September 4, 2020

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Treasured photo offers a reminder to help us see as God sees

Patti LambRecently, I was shopping for some artwork for our new house as we continue to settle in. We’re finally beginning to unpack our boxes and hang decorations to make it feel more like home.

I was leaning toward mid-century modern prints, which are typically minimalistic and often geometrical. Our new residence is much different than our former home. The colors and materials that went with our prior place don’t quite seem to complement the new space.

“Do you like this one?” I asked my husband, as I scrolled through some abstract art prints I was considering. I thought his vote might help me narrow down my choices.

“The toddler scribbles piece is OK if that’s what you like,” he said.

I was startled by his reaction.

We looked at the same piece of artwork and saw it quite differently. I saw it as a soft print in a beautiful blue hue, imagining it as faded tracks of a person’s journey from a bird’s-eye view. Scribbles didn’t come to mind.

This reminded me of a recent time when I viewed a photograph in contrasting ways.

A few years ago, my five sisters and I went to our parents’ house to power clean as a way to help them out. Then in their 80s, they weren’t as agile as they once were. We came bearing cleaning supplies galore and some serious elbow grease.

Before we left, my mom took a picture with my sister’s phone of Dad with his six daughters.

My sister shared the photo via phone with the family.

I was having a particularly low day and allowing myself no grace, and what I heard in my head was this: “Eek! Clearly, I am overdue for a hair highlight, and I should probably take more care when applying makeup. Also, it’s definitely time to retire that black puffer jacket. And note to self: Try to get away from that frozen smile pose and be more natural.”

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. My sister presented me with the photo from that day on a beautiful stretched canvas, declaring it an early Christmas present.

“I couldn’t wait until Christmas to give it to you,” she said.

“I wanted you to have it sooner, so you can remember and cherish that happy day,” she added.

A tear involuntarily rolled down my cheek. I viewed the photo in a distinctly new way. My dad was healthy, smiling and his heart appeared to be full. I looked at my dad, whom I miss dearly now that he is back with God, surrounded by his daughters, all clustered around him with no social distancing required. I saw five sisters whom I couldn’t appreciate more, as they are my go-to prayer warriors and dearest friends.

I thanked my sister profusely for the gift, which has a special place in my home. In fact, it’s taken the place where that modern artwork would’ve gone. This piece brings me much more joy.

A new prayer I’m learning is this: “God, please help me to see as you see.”

In a world of Photoshopped and filtered images, I need to pray to look more through our Creator’s lens, giving grace as he modeled. We live in a society separated by opposing political views, trepid and emotionally spent during a pandemic. In my mind, the only way onward and upward is to see through God’s eyes, knowing that he’s already won the victory, and to make a concerted effort to nurture our relationship with him.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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