A few months ago I decided to try a new app called 1 Second Everyday. The concept is simple; every day you can take a couple short videos or use photos to represent something that stood out that day or marked its significance. I saw a few examples and decided that I would try it out for 30 days. I finished a couple weeks ago and sat down at my desk to view the full video (and you can watch it right here: warning, there’s NO music, which makes it a little awkward – #sorrynotsorry).
I watched as a Rodin exhibit at the Art Institute shifted to a car ride on my way to the Juvenile Detention Center for ministry, and then to me at a coffee shop. Soon, a clip of the Jesuits I live with, and then a friend’s birthday at the Russian Tea House. And receiving a blessing at Mass to be an altar server, an adorable picture of my niece in her new pink glasses, and my brother with her and my nephew. Then finally some videos of Lake Michigan, morning exercise, and Ash Wednesday.
I had hoped that seeing the video would be a revelatory experience that I would be able to ponder gratefully. But, as the video finished I felt as if I could have been watching a story of someone else’s life. Nothing seemed to move me.
At the time, I wasn’t in a very good place. I felt like I was living in a bad 90’s exercise video that tried to get you excited about working out, but just couldn’t. There wasn’t any color, any life. I wanted this video to be interesting and help me see the blessings in my life. Instead, I felt bad about my perceived lack of care, and frustrated that I couldn’t seem to gain any insight from the 30-day commitment I had made.
I wasn’t going to give up 30 days of work so easy though. There had to be something I could glean from this undertaking, so I decided I would come back to it later.
A few days passed and I watched the video again. In the meantime, I had begun to come out of my slump and was starting to feel like myself again. So – thank God – when the videos and images started rolling again, things started to connect. The moments and people started to interact with my current consciousness, and I felt myself actually passing through the memories displayed in the video in a way that they began to tell me something.
I saw the Rodin exhibit, my drive to ministry, and Lake Michigan partially frozen all with new eyes for their beauty and meaning. Pictures of my friends passed by, then my niece with her pink glasses, my brother, and then more friends. I saw that I was with people and involved deeply in the lives of those closest to me. I actually mattered to them, and it felt good to see and believe that without feeling conceited or doubtful.
There was journaling at sunrise, entrance in to the warm, brightly lit Church, delicious food – all gifts. Each person and experience added its own unique tone of goodness to this snapshot of my life. And they began to thread together in a way that I could perceive a larger whole that was greater than any one of its parts.
And, I knew that this video was merely a snapshot of a much larger picture. There were even more profound and intimate moments that I didn’t capture; laughter and prayer with kids in the Juvenile Detention Center, a morning FaceTime conversation with a dear friend. As I thought of this, I felt a sense of meaningfulness and dynamism in the larger narrative of my life. My memory stretched beyond one moment of time to see how the force of time, grace, and circumstance was forming my life in a way that transcended individual moments to form a more powerful whole.
When I first saw the video, I was so caught in unease and disquiet that I couldn’t really see this picture of my life. But when I was no longer so caught up in myself, the whole experience changed. Rather than feeling constantly caught in the present moment, I could see and interpret the truth of a larger portrait of my life. And perhaps most wonderfully, I loved what I saw.