Monday, January 25, 2016

When the Stunning Becomes Routine

Someone posted a photo of a colorburst sunset that filled the screen with vivid oranges and pinks and red splashed over both sky and the lake below. He followed it with, "I know sunsets are overdone, but I am so thankful I live here."

Overdone? Sunsets? I had to pause. 

A sunset if it happened but once in a lifetime would be a miraculous appearing, a spectacular sight inspiring music and poetry. It would be the stuff of legends and lore. But we get to see it every day.

So sunsets are overdone because they are plentiful and routine? That's like saying hugs are overdone or friendships or laughter. They are all richly abundant in our lives--until they are not. 

Instead perhaps it is posting that is overdone.

Posting a snapshot as a way of paying lip service to appreciation or pressing the like button as shorthand for expressing support for one undergoing great struggle lets us engage from the edges without taking the time to pray or to write a note the old fashioned way. It's easier that way.

It lets us get on with our day. 

We can feel informed but unencumbered. 

Now I've gone and done it here. 

In a culture awash with a preoccupation with each one's opinion, it's no surprise that the news stations and entertainment programs alike beckon, "Tweet us your thoughts, ""Vote for your favorite," "Tell us what you think." They are all trying to engage us, and the measure of engagement can be quantified immediately. It means big dollars.

And in the process it raised the ante on our opinion.

Many hold their opinion as highest authority; It matters little what shaped that opinion or whether critical thinking ever came into play. Whether one likes a thing or not is all that matters. But I digress.

On another note, I have been slow in posting and writing lately, not for lack of inspiration, but for lack of pensive time to actually get it down in writing. My mind and heart have been richly filled with challenges and jobs to do, with people to serve and blessings to enjoy. But the heart of a writer, even a late-born one who only writes to capture a thought and preserve it for herself, wants to write. The words will come again. There is so much to share.

So the apology over a sunset was the prompt today. And now a thought expressed in October 2011:

Let us never lose the sense of wonder at God's handiwork. When such a magnificent sight no longer gets our attention, we've gotten too preoccupied with ourselves. How many have I missed? More than I can say. But I am thankful for the time to turn aside and savor this one.
So Moses said, "I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up." Exodus 3:3

Take the time to turn aside and see what great sights we might be missing.

Expressing appreciation anyway we do it is not overdone. And be generous with warm hugs while we're at it. We don't know what we have until it is gone.