#TellHisStory Storytellers Series
Story has the power to change the world, one paragraph at a time. I share this space, once a week, with some great storytellers I’ve met during my years of writing. This week’s featured storyteller is my dear friend Patricia Hunter, who is also a terrific photographer.
Be sure to come back Wednesday to link your own stories or photos with us in the #TellHisStory community.
Cultivating an Eye for Life’s Mercies
No doubt my neighbors think I’m quirky.
With a basket – that holds two cameras, an extra lens or two, and a towel or blanket to sit on – in one hand and a bottle of water or Gatorade in the other, I wander the same five acres on Pollywog Creek several times a week. I’m often still in my pj’s – the pant legs tucked into socks and with or without wearing shoes. (It’s one of my favorite photography tips.) A straw hat that’s held in place by leather straps under my chin and a bright pink battery-operated fan that hangs around my neck simply serve to both embarrass my children and support my neighbor’s suspicions.
Of course my neighbors wonder what I’m up to. Our five acres look much like theirs. Some of us live in concrete block houses, some in trailers. None of us have eye-catching manicured lawns or picturesque gardens. One neighbor’s shed, close to our fence, is surrounded by junk piles and supported at one corner by an old broken toilet. Not lovely at all.
If you look past the pasture across the road where Mr. Arolloga keeps his cows you’d see dozens and dozens of trailer homes rented by migrant farm workers in an area that somewhat resembles a third-world country.
Our pasture fence is rusty and sagging, especially where more than one driver – under the influence, speeding, or both – missed a turn, crossed the ditch along the road and snapped the top barb-wire as their vehicle plowed into the pasture, leaving fence posts on the ground and our fence in need of repair.
Long-needle pines, scrub oaks, live oaks, and wild grapefruit, as well as tangled thickets of grapevine, rosary pea, palmetto bushes, rusty lyonia, beautyberry and potato vines run along the steep bank of the creek – which in the dry season in little more than a trickle.
In the rainy season, the creek often overflows its bank and the pond fills, spreading past the trunks of the cypress trees that circle it, often completely covering the tops of the cypress knees that otherwise make exploring the water’s edge a challenge.
Except for the tall live oak draped with tendrils of Spanish moss and the azaleas that burst with a gazillion pink blossoms in the spring under the scrub oaks that line the circular drive, there doesn’t appear to be much here to inspire photography day after day, year after year.
If it weren’t for that day nearly eight years ago, when I bent down close to the ground and clicked the shutter on a cheap digital point-and-shoot camera, capturing a macro of a weed – an ordinary tassel flower — I might still believe there’s nothing inspiring here, too. But when I upload that tassel flower image on the computer, I’m stunned by its delicate beauty and it takes my breath away.
John Piper shares a story about his English Lit professor whose description of a tree he’d seen while walking to class made you wonder why you had been so blind all your life. His professor would say that “Christ purchased new eyes for us as well as a new heart” and he would plead that his students would “stop being unamazed by the strange glory of ordinary things.”
Not the majestic and magnificent – the ordinary.
God used an ordinary flowering weed, captured by an inexpensive point-and-shoot camera that I didn’t even know how to focus, to open my new Christ-bought eyes to the strange glory of ordinary things right here under my feet on Pollywog Creek.
I’ve been cultivating an eye for life’s mercies and smitten with a quest for capturing beauty in ordinary places since.
I’d love to know if you have experienced new eyes, too, or discovered the glory of ordinary things. Isn’t it amazing?
Patricia Hunter is a freelance writer and “wannabe psalmist with a camera.” She ghostwrites for two subscription magazines and has recently joined the team of contributing writers for a soon-to-be published print magazine in SW Florida. Patricia and her husband Louis have been married for 38 years and have 4 grown children and 8 grandchildren. You can follow Patricia at her blog Pollywog Creek, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest. (Jennifer, I don’t have a decent headshot (something I need to correct) – can you just use the book cover?)
Patricia Hunter has collaborated with Robbi Cary to produce this beautiful book, entitled No Matter What, It’s a God Day When – Finding Blessings in Difficult Days. The book offers stunning photographs of God’s creation alongside a heartwarming message of truth. You will find your faith strengthened and your gaze refocused on Christ in all kinds of circumstances. This is an uplifting, heartwarming, and inspiring gift to help you, your family, and your friends thrive in tough days.
Let us know in the comments if you would like a copy. Consider answering Patricia’s question: “Have you experienced new eyes, too, or discovered the glory of ordinary things?” (Winners will be notified by Friday afternoon.)