It happens to every photographer. You choose the location- one that you’ve never been to before and will probably never get to again. You check the weather. You save the date. But when you arrive at your scenic location on that chosen day, the sun has decided not to cooperate after all and the sky is gray and filled with clouds. Should you give up, pack your gear and call it a day? Absolutely not! The unexpected weather provides a different photo opportunity. It’s simply a matter of adjusting the type of photo you’d planned to take to the type of photo you can take. A good photographer will select a genre suitable to the scene before him/her instead of abandoning a shot because the weather does not suit the shot which was planned ahead of time. A genre is a category of artistic composition (mostly in the arts such as literature, music, and of course photography) which is characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter. A concise list compiled by Craig Hull on Expertphotography.com had 47 genres that included favorites such as black and white, macro, fine art, infrared, landscapes and wildlife.
When you read through the Book of Psalms it’s obvious that they too fall into categories (i.e. genres). The overall book is like a collection of musical pieces, but instead of one composer, there are several and only the lyrics have survived. The Book of Psalms can be divided into five smaller collections: Book 1 (Ps. 1-41), Book 2 (Ps. 42-72), Book 3 (Ps.73-89), Book 4 (Ps. 90-106), and Book 5 (Ps. 107-150). Within these collections are psalms that recognize God’s sovereignty, talk about the trials and struggles of life and present a new outlook on life after a tumultuous ordeal. A noteworthy aspect of the Psalms is that although many psalms are addressed to God and cover a number of life experiences, some are directed toward the people, meaning that these songs, as well as the struggles of life, were to be experienced within the worship community.
There have certainly been times in my life when I would have preferred to see the picture I was expecting to see rather than to switch genres and learn to see a different kind of beauty in the view before me. I am not sure when I was first introduced to the words of Psalm 90:12, but I know I was in my teens. What intrigued me about this psalm at the time was the idea that days could be “numbered”. But something struck a chord within my soul and from that time on I understood that life was precious and unpredictable. Now years later as I ponder the idea of genres as an approach to life I’m seeing that this has been the way I have operated for a long time. I think of how Jeff and I “planned” to have children after we’d been married 5 years. That didn’t happen- we became parents much sooner! But the two unexpected gifts of our sons have filled my life with such joy and even more so now that they have children of their own. Grandchildren- I never imagined I’d have 6 of them when Erick was born! I think about how my plans to become a librarian were cut short by the birth of my second son but how bartering for his education in a small Christian school placed me in charge of the school’s library and made me an amateur librarian! I think about how a phone call to a radio show which aired on Saturday mornings from a college campus ended up putting me on the air with a third-class radio license in hand filling in for the DJ I called when he was in a serious car accident. I think about how an advertisement in a magazine called “Israel My Glory” led me to a year of studies which I still refer to as “my year of heaven” and my first trip to Israel. I think about one friend’s love of travel which enabled me to travel from one side of the country to the other and all the traveling adventures I shared with my sons as one of the original “soccer moms” back in their school days. I think about a job in a Christian Bookstore that led me to a seminary degree and how the love of a dear friend sent me soaring in a hot air balloon one year- a bucket list dream I never expected to happen at all came true thanks to her. I hadn’t planned on a lot of these events but when the view wasn’t what I’d planned for, shifting the genre brought me some of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. My days have been numbered in ways I never counted on, but with every shift of genre life has taught me to keep my eyes fixed on the One who is the Author and Perfecter of my faith and helped me to recognize He has put these events in my life so that I can more clearly see Him (Heb. 12:1-2).
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
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