Sometimes I stumble upon the right thing at the right time. Most recently that right thing was photographs and that right time was the pandemic.
In the early days of working from home, I scanned through old photographs I might use for a current project. The photographs included ones I took during trips in the United States and abroad. They also featured friends and family.
Without giving it much thought, I downloaded photos I had taken over the years of the children of my longtime friends Julianne and Eric. For the next month, I e-mailed two or three of the photos to Julianne each morning. I simply labeled each e-mail: Photos for the day.
What began accidently evolved into a daily practice that brought unexpected joy. The photos themselves were filled with joy—a twelve-year-old Nathan with a huge smile, the twins’ celebrating their first birthday. But on a daily basis the photos also reminded me of countless other joyful moments I’ve shared with these friends—from holidays to hikes, from meals to museum visits. They also offered a concrete way to connect with these California-based friends at a time of limited personal connection.
The accidental practice soon evolved in another way. This time the evolution was more intentional.
During that earlier scan of old photographs, I was surprised by how many photos I have of flowers. It seems that whenever and wherever I travel, flowers of all shapes and sizes and hues capture my camera’s attention.
I wondered what it would be like to combine my apparent attraction to floral photography with my love of words. Could I meaningfully match my photographs with what other people have said about flowers?
Seeking an answer to that question led me to download favorites from my collection of flower photographs. Next I set off on a search for related quotations that spoke to me. Armed with a selection of each, I began posting one photograph and a matching quotation each day on Facebook.
This evolving daily practice still brought joy, but it did something more. It helped me be mindful of how beauty nourishes my soul. Each day I was able to feed on the beauty revealed in nature, the beauty expressed in written words, and the beauty reflected in photography.
In the weeks that followed, my practice expanded to include photographs and quotations about trees, thresholds, and water. My imagination already is at work on future topics to explore through photos and matching words.
Stumbling upon the right thing at the right time has changed my experience of Eastertide. In past years, I sometimes took up a new practice during Lent. While those practices often proved to be meaningful, they usually didn’t extend beyond the Lenten season. Those practices also tended to be those I might traditionally define as “spiritual.”
But this year the accidental-turned-intentional practice simply emerged from things I love—travel, photography, beautiful language, and longtime relationships. The practice reminds me that every part of life can carry echoes of Easter--echoes that reassure me of the promise of life, the hope of new beginnings, and the spiritual nourishment available when I connect to others and the world around me.
As we near the end of the season of Easter, maybe you might stumble upon a practice of your own—one that grows out of things you love, one that brings joy, one that carries your own echoes of Easter.