10 Reasons Why This Picture Pleases Me


Me & Bryce After Taize

Jon Roy commented on my wall that I must have been pleased by this picture.  I replied that he—a soon to be dad—would soon know the pleasures of which he speaks.  Then I figured it worthy of further reflection.  So here are ten reasons why this photo pleases me.

  1. The person taking the picture was Bryce’s pastor.  David had taken Bryce and Eliot up to the altar when we arrived, oriented them to the grand space, pointed out things, said things I couldn’t hear.  It was splendid to watch him being a father and pastor in that moment.
  2. Bryce got to sing.  It was melodious even if his voice was creating a song different from the one on the page.  He’s not reading music yet, but he’s definitely making his own.
  3. Bryce sat and played and sang and worshiped with his friend and cousin.  When we met for arepas that evening, before worship, the boys sang gleefully (or yelled), their characteristic greeting.  They’re friendship was on display and they got to participate in Taize together.
  4. We worshiped as a family.  For different reasons, I work in a different congregation than the one my family worships in.  It’s always always always a blessing to sit next to Dawn and Bryce, with all that it brings, and respond to God.
  5. Being there was an education.  We had seen one of my greatest teachers, Dr. Scottie May, who taught me the rudiments of what it means to form children faithfully.  Seeing her, and introducing her to my son for the first time, was a gift on many levels.
  6. We were with friends.  To speak of the Swansons as friends is a poor statement because it hardly reflects the deep reality of who they are.  We are relatives in the best sense; we’ve chosen to steadily cultivate an extended family with those good people for more than a dozen years.  I cannot say that about most people in my life.
  7. We had done something twelve times.  Maggie suggested last December that we attend to our joint relationship by getting together at least monthly, eating, talking, and playing, and the habit stuck.  We celebrated last night, against our nutty schedules, and decided that what we had done, in our homes and in other places was worth attempting again.
  8. No one was burned.  We lit candles together, us and our children, along with hundreds of others, and no one was hurt.  We lifted them together, singing about Christ the Light of the World.  Then we went in straight lines to dig our candles in pots of sand around a cross and icons of Jesus.  We almost set a woman’s butt on fire as we walked to the altar, but we made it without incident.
  9. Bryce—and Eliot—had spent 10 minutes in silence during Taize.  This is not something two and a half year olds and three and half year olds do as a matter of habit.  It was an accomplishment in itself.  But it also felt very much like the point of it all; there are reasons to close up, sit on a cold marble floor, and say nothing.  
  10. Walking Bryce to the altar was metaphorical.  The image and gesture of taking him, with our candles, and kneeling before the altar was memorable.  It was one of the moments where, upon reflection, I felt like I had done my duty as his father: ushering him to an ineffable something and letting him respond with awe and blazing eyes.

    Eliot & Bryce after Taize

    Eliot & Bryce after Taize