I spent the week before Christmas at Camp Caribe in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico. It was my sixth year to go with a group of my fraternity brothers from college, and this mission trip is a highlight of my year every time.
In the mornings, I took advantage of our coastal location to sit on the beach and watch the sunrise. I also used that week as a technology break: no phone, camera, computer, nothing for a week. It was soul refreshing not to look at a screen for seven days. My eyes saw so much more than they would've seen had they been glued to a lightbox 12 inches from my face. This is what an early morning is like at Camp:
Beneath my feet is something between sand and volcano rock. In a cloud-checkered sky painted colors of a cowboy cliché, a crescent moon smiles down approvingly on gulls in a flying V as they pass a pair of pelicans who periodically plunge into the water in pursuit of this morning's daily bread. Behind me the army of mountains stands at attention, and the clouds form their own kind of mountain range that stretches across the horizon line. On this eastern line the light intensifies, growing steadily as does slowly, while the company of nearby windmills fulfills their calling with constancy and fidelity, turning steadily as do slowly.
And then, not a minute too soon or too late, the morning star peaks over and sets the day on fire. The horizon clouds create a blazing cradle, embracing him 'round, as if to start off the course of his day with their warm affection. As he leaves their tender ministry, every grows the flaming staircase surging from his home across the rhythmic waves of the glassy sea all the way to my feet, beckoning more loudly than any word of men.
Beckoning then, and beckoning still. The same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Such is the initiation of days, 'til the initiation of yon' perfect day.
They say a picture's worth a thousand words, but these 214 mean more to me than any picture. There's a reason this post doesn't have a picture, and there's a reason I didn't take a single one that week. The more we live life with a screen in between us and what's in front of us, the less we live life. We all know this, we just don't act on our conviction. We're all guilty of taking a slew of pictures on vacation or at a concert, only to tell our friends "But the picture just doesn't do it justice." Of course it doesn't, and we missed out on living a little more when we let our desire to grasp the ungraspable (namely, that moment in time) overtake our chance to just be there.
John Mayer provides some lyrical insight into this matter. In "3x5", he says, "Didn't have a camera by my side this time. / Hoping I would see the world through both my eyes." Later in the song, he tells us that "Today I finally overcame / Trying to fit the world inside a picture frame." Zac Brown also exhorts us in saying, "If you're too busy talkin', you're not busy listening to hear what the land has to say." God indeed speaks to us in the created order, and we would do well to incline our ears a little more to it and a little less to our ringtones.