Thursday, November 02, 2006
Could it be that the reason we take pictures is to solidify memories of the ideal? I mean, no one runs around at a party and says, "Say Yuck!", while snapping off a picture of the unhappy couple. Photographers don't generally tell families to "act like the dog just died", when they're trying to capture that eternal family moment. Friends don't run around with their camera phones telling each other to "stare blankly so that I can get a good shot of you in my phone." That's just not the way we want to envision each other.
No, we take pictures the way we want to remember and be remembered. We smile, or do silly things, or try to look noble or cool. In so doing, we say a lot about ourselves. We say that real life, with its hardships, frustrations and pains, is not what we were really made for. Those aren't the things we want see when we get the chance at a snap shot. We want to see love and fun and dignity and grace. In short, we want to see what it should be, and not always what it is.
We are our most idealistic when we're holding a camera, because we hope to see only that which is good. Shoot, even when we take a picture of something disturbing like war or death, we don't want it to be blurry or poorly lit. We want it to be clear and symetrical, with shades and accents framing every detail. When people view such photographs we want them to think "Whoa, that's a good picture." When we look through the lens of a camera, we see a world of potential and beauty, so unlike the one we see with our own eyes.
Jesus looked at life through a camera lens. When people saw leppers and blind men, Jesus saw healing. When others saw whores and tax collectors, Jesus saw disciples. What some viewed as treacherous and criminal, Jesus saw as compassionate and wholesome. When Jesus looked at mankind, he optimistically saw endless facets of redemption.
So, as I look at the pictures on my desk, around my house and in books and magazines, I remember that we should be optimistic like Jesus. We should certainly not be decieved into thinking that life is as good as a picture, but we should squint, look through the lens, and see the potential beauty in the world. When we do, we'll see what Jesus saw: opportunities to heal, chances to lead and love, openings for compassion and grace.