You know those picture books where you’re supposed to find a hidden picture? There may be an elephant or a rabbit or even a cartoon character hidden within the picture. You know that you’re supposed to spend some time really looking deeply into this picture to see what is hidden there for you. Otherwise you’d pass right over it after just a glance.
What if life is like that? What if everything is a hidden picture and we’re supposed to slow down and look very carefully?
I like to think of that with God. I like to think that God is hidden within everything and that if we just look really hard will see God hiding in plain sight right front of us. Just like with those pictures. The elephant or the rabbit or the cartoon character was always there. We didn’t have to uncover anything. We just had to slow down and take the time to look, and the only reason we knew to do that was because of the title of the picture. It was there all along.
Try this with everything. Try looking for the hidden – this hidden beauty in everything. I promise that you will see amazing things.
Remember the Pink Floyd song “The Wall”? There is a lyric in it that is really meaningful for Holy Week: “If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding!”
In some Christian denominations, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are just days of the week. Nothing special happens. In others, they are holy days of deep reflection and fasting. They are dark days right before the biggest celebration of the Christian year – Easter. Within those denominations are people who don’t make time to go to Maundy Thursday or Good Friday services, and I feel they are shortchanging themselves.
So many people want to skip over the bad and go straight to the good. But if you don’t go through the bad, then the good doesn’t have the same meaning. They want their pudding, but they don’t want to eat the meat.
The “meat” is Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. They are hard to chew, and even harder to digest. They are difficult. They open us up and break us down. They take us along with Jesus into the pain and despair of that time, that time of loss, of betrayal, of abandonment. They take us along with the disciples into that time of fear and confusion.
The “pudding” is Easter – it is sweet and easy to eat. It is a day of joy, of promises fulfilled, of knowing that God is supreme.
But you have to go through the darkness to appreciate the light.
This is privet. It is a woody plant. In certain situations it is an invasive weed.
Yet when planted intentionally and carefully cultivated, it is a hedge, a living wall.
The same thing can be “good” or “bad” depending on where it is, and how much of it is there.
Too much water is just as bad as too little. Too much water in the wrong place can be devastating.
A hedge can be low –
…or high. It can keep people out…
…or let them in.
It can even be shaped into a maze, where you can let people in, but they have to find their own way out. (Hint – pick a side, left or right, and follow that exclusively.)
What would be at the center of your maze?
Would you make your privet into a wall to keep people out?
How high would you let it grow?
How long are you willing to wait for that? It can take a decade to make an impenetrable.
Will people notice that you are growing a barrier, or will it be a surprise to them?
Will they step over it in the meantime?
(All pictures are from the internet. Used for illustrative purposes.)
This is a place that doesn’t exist. It could, and perhaps it was supposed to, but it doesn’t yet – exist. This is in Old Hickory – a suburb of Nashville, TN.
I first noticed it while on a walk. At the intersection of Jones and 9th, the road stops and there is nothing. Not a house, not a permanent structure. There’s a large fence, and you can see a garage top. It is a gap. It is not an empty lot. Looking to the North-West.
Here’s the end of the road seen from here, turning to your right if you were facing North. Looking East.
So I looked online. It is amazing what patterns appear when you look at things from a different perspective.
Here’s Google maps – Street
Notice that there isn’t a single house between the “ends” of 9th. There are garages. The road could be continued. Here’s a closer view –
Notice that there is space behind the houses. There are fences, but there is space between the fences, going vertically. The yards don’t butt up next to each other. This creates an alleyway of sorts. This is true on all three vertical neighborhood blocks that you can see in the Earth picture. You can notice it somewhat on the Street picture, but it isn’t as pronounced.
Here is the end of the alleyway from 10th. Looking North.
And here it is from 8th. Looking South.
And here is the other side of the gap from Cleves, looking East.
I wonder if neighborhood children see this empty space and take advantage of it to cut through behind the houses without being seen. I also wonder if I’d get in trouble exploring here. Probably. So I explore virtually.
It is good to slow down and watch the seasons change right before your eyes. Ideally, I’d take this picture every day at the same time, but my lunch schedule doesn’t permit it. So noon and 2 it will be.
2 pm, Tuesday 10/18/16
Noon, Wednesday 10/19/16
2 pm, Thursday 10/20/16, after a storm
And then I run into a dilemma – I’m off this next week. But if I don’t take a photo of this every day, I’ll miss it. This isn’t as forgiving as the “Tuesday Buffet” series I did.
2 pm, Friday 10/21/16
2pm, Sunday 10/23/16
2 pm, Monday 10/24/16
It doesn’t seem like it is changing very fast. So do I need to take a picture every day? But – if I don’t try, I won’t be able to go back and fill in that gap. However – art must serve the artist, not the other way around. If this isn’t fun to me, but work, then it defeats the purpose.
2 pm, Wednesday 10/26/16
12pm Saturday 10/29/16
12 pm Monday 10/31/16
2pm Tuesday 11/1/16
12pm Wednesday 11/02/16
12pm Saturday 11/05/16
12 pm Monday 11/07/16
12pm Wednesday 11/09/16
2pm Thursday 11/10/16
Off four days, did not come up here to take pictures.
2 pm Tuesday 11/15/16
12pm Wednesday 11/16/16
2pm Thursday 11/17/16
12 pm Saturday 11/19/16
2 pm Tuesday 11/22/16
12 pm Wednesday 11/23/16
A rainy and windy day. I drove here rather than walk so I didn’t get stuck outside in a storm.
And then it was Thanksgiving break, so I missed 4 days. I almost skipped Monday as well because I was off to tutor for the second time this school year. But a lot has happened, so I had to.
12 Monday 11/28/16
We had a big storm with 50MPH winds on Monday night. Leaves are everywhere and finally there is the smell of late autumn – wet leaves decaying.
2pm Tuesday 11/29/16
12pm Wednesday 11/30/16
2pm Thursday 12/01/16
12pm Saturday 12/03/16
12pm Monday 12/05/16
Since you can barely see any more leaves on it, I’ve decided to post this. Perhaps I’ll do a Winter, Spring, and Summer series too.
If you get caught with drugs, you are charged with possession. But I believe it would be more accurate to say that you should be diagnosed with possession. You are possessed.
You don’t do drugs. Drugs do you. They act upon you quietly and insidiously. They end up taking over your life. They don’t enhance it – they take away from it.
Perhaps if we saw drug use as possession we would be able to actually treat it for a change. We would no longer see it as a lack of willpower but as a dangerous force that takes up residence inside you and makes you do things that you wouldn’t normally do.
It is important to understand that this doesn’t start off as a passive action. You, sober, make the first move. You, sober, are the one who first starts using drugs. They don’t have a hold of you at that point. So you have control at the beginning.
This is the same as with possession. You have to allow that demon into your soul for it to harm you. Once you do, you are in big trouble. Just like with drugs, you’re in over your head very fast.
Consider Noah and Jonah and Jesus.
At one point, each was separated
from the rest of the world.
Through their time away
hidden they were able
to heal and bring salvation.
he was in prison for many years
but that put him in the right place
to be able to rescue the entire Jewish people
from certain extinction.
There is something for us
about these stories of people
retreating from the world
in order to save the world.
They are enclosed
in quiet dark places
they are like seeds
waiting for the right time
for bringing new life.
Remember when you are in
those dark times.
You are not being buried.
You’re being planted.
Everything starts in darkness.
It is not an end.
It is a transition
time to change
a time of stilling yourself
for something new to come.
Go into those times mindfully
and with rejoicing.