the broken windows of an abandoned building or the scattered pine cones littering the forest floor. She notices the small beautiful pieces of creation blooming amidst the weeds. I believe this is a reflection upon her spirit. A woman who loves Christ and believes and trusts so strongly in Him cannot help but have it ooze from her pores.
She sees and feels beauty and wants to share God’s creation with the rest of the world. If it were not for photographers like Gail, people would miss the tiny beautiful details so prevalent in our world. In our hurry, we drive through open valleys and miss the antelope grazing in the fields. In our hurry, we miss the beauty in the ugliness. My friend is beautiful in that way. She finds the beauty in ugliness, snaps a photo of it, and shares it with the rest of the world. Gail exposes the beauty to the world.
It is so easy for the rest of us to admire beauty, but it is much too hard to delve past the ugly exterior of angry and cold human beings to the reasons buried beneath the surface—reasons they do not even understand. It is not personal. Their gestures, their anger, and their words can haunt our memories, and if we allow it, wrap us in self-pity. It is easier to cling to a kind of victim status than to move forward and learn from it. Their anger, their gestures, or their words come from a deeper core that is crying out for the love and forgiveness only Christ’s unconditional love can bring to them.
Remember Gail and her photos when you come across an ugly person. A Chicago blizzard might be warmer than the person you meet on the streets who flings a rude gesture in your direction, cuts you off in traffic, or ignores your cheery hello. Gail snaps photos of the beauty hidden in common things. Is there beauty hidden in the ugly person? Their souls are salvageable. With love and persistence, an ugly person can bloom like a common bud on a tree coming out of winter’s hibernation into a beautiful pink flower.
To read her blog: http://elmbeetlehill.blogspot.com/2010/04/grandchildren-are.html
Moss clings to the north side of a rock. When the weather is dry, you only see a faint greenish discoloration on the rocks. Moss has always intrigued me. If you sprinkle a little water on it, it immediately turns bright green. It reminds me of our spiritual life. Without the LIVING WATER in our life, we dry up and become faint discolorations on the side of a rock. Some of us are pale white on the face of the rock, on the verge of disappearing totally in our complicated lives and situations, but with God’s LIVING WATER sprinkling over our hearts, we turn green and healthy. Moss is a pleasant find when I am hunting with my husband. I love running my hand over it because of its softness. I love sprinkling my drinking water over it and watching it bloom. There is beauty in it most people overlook.