This winter there were several snowstorms that hit our area. Arkansans may know how to cope with floods, fires, and tornadoes, but snow is another matter entirely. Life in this little river valley ground to a halt. Children released from school flocked to hills to spend dazzling days sledding as closing after closing scrolled across the bottom of the television screen.
For once, instead of just following our little family around documenting everything with my camera, I joined in.
Well, I actually did a little of both. It is hard for me to be surrounded by beauty and not document it.
When I write I feel like I express myself better than when I speak. I can choose my words more carefully. I can edit. When I am behind the viewfinder my mind operates in a different way. My thinking is clarified and it is then that I feel like I can hear most clearly the little whispers of God. I am incredibly visual and He uses these times to drop things in my mind. I am quiet and contemplative and ready to listen.
I can only see through a glass darkly, and I know this, but it still does not always penetrate. It does not always make the unimaginably long journey from head to heart, from knowledge to understanding.
Today I see something in the images of February that I could not see then. A lot has happened in six months. My view has changed. There were horrible moments in those days between. I would not want to ever go back and relive them. But I know that things are better now than they were before. This creates a paradox in my mind. What, then, is blessing and what is curse?
Maybe part of my answer is in this. When things were at their worst I clung to thanks and love. When everything seemed to slow into a few single frozen moments of pain, it was then that my mind was clarified. It was then that God began to change me even in the midst of situations that were not about me. Changing me so that I would bend and not break.
So maybe this has been the worst year of my life. Maybe there are things I never want to relive. But in the midst of all the hurt and heart sickness I found thanks and beauty and love. Instead of dwelling on self and doubt and fear, I was able to look past me and extend love and grace and feel the true joy of a thankful heart. It may have been slow at first, but as my heart was warmed, as it flowed through me more freely, it was easier. It is easier.
"...unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified." Isaiah 61:3