My niece recently sent me a picture of her eldest daughter. I’ve been held captive by it for a few weeks now trying to conclude all that it means to me. For some reason, it’s been speaking volumes, but I hadn’t been able to identify a single reason why. I forwarded it to a very dear friend of mine and asked the question, “What does this image say to you?” The only response – “Pregnant pauses”. I interpreted that as some long pause when nobody quite knows what to say in response to something that has just happened. I guess there are more meanings, but I understood the observation enough to carry on with that initial thought. In any case, I’ve been parked on the image and those two words, pregnant pauses, for that very reason.
Late one afternoon, as I slowly made my way down the interstate heading east, once again I found my mind wandering to this precious picture of our little girl discovering for the first time, her shadow. Most likely none of us remember that experience, standing toe to toe with a faceless, moving image that doesn’t talk back. Everything you do, it does. What goes on in the mind of the one who encounters that first discovery? No one is in there, save you. Every conclusion is based on all the information that is stored in the single box of your thinking: a ceiling, a floor, and four walls. Not much information to pull from for a three-year-old. No doubt at a certain yet unidentifiable point in time, she’ll come to understand the simple reason behind the cause. However, at this point in her young life the observation was made and she quickly moved on to another activity and that shadow would not be given a second thought until it would appear yet once again someday in her future.
Here is an image, captured at a fraction of a moment in time, an unanticipated exchange when there are no found words for something that has just happened that has never happened before. Furthermore, you are unable to articulate a single aspect of the entire experience. And you’re left with a stunned gaze, some long, silent pause and an undeniable sense of wonder. Good or bad. One might think that these experiences would be almost extinct at my age but I’m here to testify that this would be a misnomer. Those shadow experiences suddenly appear from time to time and I still can find myself at a complete loss as what to think or say about it all. But there is no doubt that I’m feeling something; something new, different, curious and for the moment unidentifiable. Sometimes these newly-found encounters are not as benign as one's shadow. Occasionally they are awakenings or understandings that have been laying in a dormant state of confusion for many years and from time to time those shadows have sent invisible piercing arrows into a tender place of my heart.
Oh, the many scenarios of the things that happen in the unseen. Those glances, frozen moments and pregnant pauses and post-observations. Most often I find myself removed from the shadow and back in the flow of everyday life, just like our little girl with not much thought to what I’ve seen. But on the odd occasion, it will linger with me through time and I’m grateful I have a friend to share those deepest curiosities. One who brings peace and stillness in spite of my inability to articulate or give reasons. One who reveals the unexplainable and takes me to a new place of reason which often settles on these few, choice words, “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 With that, I’m contented to let it go.
This prompts yet another perspective of the intriguing picture. Consider the one who captured the moment from the lens of her camera. She’s ever watchful of the events in her daughter’s life even down to the “pregnant pause”. A little girl totally unaware that the one who loves her with all the love that there is to give is watching over this shadow experience in her daughter’s life. And furthermore, knows the reason why the shadow is there.
I’m not sure that I’ve concluded all the reasons why this picture has captivated me so. But clearly I see an illustration of the love of God towards me, who is ever watchful of the details of my life. Not just externally down to the numbers of hairs on my head, but for all the internal details as well. Look here what He says in His Word, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 7:12 Clearly that takes care of the external, wouldn’t you say? But consider this as well. My loving God is aware of all those unseen thoughts and experiences that I have in my mind. Past, present, and even future find storage in that one box, with one ceiling, one floor, and four walls. “Oh Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar (that’s time as well as space) You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” Psalm 139:1-6 Verse 13 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” And to think, He loves me anyway and in spite of and certainly not because of.
In a final thought I realize that there is one more perspective that must be addressed going beyond the observations of our little girl and her mother. It would be mine. Just a few thoughts wrought from my own pregnant pause.
“A picture is worth ten thousand words” F. Barnard