I’ve been trying to do the one-word-for-the-year “thing” for several years now to keep my focus on the “important” things. I have the book, and I’ve signed up for Ali Edwards’ year-long course. I am not doing well at keeping up with the course other than reading and reflecting on Ali’s words.
Today, I’m checking in on who I’m doing with my word.
I chose the word “abide” for this year. Something about that word called to me. I know that we often use that word in the negative, as in, “I can’t abide with those beliefs or attitudes” or “I can’t abide that person.” But there is more positive about that word than negative.
“Abide” means to linger, to stay put, to remain in one place; to live in a place for a significant length of time. It means to be rest peacefully in the moment. It seems that sometimes, life gets too hectic, and we, as a society, forget how to “abide.”
That’s what I like about this thing called contemplative photography. It slows me down, forces me to be still, to linger over a moment, to see below the surface. It’s more than “stopping to smell the roses,” though, although certainly, taking the time to smell roses is a good thing!
Throughout the Scriptures, we are called to “abide,” to linger. In the King James Version, the word appears 82 times in 77 verses. It must be an important word to focus on. (I know, there are many other words used more often, but when I see a verb used 82 times, I think there must be something important about it!)
The word “abide” has an important theological meaning of remaining with Christ, of being “in union” with Christ. But I think we can extend that to other aspects, especially when I think about photography and the kind of photography that I enjoy most—photographing the natural world. To abide in Nature is to see the hand of God in the world.
(There is a dragonfly in this image!) It means seeing small things and appreciating the beauty of it. And there is beauty in everything in Creation.
I was surprised when I looked at this image and saw the squares on top of the round “berries” or seeds or whatever these things are. Learning to “abide” is teaching me to see.
Although “abide” often implies a sense of rest or stillness, “abide” has also come to mean “activity” but in a deliberate way, in taking time to be present, whether it is in nature or with other people or with the Word or in a book of fiction. Although I am actively “abiding,” I am also lingering and remaining for more than a moment.