Saturday, June 03, 2006

An Ordinary Photograph

Sometimes an ordinary photograph can speak to us of extraordinary things. This one was snapped last Thanksgiving. My nephew declared it ruined but I knew differently.

Whatever we may choose to call it, The Wilderness, The Desert, The Dark Night of the Soul, Poo Poo Alley—we have all been there. I once heard a preacher say that we are all either entering into wilderness or just exiting it after a time of wandering. Some of us spend more time than others wandering. I think I may have already exceeded my "wandering allotment".

And occasionally, if we are not careful, whenever we are in that darkness, our perspective becomes skewed in such a way that we are not seeing correctly.

You can't see it clearly, but here is what the quote on the page says:

"A lecturer to a group of businessmen displayed a sheet of white paper on which was one blot. He asked what they saw. All answered, "A blot." The test was unfair: it invited the wrong answer. Nevertheless, there is an ingratitude in human nature by which we notice the black disfigurement and forget the widespread mercy.

We need deliberately to call to mind the joys of our journey. Perhaps we should try to write down the blessings on one day. We might begin; we could never end: there are not pens or paper enough in all the world. The attempt would remind us of our "vast treasure of content." (Attributed to George Arthur Buttrick)

Next thing we know, the only thing we can see is one dark blot. And we lose track of the light that is in our life. I lost my sense of gratitude and I was full of self-pity. I had forgotten the widespread mercy that permeates my life. This was the attitude I had taken with me on my journey during Lent.

I don’t know what happened exactly (though I do know Who is at work) inside me. The darkness is still there. Anyone can see it. But it no longer overwhelms me. (And let me be the first one to make perfectly clear that I am not announcing that I have "arrived" and things will now be rosy forevermore!)

Miraculously, it would seem, something changes, and an ordinary photograph takes on a whole new substance. And that which was thought to be worthless and ruined is saved (though it is still very ordinary!).

(Yes, the first photo and the last photo, lightened up in Photoshop, are one and the same.)


  1. 1. I think that you are handling the wilderness so much better!

    2. I am amazed at your use of photoshop.

    3. And since I now own that *blot*, I do not see it like you did at all. Isn't that amazing?

  2. Well, I am going to have to read this post a couple of more times, but the first thing that occured to me, is that we can try to remember wherever we may be wandering, that we go no where alone, nor are we there by accident. I think you are wonderful.

  3. I'm in the dark right now, wandering toward the light. I can see it, but I can't get there quick enough.

  4. I love your writing and photographs Annie. Your way of documenting your journey is really inspiring.

    Keep it going.

  5. I would so love to Photoshop my life sometimes. Hugs to you..."down deep".

  6. See, here's the difference, Annie. When God whispers, you listen. Most of the time, we swat at our ear as if to wave off an annoying gnat. I am so glad that God is at work in your life and we get to watch.

  7. You are the one stop I made during my limited time at the library in Pensacola, but it looks as if my comment failed to register. We're back home until the first week of next month, but there's a library in St Pete also. Don't know what I'd do without the cup of water you bring to us. Another great post, Annie.....

  8. Annie- you are amazing. I have been wandering for quite some time now but now I know that it has all not been in vain. My desert is not so much empty but waiting... waiting for me to find the treasures hidden there. Thanks again for your beautiful words.

  9. Princess: Thanks for the vote of confidence! I do still want to know how you see that blot.

    Ayekah: Thanks. You are so right about the fact that we are never alone, even when we are wandering. Sometimes we just can't see.

    Patty: I do hope you are able to make it to the light, hope that your darkness is not overwhelming.

    Spookyrach: Thank you.I really do believe that even the bumbling around journeys (like mine!) have something to offer.

    Cynthia: Ditto me, on the being able to photoshop parts of my life! And thanks for the "down deep" hug. It was just right!

    Little David: Thank you so much. I only wish my "listening ears" were more consistent.

    Jim: Thank you. I am glad you are able to take something away from what I have written.

    Regina Clare Jane: Thanks girl. I am convinced there are treasures in the desert, if we will only open our eyes to them.

  10. Annie, no need to respond to my comments. I just want to say that this post is a powerful use of metaphor, and I do not say that lightly - no pun intended.

    It is stuff like this that I was talking about. Do not get the big head - neither one of us have arrived. But along the way some really great stuff like this occasionally oozes out of us and if the world doesn't blink it gets a chance to see it too.

    The more I read your work the more I realize that you are a diamond in the rough.


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