Ear pictures


Ear pictures

I'm getting ready, "fixin' to," as we say in North Carolina, go to the beach for a few days of vacation.

Well, actually, I'm fixin' to go to the shore; I leave actual sitting on the beach to those who are younger and better looking in swimwear. I stay inside looking out the big picture window at the waves while sitting in a big soft chair reading classic detective novels. (Miss Marple, Nero Wolfe, Lord Peter Wimsey, etc.)

Every time I go to the beach I think of a very memorable trip to the Outer Banks with my family when I was a teenager.

For years Mama had taken pictures with an old Brownie camera, which one held waist-high while looking down into the viewfinder on the top.

Her new camera was a small Kodak that you held to the eye and then clicked away.

When we got back from the beach, Mama mailed off the rolls of film and we waited to see our great vacation pictures.

When the photos came a few weeks later, we were all totally mystified. There were shots with sea and sand and people in the distance, but we were nowhere to be seen.

And on one side of each shot was an out-of-focus, flesh-toned blob and wisps of blackness floating across the landscape.

Through a glass darkly

Suddenly the truth dawned on us and we all burst out laughing.

Well, all but Mama.

She had turned the camera backward, looking the wrong way through the view-finder, and had taken an entire roll of film of her ear. She is still not amused and 40 years later her children are still teasing her about it.

I've done a good deal of thinking about those "ear pictures" over the years.

I've often wondered how often I've thought I had things in focus -- had "reality" captured and frozen in place -- when in actuality I was looking at things through the wrong end of the lens.

In particular, I've used those ear pictures and the backward camera to remind myself to look at things through the lens of the gospel, through the viewfinder of God's word.

If I use only my own eyes, my own experience, my own understanding to frame and make sense of the world, I will miss the bigger and truer picture that comes from looking at things from God's point of view, through the eyes of Christ.

"...so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened..." (Ephesians 1:18).


Originally posted August 3, 2011, at ELCA Southeastern Synod Blog. Republished with permission of the author. Find a link to Delmer Chilton’s entry at ELCA Southeastern Synod Blog at Lutheran Blogs.

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