“How could we know that our lives would be so full of beautifully broken things?” – Dave Matthews Band
Molly is taking digital photography this semester. Like Grace, who took it two years ago, Molly is enjoying it immensely. This week a familiar assignment was due. Two years ago Grace did this same assignment and it was an assignment that we both found thought-provoking and profound. Perhaps you remember this assignment:
“Many photographers take the easy road and shoot flowers, breathtaking landscapes, models, the ocean at sunset, castles, dewy meadows, children and ponies. It is the photographer with the more sensitive eye and creative sense who can find the beauty in something either mundane or downright ugly. Examples might be the innards of a rusty, rotted barn, the ruins of a house with weeds growing from it, the haze of pollution over Beijing, or a wet mattress left on the curb. These are the photographers that can focus, crop, adjust lighting or point of view to get delicacy and beauty where most people would find rubbish.”
“Your assignment is to go out into your neighborhood and find those things that would be considered an “eyesore” to others and photograph them in a way that shows their beauty.”
Two years have passed since Grace completed this assignment and I still find it to be a wonderful photography lesson as well as a poignant life lesson. With cameras in hand we headed out to find things that were “beautifully broken.”
I love photography. I love taking photos. I love catching a moment in time and freezing it forever. I also love looking at other people’s photographs. I have found that what people take pictures of often says more about the individual than it does about what is being photographed. Photography allows us, if only for a moment, to see the world through another’s eyes. We can see how they see. We can notice what they notice. We are shown what they value and what they treasure based on what they zoom in on. It is an interesting study in humanity. When we see the world through a person’s lens, we better see them.
Molly has a very special way of seeing the world. As a result I find great delight in looking at her photos because they are so reflective of who she is.
This assignment allowed her way of seeing the world to be highlighted in a special way.
You see, Molly has a special gift. She has been blessed to see the good, the beautiful, the worth in things and people who others might dismiss. From the time she was toddling about she gushed with appreciation over the simplest things…things that others might walk past with little notice.
She has that same gift with people. She has been blessed with the most Christ-like way of seeing others. She takes notices those people that others may walk past,
And then makes them feel seen…makes them feel special.
I remember once when she was a little girl, probably no older than four, she noticed an elderly woman at the grocery store when we were out shopping. This woman was dressed in mismatched clothing and wore smeared bright red lipstick on her lips and bright blue eyeshadow on her eye lids. While other customers looked away from this old woman shuffling down the aisle, Molly moved in closer for a better look,
and then in her wonderfully innocent, enthusiastic way she gushed…
“Mommy, she is so beautiful!”
And she meant it.
She truly saw beauty.
Through her eyes this lady was beautiful and worthy of admiration.
And she made that lady’s day.
She made that woman feel seen in a world where others might look away.
What a beautiful gift…one that I so admire because it is not my gift.
I think that is why I so delight in seeing the world through Molly’s camera lens,
because she truly does see beauty where others only see brokenness.
Here is a look at the photos Molly took for her photography assignment:
What a wonderful lesson for all of us…
Whether we are talking about broken things, broken hearts, or broken people,
Great beauty can be found in brokenness when you choose to see those things through God’s eyes:
This is illustrated through one of my favorite songs by Hilary Weeks:
“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.”
– Camille Pissarro