The Myth of a Glamorous Life
As a photographer, it is easy to get lost in light. I become enraptured with delight when a subject (even a drab one) is bathed in just the right light. This morning, as I was getting ready to leave for work, I could have wept at how beautiful the early morning light was, falling, as it did, on my vintage typewriter (which had, incidentally, sat hidden in a forgotten basement, or somewhere, until I rescued it at an estate sale, for a price too low to print.)
I don't even like mornings.
In the glow of that light, I forget about the other times. The rainy days, the gloom, the night. I forget that it doesn't always look this magical.
So it is with life.
I look at a lot of these moments in time, beautiful, observed, treasured. There are pictures of romping children, friends dressed up in new clothes, hugging newlyweds. There are picnics and finished products and bowls of fresh raspberries. Sometimes, I forget that these are just the moments which catch the light. I get so caught up in them, that I don't remember that they are attached to lives, lives which are distinctly un-glamorous most of the time.
The other day, as I helped a dear friend soak up water from her floor (she had forgotten to turn off the water in the sink, again). We talked about this very thing. There is no glamour to be found on my hands and knees, wringing out soaking wet towels and praying that it isn't leaking too badly into the basement.
Sometimes, in her house, I catch the light. That same day, I involuntarily pulled out my camera, taking picture after picture of her brand new baby, just three weeks into her young life. The toes, the quirking face, reminiscent of her sisters, her parents. Her eyes sparkled with promise, wonder, and a little wonderment.
Anyone who has spent much time with a baby knows that there is nothing glamorous about life for, or with, one. Every deeply personal act is public and proclaimed. The need of a child is so great, so immediate. But somehow, slowly, that immediacy slips away, replaced with complacency, occasionally interrupted, if I am blessed with vision, by the light.
However, though I grow older, Jesus asks me to cultivate the spirit of a child:
"And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” (Mark 10:13-15)
Jesus did not have a glamorous life, though He was the pinnacle of human perfection. It is difficult to look at His earthly life as desirable, in many of the ways I think about that today. I am sure, however, that Jesus, the Light of the World, caught the beauty in His own creation that I so often miss. He saw the gleam in the eyes of a beggar, overlooked by everyone who passed him by. He saw the creased and worn hands of Peter's mother-in-law, serving tirelessly, after He healed her from a fever. He rebuked the disciples when they suggested that Mary's gift of costly perfume could have been better spent.
I love the way this goes:
"Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” (John 12:1-8)
Can you just see it? "The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume." Jesus saying, the Light will not always be with you. As I look for the light, in my life, and in the lives of others, I am looking for Jesus. Not for glamour, or even the artificiality of electric lights, but for the Light of the World. When I stop and acknowledge the beauty of what He has made, the wonder of who He is, I am suspended in eternity, longing for a time where there will be no night at all.