My son and I were recently discussing the idea of humans being created in God's image and what that actually means. If we are made in the image of God and if every good and perfect gift is from God, then I think it can be implied that everything good and beautiful and wonderful about any particular person is a gift, a reflection of God's nature--a pale and inadequate reflection, but a reflection, nonetheless.
The fact that my boy loves to investigate and explore and understand all things scientific is a reflection, just a little bit, of God's love of intricate design. God is the ultimate science-lover; my son carries a little bit of His image in that area.
The fact that my girl loves to sing and turn anything and everything into a song is a reflection, just a little bit, of God's love of music. Music does something special for the soul; my daughter carries just a little bit of His image in that area.
I could go on.
A couple of days ago, I was hanging out at my friend's greenhouse business in the evening, after her customers were gone and she was just finishing up her watering. I was wandering around with my camera, taking photos in the waning light. It has been awhile since I've had the freedom and time to wander with a camera, and all the old creative juices started flowing again. I love to compose photos, and commercial greenhouses are tremendously photogenic.
She just smiled quietly to see me so absorbed in snapping photos left and right, zooming in on certain flowers, looking down long rows of hanging baskets, even laying on the ground to get just the right angle. She laughed aloud, however, when she saw me climb up onto a chair to take a photo from above of a work table covered with piles of white plastic plant tags, loosely organized into categories of vegetables and flowers, each pile secured with a twist-tie.
"Are you taking a picture of the tags?" she teased.
I thought it was a nice photo, documenting part of what it takes to run a greenhouse. I told her that I love to find images that might be overlooked by someone else, images that might be ignored for their lack of traditional beauty. I like to find my own definition of beauty in unusual places and point it out to others.
Yesterday, I was at the greenhouse again (my son and I have been working there part time lately) and my friend encouraged me to take a few plants home. She pointed out several varieties of flowers that she has too much of, things she won't possibly be able to sell before her season is over. Then she left me alone to make my selections.
I know her well enough to know that she would want me to take the nice, healthy-looking plants, especially when she has such an abundance of a particular type. But I find great pleasure in taking the scrawny ones, the ones that have become rangy and wild looking, or the plants in four-packs where one or more of the sections didn't produce anything. In each of these situations, the plants won't sell. They will be rejected, overlooked, abandoned--and eventually discarded.
Those are the plants I took. I loaded up three flats of perennials that I knew would not sell and sneaked them to my car before she could see what a pathetic lot I'd taken and reprimand me. I brought them home and have since planted them all. They are already showing signs of perking up, even thriving.
They are now a part of the flower gardens I made last Spring, which already feature many of last year's greenhouse "rejects." Last year's plants have come in beautiful and lush. They look so healthy and strong--not at all like the scrawny, leggy plants I brought home last year.
Several times each day, I find myself wandering out to my flower gardens to admire the plants and pluck away a few rogue weeds. Gazing upon them brings me a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction. Watering each evening, I love to watch how the gentle shower of water makes the strong plants bob and sway. They seem to dance to a rhythm all their own. I'm often in danger of over-watering, just because I find it such a relaxing, introspective bit of alone time at the end of every day; I hate to stop.
But it occurred to me this week that this love I have, of finding beauty in what most would overlook, of taking what most would reject and nurturing it into something beautiful--this is a little bit of the image of God, too! Scripture is filled with examples of God using the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and no one can deny that He seems to have a special place in his heart for the weak, the poor, the disenfranchised.
I don't know. It was just a cool realization that I have inherited just a little bit of my Father's ways.