There is so much to hear, see, perceive, learn when we are less rigid with our viewpoint

– Looking at Maul Hall

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.

Isaiah 55:8

One of my favorite things to do as a photographer is to look at things from atypical or unexpected viewpoints. This is especially true for subjects that are routine or familiar.

Often, all it takes is something simple such as standing on a stepladder, or getting the lens closer to the ground (the arthritis in my knee, by the way, has made squatting a real challenge).

Other times it takes more imagination, and adventure, and extra work. Most people, however, just take their camera and stand in place, shooting from where their eyes are used to looking.

Some of my best shots tend to come in response to little more than being aware and keeping my eyes open. The picture of Maul Hall (above) is a perfect example. Max and I were at the end of our walk and instead of heading directly into the driveway we went clockwise around the cul-de-sac.

Consequently, coming around from the other side of my mum’s house, I caught a view of our home I don’t usually see. I thought it was worth capturing an image and I’m glad I did.

This is a helpful life practice:

It made me think about how much in our lives I/we completely miss because we seldom if ever shift our perspective, our point of view, our orientation. This is especially difficult if we believe we have nothing new to learn.

– looking across to my mum’s house

Rebekah and I were talking about this the other day in regards to how we read scripture. “How come I have never noticed this before?” she said when we were looking at a passage from the gospels.

It was from a story she has read literally dozens of times, taught, preached on, and even translated herself from the original languages.

We have commentaries, various translations, Bible dictionaries, study books, original language texts, discussion groups – and so much more. But then we find ourselves reading from a new perspective: maybe in response to a sudden loss, or from the vantage point of being newly retired, or as a cancer patient, or a refugee, or an individual carrying the burden of too much wealth, or a prisoner in jail, or countless other variables.

We listen to God’s voice differently when we are on a mission trip, or on the garden bench in the middle of a planting project, or sitting by the bedside of someone who is dying, or after a great meal, or in the company of friends… or enemies….

We do not learn in a vacuum, and we do not read God’s word absent real life, and we cannot begin to imagine what riches can be mined from the scriptures if we fail to approach our study in the context of meditation and prayer.

And I don’t – I can’t – take a photograph without thinking about where I am looking from and what I am looking for.

I’m not talking about – and this is important – taking an unusual view just for the sake of being different so much as for the sake of learning more, of seeing more clearly, or challenging my own assumptions, of having something new revealed.

There are so many good reasons to approach anything (seeing, reading, believing, learning, traveling, listening…) with eyes and heart and ears and mind wide open.

ps – don’t confuse these two self-portraits with art; they are just illustrations for this post!


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