Photo Prayer 2021-40 -- Comprehension

Short on time and overwhelmed by details, surely you have noticed how our minds resort to a mental shorthand to make sense of it all. A thing, an event, a person — the tiny particulars are blurred. Only the essence, or what we take to be the essence, remains. Only a few details survive this refining process, this distillation of experience and memory. Call the attempt to understand foolish, wonderfully naive, but certainly courageous — to stand before the flood of experience and choose between innumerable interpretations. Yet there are moments of clarity. We tell ourselves we will hold onto these brief respites and remember their lessons. We bare our souls to them. We drink in the life-giving flow. And, yes, something does endure, an abiding welling up of joy and thanksgiving. So we say something inadequate but heartfelt, something like, “Praise God!”

Photo of an old house in Milford, Pennsylvania mixing various levels of detail.
Photo and text copyright 2021 by Danny N. Schweers.

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Ernestine wrote:
I often wonder what it would be like to live in a house such as the one in this photo. Growing up poor in the Southbridge area of Wilmington, Delaware, we lived in project housing (WHA) and although it was public housing for the poor, mostly African Americans, we were happy because we did not know about the greater world of living in large beautiful buildings. But as I grew older, by the graces of the Lord, I have lived in rented houses that I felt were beautiful although I never got to know home ownership. Since my childhood living in public housing, I have never subjected my family to living in poor housing. As a result all my children have at one time or another, owned their own homes. A blessing from God because they know what and how that feels.
[DANNY REPLIED. Our stories have some overlap. My family was often in military housing. Unlike you, we had to move every few years, to wherever my father was stationed, so we were always newcomers. In New Orleans, we lived for awhile in a quonset hut. Twice, between assignments, we lived with my grandmother while my father was overseas. Like you, we did not know any difference. As an adult, I developed a taste for dwellings with character. God has been gracious to US!]

John wrote:
Wonderful “prayer” Danny and I really like the photo. You caused me to reflect that we wish for those moments of clarity but the more we try to experience them, the less likely we will be to actually experience that wonderful clarity. So, I don’t think its when we “stand before the flood of experience and (consciously) choose between innumerable interpretations” that we find/experience the clarity. It just comes unbidden once in awhile and all we can do is try to stay awake and open to it when it comes. Isn’t it the case that it only comes when we can let go of the need to “choose” among the interpretations? (Of course I could well be trying too hard to parse your prayer — i.e., doing exactly what impedes clarity — trying to choose between the innumerable interpretations instead of just trying to remain open to an unbidden clarity your photo and prayer might provide if I can just be more open to it. Paradox upon paradox. Keep up your important work. “Praise God” (for you and your work)!
[DANNY REPLIED: In writing the prayer, I had not thought at all about how clarity is found. If clarity is a form of grace or inspiration, then it may appear or fail to appear on its own and not when it is beckoned. Then I think of Thomas Edison, his contention that invention is 9/10 perspiration, a form of preparation. Perhaps clarity can be worked at in a similar way. I also like the idea that grace is there all the time, only waiting for us to be open to it. If that is true, then our struggle is to be open to it, to overcome ourselves.]

Marti wrote:
Like this a lot, Danny! Very interesting…and profound! Thank you!!
[DANNY REPLIED: Glad you liked it! If it offered a moment of clarity, even better!]

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