By Bruce Stambaugh
Recently, I had the privilege of sharing with two different senior groups. They had asked to see a few of the many photographs I had taken.
Most of the shots I shared were captured within 10 miles of our home. I wanted to show that, though travel to exotic locales is nice, we don’t have to go far to see the real beauty in any season. That may be true no matter where you live.
I think I was preaching to the choir. Most in attendance were seasoned citizens of the kingdom, people who had lived through hard times, much more difficult than whatever the Great Recession has thrown our way.You could see the joy in their eyes, hear the love of life in their queries and comments, and sense their genial concern and caring for all creation. These were good folks for sure.
Colorful landscapes dotted with farm animals and farmhouses predominated the slideshow. I threw in some family photos and shots of birds that frequent my backyard feeders for a change of pace.
I have to confess that I did it for effect, too. The close-ups of Eastern Bluebirds sipping at the partially frozen waterfalls of my garden pond, and the shocking size of the Pileated Woodpeckers that frequent the suet feeders created a few muffled sidebars.
The presentations were dominated by slides of our lovely rural geography. Some of the same scenes were shown during different seasons. An Amish farmstead was featured in winter and summer from the same vantage point.
The photograph that meant the most to me wasn’t a beautiful bird or a lovely landscape. It was the shot of my late parents at their 65th wedding celebration. It perfectly summed up my parents in one click of the camera shutter.
Dad wore a suit and tie, his usual attire for any formal social gathering, be it a family Christmas dinner or an anniversary remembrance like this occasion. An outdoorsman through and through, his pheasant patterned tie reflected his life’s priorities.
Mom was elegantly natural in her pose, too. Her eyes beamed what she longed to say but could not due to her advancing Alzheimer’s disease. She had long before expressed her appreciation for being in the world through her lovely landscapes and her abundant patience and compassion as a mother, wife, and artist.
I was sure to credit my folks for my passion to see things creatively and appreciatively. Dad gave me the love of nature, and Mom the ability to see it through an artistic perspective.I never could paint the way Mom did, though she tried to teach me once. After several attempts, Mom kindly suggested I stick with writing and photography. And so I have.
I recognize that there are far better writers and photographers than me. Still, I am passionate about both, enjoying the attentiveness and inquisitiveness of people like these marvelous seniors.
My guess is their values and perspectives closely matched those of my folks. Familiar with several people in both audiences, I know they have and continue to share their gifts in their family, church and community.
These gathered folks formed their lives around the old adage, “It’s better to give than receive.” They gave me an opportunity to share, and graciously tolerated my lame attempts at humor during my presentation.
In both settings, these generous folks extended their warm hospitality around food. Food and friendship generate the best conversations.
That was genuine sharing, no camera needed.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2014