It has been about three years since we sold our house and moved into an apartment. After 22 years in the same home, I found the the whole process of moving to be a bit stressful, as we tried to figure out what to keep and what needed to be be given or tossed away. It’s hard trying to separate the memories from the object itself. Somethings are so cherished that they take on a priceless quality well beyond recognizable worth.
First, we struggled with selling the dining room table, an inheritance gift from my beloved mother-in-law Josephine. Then came the selling of my old record albums; The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Prince, and Janis Joplin. It didn’t matter that we hadn’t had an album turn-table to play them on in nearly 30 years, they were special to me, holding all my faded dreams of one day being a rock star. But what I really dreaded was dealing with the huge dust-covered box that sat in the far dark corner of our basement. You see, I am a photographer, well an amateur photographer that is, and in that box was nearly every 35 millimeter picture I had ever taken. That dusty cardboard box contained the historical documentation of my life-long quest to answer the questions, “who am I” and “where is my place in the world.”
Regardless of how old we are or the circumstances of our lives, most of us spend a life-time searching for the answers to the questions: Who am I? Where is my place in this world? Our searching for those answers is ultimately about our searching for Christ. And of course the answer is always right there in front of our faces, it’s just at times the questions become more desperate, such as when a loved one dies, or in a divorce, or a cancer diagnosis. During these moments we need something to hold on to, something to comfort and console us, something that will remind us that things are OK, something like photographs.
As I went through every one of those pictures I began to realize that it wasn’t the picture itself that was the story or the gift of that moment in time but it was the experience itself that held the presence of meaning and love. Sometimes in our fear, our desolation, and desperation we can start frantically gathering our photographs and storing them in boxes all over our lives and miss the reality that our lives already embody the timeless presence of the eternal love of God. All of our actions, decisions, and journeys embody all of those picture-perfect moments that have guided and carried us to this present moment, this present place in the world.
Jesus didn’t really give us something, as much as he told us we are something. If we love one another, then we have what Jesus has with the Father. If we love one another then we are the joy of Jesus, we are complete. It is in that love of Christ for one another that we learn that God’s presence transcends time and space, good and evil, life and death. In the end, in the best sense of these words, it IS all about us. Who are we? We are the love of Christ. Where is our place in the world? To be the love and joy of Christ.