Thursday, 13 December 2012

a hard look at me

 I took this shot yesterday afternoon on my way home.  I didn't stop for a self portrait.  In fact, the whole reason I pulled over was because of "the red barn" - a favourite landmark I pass driving to and from my house.  It is so old and tired, barely standing, but somehow still beautiful --especially yesterday, cloaked in the bright dazzle of winter sunshine. I stood on the fence so that I could shoot as much of the barn as possible.

And then from the corner of my eye,  I see the image that I hadn't stopped for, the surprise beauty, the shadows, the lines, the patterns....and ME, right there as a part of it all.

Life, even abundant life, is so strange and full of paradox....that there is beauty in the shadows, and patterns in the random chaos of a day....that what I come for, thinking I need, is so seldom what I leave with...that I see so much more in places I'd never even thought to look at first.  I see Him, the true Beauty and Wonder of it all.  And I see me, off to the side, looking for ways to capture Him on the lens of my heart, yet struggling still.

There is much about me in this portrait that you can't see.  You can't see that I'm wearing a wool toque because I didn't bother trying to fix my bed-head from this morning, or that I have no make up on because I'm miserable and I just don't care.  You can't see that I'm snowed under with feelings of self-pity because I have a lousy cold, a running nose, a headache, a cough, and because I really just want to go to bed (just as soon as I take these photos!!)  But what really makes me feel worse than anything is knowing that I'm feeling sorry for myself when a boy on my son's hockey team has a mom and a sister both being treated for cancer...when a neighbour just lost her young niece to the same disease...when a homeless man I know is out in this cold somewhere trying to get through another day...when there is so much excruciating hurt and pain and sorrow in this world. And beauty. When there's so much exquisite beauty in the mix.

I resign myself to the fact that I'm lost for words again.  I can't seem to express the deep knowing --of God's grace and ultimate goodness-- that resides at the core of who I am.  My words just trip and tumble and land flat today.  And maybe that's okay.

        p.s. here are the pictures I stopped for in the first place.

photos and text © 2012 Melody Armstrong

Sunday, 9 December 2012

"reach into the waiting"

I'm shivering and smiling under extra blankets because I've swung wide the door to winter.  I do it because I want to drink in as much of this view as I can.  

While the fire blazes hot beside me, a cool mountain wind is an unexpected but invited guest.  It has echoed along the valley past tunnel mountain and blown itself right through my door and up into the sloping rafters of my room. 

 I don't mind this guest. I just furrow in a little deeper, listen to the fire's breathy crescendos and decrescendos and watch flame-shadows dance pink across my page.

All is music
All is symphony
All is praise to the Holy One - Jesus
for Whom I wait
from whose mouth come
the cool winds and warm flames
that blow across my life.

I can be cold and warm...content with the change and uncertainty.  I can trust Him with the seasons of me that don't make sense.  I can "reach into the waiting," LETTING MY SOUL TRAVEL THE DISTANCE TO STILLNESS, where I bow before my everlasting King and offer Him my humble gift of everything.
(a special thanks to Judy McVean whose phrase "reach into the waiting" has not left me since I read it.
For a thoughtful reflection on this most precious advent season, please follow this link to Judy McVean's honest and revealing blog SeeingSacred.  )
(photos and text © 2012 Melody Armstrong except where otherwise cited.)