I love this picture.
I don’t love it because it is a picture of amazing quality.
I don’t love it because I put a lot of effort into capturing the right lighting, angles or perspective (I didn’t).
I don’t love it because of what is seen.
I love it because of what is unseen.
What is unseen in this picture is an invitation. An invitation to me, an invitation to you. The unseen behind this picture invites us to stop, to be fully present in each moment, to experience wonder and mystery in the experience of the ordinary.
Each year, the Calgary Zoo puts on an event called “Zoo Lights”. They put up 1.5 million lights, and invite people to come and experience it. They have big bonfires, skating, kids games, hot chocolate and cookies, and anything else you could want to make the night a smashing success. This year, we took our kiddos for the first time, and they had a great time! (except for a couple of meltdowns because they were cold…)
As we were walking through the zoo, we came across these carolers. They were in the middle of a performance, and Jake wanted to stop and watch. We all stopped, did our “due diligence” to listen for a few seconds, and then we were ready to continue on our way, anxious to get to the “next thing”. All of us, that is, except Jake.
Jake was enthralled by these carolers.
He stood there, little mittened hands reaching up to help him balance on his tip toes, eyes wide-eyed, just barely peering over the wooden railing, unmoving. For one, two, three, four, five, six songs he was rooted to the ground, taking in every lilting melody, every voice working together in harmony. Without fail, after every song he would clap vigorously, and yell “yay, yay” at the top of his lungs. And then, as the next carol started, he would settle into the music, drinking in the scene with delight. He would have stayed there all night, had they not taken a break and stopped singing.
To me, watching intently, it was so poignant. The joy of being in the present moment, of listening to something that he loved, and of enjoying what was taking place before him, was a teachable moment for me. For Jake, it wasn’t about seeing all the lights. It wasn’t about getting to every part of the zoo. It wasn’t about making sure everyone was having a good time. It was about the music, it was about the present, it was about living in the moment.
In that instant, I saw what was unseen.
And my perspective was changed.