Without a Camera

Kim Commissaris, 23

I heard a rustle in the trees where the sun peeked through. I looked up and saw, not twenty feet away, a blue heron, wings beating, descending on the river. My first thought was disappointment. Having left my camera behind, I had missed the opportunity to capture the moment.

I love nature because it’s always new. The same leaf never falls twice. The sun never rises or sets exactly as it did the day before. But on that day, I discovered I was seeing this scene as a photo opp and not appreciating the moment itself.

girl with camera2 iStock_000007568727_Medium copyThis discovery enabled me to admit that I don’t often allow myself to be surprised by God. I think I know God. I have a picture of God in my mind, and I’d rather let myself believe it is sufficient. I’m afraid that if I pray, read my Bible, and get to know God better, I might have to change.

To think I know God is to think I have control. I wanted control. But I discovered that true life is so much greater than control; it is growth, and growth often means change.

To pray means to be in contact with the giver and transformer of life. Nothing is wrong with recording what we know and remember about God; but replacing the holy, infinite Creator with our own graven image of God is a problem. Creating that limited image is easier to avoid when we’re in contact with the real source of life.

Romans 12:2 (NRSV) tells us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” I have come to understand prayer as taking part in a relational life, learning more about God and about who God is, and allowing my image of God to grow. By doing so, I allow myself to grow and hopefully to reflect the image of God.



Passing on the trail by the river,
I met a moment’s silence.
His eye contemplated the depth.
His wings rounded in an engulfing descent.
He landed, settling in the shallow.

blue heron2 iStock_000063268631_LargeThe two of us,
anchored in stillness,
as the blues and whites of his form flowed
and swelled above his two stems.
My breath caught, and I hesitated,
coordinating my pace to his,
each footfall more significant and
distinct than before.

With a camera, I could have
captured him, a still life, transfixed,
in recollection.
But we, anchored in memory,
eyes contemplating the depth,
wings rounding in engulfing descent,
land and settle in the shadow.

Will you allow yourself to be surprised by God?

Kim Commissaris, 23 , enjoys learning new things and exploring new places. Currently, her love of cultures and languages has led her to teach English in Shanghai, China.

—from devozine (September/October 2015). Copyright © 2015 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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