I’ll admit it, this is a very unusual picture. It’s not clear, there’s obviously some movement going on, the colors are kind of cool, you can make out a hand… but that’s about it.
The photograph has an ethereal quality – there’s something going on but it’s hard to pin down. You know there has to be some discernible content, and also some kind of explanation as to why the image is so distorted – but wrapping your mind around it is takes some doing.
I’m guessing most of you have figured it out by now. And, of course, it’s easier to make out once you know the subject matter. So here’s what happened:
We’d just had dinner with some great friends, ten of us celebrating life together, enjoying one another’s company. Then we sat around and chatted while two of my favorite children in the whole world made all sorts of commotion in various parts of the house.
I could hear the youngest heading my way, and I knew he was about to tumble into the living room and go for some of the cars on the coffee table. So I pointed my camera in his direction and hit “click” as he rounded the corner. However, being a cell-phone it took a while to shoot the image and I had to adjust my aim at the last moment.
Bingo! One small boy, stretched and distorted like a poorly calibrated “Beam me up Scotty” as I did my best to hold on to that particular moment in the space-time continuum.
Andrew, in Pensacola, circa 1988
But you know it’s very difficult to isolate and then hold on to a discrete moment in time. Some theologians talk about “The Eternal Now”, but I’m more inclined to believe what’s really going on is the “Eternal just missed it”, or the “Eternal whoops, there it goes.” Because the instant that we pause long enough to reflect and to process what’s taking place, why, the moment has just slipped into the past and we’re left grasping a blurred remembrance.
Rebekah’s brother Jesse posted this photograph of Andrew on facebook just a few minutes ago. Good grief! I can see the event so clearly in my memory. And there’s Naomi, watching in the background.
Rebekah calls it “Grabbing a memory.” She would always tell the children as much on vacation or during a special event, “Don’t forget to grab some memories today!” And we would.
Once in a while we were able to hold still long enough that the memories would come out clearly, like this picture of Andrew on Jesse’s road bike. In fact some of the most sharply etched memories don’t even have photographs to go along with then.
And then there would be the rush, the out of focus, the jumbled together and the blurred; hundreds of thousands of images sometimes covering weeks or months. And the children grow, and we get older, and the moments come fewer and further between because all of a sudden they’re living in Connecticut, and Italy.
I don’t know where I’m really going with this post, except that the two pictures came across my desk top within a few moments of one another and the connection, the message, was too powerful to pass by without noting.
There are people I loved dearly – both friends and family – who have already slipped out of focus, passed into history as their days on this earth came to an end. And there are those I love dearly whose image I want to (need to) sharpen considerably while I still can.
I guess I’m saying that while I understand that space and time are always fluid, and that there is no such thing as any moment that is not instantly relegated to the past, we always have this golden opportunity to live completely in the slice of eternity that is this day, this hour, this moment.
Grab a memory!
There are realities such as love and hope and peace that have more substance and more durability than the transience of time. Heaven and earth will – one day – cease to be, Jesus said, but the things that are true will continue. I think this is amazing, wonderful and immensely sobering.
So grab a memory by living in the truth of what really matters. Love, hope, peace. Live in love in this moment, live in peace, live into hope. Time may be fleeing, but truth is eternal.