As I sat on Hastings beach this week, enjoying taking things at a slower pace while off sick from work due to stress and exhaustion, I took these photos of the view behind me, taking in the various elements of boat, beach, tractor, church, houses, hill and nets.
I wondered how many millions of photos have been taken over the years of picturesque Old Town beach with its fishing boats. There are always people milling around with cameras down here. So I wasn’t going to.
But then I noticed something about the view I’d been enjoying. The combined subjects seemed to represent the balance I’m seeking to achieve in my life.
- In the foreground, to the left: a tractor for pulling boats up the beach, important and useful, more functional than aesthetic. This piece of machinery, representing productivity, work, and all things “male” and task-driven, was getting a look in from the side, but the photographer (me) not allowing it to dominate the view.
- To the right, the main attraction: a fishing boat. Although a working vessel, providing food for many, the boat also speaks to me of aesthetics, beauty and therefore creativity; femininity, love, and therefore my wife, my marriage, my family – all aspects of life to which I’m attaching greater importance (and appreciating as sources of strength and healing), just as the boat appeals to our aesthetic eye in the picture.
- In the background: a church, representing stillness, wonder, faith and Jesus; reminding me that behind work, creativity and relationships needs to be the presence and love of God, mindfulness, and prayer. For me, faith and prayer undergird everything else.
- Further back: tucked in behind the church is verdant West Hill with its trees and grassy slopes, representing nature and its close relationship to the Creator. Countless studies have shown us how beneficial spending time in green spaces is to our mental and physical health. Nature seems to be God’s healing agent, a message of love from the Creator, and we underestimate its power to our peril. I’ve never lost my enjoyment and appreciation of the outdoors, whether through running, walking, prayer, birdwatching, or nature photography, but more recently I’ve also realised the importance of nature for my emotional health. Even as I step out of my house into the back garden with its fresh air and fragrant smells of trees and flowers, a wave of peace sweeps over me.
As my attention was drawn by my Father to this pictorial allegory of the life balance I’m aiming for, I decided to take some photos after all and keep them as a pertinent reminder.
- Oh, and finally, under it all, under me, is the beach itself, reminding me that in the end, life is of course a beach! Or should be….
(Wondering what this blog is all about, and who A Child of Grace is?
Please read my About page. Thanks! Roger N)