Sunday, January 25, 2015
A long time after I have taken pictures I like to look through them to see if I can find a theme. Inevitably one item or another will appear again and again. For example, several years ago when I was going through a period of major changes, I found bridges in my pictures. The bridge pictures turned into a series of blog posts and then a book. It seemed I wasn’t the only one having to make changes and my experiences helped others.
It’s not a surprise to find a new series growing in my pictures. Although I don’t understand the full scope of the metaphor yet, I do see the small picture growing.
The stair photos begin in Minneapolis, appropriately. In fact, one staircase in particular is connected to a very pertinent bridge, but that story has already been told.
Those stairs are blue and reach to the sky, daunting, taunting, pulling my bravery from the deeps in my heart until I conquered them. I found them to be freeing, actually, once I looked from the top to the bottom. I scanned a cityscape on one side and an art collection on the other.
Creativity overload almost shorted my circuits!
Another set of blue stairs beckoned me to another art collection. But this staircase had a blue glass runner down the middle. Funny, but I hardly noticed the height of the stairs or what lay beneath them. My eyes were set on the Kandinsky only attained by climbing.
For many years a Kandinsky print has graced one wall or another in one home or another of mine. A gift given with a challenge to one day see the original for myself. “You would love The Hermitage! So many beautiful pieces of art from so many amazing artists! I know you’ll go one day. This is to remind you.”
And, one day, I did go. A sense of accomplishment flowed in my veins as I stood there and considered all that had transpired from the time of the gift to that time. “Thanks, God,” I whispered.
My current situation in Moscow lends itself to constant stair climbing. I live on the fourth floor and find it is often easier, and faster, to take the stairs then to wait for the elevator. Four floors of 8 steps plus two to cross a landing, every day up and down I go. The first climb? I could hardly get to the second floor. Out of breath, legs shaking, I thought I would never get to the top!
Now? I do have to hesitate at the last flight up, but only because of asthma, not because it’s impossible. I like to walk the stairs now, actually. It feels good, healthy, productive.
I have met some of my neighbors because of the stair climbing. They smile, I smile. I say hello in Russian. They respond in English. Small connection reaching across a globe of political uneasiness.
When given my druthers, the Metro stairs I don’t climb. I don’t even walk down them. I allow myself the privilege of the escalator. There are enough staircases to climb to get in and out and around the Metro to spoil myself on the occasional ride.
Besides, it’s so much easier to people watch when you’re not walking.
So many amazing, interesting, curious stories to wonder at in the Metro. Odd couples, strange juxtapositions, fashion and political statements abound!
The stairs one must traverse in the Metro are stories of their own. Marble dipped by the steps of generations of travelers. I wonder, sometimes, who has been there before me? What did they think of the Soviet era? What was their life like? And Perestroika. Did it benefit them or only their children? What did they day dream about as they trudged home each day?
There is a castle wall remnant in Tallin, Estonia with a staircase I managed, also. Tricky, scary, steep and with one unmarked, uneven step. Not my cup of tea!
“Come on! You can’t stay down there! This is awesome! Come on up!” I drew courage enough from my young friend’s bravado to climb and it was well worth the effort.
Looking over the red roofs of Tallin, I could see forever! So beautiful and interesting! I kept watching for Errol Flyn sword in hand to come rushing down the walk or flying in through the window. Again, I wondered who had touched that stone wall before me. Whose handprints were joined with mine?
Pushkin’s gallery, also, but the carpet is hardly seen for the grandeur of the white marble. Picasso, Degas, Renoir and others await your gaze, but only if you care to climb.
It seems to me the climbing is the lesson. And climbing must be done one step at a time. Not jumping, lest you fall and have to begin again. Rather, one step after the other. Repeating the climb again and again makes you stronger, more capable. What at first seemed unreasonable, becomes common place.
Now after the writing, I think I am beginning to see the metaphor unwrap. I am making progress, slow, but sure progress. Thirty years ago my life was a completely different story and then Jesus began a good work in me which He continues to this day. Ten years ago He began another chapter which is still being written. I see the progress of this new chapter, but it’s so painstakingly slow! I want to know what this is all about already! Get to the top! Avoid the uneven places. I want to see the sights and revel in my accomplishment!
But life doesn’t work that way. Personal growth and spiritual growth cannot be rushed. Step, step, step… up, up, up. Miss a step and slide back a couple. Sigh. Try again. Step, step, step. Reaching new heights. Going new places. Becoming the best possible version of myself for His glory.
Yes, I think I see the metaphor now.