It’s a practice I started three years ago at the prompting of the rather fabulous Winn Collier, a pastor whose writings fill my heart throughout the year. He wrote this:
What better way to launch this Season of Happy than with one of my great joys: Winn Collier’s #adventpicaday. Last year we looked for the light, and this search brought unexpected grace to every corner of my life. This year’s theme is the search for hope. Details here. (Give yourself the gift of Winn Collier’s blog. Smart. Lovely. Rich, in a most beautiful way.)
Do join in, won’t you? Even if you haven’t tried your hand at the photo app Instragram yet, this is the perfect way to wade in. You are so gonna love.
Day I: #adventpicaday #hope
Grace and peace to you this season of Advent.
In late November, a random click on a passing tweet lead to an unfamiliar blog and a beautiful thought: What if I spent Advent quite literally looking for the light? Would my heart lean forward, as Winn Collier suggested?
It has been a remarkable journey filled with wonderful and unexpected joy. I share it with you now, on this last day of Advent, in hopes you, too, will experience the wonder of simply noticing as we move toward the promise, together.
It is almost here, hidden just under the horizon there. My heart can feel it.
30 Days of Joy
Let me warn you right up front this is yet another post that centers around an #adventpicaday photo. But before you click away to find something more unexpected—say, a talking dog video on youtube—do let me explain I haven’t posted for two days, just seeing if I could make the urge to tell this story go away. I couldn’t.
All these years later, it has become quite clear to me why God brought her to my life. The antithesis of my mother—who was her dearest and most judgmental friend—Helen was honest, transparent, brash. Her view of life was street level; her commentary delightfully unfiltered.
I’ll never forget the time Helen traveled with our family on a cruise to the Bahamas. She, Mom and I were lying by the pool when talk turned dangerously toward sex. (Let me say, about this subject my mother and I never talked. Distasteful, you know.) So even as a recent college graduate—age 23—this conversation made me very nervous. And then Helen pronounces:
I was a virgin when I married at 29, and it’s the biggest mistake I’ve ever made.
I held my breath, stealing a quick under-the-sunglasses look to see just how horrified my mother was that her dear friend had made such a statement in front of her impressionable daughter. But Mom just laughed and laughed.
Helen had that effect on people.
I cried uncontrollably at her funeral in 2004, just two years after she sat with my family at my sweet, backyard wedding. I often think about the fact that the cancer was hiding there at that joyful moment, vengeful, biding its time. I still miss her terribly, most deeply at Christmastime. I can see Helen now, sitting in the green wingback chair in the Barn Room, smoking a cigarette and wearing her signature THE FAT MAN COMETH sweatshirt, those long pretty pearls around her neck.
I wrote something similar in a Christmas card to her children (who are my dear friends) as I sat in front of the fire feeling nostalgic Friday night. And I was still thinking of Helen the next morning when I walked back into the bedroom after delivering a load of dirty clothes to the laundry room. The late morning light was streaming in through the window, and I grabbed my phone with thoughts of capturing something interesting for #adventpicaday.
This is what I saw when the photo rendered:
The three angels Helen gave me as a wedding present, bathed in the light of Advent.
30 Days of Joy
Through the tiny slits that were my eyes when I first awoke this morning, I saw a marvelous orange forming in the sky just outside our bedroom window. I jumped from the bed, threw on the first pair of shoes I could find, and ran to the back yard—too excited to even stop to brush my teeth.
This is what I saw when I reached the water’s edge.
Awestruck, thrilled and cold, I walked back toward the house, intending to capture a quick shot of our pretty Christmas tree lights through the porch window before heading inside. I looked through the viewfinder at the reflection in the glass. What on earth, I thought, and turned back toward the water.
This is what I saw then.
Thank you, Winn Collier, for your #adventpicaday challenge. It is proof positive that if you simply look, the light will come to you. And it will be glorious.
30 Days of Joy
It was quite random, as digital connections often are. I happened to click on Twitter, where I happened to see this tweet from @rickcaffeinated, a fellow Columbian who happens to tweet quite a lot.
“Watching for the light” caught my eye. And so I was delighted to click and land here, at Winn Collier’s blog.
In Advent, we watch for Light. We pay attention to rhythm and sound and cadence. Our hearts look for signals. Our hearts lean forward. Light is coming.
Winn’s perspective on this season of preparation and anticipation really touched me. I read on to discover his intention to look for images all month long that nudge him “toward hope or joy or light,” to capture those images with his phone’s camera and to share them via instagram and twitter. He provides instructions for getting in on the fun, noting that he’ll choose one photo to post on his blog each day during advent.
A very cool idea, I thought, and promptly tagged #adventpicaday and tweeted a sasanqua photo from my Yuletide post.
Will one of my images ever make it to the featured spot on Winn Collier’s blog? Will one of yours?
It doesn’t really matter. The point is in the looking, hearts attuned, eyes hopeful.
The light is coming.