Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Chapter 9: A Matter of Perspective

 "Eucharisteo makes the knees the vantage point of a life."

While reading I thought of a beautiful girl, the daughter of a longtime friend. I am stricken by the gentleness of her spirit, the kindness and humility that radiates forth from her oft quiet demeanor. To meet her is to love her at once. She is childlike but not childish, with a smile that invites and says I love you without words. Hers is a heart I would love to know better.

Chapter 9 opens with Shalom's plea to "take pictures, too?", followed by a little girl on a big quest resulting in a collection of images that takes Ann's breath away. And mine, too, just from the description.

I've always loved seeing the variety in photographic perspective. You can see so much through the lens of another, other angles, other composition, and it is intriguing to note what others look for. Shalom's perspective was not just small in stature. It was simple--small in the most divine of ways--and beautiful. Who thinks of how lovely door knobs are? I remember being drawn to the design of door knobs as a child, turning them over and over to see how the internal mechanism worked. I spent many hours playing with the variety of knobs throughout our big white farm house on Old Brookfield Road. I was about Shalom's age, and I never grew tired of the examination. If I'd had a camera then, I know I would have done exactly what she did.

It's captivating thinking about how simple gratitude changes the entire perspective on life and the way we live it moment by moment. It has certainly changed mine, in profound ways. I have watched anger and negativism and cynicism and fear dissipate like a fog in the warm sunshine of thankfulness. By His grace, I won't ever be the same.

As I read of the antics of the Voskamp children, I think back over the younger years of our offspring and try to remember times when they were mischievous or unruly. It's actually hard to remember such times, although I'm sure they happened. I'm not seeing gray hairs sprout out everywhere for no reason! People often comment about how "good" our children are. What is "good", anyway? I consider it to be loving and respectful and kind, and our children were all those things most of the time. Our oldest had his moments, but he has certainly grown into a fine young man. I'm pretty proud of them all.

On the phone with our oldest son yesterday, we talked about how his ten-year-old daughter Morgan Jaide's personality so closely matches his. I tell him it's because she is the child I wished on him. And as much as I joke about that (and as true as it is that I really did wish her on him), I feel a deep happiness (and yes, at times mild amusement) that she is so clearly his mirror. Yes, she is headstrong and argumentative, but she is also brilliant and benevolent and stands for justice and truth while at the same time remaining gentle and forgiving. She truly is a phenomenal child. She called me on the phone last night. "Hi, Mimi. I just wanted to call and chat with you for a while." It was a lovely hour-long chat, covering a diversity of topics like bugs and God and pizza and little brothers growing up too quickly and riddles and friendship. Her perspective is enchanting.

I am changing, and reading how Ann describes humility and going lower, always lower and seeing life from the vantage point of the knees brings into perfect clarity what God is doing in me through this book. I was reading Let the Crazy Child Write a few weeks ago about how the inner child is the authentic writer's voice. That makes more sense to me now. It's becoming easier and easier to see why God calls us to be like little children.

I read two accounts yesterday. One was a New York Times review of a new release Alone Together, in which the author laments the vast impersonality that is occurring due to widespread use of technology, the internet in particular. The other was an entry by one of my favorite bloggers, Holley Gerth, in which she states:

"The distance between hearts just keeps getting shorter."

It's all a matter of perspective.

There is no shorter distance between hearts than with children. Before they grow up and have all that instinctive kindness and connectedness taught out of them, they are such naturally loving creatures. It makes me wonder how it happens that we lose that inborn gentleness somewhere along the line. And then I think of my children and I realize they have never lost it. And I wonder what was so right about their growing up that allowed them to keep it. It certainly wasn't that we were perfect parents. I can only conclude that is simply all His grace.

Seed: Living life from the perspective of being on one's knees. Viewing life through the eyes of a child. Loving instantly and unconditionally like we did when were little.

Water: Pondering, musing, reading, studying, conversing, asking...always asking.

Bloom: A return to childlike living and loving in ways that more closely resemble His agape love. Shooting photos from a cruising altitude of three feet. Loving life like I rarely got a chance to love it as a child. Not focusing on the years taken from me but reliving that same youthful joy in the here and now. Sharing that joy with my family, with friends, with everyone. Living fully right where I am because life is full of surprises and joy springs from the childlike heart like liquid diamonds and illumines everything.

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