A few years ago I started making the shift from a black/white view of the universe when it comes to what is spiritual and what is secular.
For a long time church was spiritual and school was secular. Reading the bible was spiritual and reading fiction was secular. Going to a concert could be either spiritual or secular, depending on the band. But it couldn't be both!
Now those worlds have collided in my mind and I no longer see any difference. Every Sunday I see all kinds of secularism in the traditions and practices of my church. And throughout the week I catch glimpses of God in the most mundane things.
Yesterday I got a chance to see God in my children, because I had spent the previous four days in California for business. Absense indeed made my heart grow fonder for them, and when I returned I had freshly empathetic eyes to examine their exhilarating ride in deciphering how this world works, and what their role will be in it.
Due to my travel and the insane number of hours I worked during the week, I worked from home on Friday and had time to take my 4yo son, Jack, to the mall. It is one of his favorite places and he's been asking to go there for weeks. So off we went!
With a great marriage, three children and a busy job it can be difficult to get a solid chunk of one-on-one time with any of my kids. When it happens, I make it a point to do whatever I can to make it special.
Jack is fun because he has so many traits that don't seem to come from either of his parents. Jamie and I are strong introverts, while our oldest son is the opposite. We like to follow a schedule, and Jack still doesn't recognize that time exists at all. We enjoy eating, and Jack would rather talk and starve. I loved sports as a child, and Jack could live just fine without them.
Jamie and I are curious how this might develop in the areas of artistic ability. She and I have very little of it (read: she has some, I have none) but perhaps Jack will flourish as a right-brained spark of life in a world that seems more and more oriented to we left-brained folk. Because of this possibility, we've tried to give all of our kids early and regular exposure to the arts. We regularly visit museums, have seen mutiple performances of the Houston Symphony, and have invested in art supplies for our home.
One area we haven't dabbled in is photography. We use a simple point-and-shoot camera at home, and have no clue about things like composition or lighting. What we do know, though, is that a great picture really is worth 1,000+ words, but I almost exclusively use words to communicate in my life. Writing and speaking fills up almost all of my communication. What if my son learned to communicate by capturing his perspectives visually? How cool!
So I redeemed the time with my son at the mall and decided to use it as an intro to real photography. A chance to clash the spiritual with the secular and find out how a simple lens could awaken the divine in us. Obviously I couldn't do this on my own, so I recruited some help from a mall photographer that has worked with thousands of people over the past few years. The photographer's task was to do a candid session with Jack and I, using odd framing and the element of surprise to snag a moment in time that was special in its normalcy. Proving to me once again that God is in the details, and that there is no such thing as mundane. Oh that my son can learn this lesson sooner than I have!
Perhaps he will never become a photographer, or an artist at all. But if he does, then just maybe he'll look back on "that day with my dad at the mall" as the event that started it all!
Of course we kept the photographs, on which we are placing so much hope and importance. How did we do?
Link to pictures