Saturday, February 27, 2010

Seeing God in new places

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


Bob said...

You did GREAT is how you did!

Yes God is in so many more places than church.

I remember singing a musical number in church choir when I was a teenager that had words like, "He's the air I breathe," "He's the wind that soars," etc. and the director made us change the words because he said it would upset some of the older people who were big givers! I didn't understand.

Worlds do collide and that is incredibly cool.

Roland said...

You done good.

MamaRose said...

SINCE OUR GOD MADE OUR WORLD & EVERYTHING IN IT--I totally agree & think you & Jack DID VERY WELL!!!

I always thought MY, personal, artistic/creative juices flowed ONLY MUSICALLY, but I KNOW their Paw-Paw actually HAS an ARTISTIC VEIN--he drew MANY COOL pencil drawings in HS!!!!!!!!!!!!! So, 'our' Jack IS carrying on 'art' in his own way OUT OF OUR FAMILY, for sure!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I still LOVE HOW he 'announces' things & babies--with his arms HIGH in the air & totally extended & yells THE WORDS at the top of his voice--like: "LUKE IS COMING" when he saw his 1st sonogram of him!!!!!!!!!!!!! So, I still say that he could be our 'Preacher'!!!!

Of course, all our kiddos CAN BE ANYONE & DO ANYTHING they WANT TO BE/DO!!!!!!!!!!!!! OUR GOD HAS BLESSED US BEYOND WORDS, really!!!!

THANKS for passing on ya'lls 'trip to the Mall'!!!!!!!!! Did he jump on that BIG trampoline with the straps????? I know he WANTED to the last time I was there with ya'll!!!!!!!!!

I, also, LOVE Jack's IMAGINATION & hope he NEVERS loses ALL OF IT!!!!!
OH, what a story-teller/book writer he could be!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SO GLAD you made it back home--wish I could have been there to help out Jamie, etc., but it just didn't work out for US, since I'd JUST gotten back from AR!!!!!!!!! Maybe, next time........LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mom

Debby said...

I like the view of God that Jack is getting from his father. Good job!

Don said...

Isn't great to discover the unique in your relationship with your children. Enjoy it to the fullest. It will be gone before you realize and they'll be grown and out of your life and in their lives. You are on the right track!

MamaRose said...

Don--It NEVER IS GONE--it just CHANGES, once the children ALSO become ADULTS--but, it's NEVER GONE!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOVE YOU, Son--ALWAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Don said...

Mama Rose- I have three boys, 42, 34, 28. My relationship with them as little boys is gone. I have often wished I could go back and have a "redo". Won't happen. My relationship with them as adults changes every day. I was encouraging your son to make the most of his children's childhood, which he obviously is doing very well.

Paula said...

You did great :)

Anonymous said...

Nice blog you got here... Just droppin' by to say hi!

Andrew said...

Hey Red! Haven't seen ya in a bit. Hope life is treating you and the family well!

Logan said...

Hey Michael,

Hope all is well-come back to us soon!