Put a Frame Around It


I have not written much of anything for a while. I have been lost in the fog of family illnesses and my son departing for college. I think I have been hibernating, but my heart and my brain started to wake up this week.

I have ideas popping again –  song lyrics, book themes, photo shoots I want to plan. But I stopped myself yesterday and wondered why in the heck I do these things – write the words and melodies, snap the pictures. I don’t make a dime. It takes loads of time. And yet… I think it might be what I am called to do.

For any of you who have read my blog, it will come as no surprise that I found my answer in a Frederick Buechner book. There are 2 new Buechner books out – 2 books!! – I could hardly contain my excitement pouring over new words from him yesterday. I am about to finish the first of the 2 called The Remarkable Ordinary. The second is called A Crazy, Holy Grace: The Healing Power of Pain and Memory. It’s next – I’ll keep you posted.

I have always felt a deep connection to Buechner’s writing, as if he gives words to the thoughts that swim right between my dreams and my waking – things that drive to the very core of me but I can’t quite explain. And then he just writes it – or even better, he shows it to me in one of his stories. Few characters have influenced me the way his have.

Back to yesterday: here I am, in my little existential crisis about the meaning of my work, and I open a new Buechner book and he is writing about ART. Of all the things! Here is one of my favorite quotes:

“So, art is saying Stop. It helps us to stop by putting a frame around something and makes us see it in a way we would never have seen it under the normal circumstances of living, as so many of us do, on sort of automatic pilot, going through the world without really seeing much of anything.”

And there it is. That is why I write this post, why I get up before dawn and ignore mosquitos or heat or cold to take my photos, why I spend hours trying to get a melody just right. First, it is for me. It is my way of telling my heart, “STOP! Look at this. Really look at this.”

Then I share some of these things with you so that you might say to yourself, “STOP! Would you look at that? What a wonder!” And I don’t mean I want you to look at my photo of the moon and say, “STOP! Look at my friend’s post. She is a great photographer.” What I’m really hoping for is that you will see the mind-blowing marvel that any human being got to stand where I stood and see such a site, and, “Oh my gosh, I can do that, too!”

My hope is that next time you see the moon, you stop and realize that no one who has ever lived or who ever will live is standing in the exact spot as you, at that exact time, with the specific memories and emotions and dreams you bring to that exact moment. That moment is a gift from the entire universe, from the Creator himself in my opinion, for you and you alone. Now tell me that doesn’t put this broken world into perspective for just a minute

So art – art spawned from a heart of wonder – is framing miracle moments- an image, a sentence, a note – that calls on all of us to slow the heck down and pay attention. And if I can influence just a handful of people and deepen their desire to find their own such moments, I am contributing to the very work of creation – I am bringing wonder and love,  grace and peace in a way only I can bring them

And you and I are also works of art. As we pay attention to the world’s wonders, we begin to see each other through new lenses. More from Buechner:

“So we are to see each other like that, as Jesus sees us, framed as if each one of our faces is seen by him.” 

May you all find your own unique moments of wonder this week, and may we all see each other – and ourselves – as the spectacular works of art that we are!


8 thoughts on “Put a Frame Around It

  1. This is so beautiful, Alyson! I love your thoughts, photos, and yes, they inspire me to stop…..breathe…..and appreciate God in new ways. So you are achieving your purpose, dear girl! We are about to go to CO for a much needed pause – we haven’t had true vacation in several years….and warfare surrounding us has been extremely intense of late. We need refreshment, renewal……fresh air to breathe! And CO has always been the place that my soul feel renewed….healed. So I can’t wait to get there! I’d appreciate your prayers as we go…..that John and I will feel God’s deep, tender touch in places that desperately need it. And for our daughter, Courtney, who just lost her husband and then was involved in a serious accident last week……the final straw for her fragile heart. Praise God, she doesn’t have broken bones or serious internal injuries, which is miraculous given the impact, but she is beat up, extremely bruised/sore, neck, spine issues, and she has been dealing with chronic brain issue ever since a cerebral leak and 2 bouts of meningitis within 6 weeks about 6 years ago, leaving her with chronic severe headaches and nerve pain. Head guys in neurology at Methodist/med center have been trying to resolve that ever since with no solution yet. And she has a special needs child who was very demanding with 2 parents, now left with 1. All to say, a pretty perfect storm for her, which affects us as well.

    Sorry to dump…….just feeling the load this morning and your writings touch my heart. Thank you for listening 🙂



    • Oh, my dear, dear friend. So much packed into that response. My heart aches for you and John and your daughter. I am so thankful you took the time to let me in before you depart. I am, right now, putting a reminder on my phone to pray for you each day.


  2. That’s a worthy calling for sure. I heard my husband telling my kids the other day – I know you may not like those people, but remember that they are made in God’s image. They are people, just like you. That should affect how you treat them. It seems like a simple thing, but when you think of framing their faces and seeing them how God sees them, it is powerful.


  3. I agree!! Just yesterday, I found myself in a conversation with a new neighbor. I framed her face and thought of her as God’s unique creation. She is already beautiful, but seeing her in that frame was marvelous. It was a whole different kind of beauty.


  4. GRRRR – I just wrote a long response to this but it got lost. I get so frustrated by technology….
    anyway, this is the post I saw first yesterday on Twitter. Funny, I am familiar with wquotesform Buechner but did not realize that he was a) contemporary and b) a theologian. I have requested one of the only books the county library has of his (ABC’s of theology or something like that) . I looked on Amazon too and might buy a used copy of a more recent one. Any that you might recommend?
    I grew up solidly entrenched in what I came to think of as the cult of Catholicism. It was, for me, a sharp and dark world and when I went off to college I pushed it all aside. I still can’t go there much but I have a tremendous appreciation for holy people, Jesus included, and all they can teach us.


    • Oh, wow! I think you will love his books. Hard to choose, but if I would recommend reading a fiction work (Book of Bebb, The Final Beast, The Storm, Godric, and Brendan were my favorites) and Secrets in the Dark, which is a wonderful collection of sermons on various topics. You can dip in and out of that one. If you read them, I’d love to hear your response. Thanks for connecting.


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