We, as an extended family, have no problem with getting of the camera lens. Photo-taking has been very much a part of our lives since we were little. And since my eldest brother took an interest in photography that lead to his pursuing it to a professional level, photos and cameras are an even greater part of our lives! All of ‘the siblings’ take photos almost every day, even more so with the wonderful tool that is the iPhone! Embracing the camera isn’t something we have difficulty with! But I do think we need to be more deliberate in sharing these photos, and in recording the memories and context that go along with them. What an even better insight and memories to cherish for future generations seeking a glimpse into the lives of their forefathers.
This has been a lovely week, despite the rain and clouds covering us for days! Surprisingly though, the coming of the rain has been like the welcome return of a dear friend, our gardens, and lochs, and everywhere really, have been getting pretty dry over the past month. Some older folk in Leverburgh here have actually said that they have never seen the loch beside our house as low for.as.long.as.they.remember! There has also been the welcome return of my brother Colin and his fiancé Nma. They came on Monday for a little holiday break, and they’ll be leaving at the crack of dawn tomorrow. Not really the crack of dawn. That would be at 4.30 am here right now, and then it isn’t even dark here, especially when there is little to no cloud cover. A night of twilight! They’re catching the early ferry, so an early start whatever the light! Not as horrible as in the dark of mid-winter though.
They have had a quiet week, set against my busyness of organising various events such as a youth club BBQ on Friday night (I hope it’s dry by then!) and youth camp which is coming up in the next couple of weeks. We went out to the Anchorage for a lovely dinner tonight (the only restaurant in Leverburgh, but so nice you don’t need anywhere else!) and decided to get a photo of us all to remember our week. After many attempts with the timer, we managed to get an acceptable one! Even if not such amazing quality, it’s the photo moment that counts! How do you Embrace the Camera?
It amazes me how much of our memories (well, I speak for my sieve-like brain if not for yours too!) vanish into thin air, like a whisp of smoke floating out of reach, unable to be grasped. And yet other memories, both unremarkable and decidedly significant, seem to cling on, unwilling to fade with the passing of time. A picture, sound, sight, smell, person, occurence, or maybe just ‘the way things were’. memories take so many different forms. Sometimes they are sharp and clear, and other times they may be vague in form yet just as comforting. I have a mug. I grew up with that mug in our kitchen, but then it went on holiday somewhere (most likely tha back of the cupboard!) and it was no longer a part of my daily life. After its long absence, I remember the first time I saw it, and touched it. Something came flooding over me. I used to use this mug, a lot. I remember the colours of those pastel flowers. I remember the ridges in the paint. I remember the warm milky hot chocolate I drank from it. Oh, that taste! What comfort there was tied up in that bedtime cup of chocolate, in the comfort of home and routine. My memory connected with that mug is comfort. Not a picture, or a moment, or a funny thing that happened. Just comfort. That is more than enough. Still, when I see and touch that mug, comfort wraps its arms around me. Sadly, it is now badly chipped and worn. But that is one mug I won’t throw away! It’s too special to me, even if insignificant to others.
A song just started playing on an iTunes playlist. Something clutched at my heart. Sure, it’s a beautiful song (Grace like rain, Todd Agnew) but it was more than the song that touched me. I was transported. Driving in the car during the year after passing my test. With this song playing, over and over, as the one CD in the car played over and over. Lovely memories of the thrill of being an independent driver. But more. Bittersweet. Driving to and from visiting my Granny, last living grandparent, closest to my heart. Visiting her in hospital and nursing care home. Bittersweet, time together, the dawning reality and acceptance of our time together ending. The beginnings of acceptance and mourning. The joyous awareness of the blessed time we still had. More than a song. No arms of comfort in this memory, just a clutching at my heart. Equally precious.
Today, memories are increasingly wrapped up in photo images or video footage. What a blessing to be able to revisit, ignite these memories, and store them up safely for the future you and future generations. I was recently watching a documentary on TV about capturing images during the great World Wars. The presenter visited with a Frenchwoman whose parents had served in espionage and undercover work during WWII. They had both been killed when she was just a baby. The documentary had investigated the photos and video footage her father had taken during WWI as he flew over France and neighbouring countries, capturing the landscape. She had done some research on her parents and on what happened to them at the end of their life, and her research was very precious to a daughter who had never known her parents. But, she had no clue about the plane journey her father had made in WWI. As she watched some of the footage, she saw her father, flying the plane, turning his head and talking and interacting with the man behind him holding the camera. She saw her father smile. She broke down. She explained how in the photos she had of her father, he was always so serious. She had always wondering what he would look like smiling. What a precious gift! Memory is such a gift.
