It was an imperfect photograph of a broken egg on a dusty kitchen floor. And I smiled.
That smile was far from reaching my face during the frustrating moment when an egg slipped through sleepy fingers and landed useless on the floor. I was rushing to fill the demanding tummies of three wiggling girls in their highchairs one room away. I was tired and irritated. Then jumped the egg, and I was galled.
Taking a deep breath I bent to clean up the mess, happening to glance at my camera sitting on the counter on the way down. I popped up and snatched it from it’s perch. Glancing at the back door to make sure my husband wouldn’t make a sudden appearance I lay fully down on my stomach and snapped a photo of the egg. I couldn’t answer myself as to why I did it, but I smiled as I looked at the picture. And as I lay next to that eggy mess my spirit calmed and cheerfulness instantly replaced irritation.
A few months later a loud crash momentarily startled a quietly napping house. I scowled at the shards of glass around my stockinged feet, remnants of what was supposed to be the bedside glass of water for this mother’s much needed afternoon nap.
“Stupid,” I muttered in annoyance.
“Take a picture of it.”
“What?” I looked through my open bedroom door to where Mr. G had a clear view of the wreckage.
“Take a picture of the glass. Just like you did of the egg.”
The egg. He had seen the picture of the egg. I was opening my mouth to make some excuse for that silly still-life when I realized he was in earnest. Fetching the camera I was down on my belly in moments, again taking a photograph of something broken on the floor. As I carefully swept the shatters into a dustpan a thought occurred to me. I was no longer frustrated by this little accident. Perhaps I was even a little – could it be – grateful? Creativity replaced annoyance. Brokenness provided an opportunity to find beauty.
This silly practice became the standard after that. When anger began to boil or disappointment choke because of another item smashed, shattered, snapped I released clenched fists to retrieve my camera.
It was nine months after the egg incident when the milk carton jumped out of my hands. Noticing my wide-eyed toddler with a quivering lip, unsure whether or not this moment called for tears, I quickly laughed and exclaimed, “Oh my goodness! Wasn’t that silly of mommy?”
“Yeah,” she giggled, relieved. “Picture?”
Now it was my turn to stare wide-eyed. It wasn’t exactly a broken object, but the idea was the same. After watching her mommy pick up the camera each time something broke this tiny two-year-old saw a mess on the floor as an opportunity to slow down and be creative.I took the picture and together we laughed over spilt milk.
2016 brought many shards and shatters to the hardwoods of our little house of dreams, but with them came a new idea that I want to challenge you with in this new year. When your response to brokenness could be frustration, think instead of the possibility.