Anyone in my family will tell you that at any event I am the one clicking photos behind my phone. It irritates my kids. But the truth is, I know the value of capturing history.
The little people love to sit and scroll through my (literally) hundreds of pictures of them, the ranch, animals, birthdays, deaths, and just life in general. I always always have my itchy finger ready to snap a shot.
To those who say, ‘you’re missing out on being present, always behind a camera…’ I say, mind your own.
I go to those photos when times are tough; because life delivers such sorrows and troubles, and I get visual reminders of just how blessed I am. We are. When I think I’m a lousy parent I look back at glimpses of history and see the rich, full, interesting life my kids have experienced in our home, and I settle my heart down again. Pictures are worth a thousand words, and they don’t lie.
Last night one of my beloved pets died. Lola was a miniature Nubian dairy goat who was born here, lived her whole life here, and died here. She had numerous babies, and I attended not only her birth, but the births of most of her kids. I felt blessed to have had her and I felt she was blessed to have been part of our lives, too. She gave us much, and received plenty. She was diligently cared for until the last.
This morning my nine year old son and my granddaughter decided it was time to walk down the hill in the pasture and have a graveside service to honor Lola. My son “wrote” a message with memories in her honor, and officiated the service. The dirt is still a fresh, dark mound, and the children and I stood around it with two of the house dogs, who Lola hated, and Lexi, one of the livestock guardians who Lola mistrusted immensely, and I thought, Oh dear, Lola would not approve.
The children had moist eyes as they fondly remembered Lola bossing them, but extolled her virtues on the milking stand. They remembered rich, creamy milk made into ice cream and cheese.
Now, I have to be honest, it was hard to keep a straight face when my young son gave the message. His theology was appalling, and his sentiments not altogether true. He said, for instance, “Lola was a sweet goat, who is finally resting. She stands today in heaven, at the right hand of God…”
I had to hide my face. He also, after offering us the opportunity to say a few words each, stood proudly singing The Star Spangled Banner at her graveside. I have to admit to you the lyrics were mishandled grossly, and the singing off-key.
This is a child who has grown up like Mowgli, half naked and always with animals. He is not where he came from, and when I think of the day we got him, and where God landed him, I’m grateful for the intervention that brought him to this safe place. To this ranch where he has learned to live and love and be part of a ridiculously unusual life.
How tough it is sometimes to know we aren’t where we want to be. Then we remember we aren’t where we used to be, either. Pictures remind me of our growth.
And you know what? It’s all beautiful. God is for my family and I have to remember that on the rough days. It’s so easy to forget the beauty in the perversity of daily life. It’s too easy to be ungrateful and discontented. To trample the sacred that becomes too easily common.
But when I revisit my pictures, even just my Instagram account, I remember the gift that is my life and my family. Good, bad, and ugly.
Botched theology can be fixed, songs can be re-sung, and yes, we bury what we love at the end, but it’s a journey worth taking.
I have the pictures to prove it.