“How do I love thee? Let me count the pics”
An older woman, maybe sixty, answered when I rang the doorbell. “So you’re here for the high chair?” she asked.
“Yes, I’d like to have a look at it.”
I was going to do some babysitting, so I had replied to her “High chair for sale” ad, followed the directions to her place and now she was inviting me in.
“It’s right here in the dining room. Just come this way.”
I was pleased; here was a nice high chair in very good condition. “Yes, I’ll take it,” I said.
While her husband pocketed my $20 I glanced around at her cozy dining area, well furnished but not overly lavish. My eyes fell on a large cactus near the window. “Oh, you have such a big barrel cactus! Has it ever bloomed?”
That’s all it took. In a few seconds she had me sitting in front of a slide projector conveniently set up on a smaller table in the living room, gazing at a screen on the wall ahead.
“This is when the bud first appeared,” she explained as a picture flashed on the screen. Click. “And this was taken the same time, but at night. They open more in the night, you know.” Click. “And this was when the petals began to unfold,” Click. “And here is the same photo taken at night.” Click. “And here it is fully open.” Click. “And here’s the blossom from the side.” Click. “And here’s a closeup of the blossom center.” Click. “This was taken when it was open the widest.” Click. “And this….” Click
She went on to show me pictures of her other houseplants…and pictures of her back yard in spring, summer, fall…trees… shrubs. Click, click, click. Thankfully we didn’t get into photos of all the grandchildren who’d sat in the high chair, this one eating chocolate, that one slurping juice, this squishing macaroni, etc.
Pictures are a part of our world. They can be interesting and educational: one picture is worth a thousand words when it comes to describing the difference between a spider money and an orangutan. Close-up photos can illustrate instructions or help you identify local flora & fauna. Through photos you learn to know your political leaders. Scenic photos give you a look at countries you may never see in person.
I see potential dangers in photography, though. The perfection of photos may tend to make us a little discontented with reality. We’re usually getting the best shots of the most awesome sights. Can we spend time ogling all this beauty and still be content with our right-here-and-now everyday world? Or will we always be hankering after more beautiful places and things?
On a short cruise one day I heard one lady say to another, “This is my second time out. I was looking through the lens of a camera the whole time yesterday; today I want to actually see the sights.” Don’t miss LIFE while getting the pics to prove you’ve been here. There’s only one cruise.
Then there’s the paparazzi. This is where photography can really hit the slime pits in the relentless pursuit of the rich and famous.
And there’s the lady with the cactus. She’ll probably treasure those pictures until the day she dies.
“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 12:34
Pictures are just things – and at times very informative things. But beware! They make the perfect pole for vaulting yourself right into idolatry.