I have no memories of my birth father. He died after I turned 1 year old. There are photos. There are stories. They are precious. But in a way, more precious to those who knew him, who miss him. They have the memories woven into the images and stories. They have real emotional ties. I remain, in a way, detached. I remember coming across video footage belonging to a family member, compiled over the years from daily life and holidays. I remember the tension, I might SEE my father. I saw his legs, his back. But not his face. I have never heard his voice. But I have photos of him smiling. Of him with me. I have more than many others. And, I have been blessed with another father in life. From even before my birth father died, I was part of a complete family. I did not miss out. I had and have so much more than many others. I have been ingrafted, this is the reality of who I am. It is difficult for other members of the extended family, because they see how things were, they remember as label me as being someone else. But to me, I am my mothers and father who brought me up, raised me, kissed my bruises and told me off, daughter. I am my brothers’ sister, and my sister’s sister. I am who I have become. Life circumstances so often dictate who we become. Even more, I have a heavenly Father, who understands where I’m at, in life, emotionally, spiritually. A Father who has taken me through every moment, and who cares and provides for me more than any other. I trust Him. I trust Him to know the best. Unless we surrender, life will eat us up. I entrusted to him many years ago my confusion, my hurt, my questions, my life. To whom else can you go? Who else understands? Who else works things? And He drew close and blessed. What a blessed life I have known! I tremble when I think of where the road could have led. But thankfully, man is not ultimately in control. Surely our memories of life bear witness to this? Cherish your good memories. Trust God with the hard and difficult ones. He knows.
I had hope just to share a little of what memories mean to me, but as usual, I seem to have gone on.
Words ramble, as thoughts flow. Thank you for letting me share.
‘Whatever has come to be has already been named, and it is known what man is… For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun?” Ecclesiastes 6:10,12 ESV
“The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” Psalm 16:5-6 ESV
That we would truly say this, no matter the trials that come our way. Because, over and above it all, He has blessed us with every blessing in Christ Jesus (Eph 1).
“Giving…is the air into which we were born. It is the action that was designed into us before our birth.
Giving is the way the world is. God gives himself. He also gives away everything that is. He makes no exceptions for any of us.
We are given away to our families, to our neighbors, to our friends, to our enemies- to the nations. Our life is for others.
That is the way creation works.
Some of us try desperately to hold on to ourselves…afraid to risk ourselves on the untried wings of giving…and the longer we wait the less time we have for the soaring and swooping life of grace.”
Eugene H. Peterson, Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at Its Best p.43;
Quoted by Carolyn Custis James in The Gospel of Ruth p.170
I decided that I should get round to summarising my Christmas before the end of January! I know its disgraceful enough to have left it as long as this, but imagine how much worse if it was February!
Classes before Christmas were mostly spent in teaching and singing English Christmas carols and songs, as well as much colouring-in of Santas and reindeer! I was introduced to the Catalan tradition of ‘El Tio’. ‘El Tio’ is log collected from a wood by a Catalanfamily. The, with most focus on the children, take care of El Tio in the run up to Christmas, keeping it warm and feeding it special delicasies of the Tio world such as orange peel! Then on a specially selected day before Christmas, the children gather around the Tio with wooden sticks. They hit the Tio on the back and sing a song asking the Tio to give them presents for taking care of it. Small (unbreakable!)presents are then discovered under the blanket covering the Tio. El Tio takes many forms, the photo here shows my school’s. To see it in action : http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=qFXtHrKdKWI
Our staff Christmas dinner was held on the Thrusday night of the last week of term, the evening before I was due to fly home. It was lovely, and the food was really good. It was nice to relax with the teachers, especially those I work with and have got to know. Lots of photos were taken (visit flickr!) but these are the crream of the crop, the whole group, and the three English teachers!
I was home in Lewis for nearly three weeks, with a day or so in Glasgow either end. They were very much needed. My poor brain needed a break from culture and language change. They were quite busy, and passed super fast as usual! Of course, I ended up with a good dose of the cold, just to top off the holiday season! It was great to see family and friends and to relax a bit.