This is not the perfect picture. There is a version of it that I can see in my head that is. It was a rainy night in Rome. We were out for a walk and we came to the Spanish steps. At the top is an ancient obelisk from Egypt that was placed to guide pilgrims coming to Rome find their way. Standing on the middle landing were these two people under this brilliant red umbrella.
I saw them from a long way off and was drawn to the image. I walked closer and began taking pictures. They were consulting a guide book, so hey were not moving. I really wanted them alone on the steps right in the middle with the glow of the street light bathing them in a warm red glow.
I took the first picture at 9:00 PM. I took the last picture at 9:15. A bunch of people were waiting on me, so I could not wait longer and the rain began to pick up, so I lost my opportunity. Each time I would get the shot framed and free of other tourists, someone would walk right into my frame to take a selfie. This guy walked right past me almost bumping me as I was poised to take a picture. Then he went on to take pictures of himself for about 5 minutes. He seemed very happy with himself.
Last week I was filming for one of the long psalms. We, Wade and I, had gotten up at sunrise to film at Mickinney Falls State Park. The process involves scouting a location, choosing a pathway and then slowly and quietly walking and filming without shaking the camera. It takes concentration.
I started down a pathway. The opening shot was great-flowers and cactus opened on to a vast exposed shelf of rock. The morning sun accentuated the ripples in the rock. We could hear the growing rumble of the waterfall. We try to film for four minutes to get enough usable material. I was three minutes in when I heard a disturbance behind me. Then it happened, a woman on a bicycle came ridding right behind me. She photo bombed the image and it was ruined. Wade had asked her to stop. She did not.
We walked back to the beginning and started to film again. As I got closer to the waterfall, I avoided her bicycle strewn on the ground, but then saw her sitting right in the middle of the falls. Another failure. We took our cameras to take close ups of the water, but most did not come out, because though she could see our cameras she decided to place herself in the middl of the falls as if her feet were concrete. We stayed for thirty minutes, but she never decided to share the space with us.
It says in Philippians, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” (2:3). Both photos were lessons to me on the amazing self-centeredness of our society and how contrary it seems to the way of Jesus. Life can’t be just about us, about placing ourselves in the middle of the world. We are called to live a life of serve to others.