If you had five minutes to leave your home, never to return, what would be the first items you would take with you?
Your wallet, your phone, precious jewellery and the family photo album or computer hard drive might be some of the items in your list.
When I ponder this question, one of the first things I think of is photos. Whether printed out (does anyone do this anymore?) or on a hard drive.
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the whole photographic documenting life thing. Here's the hate bit; I kind of agree with those people who lament the days where people simply enjoyed experiences without viewing half (or the whole thing) through a camera lens.
Like going out for breakfast and just eating the darn food without taking a picture. It's impossible to attend a party without having to halt a conversation so a photo can be taken. Or being painfully aware a random photo might catch you shoving some delicious party food in your mouth.
Have you heard about the latest trend in weddings? Brides and grooms are now asking their guests not to spend the whole ceremony with their camera/phone held up to their faces. Imagine that!
It's as if, thanks to smart phones and digital cameras, we take photos of the less important things simply because we can, rather than picking a moment or two to document our experience or activity, before returning to enjoy it.
These days, I am more likely to take photos than I used to be—my love-hate is turning more to love—granted I still stand by my policy of not taking photos of your meal at a restaurant; just eat it before it gets cold!
More than a photograph
It's not how many photos you take but rather the quality of the moment and the person you capture.
Which moments matter? Photos you'll look back on and smile about. Photos capturing moments which can't be re-lived. Photos capturing people in certain place and time. Yes, I know your eggs benedict is special but I'm sure it's not the only one you'll ever eat in your lifetime, so put the camera away!
Photos of people you love are important. Having recently moved away from extended family and friends, I now feel the urge like never before to actually print photos of them and place them around my home. Little visual reminders of the people I love and make me smile and thank God for them are more important than ever before. I also want my son to be familiar with their faces, despite them being physically far away.
Photos of my young son are important. He's nearly 11 months old and I have been astonished at just how quickly he grows and changes. Photos help me to remember what he looked like at one week old—I was so sleep deprived at the time I can't remember much!
Part of our urge to photograph our lives can come from a fear of forgetting, I think. How sad to experience life yet then forget what we have lived and who we have loved. It's why we find a disease like Alzheimer's so tragic. Yet our minds are finite; we can only hold so many memories. It's why I love the Facebook 'memories' feature because it reminds me of things I've said and done that I would have otherwise forgotten (though some things are best forgotten!).
While I capture and print photos to jog my memory, as reminders of moments I enjoyed and people I love, I'm glad God is not the same way.
While I fear forgetting parts of my life a camera cannot record, I need not fear they are lost forever. God knows every day of my life and every day to come.
And while I do not know what God looks like or have a photograph of him, it's not necessary. I—and we—have something even better. His Word. His Son. His Church. I look forward to the day when I am able to see Him fully, even as I am fully known.
Sarah Urmston lives in Toowoomba with her husband, Stephen. She loves God, her family, writing, colouring in, crochet, and creating lists. Sarah works full-time at home and seeks to faithfully serve Jesus in many different ways using the time she's given.
Sarah Urmston's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/sarah-urmston.html