by Emily Conrad
We returned from a ten-day road trip on Tuesday. We see so much beauty on our trips, but the way we travel–by car to far-flung destinations–can be exhausting. This year’s trip to Acadia National Park in Maine from our home in Wisconsin was no different.
On our first day in Acadia, my husband saw a lighthouse on the map and suggested we go there to watch sunset. I looked at the framed photo of a lighthouse on the hotel room wall and agreed.
We set off with the camera, hiked the short trail, and found one other photographer already waiting on the boulders by the ocean, watching for sunset to paint the sky behind the lighthouse. The same lighthouse from the hotel room photo.
We were over an hour early. As the minutes ticked by and the sun lowered its heavy head, more photographers joined us. Some came and went, but eventually, four of us had tripods set up on one large, flat rock right next to the lapping waves, carefully positioned to shoot past each other toward the light–that of the setting sun, and that of the lighthouse.
Other tourists arrived, carrying phones, and would seek the same shot we’d been camped out waiting for. Because of the way the rocks descended sharply, they wouldn’t see the group of photographers until they were about to step in front of us.
“Oh. Hey, everyone,” one said before sneaking by for a few pictures.
I didn’t realize we were headed to such a popular spot.
There was room for everyone who came, though. Even me, an amateur who can take better pictures with her phone than her DSLR in some situations. I was out of my depth among the more experienced and better equipped photographers there, but I stayed. Most people either arrived after me or left before me. In fact, most did both.
Beauty keeps me where impatience would expel me and self-consciousness would ban me.
While out on that rock, one of the pros said he’s come across six marriage proposals in places he’d gone to photograph.
Another replied witnessing proposals was a hazard of making a habit of hanging out in beautiful places.
Since the only proposal I’ve witnessed (other than my husband’s to me!) was in Rocky Mountain National Park, I had to agree. We want the big moments of our lives to happen before canvases like these, and we’re willing to work to make that desire a reality. Beautiful places pull us in. Likewise, beautiful aspirations captivate us.
My husband and I watched three sunsets and one sunrise in Acadia, and those are the pictures that adorn this post. I imagine that with every sunrise and sunset, and for many moments in between, photographers gather to watch for and capture beauty few are patient and interested enough to seek out. In Acadia and thousands of other places, they set up on rocks, face the light, and wait for glory.
But in our daily lives, hunting for beauty is arduous. We seek it out for special moments, but what about in the everyday? How can we make a habit of hanging out in beautiful places when our lives are so ordinary?
Back home again as I write to you, I’m tired. On a long day of driving on our way home, I got an email. A rejection from an agent I’d had high hopes of working with. The disappointment cast a shadow that lingers still.
Plain old Wisconsin doesn’t have a single national park in the whole state, though we do have some photogenic spots. Still, you have to either travel to get to them, or you have to look harder than you do when you’re sitting beside an ocean-facing lighthouse. And when you’re tired post-trip, post-rejection, that sounds like a lot of work. Beauty just isn’t as easy to see here.
And yet, the sun sets and rises every day, everywhere. It rises on lighthouses and mountain lakes and sets over oceans and plains. Its rays wash skyscrapers and a little white cape cod-style house on a quite street in Wisconsin. All of it, a stunning, daily picture of God’s faithfulness, beauty for all who bother to camp out on the rock and point their faces toward the light and wait.
Where do you camp out, looking for beauty? There is a place. There is an endeavor. Some aspiration. Something extraordinary you’re waiting for in this normal place you call home.
For me, it’s writing. Each word is another moment of waiting for the sun, and when faith in my good God shows up, His glory lights the sky.
The rejections I’ve piled up prove some come across me sitting on this rock and don’t see the point in lingering. Maybe they’re surprised to find someone camped out here. This isn’t the most famous spot to look for beauty. It costs me something to be here. I’m out of my depth. Not everyone deems this worth the wait and effort–more often than I care to admit, the doubter is me.
Yet, the hope of beauty draws me where impatience would expel me and self-consciousness would ban me.
Let it do the same for you.
We each encounter people like the casual sightseers who were content to come and go from the lighthouse before sunset reached its peak. They move on, looking for beauty in other vistas though we’re certain we’ve already found its home.
And that’s okay. The rejections are okay. Those people will go on to find beauty elsewhere. That’s between them and the God who created them with their unique talents and tastes. Meanwhile, the disinterest of others doesn’t change the view from this rock.
I tell you this because I’m inspired by what I saw at the lighthouse, but also by what I’ve seen in my friends. I’ve watched them plant themselves on the rock of their callings, unmoving despite the opinions of others. They are pursuing beauty, despite those who don’t see the allure of the spot they’ve chosen, and they inspire me. To stay. To believe. To wait for the light in the place I’ve been called.
Is this a place where beauty is easy to find? No. But I sit on the rock that is Jesus Christ in the belief that there is beauty wherever God is. Even here. Even in rejection and fatigue. I look through the lens of faith, and I wait for glory to dawn. Because of Jesus, I do not wait in vain.
Put your faith in Him and you won’t wait in vain, either. There is room for you, too, on the Rock of Ages. To the world, it may look as though we’ve camped out on a nondescript boulder in a drab place. But even there, in the waiting, God is good.
His love never fails, and neither will His beauty disappoint.
Wait for it.
PS: The winner from last week’s giveaway of Becky Wade’s True to You is laltebaumer. Laltebaumer, email me at emilyconrad @ sbcglobal.net (remove the spaces) and I’ll reply with your redemption code. Thanks to everyone who commented!
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