I turned 37 on September 08.
I don’t feel 37.
Often we use hallmarks like marriage, children, a profession (of sorts) as markers of age, wisdom, maturity and life. Seeing as I have none of these, it feels like I’m still a freshman on campus, waiting to discover what life really has in store for me.
While there’s a certain youthful truth when comparing myself to other adults with partners and kids and careers, it’s somewhat short-sighted. Of course I’ve had markers over the past 20 years or so! I’ve traveled the world; I’ve pursued higher education; I’ve lived through incredibly deep trauma, survived, and lived to share about it (albeit reluctantly at times).
I’ve gone gooey over three amazing nephews.
I’ve gained a sister-in-law.
I’ve become friends with my parents over the past 10 or 12 years.
How can I tell myself that I haven’t accomplished anything or achieved anything?
Yet I do.
It’s probably more out of my own desire for family, than any filmy sense of reality. So reminding myself of the many ways wisdom has tip-toed into my life is necessary for me to practice on a daily basis. Otherwise I simply carry on comparing myself to the lives and careers of others.
Today I have decided to take another step in living an intentional life. There are some things in this world that come to us whether we want them to or not, but I don’t believe everything is “what will be will be”. There are things in this world that need to be chosen, decided upon, desired, taken responsibility for; but I don’t believe we can know all of the infinite possible outcomes of our decisions, as much as we’d like that to be so.
I need not remind you of the amount of injustice this world faces and creates second by second. What I need to discover carefully for myself is that calling out injustice is only a fraction of the equation. Responding to injustice is a far larger part of the picture (note that noun, btw), and that response can have prisms of design.
By that I mean how I respond to one issue can have incredible diversity; and it may not look like how I respond to something the next time; nor will it look like how you would respond to something. The prism grows, reflects and refracts, and suddenly light emerges from the darkest cracks and into the most hidden of corners.
Good grief, Erin, what is this big step? For pity’s sake! (I know… I’m working on brevity). 😀
Photography has always been a passion of mine, along with my writing. But I live in a remote area that doesn’t even have it’s own photo store/lab/supply shop. That aside, I’ve begun using my photography as a way to capture God. While I know God cannot be captured entirely, I can capture aspects of God’s nature, God’s people, God’s life, God’s mystery, God’s beauty, and God’s confusion.
Using photography is becoming a part of my spiritual practice. It is becoming my way of overcoming injustice; of shining light in the dark. Who do I see when I look at a particular image? Who is calling back?
As of today, I am an apprentice of The Arcanum. It’s an online space where apprentices like myself are matched with Masters who have honed their art and their craft. Instead of having a beginning date and an end date, with some regulated assignments in the middle, The Arcanum relationship continues on as long as required. Everything from image capturing, to technical skills, to editing and finishing, to presentation, to artistry, and even business building is available for tutelage.
As my proficiency in photography grows, my relationship with my Master and cohort deepens.
Here’s the real kicker: my Master is none other than my good friend from grad school, Shari Miller. BAM!
She was furiously dabbling in photography while we were in the Urban Studies program together, and we were able to have deeply meaningful conversations together about water and light… being made to fill and not to fit… seeing the beautiful in the cast offs of the world… stopping to take notice of what I would normally pass by.
As I begin this journey of contemplative photography, I hope for many things. Of course the immature part of me believes that after a month or two, I’ll be as good as Shari or better. HA! How many of us former piano students know that is simply not the case.
But I’ll flex my muscles.
I’ll choose to see myself as an artist, while embracing my hesitancy in the term.
I will find God in the lost places, and the forgotten people — myself included.
That being said, I decided to post a picture of myself to kick it all off. It’s not a selfie, so it’s not my own work. And anyone who knows me knows how obnoxious and narcissistic I find selfies to be. But if I’m going to seek beauty through my camera lens, I need to start seeking beauty in myself. That’s not an easy thing to say. I am my own worst critic, and I’m shy of critics who would interpret this new step as self-indulgent.
But Light has broken through in me — through my cracks into a dark world, and into me and my darkest places. Why not start with me and where God has brought me to? Why not begin to perceive what God is doing in my life? Why not begin right where I’m at, instead of looking for depth elsewhere while ignoring what’s right here?
So down the rabbit hole I go, following Shari to Wonderland, armed only with a used camera body and one lens.
Stay tuned for the Great Big New Step in My Life — The LEFT foot. That will come later on.
Oh yes. Changes are abounding.
Check out Shari’s “Meet the Master” video. You’ll hear why I believe we’re such a great match. Consider, too, joining The Arcanum and engage in a fuller, more relationship style of learning and hope.