This week I’m shifting the perspective a bit on my “cameras and the spiritual life” series. Moving away from a focus on photographic concepts, I’m looking toward the camera itself this week and next. I found myself remembering that classic saying about looking at the world through rose-colored glasses and realized that the lens I choose for my camera definitely has an impact on what I see—in terms of both the landscape and my spiritual life.

While there are many different types of camera lenses, I’m going to reflect on three categories: wide angle, zoom, and macro. Wide angle is what most folks have on their phone cameras. It allows us to capture most of what we see in front of us and gives us a broad perspective on the “big picture.” Thinking about the spiritual life, a wide-angle lens also provides a broad perspective. For example, we might pray for all the refugees around the world, or everywhere there’s drought on this climate-changing planet we call home.

The term “zoom lens” long predates the Zoom meeting technology that became so popular during the pandemic. In fact, the first variable focal-length lenses were used with telescopes nearly two centuries ago. A zoom lens allows us to “zoom in” on a particular element of the landscape without having to swap out lenses, and they’re so common today that it’s difficult to remember that there was a time when most camera lenses gave us just one static field of view. In terms of the spiritual life, a zoom lens allows us to zoom in and focus more particularly on praying for refugees in our region, state, or city.

A macro lens allows us to focus very “up close and personal” on one particular element in our field of view, like the small mushroom growing out of the log pictured above. It’s an opportunity to get to know one particular element of this vast and wondrous world in vivid detail. The spiritual equivalent would be praying for and supporting one single refugee in a vast field of refugees, as Henry and I did with our friend from Venezuela a few years ago.

What lens do you tend to use in your prayer life? What might it be like to choose a different lens for a while?

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