Life, death, and a sunrise

You might think I’m reading too much into it, but I see every gorgeous #sunrise as a promise. It’s a reminder that God is who He says He is. He is good. He loves us. It’s a promise of things to come. The light will always break through the darkness. The things He creates are beautiful works of art. I’m not just talking about this sunrise or the Andromeda Galaxy. I’m talking about you and me. He created us. We are beautiful works of art, living in a messed up world.

After watching hundreds of sunrises, I have an observation. The most glorious sunrises often follow the darkest nights full of wicked storms. We might be tempted to shake our fist in rage at the heavens, cursing God for the storms…demanding answers. But we must remember…this isn’t the world He created. This is not “as good as it gets.” He has better plans and a better home for us. This world is a waypoint on the journey.

This past weekend was full of life events for me. A good friend had a precious baby on Friday… a glorious celebration of life in spite of numerous difficulties. I enjoyed some great time with friends and family. Those were treasured moments And my uncle passed away unexpectedly at 48, leaving many of us asking “Why?” These are the highs and lows of life. I witnessed them all in one weekend.

In the middle of it all, there was God. With us. Within us. Reminding us the He is good and that we are His finest masterpiece. Life comes and goes. We celebrate the new and grieve those who are gone. New life is a reminder of the potential that is within us all. Those first beautiful breaths cry out defiantly, storming this crazy planet with innocence…declaring that good does still exist, regardless of how things may appear at times.

My uncle’s last breath is a reminder of the weight of eternity that is written in our hearts. No matter what you believe, your life on this planet will end. No matter your worldview, you have no idea how many more breaths you have. Time is short. Time is precious. But even as I stood in my uncle’s apartment yesterday waiting for the medical examiner, a beautiful light was shining through his colorfully painted windows. It was a midday echo of the sunrise, created by combining my uncle’s unique talents with God’s great glory. “I’m here. I’m walking through this with you. With all of you.” A quiet prayer among acquaintances brought comfort and the first steps toward healing. A police officer spoke incredible and uplifting words of faith and encouragement. God was there. Shining through. Yes, this life is temporary. And for those of us mourning a loss the hole left in our life feels like it can’t ever be filled.

The grief and emptiness has a meaning and we would be wise not to be too quick to dismiss it. It’s a reminder that this isn’t the end. We weren’t designed for loss, so loss wounds us terribly. But in that loss we can feel the promise of a world to come. A world where this is no more sorrow, no more suffering, and no more pain. A world where reconciliation isn’t simply possible, but is reality.

That’s what I see in every beautiful sunrise. A promise of the glorious things to come. Faith. Hope. Love. Redemption.

 

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Oh, Shoot! Gazing west at sunrise. (#31Days)

Today is day two of the October writing challenge. I had a plan. I thought I had the early days of this challenge licked. The sun comes up every morning, right? That means I can kick off the beginning of the challenge with an easy sunrise pic and a few words of inspiration. I’d get an easy win under my belt and be good to go.

Boom!

I woke up this morning to the sound of thunder. I’ve lived in Oklahoma a long time. I really love a good, ground-shaking thunderstorm. Catching a good sunrise during a thunderstorm in impossible, though. In fact, it’s hard to catch much of anything.

The storm was on its way out of town when I rolled in to work. Although there was a faint fiery glow along the horizon, it was impossible to catch without a lot more time and equipment than I have.

But the clouds broke. Although it didn’t reveal the incredible oranges, reds, yellows, and blues we often see on autumn mornings in Oklahoma, I still couldn’t help but pause. Nature’s deep greys and purple contrasted with the dirty, faded white concrete of the old Union Station. Beauty was there. Even without the gorgeous sunrise, there was hope and inspiration to be found as the storm left us behind.

Stormy Sky

 

So what’s the lesson for today? Is it that you don’t always find beauty in the way you expect to? Maybe. Is it that life can still be breathtaking in the midst of darkness and storms? Possibly. But there’s more.

I turned around.

Away from the sunrise.

I found a few of the colors I had been longing for. The sun was casting its light over the clouds and reflecting back from the other side. I was gazing west at sunrise. It was incredible

The light behind me

 

So maybe if you find yourself stuck, seeking light or beauty or the comfort of something familiar… Maybe it’s not so far away, but in a different presentation than you expected. Maybe hope is breaking through a simple crack between the clouds. Or maybe you just need to turn around.

Where have you found hope and light today?

Wonderment

Have you ever given a child a camera? Wonderment results.

It is amazing how this new tool opens their eyes and changes how they see the world. I love taking a look at the pictures my kids take, and I love watching them take pictures. They don’t over-think things. They experiment. It is beautiful and I try to learn from them. Seeing how they see the world changes how I see the world.

On our first few days of our visit to Paris, it was like being a child again. So many incredible sights, lights, and colors filled my eyes that it was impossible to capture it all. But it was a lot of fun. From a photography perspective, how do you capture familiar and often photographed sites in new ways? Here is a sampling of a few non-standard shots…

The Rodin museum. This is my attempt to duplicate a picture that my son took. I thought it was a great idea and I’m happy with this memorable shot.

This perspective helps to capture the sheer number of locks that are attached to this bridge. Looks like there’s a lot of love in Paris!

The angels in Notre Dame cast spooky shadows. 

A view from a bunker on Pointe Du Hoc. Normandy. Imagine the Germans that manned these huge guns, looking out at this beautiful beach day after day. The water was crystal clear and filled with gulls and loons. Then one day it was filled with Americans with guns and explosives. Such beauty and destruction, tied together forever.

Family portrait on the 1st deck of the Eiffel tower. Standing on the marker of the South tower. Those shoes are made for walking. I stole this idea from my son as well, based on some shots he did for Instagram.