Forty Images along the Way. Once again I am using this blog as a way to engage in a Lenten practice, that is, a disciplined daily posting of personal reflections on my faith journey.

Two years ago, I wrote about forty people who had influenced my spirDSC01545.JPGituality, my faith. Last year, I told some stories about my pastoral ministries, reflections on my call to serve various churches of the Presbyterian Church (USA). This year, I want to continue to write, mostly for myself, but for anyone else who happens by and who might gain some insight or inspiration from whatever words fall on these pages.

It occurred to me that from the Christmas Day I received a camera from my parents I’ve been a “visual” person. That may have been almost sixty years ago. From the time I opened the box and took out that Kodak “Brownie Holiday Flash” camera, I’ve preserved scenes from my life, 1/60th of a second (or so) at a time.

As I write this, I’m taking a break from editing some high def video of a trip to Maastricht, The Netherlands. (Or am I procrastinating?) I take a camera (DSLR, video, or digital “point and shoot”) wherever I go. The image on this page is the ceiling of a church in Maastricht, and just look at the visual creativity that rewards the viewer who looks up! The word that comes to me first is delight. Not exactly a Lenten image, I know. But this forty day exercise isn’t so much about Lent, as it is enabled by Lent.

Lent is the gift that allows me to take up something helpful, rather than “giving up” something during Lent. It’s as if I have the gift of a few minutes borrowed from every day, a gift I would not have enjoyed if I ignored the Lenten “discipline” and simply wandered toward Easter. I’m hoping that this exercise will be a delight, but I also know from previous experiences with writing that it may become a burden now and then.

Nonetheless (or all-the-more), my plan is to take a few minutes each day to share a photo, and to write a few words that the image prompts.

The ceiling pictured here, I suppose, is the delightful reward that awaits worshippers and tourists who look upward. Lent may help us look toward the cross and the empty grave, but while we journey, it’s good to look up too. Into blue skies, or snowy ones. Toward spires and steeples. Into the clouds. Look up. Be like the child who has to look up to see Momma’s face or touch Daddy’s beard. Look up. Be enthralled with skyscrapers and cruise ships, and locomotives, and in my neighborhood the helicopters being test-piloted over the nearby Lockheed Martin plant.

Look up, beyond the trees to the Milky Way in the night sky. It’s got to be humbling. And a little humility isn’t a bad way to start a good Lent. Of course, the idea of looking upward is linked to the attitude of being hopeful. That too is part of a good Lent.

So, I begin. With some delight, some humility, and some hope. I’m looking forward (or upward) to see how this plays out over the next forty days.