Do you like to take photos? One of the best inventions ever was the addition of a camera to a cell phone – at least in my opinion. Now I can take photos anywhere and anytime. I’ve been known to pull over by the side of a road and take photos of flowers. Just this morning I stopped on my way into church and snapped a few photos of the white and pink azaleas in bloom beside the parking lot. Last week I took photos in Mount Vernon at the Tulip festival, trying to get just the right shot in the overabundance of possible photos.
Then last week I received a request from Mark’s work to submit three photos. A childhood photo, a photo of him when he first began working for this company (almost 23 years ago) and a current photo. Well, the current photo wasn’t hard to find. The one from childhood I had to ask his sister to send me – a cute shot of the two of them at a garden show amidst the mums. But the one from 23 years ago? I finally found one in a photo album (remember those?) and took a cellphone photo of it to submit - mission accomplished.
This journey through photographs reminded me of the blessing of time and the many emotions we feel at its passing. Looking back, I remember how it felt to be a new parent. I remember old addresses, friends we haven’t seen in a while, and older relatives now rejoicing in heaven. Observing time and its passing is part of being human. The book of Ecclesiastes includes this musing over time (Ecc. 3:1-8 selected verses, 3:11),
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; …4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; … a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” 11 He (God) has made everything suitable for its time;
It is that last line that struck me so deeply these past weeks. God has made everything suitable, or as other translations put it, “everything beautiful in His time.” Each moment of life holds wonder. Each moment can hold a sense of awe and amazement. Even the trials of life can bring a new focus on what really matters, what are the truly important aspects of life. William C. Martin writes this about time:
“There are only two questions that need to be answered in order to move along the path toward God. One could spend a lifetime just considering these two questions and answers. The first question is, “What time is it?” The second question is, “Where are you?” The only correct answer to the first is “Now!” The only correct answer to the second is, “Here!” [pg. 2, from his book, “The Art of Pastoring”]
Maybe I shoot those photos so that I may hold, for just a moment, the “now” that is passing. Maybe I shoot those photos to hold for just a moment the place that I’m passing through. All these places and times are made beautiful by God. My prayer for us in this month of May is that we may appreciate God’s gift of time in the here and now.