Thursday, September 18, 2008

Summer snapshots...


Image by ConcordPastor

(A
warm welcome to those who may be visiting here for the first time by linking from The Concord Journal to this corner of the blogosphere.)

The leaders of faith communities in town rotate authorship of a column in the Concord Journal titled, Voices of Faith. My turn comes round again this week and, as I did a year go this season, I've offered some "snapshots" of my summer vacation. Here's the article for those who live outside the Concord Journal's hardcopy reach and here are the other contributions I've made to this column.
Summer Snapshots

Remember when folks used to come back from vacation with photos and slides to share with family and friends? Now it’s not unusual for the images to arrive back home before the vacationers do, courtesy of email. My vacation snapshots are prose, not photographic, but I hope they’ll offer you a few glimpses of how the divine reveals its beauty in the simplest of scenes.

Snapshot one: I was sitting on a bench on MacMillan Wharf in Provincetown, waiting to meet a friend for lunch. A collage of God’s creative design sauntered by on a summer’s day as perfect as the place for people watching.

That’s when one man’s feet caught my eye. He was shepherding two youngsters, grandchildren I’d guess, from a souvenir store to the pizza place and as they passed by I saw he was wearing Crocs: a blue Croc on his left foot, an orange one on his right. (Think of a Howard Johnson’s and you’ll have just the right palate!)

I began to wonder… Where were the blue and orange mates to this man’s pair? Was someone else wearing them? Was he aware of what he’d done? Why had I even noticed? These are, after all, CROCS! Were such shoes ever meant to be taken seriously? Maybe this color scheme was the man’s choice, or whimsy. Perhaps he was just in a hurry getting dressed – or he’s colorblind. Might the HoJo colors have been part of an altogether-joyful-getting-ready-to-go-out moment with his grandchildren? How stuck am I in convention that his shoes should come to my attention? on a summer’s day? on vacation? in Provincetown?

Of the many colors in the divine collage called humankind, are not blue and orange noble hues? I looked down at my own feet: two perfectly matching non-descript Tiva’s. I tucked my feet beneath the bench.

Snapshot two: Parked near the shore’s edge at Veterans’ Beach in Hyannis, I was working the New York Times daily crossword puzzle but found my attention drawn to an older couple, seated on a park bench just to my left. Their gaze fell on the boats in the harbor or on the horizon just beyond so I never saw their faces. Still, I was taken by how much they revealed in how they sat together.

They were close, but not too close. His left arm stretched over the back of the bench, his hand teasing, sometimes brushing, almost holding her shoulder, small enough to fit in the cup of his palm. Shorter than he by a foot, she didn’t quite lean on him but sat close enough so that every move of hers found her hair and cheek caressing his arm.

Now and again he took his eyes off the shore and looked towards her face. How I know she felt his glance is still a mystery to me but I don’t for a moment doubt that she knew every time his eyes took her in. He seemed not so much to study her beauty as much as to appraise and appreciate, muse and marvel at it anew after all these years. How many years? I do not know. But the way they fit together on that bench tells me they have a history of sitting side by side and quietly telling each other, without a word, of the love they share.

Snapshot three: Late afternoon traffic on Main Street heading into Hyannis center was inching along, matching the snail’s pace of an elderly man on the sidewalk. Although he was clearly bent on searching the ground, he seemed permanently weighted by age to that posture. I wondered what burdens his heart and back had shouldered, molding him to a curve between his past and what remained of his future.

He carried a pail. A standard issue, 10 quart galvanized pail: not a new pail but still decades younger than the one who held its arced handle. He inched along on the grass strip between the sidewalk and the curb. While I wondered if he might be looking for coins or returnable cans and bottles, the standstill traffic gave me time to discover what he was after: the cigarette butts and paper wrappers that marked the tourists’ trail through his community.

No nearby residence gave hint that he was policing his own front yard. This was an individual civic effort: an old man quietly contributing to the upkeep and beauty of his hometown. I wondered who knows of his initiative or thanks him for his work, although I doubt that praise or recognition are his motives. The years have slowly bowed him to the ground, the dust to which he will one day return. And so, with pail in hand, he makes his way. He shuffles along in the shade towards tomorrow but not before leaving the earth a finer place at the end of all his days.

* * * * *

My camera is an open eye and my film an open heart. You have the equipment, too, and the technology is simple. Take a few snapshots in the week ahead!

-ConcordPastor

3 comments:

Ken said...

As usual, the joys of life can be found all around us, assuming we actually take the time to observe and listen and appreciate what god has give us.

A simple thanks for what you do at the end of my difficult day. There were many challenges and failures today, but coming here lets me escape a bit from who and what I am and it/you helps me try to be what I could be with a little help from God (and his worthy assistants).

Anonymous said...

There was a similar old man, Bill, at Walden Pond for as many years as I've been going there. He had a routine: show up early in the morning and set up his chair, then head off for a walk around the pond collecting any trash he found. Lost and found toys he would set out in a row on a towel and offer them to any children who came near him later in the day. He always took a swim, changing into his trunks in the woods next to the beach. The amazing thing was that he did this every day of the year as long as the water wasn't iced over, and then he claimed he swam in the ocean at Revere Beach! I sometimes would see him out for a lazy swim when I would come for a hat & mittens walk. Bill was old and tan with thin skin, but he loved napping in the sun, talking to everyone and swimming daily. I loved that he would collect the litter and clearly saw his corner of Walden as partly his responsibility. This year, Bill did not show up. I miss him.

ConcordPastor said...

Thanks for a beautiful snapshot of Bill!