As I was out driving late one night last week I saw that the Christmas tree on top of our big hill in Athens was still lit up, despite the fact the house on that property (which is decked-out lit for Christmastime each year) had finally seemed to turn its outlining lights off. I wanted to laugh and say "Take that, January! Christmas ain't over yet. Time to grab a peppermint mocha and listen to some more carols before the Griswolds put the rest of their lights in the attic." Yet in all seriousness it was a beautiful sight on a clear-sky night and seemed to subtly speak that the hope of Christmas remained no matter what the calendar or current circumstances said. It was a reminder to me, in a peculiar way, that dreams and passion - when they have lit a spark in us - do not die even though a season may change or circumstances become difficult or we get behind where we wanted to be. That may be really deep - but the truth of it burned in my heart that night.
Consider Christmas... It's a season of great joy and wonder, with opportunity to dream of a bright and exciting future. Yet it seems to be limited to a finite period of time due to our calendar and culture's standards (though the truths that it speaks of and sings of have been since the beginning of time and will remain forever to come). In the same way, the dreams or passions that have been instilled in our heart for the glory of God, celebration of life and benefit of others often take a back seat in our priorities - whether inevitably by circumstance, voluntarily by poor choices or unfairly sacrificially because we don't feel we have permission to pursue them. But they still remain, they still stay with us like embers of a campfire which have buried in the ash yet refuse to burn out. Even when we don't have the time or the resources to take the step we'd like to make next in our pursuit of these dreams - we have to be patient and realize they are still important, still truly miracles and vessels God can use for his glory and purpose.
There is a song by the group "For King and Country" that's called "To The Dreamers" and I love it. I would play that album in my car during all the early morning trips I took to the Smokies before the sun came up last fall. It reminded me that even though the pursuit of photography was quite a process, or required some dedication like multiple trips and late nights sorting/editing/posting, I needed to "keep on charging ahead". I felt the payoff came in some incredible shots I got, the initial success in my blogging/posting and some cool connections I made over photography while on the trail.
I feel I need to remember to "keep on charging ahead" right now. The past several months have brought the most incredible blessing I could ever imagine, as I found out that my wife and I would be expecting a little girl this June! I also had a variety of portrait opportunities and one wedding, so I got quite a bit of experience in on that end. Then a focus on enjoying and celebrating the holidays with my beautiful bride and my family and friends rounded out a great end to 2014. So I would by no means say I have had difficult circumstances hinder me from any direction I had hoped to go. But as my life is almost always busy with something (and I'm sure about to get more so!), I easily get to feeling behind. I found myself in that place during this month of January - after a few months have passed with no further advancement in my nature/landscape pursuits - wondering if I can really continue in such an endeavor. Wondering if I'm really meant for it, if I'm cut out to keep up with it, if it's really that important and if I really even know what I'm trying to do with it.
Have you ever felt you were in a similar place after attempting to pursue something that truly made you come alive? (Even if at a lesser or more intense degree than I just described?)
If so, take heart! Because this tree, it quietly reminded me up on that hill that "He who began a good work in you will carry it on until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6 niv). It's certainly not over yet. The embers can be fanned, and I'm looking forward to just that. I'm ready, no matter the pace at which it comes.
And while the flame grows brighter, I think I will enjoy at least one more peppermint mocha.