Thursday, August 2, 2012

Picture Prayers

Last week, my family was lucky enough to spend a few days at Kanuga.  If you read that, Cah knew gah, you've pronounced it correctly.  As far as I'm concerned, there are few places that compare to this  peaceful, fun, sacred space.  For years, folks have flocked to Kanuga for rest and renewal, for study and learning and to delight in nature alongside family and special friends.  It is a magical place.

Over the past few years, we have been invited to Kanuga for my Tim to serve as chaplain for a summer guest period full of happy folks on their yearly pilgrimage to the Blue Ridge mountains to a time and place that seems to stand still.   Normally, we are filled with the anticipation of a restful time, full of laughing and praying and walking and game-playing and long, lazy talks and learning and on and on and on.  This time, though, we were on the cusp of a big decision, a life-changing one that had the whole family on edge.

We were facing a big decision about leaving what we know and beginning a new adventure.  We were deep in thought; and, if I'm to be honest, we were angst-filled, too.  We were on edge.  We weren't ourselves.  We weren't 'doing what we do' at Kanuga.  We enjoyed our summer friends immensely, but we couldn't reach that peace-filled place that usually sets in about an hour after arrival.  We were surrounded by majestic beauty and quiet mossy waterfalls, but we weren't relaxing into it all.  The Kanuga lake was there in all its refreshing splendor, but our splashes in it weren't quite as care-free as most summers.  We were happy to be there, but our hearts were tied in knots.

We made our big decision while we were there.  We felt the push to leave what we know and begin another chapter in this crazy life.  We will soon make a move from Covington, Ga to Columbus, Ga - from Good Shepherd to Trinity.  Deciding feels good, but thinking about going home to begin the good-byes put us in an insular, awkward place.  I was happy to be surrounded by God's beauty; but I had a hard time wrapping my brain around all that was to come, and it was difficult to take from Kanuga all that it so freely gives.

One warm night after dinner, I wandered away from the group.  I grabbed my camera bag and headed down the hill, toward the lake, to have some quiet.  I reached for my camera with a confidence that it would help me see things in a different way.  I wanted to be silent.  I wanted to pray.  I wanted to gather myself, and I knew that the camera's lens was the friend I needed on the walk.

It might sound odd to pray with a camera, but I've done it a lot.  Bringing along the camera, makes me stop.  It makes me move slowly and watch.  Having the camera, and being alone, means I take my time.  I look more closely.  I take in the scene and I give it the thought needed to begin to understand.  I pause, I thank God for the moments I was too busy to notice before, and I listen.

I focus.  I press the shutter.

I pause.  I think.  I listen.  Sometimes I re-focus and press the shutter again. I'm not working towards perfection.  I'm not considering anyone else.  It's just me, being quiet and listening.  It's good for the soul - of that, I am sure.

I won't forget that walk.  I needed it.  I'll try to remember it.  I'll take with me the idea of knowing when it's time to walk away to focus, re-focus, press pause on the moment, be thankful and listen.  It's a good routine, I think, and I'm sure life always requires it.

That day I shot some photos I've already taken before.  That wasn't the point.  The process was what I needed - the seeing, the listening, the thanksgiving.

The pictures just help me remember.

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