The other night a friend and I stepped outside my house and he commented, “I like to look at my favorite artist’s work,” and his gaze directed me to a fantastic sunset. This actually was less a sunset as it was a skyscape, as the houses in the neighborhood obscured a better view of the sun setting over the Coast Range in Oregon. Be that as it may, the rose hues, mauves and purples mingled with the golden sunlight and clouds of a winter afternoon, providing a stunning backdrop to the large and majestic conifers which landscaped my neighbors’ yards.
“God is my favorite artist,” he stated simply. I have to agree. While we can blend paint colors to create wonderful landscape paintings or carefully orchestrate a camera lens to snap a photo, these pale in comparison to the original: a daily gift we receive if we are open to appreciating it.
I admit that I have not always appreciated sunrises, sunsets and the skycapes we can see each day. It was only about four or five years ago that my fascination with these daily gifts piqued, and my awareness increased. It was not just in Oregon, either.
We traveled to Colorado by car a few years ago, and from my vantage point in the backseat, I was able to snap dozens and dozens of skyscapes from Oregon, through Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and finally Colorado.
From sunrises and sunsets, to thunderstorms brewing across the flat landscape of Wyoming and the towering peaks in the Rocky Mountains, I had a grand time with my digital camera, and it seemed that nothing was escaping my notice and need to create these keepsakes.
On our return, my backseat companion and young daughter, Jeannine, asked if she could look at the pictures I had taken on the trip. Or so I thought.
After about a half hour I asked for the camera, as a particularly interesting cloud formation caught my eye. I quickly snapped the picture and looked to see if it was satisfactory. Happy with the result, I decided to review the photos I had taken along the trip.
To my surprise and dismay, all of my photos were gone. The only pictures left in memory were those of Jeannine: with her friends or family, or just her alone.
It seemed that life had intervened and Jeannine had spent the last half hour not just looking at the pictures, but deleting any photos not related to her. Rather than becoming annoyed and upset about what had just happened (although it was frustrating), I had to take a deep breath and admire what she did.
You see, Jeannine has Down syndrome, and we spend quite a bit of time attempting to move her to activities of daily living…like getting out of bed in the morning and taking a shower or brushing her teeth.
When it comes to technology, however, she has a facility of mind that will surpass even her typical peers. She figured out how to not only move from shot to shot, but took it upon herself to manage my photos and keep only those of greatest importance — her.
So I still have the gift of sunrises and sunsets to see and appreciate, but perhaps the greatest gift I have been given by the greatest Artist of all is Jeannine. The challenge is to be able to be mindful enough to appreciate.