I've never before in my life had such a spectacular set of photographs at my disposal! However, attention-grabbing or not, the key to a set of pictures is not how impressive they look so much as it is what kind of story they tell. Outside of the story, they're just another collection of images. Stunning photographs are a dime-a-dozen on line; what counts is the story.
Listening for story has become one of the main interests in my life. I told a group of people recently that my job is to gather stories, re-tell stories, and most importantly to understand where our stories - yours and mine - fit in the context of The Greatest Story Ever Told.
Out trip to Italy was wonderful and the pictures are beautiful. But it means very little outside of the context of the ongoing story we are living and the story we are living into....
I'm handling the photographs in a number of ways:
- First, I've dropped a few in the occasional blog. There'll be some more today.
- Next, I'm sharing a photo here and there with facebook posts.
- Third - and most expensively - I've made three photo books with mypublisher.com that have turned out to be amazing. The first was a small softcover titled "Cappuccino 2009: Rebekah Maul discovers Italian froth". It featured nearly 40 pictures of Rebekah sipping coffee in every conceivable location! The other two are hardcover books with slip-covers. One documents our first week (Pisa, Lucca, Volterra, Siena, Cinque Terre); then the other concentrates on Florence, Milan, Lake Como, and Rome.
- Finally, I'm assembling a PowerPoint-based slide presentation.
Today my big task is to write the script for my "Italy 2009" PowerPoint presentation for church this evening. We started with 3,000 excellent pictures and I've reduced it to 411 slides that tell the story. The trick to slide shows is having a script that's interesting, informative, and keeps the program moving. Mine will take 45 minutes, tops.
So today I'm counting my blessings. Rebekah and I are - qualitatively - different people because we took the Renaissance trip to Italy.
But every experience, every day, has the potentiality to shape us. That applies to wonderful expeditions like Italy... average weeks where nothing dramatic happens... and downer days where the car breaks down, the toilet backs up, and our kids get in trouble at school. Life is fluid, dynamic, and always new. Our big decision is how we will move forward and in what direction?
That's why it makes so much sense to begin - always - in the context of devotion and prayer.