21 May 2020

A Moment to Reflect -21

A brief moment in time   …captured

I guess that is what every snapshot or photograph is, but that moment can often tell a powerful story 

Sometimes you know the story (or think you do) and the picture sums it up perfectly: sometimes you don’t know and you use your imagination to make it up. And, sadly, in this very visual age sometimes a photograph is used to tell a story that is not actually true. (’fake news’)

What is the connection between image and reality, perception and truth… how we see things and what they really are?

Do we ever know the whole story when we look at another person?

Do we ever know the whole story when we look in the mirror?

How quickly we make assumptions. How often we can get them wrong.

Someone once said, “Perception is not always a reflection of the truth, but more about the context of the moment in a small window of time.”

How true this is of photographs.

This particular picture was taken 9 years ago in a poor area of Northern Ghana. I caught a glimpse of this young family leaving a little church and I felt I had to capture the ‘telling’ moment. I have to confess that I didn’t have the opportunity to ask permission as I usually would so I don’t know the story: but here’s what I see. 

I see a young mother with two children, and possibly a third on the way. 

The mother seems resolute and determined, elegantly striding along with her children in tow, proudly holding her Bible before her as she heads for home. The young girl being carried on her mother’s back strains to see the way ahead. Her older brother follows dutifully behind.

It could be a picture of Christian discipleship, of one generation sharing its faith the next. Or it could even be a parable of how we as children of God may be carried or led by God, even from before we are born. I have sometimes given this picture the title “The Way.”

But, of course, I may be completely wrong.

What do you see? What story does it convey to you?

Two quotations to reflect upon today- one literary, the other Biblical:

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

20 May 2020

A Moment to Reflect -20

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, the American humourist, novelist, and creator of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, is better known by his pen name of Mark Twain. 

Among his most memorable phrases and sayings you’ll find

‘There are lies, damned lies, and statistics’

‘The secret of getting ahead is getting started’ and

‘Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.’

However, the one I want to focus on in this short reflection is his assertion that:

 “Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.” ― Mark Twain

This is of course little more than wishful thinking. The reality for most of us is that when we start to develop wrinkles they don’t just show ‘where our smiles have been’ they also bear witness to our past worries, hurts and fears. 

As I said a couple of days ago, “for me the faces of older people are often the most interesting— they have so many more stories etched into them.” 

I hope today’s portrait is a good illustration of that. It shows the face of someone who has experienced a lot—much of it far from easy. It also shows a face of wisdom and kindness, ‘the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.’ It was a privilege to meet her.

You can find her family’s story here: Tent of Nations / Nassar Farm But most of all what I notice is that the lines of the smiles are stronger and deeper than any of other furrows. This is a face filled with faith.

When you look in the mirror, what story does your face tell?