Dare I Share This Photograph?

A child reminds us of the beauty of the life God has given. Photo by Rebekah.

A child reminds us of the beauty of the life God has given. Photo by Rebekah.

I can’t help but share this photograph, though I have strong reservations. Yes, I know people use their smart phones to share countless pictures every day of their precious children. But it’s also no secret that there are not-so-nice folk who misuse such images. And, yes, I know, with the help of my son-in-law, that I am a peculiar Luddite and curmudgeon. He asked me this year if there was ANYTHING modern that I liked. He was joking, and believe me, we had a good laugh together.

But, still. I use my share of technology, but I have implicit trust in none of it.

I stick by my cautious approach to technology in general, and the Internet in particular. I know technology has done and is doing wondrous things. But the easy power it puts in the palms of our hands is a power that the worst among us eagerly put to destructive use.

That said, just look at this picture! Look at this child! Her image here is so eloquent and so pure. It is hard not to see it as a symbol of an entire generation, unspoiled, fresh-faced, looking expectantly for what is coming over the horizon.

She is thinking. This world is so absolutely overflowing with big things and little things, things that are rough and things that are smooth, things that are solid and everlasting and things that are here one moment and burst away with delight the next. And the people: all sizes and shapes, and each of them full of stories that open up even more wonders. In short, “Wow! Awesome! Amazing!”

Could this beautiful emblem of a girl also be wondering, “Why would anyone want to throw even the tiniest bit of this away? Could there be people so ignorant that they exploit, spoil, waste, and destroy any of this?”

Yes, darling one, take the word of your curmudgeon of a grandfather, there are such people. And we all are them. Sometimes we just forget. Sometimes we are lazy. Sometimes we have an emptiness inside that gnaws at us until we just lash out. Sometimes we get feeling sorry for ourselves, or resentful, or fearful; and we let things rot, we misuse them, we annihilate them. And, horror of horror, we do it all to people too. Routinely we do it to fresh-faced, innocent children like you. We worry more over our right to keep guns than we do over how many children are killed by them. We love the freedom to drive fast more than we love the children in the streets. We love balanced budgets more than we love good schools. We love building prisons more than we love providing safe sidewalks for kids to walk. We are fools, sometimes, believing stupidly that hoarding stuff is a more urgent need than protecting and nourishing young souls.

Please, child, never lose your capacity to behold in wonder this miracle-filled world we live in. Look! Gaze in sweetness at it all! Share that sweet joy with others–it will help heal us all. Put some cautious hope in the virtual world of technology, but hope extravagantly for the living world of birds and bees and people.

But, above all, be prepared also to pray often for us fools, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

And know that, as you pray those words, Jesus is praying with you.

About John

John is a retired pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who has served congregations for over 40 years, including in rural, suburban, campus ministry and urban settings. His love of Border Collie sheepdogs has been fortified by his many friendships with shepherds all around the world. Nothing he has ever or will ever accomplish is as significant as the patience God, his wife and his friends have shown in putting up with his deficiencies.
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