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Shot Of The Day

Waiting, Obstacles & White Picket Fences

My sister once told me that she waited to hang pictures on the walls of her home because she was certain that her situation was about to change. Well, not the totality of her situation. Just the parts she didn’t like so much. Her husband, whom she loves madly, had a secure job with benefits. She wasn’t waiting for that to change. She was pleased with that just as it was. They had four healthy, gifted, beautiful children. The pictures, which sat in the dark of the closet, most certainly were of them. She wasn’t waiting on that to change either. The image that motherhood painted into her life couldn’t have been more satisfying. The land on which her home sat was delightfully dense with trees and open spaces for children to run and imagine and dream. That was fine. But still, she didn’t hang her pictures on the walls because she was waiting for the day when her obstacle was finally gone. She was awaiting the day when the walls that would receive her pictures were behind the white picket fence of a beautifully constructed frame home rather than a double wide trailer. You see, a trailer just wasn’t what she had in mind for her life. It wasn’t what she planned. What she dreamed of when she was in high school and college looking into her future. What she imagined the picture of her family to reveal to others one day. Year after year, her kids, her marriage, her relationships thrived, but year after year, she waited to fully move in to her circumstances certain that the obstacle would soon be out of the way. One day, she jolted awake to a sobering thought — what if her obstacle free existence never arrived? Indeed, even if this obstruction was removed, another would surely be on its heels. Who, other than an actor in the fantasy of movies and TV shows, has an obstacle free life anyway? She was postponing the full and final move into the reality of her life for an imaginary obstacle free one. But life was moving on without her while she waited. This weekend, when I read the following quote by Alfred D’Souza, I thought of her and the picture hanging party she had after coming to peace with the fact that beautiful lives are full of obstacles, and always will be! For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin — real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.” Isn’t that a wonderful line? — AT LAST IT DAWNED ON ME THAT THESE OBSTACLES WERE MY LIFE! Wow, how liberating. In Spain this summer, we visited the Sagrada Familia, a Roman Catholic church designed by Antoni Gaudi. Construction started in 1882 and was plagued with obstacles right from the start. The first architect quit after a year of work. Gaudi was unexpectedly killed by a motorized tram many years into the project. Devastated by the loss of the project’s visionary, locals took comfort in the thought that his models and drawings remained for others to follow the vision to completion. But the Spanish Civil War in 1936 left the portion of the structure which housed Gaudi’s plans in flames destroying most of them. While they recreated as many of them as possible, a vow by the church to avoid government funding made financing slow and complicated. Talk about obstacles! Yet, to this day, with private donations alone, the construction continues true to the vision of the architect Gaudi. Expected to reach completion in 2026, it is one of the most visited sites in Spain. To listen to the locals speak of it, the monument is one of hope to all who face obstacles. Gaudi, perhaps foreshadowing the future, once said when questioned about the length of time it would take to complete such a massive endeavor, “My client is not in a hurry.” Beautiful things take time and effort and shaping in the fire of testing. We are all, in various ways, being forged in the furnace of our obstacles, not in the cool ease of our comfort. So long as we have breath, we will have obstacles. If you are breathing, construction is still under way. Gaudi’s client is obviously not done with you yet. Don’t let the obstacles obscure the blessings or, for that matter, your purpose in the midst of being forged. Gaudi’s purpose was to celebrate the greatest architect ever — GOD — by patterning his design after designs in creation. What’s yours? Your vision? Your purpose? Have the obstacles started to invade your picture hanging party? Are they starting to eclipse the tremendous blessings of your life? Are you waiting to move in? I say we take Souza’s advice and finally move in to our lives, obstacles and all. I’m not sure the obstacles are our lives as D’Souza concludes, but I do believe they forge us into beautiful works of art if we don’t avoid moving in despite the obstacles. Let’s hang our pictures gang! Oh, and by the way, my sister recently moved into that frame house with the white picket fence that she always dreamed of. It is gorgeous and — just in time for her youngest daughter’s senior year. While she will be sad when her white picket nest is “empty” of full time inhabitants, she’s comforted by the truth that she hung her pictures oh so many years ago. And the picture you see above? Why is it tilted? The shot of the day today was taken at an angle because of all the obstacles in the way — I couldn’t get far enough away to fit the entire image in the frame, the sun was blaring in the wrong direction for a good shot and the tour group was on a tight schedule ready to go, go, go. I took the shot despite the obstacles. And today, I’m hanging it here in my virtual gallery, obstacles and all.

Posted: 16 August 2010