Here’s our 2012 family photo. It was taken by our nine year old neighbor. Let me tell the story…
My son and daughter were outside playing up at the playground behind our house. As it often happens, some neighbors joined us. Maybe were all thinking the same thing: enjoy the warmer weather before it gets really cold. There we were, all playing and chasing each other in freeze tag. I saw Brian back at home getting the xmas lights out. I said, “Hey kiddos, let’s go over and see dad.” He was working in the side yard putting lights on our three tiny crate myrtles. If there’s anything in our yard that makes my heart softly smile, it’s these three trees. Given to us by Brian’s parents when Clara was born, I cherish them each time I look out our kitchen window (which, can be a LOT when you are feeding what seems like an army of kids under five!). So we all ran down to our house, our two neighbor friends and all.
I remember watching as these two girls jumped right in, just like family, and said, “Can we help?” I remember thinking, “It’s not even their yard and they are putting their whole selves in to doing this!” I stood there, watching them, wondering how many times
we I give of myself so completely to another person’s project that is not mine at all — I’ll derive no benefit from it, no reward, no …anything – like these two girls were doing right in that moment. My heart swelled with gratitude for these two girls — all but seven and nine years old — for showing my what true “gifting” is. I started to tear up. I breathed in the moment — “this is perfect,” I said to myself, as I watched my five year old son waving his Harry Potter wand around, my two year old whispering a spell under her breath, two neighbors helping string up lights, and my patient husband in the middle of it all.
I happened to have my camera that late afternoon. I began snapping a few pics. The nine year old asked, “Can I see your camera?” I thought, “Why not?” And I showed her how to take a picture. And then I had an idea. I asked her, “Would you mind taking a picture of us?” She said, “I’d love to!”
And this is the picture she took.
I love it. Not because it’s perfect – -it’s not. I’m out of focus just a bit. We all don’t match. I’m not wearing a cute outfit. My daughter isn’t looking at the camera. You can’t really see what the kiddos are sitting on (our Step 1 slide given to us by my cousins who outgrew it). Our son is in his Harry Potter jacket (barrowed from another neighbor who knew he loved Harry Potter and brought it over to him the week of Halloween).
But it is PERFECT. Why?
Because it will always remind me of how one innocent moment of generosity can make hearts weep. It will always remind me of how spontaneous shots JUST AS WE ARE capture how it really is with us — Harry Potter, Wonder Woman, uncombed hair and all. It will always remind me of how I get what I ask for, long for – maybe just not in the way I envision it: neighbors being about each other, helping each other, with no reason or reward except it feels good to be doing it together. And that makes the imperfect quite perfect.