When I teach kids to write, I teach them to focus in, to choose a point of view, to pull back for a “wider view”
or to use the “macro” lens for a narrower view.
I have to do the same thing when I take photos, of course. What is it that I want to hold in my view? Do I want to see the entire beautiful Atlantic ocean beach, or do I want to keep my eyes on the little shells that have washed up overnight?
This week I have been finding it hard to find my perfect lens. The big wide world has become a bit too scary for me. Terrorism, war, drought, famine, sickness. I want to pull my lens in a bit: I can’t lie awake at night and worry about Salafi Jihadists. Maybe I should, but I can’t do it.
And as I pull in closer, to the world of my job, sometimes the pressures and stresses there are too much for me, too. The realization that my district hired a motivational speaker who came in to tell us that the way we are teaching writing is completely wrong, and that what we have been forced to give up in the past five years is exactly what we should have held onto. I sat in the lecture hall with tears streaming down my cheeks. I tried! I wanted to shout to him. I tried to let the kids write about their passions! I tried to let them choose their own topics!
But I wasn’t allowed to do it. And now I feel like a failure.
I needed to pull my lens in closer. But my family has been struggling this week, too. The events and emotions of the past ten days are too intense and too overwhelming for me. I’m pulling in even more.
And so this evening I was out in my hot tub (of course I was!). I was looking at the trees and thinking of how sad it is that they are so completely bare and barren. They look dead.
But there is one big maple tree behind my house. It’s branches reach way beyond my roof. When the sun is setting, and I am in my lovely tub, I can look up into its branches and see how the golden light strikes the very tips of its tiniest twigs.
And so as I looked at the brown and empty branches of the ash and birch and beech and oak, I saw that the maple branches held the tiniest little promises of buds on the very ends of each branch. I don’t think I’d be able to see them in the full light of day, but with the warm buttery light of sunset hitting them from below, I could just make out the tiny swellings of life that they hold.
What a positive promise! What a sweet and easy reminder that spring will most definitely come. The days will get longer, the sun will shine brighter, the ice will melt.
And the pressures and fears of today will melt away as life takes a happier turn.