Inside a Monet

Within a Monet
Within a Monet. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0.

I tend to favor less developed parks. Trails that are narrowier, more treacherous, and less groomed challenge my physiology and spirit. Rocks or moss (sometimes both) are my preferred benches. The Oregon Parks Department, however, has a knack for placing benches within oil paintings.

Sometimes, I find myself along a well-groomed, safer trail. When I come across a bench in the divine art gallery, I sit upon that bench. As I admire the painting before me I soon realize the divine artist has also been busy to my left, my right, and behind me.

Tuning in to the chatter of squirrels, the rushing water, and the breath that tousles branches stretching to the sky, I notice my own brushstrokes. I am part of this divinely created masterpiece!

Like the splendor of the falls, the mud in my boots, and the early budding trees, my allure and beauty are created in the artist’s own image.

A Place to Gather

A Place to Gather

Though there are many reasons to avoid McDonalds, I am often tempted by the (relatively) clean facilities and free wifi. I now find myself sitting with a Diet Coke on my laptop writing on a semi-regular basis.

I have learned this about McDonalds: it is a place for people to gather and visit. It is a place where people can have a bite to eat and sit and catch up with friends. They do not feel rushed to finish and leave. I often see people sitting laughing and smiling with one another long after meals are finished.

This morning while traveling alone to Boulder for the IDEC 2013 conference, a place where educators from across the globe are gathering to connect with one another,  I got off the freeway at Mountain Home, Idaho. In pursuit of the McDonalds’ free wifi, I found human connections.

I have had friendly conversations with multiple people I do not know. I smiled and listened to one older man’s incredulity at the salaries of sports figures. I nodded as a woman shared with me her frustrations and fears about her financial future. I observed a young family enjoying time together. I smiled, catching the emanating joy, as a group of older women laughed and talked. Two teen girls — staring at their phones — remained connected to one another as they giggled and talked quietly to each other.

Older women catching up. Photo by Tim Graves
Older women catching up at McDonalds. Photo by Tim Graves
A young family and teen girls find a place to connect. Photo by Tim Graves
A young family and teen girls find a place to connect. Photo by Tim Graves

Like the One, in whose image we are created, we crave connection. We are social creatures. We need one another. We also need a place to gather. For many, that is a fast food restaurant.