As Chuck, Lyschel and I were leaving Mt. Rushmore, we took one more long look. It was a crystal clear morning with a vivid blue sky. The sun was low on the horizon and shone directly on the faces of the mammoth works of art so that they looked carved out of bright white porcelain or marble. The contrast of blue and white was stunning.
We walked away and someone casually said, “It looks like a postcard.” I heard the “ping” in the my spirit but we chattered on. Later that night, the revelation came.
A postcard is a picture of what’s Real. It is an attempt to capture the image of a person, place or thing. For a long time, before the advent of amazing cameras, we would judge the quality of a postcard by “whether it looks real.” But no matter how good the quality of the photograph, it is a copy, or an imitation.
Here we were, standing before this glorious three dimensional work of art, created out of much blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice. It was so surreal, so larger than life, but we compared it to a flat picture, a modified and perfectly arranged imitation. The cold of the stone, the blue of the sky, the bitter chill of the wind could not possibly be captured by a picture. A postcard is lifeless.
Think about beauty. We compare the living, breathing distinct beauty of a woman to a flat photoshopped image on a computer or in a magazine.
Think about sex. We compare the rolling passion and intimate connection of two devoted people to two actors who are paid to act like they want or enjoy each other for a moment on screen.
Think about God. We compare His breathtaking presence, His awe-inspiring reality to a spiritual check list of what He does and doesn’t want us to do.
The postcard realities are only shadows of the Truth. Standing in the presence of the real thing, you can’t help but be moved, be swept away, be caught up in the greatness of the life. Even yesterday I was telling the girls about a piece in the Louvre called “Winged Victory.” The picture of it was great. Well done and professional. But it doesn’t compare to standing next to it, smelling it and “feeling” the movement in the stone and seeing the power of the wind in her wings and garments.
I wonder by what standard you are living your life. A postcard reality? Your beauty, your intimacy, your God life — is it based on a paper thin imitation? Or are you soaking in the power and beauty of the Real Thing?
You get to choose: the hugeness of a mountain masterpiece or a 4×5 postcard. Don’t settle for anything less than Reality.