Photography as an art form is somewhat underrated. I never appreciated it much until I tried to take artistic photos. My efforts were laughable. When I compare my best efforts to a skilled photographer’s least, I grow in admiration for their artistry.
A close friend of the family while I was growing up was Alan Aaronson, an award-winning photographer for the Daily News. A big, tall, street smart, and likeable guy, he rode with the cops and firemen and got his hands dirty whenever help was needed. He loved going to the shooting range, working on cars, and fiddling with every new technological gadget that hit the market. Al would impress no one as an artist, and yet, an artist he was. He knew how to frame a shot for the most impressive visual appeal and to evoke a visceral emotional response – hence the awards.
A good photographer, in addition to having impressive and complicated cameras, has a different perspective. They know how to set up a shot, what to focus upon, and which lens to use in a given situation. They see beauty in details that often elude the average observer. They focus on what matters and blur out the background distractions.
To succeed at life, we all need to know when to narrow or widen our perspectives. At the end of Lent and as the Easter season begins there’s a compelling analogy. During Lent, and especially during Holy Week, we focus quite narrowly on the Passion of our Lord. We do the stations of the Cross and meditate on each moment of that painful journey to Calvary. That blessed moment, the pinnacle of our Redemption, when Christ gave up His Spirit to the Father. In that moment, we were set free. That sacred moment, re-presented at every Mass. During Holy Week we kneel before that mystery in silent reverence and awe. Holy Saturday we wait…with the Church palpably empty of His presence in the Tabernacle. I know the end of the story yet on that day I feel that emptiness…the sadness and loss the apostles and Mary surely experienced.
But suddenly Easter breaks, like the sun rising from the deepest darkness…and glory begins. Joy reigns. Our circumstances may not change as quickly, our crosses may remain as we trudge through our lives. But the key to happiness is knowing which lens to use and when. Since Christ died once for all with the superabundant grace of redemption, we are an Easter people. Therefore, we need to widen our focus and see our lives and our problems through the wide focus lens of the Resurrection. Each pain has meaning as it’s woven into our own glorious story.
There will remain times that we need to use a narrow lens. Sometimes we need to focus on a hurt in order to heal it. But healing is the goal so focusing too narrowly or too much without the perspective of God’s grace and plan for our ultimate happiness can do more harm than good. To live the abundant life that Jesus died to win for us, we need to be able to narrow our focus every day on the beautiful elements in our lives and our surroundings. And sometimes we need to fade the background to be see more clearly what’s most important.
So, as we celebrate Easter and our Lord’s glorious resurrection, remember this simple lesson: Use a narrow focus on your blessings and see your crosses through the wide angle lens of eternity.
*Photo credit: Kiersten Tellis Selby, Rose Hill Road Photography
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