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Letters from Home: A vivid filter

By Rev. Ann Mann

A vivid filter makes my pictures come alive. It takes the photos closer to the moment I hoped to capture. As good as my phone’s camera is, it falls just short of capturing reality without this small edit. Capturing the beauty of these moments is so important. These are moments I want to remember forever.

You see, my family met at the beach earlier this month to scatter my late husband’s ashes. And as I took pictures of my family, and pictures of the sunset, and pictures of the moment we released his ashes into the sea, I looked back at the pictures and they just didn’t seem to capture the reality of these moments. So, thanks to the suggestion of a friend, I tried editing the photos using the vivid filter. It made all the difference. It deepened the shadows and enhanced the colors. It brought the moment to life.

When I looked up the meaning of vivid, the definition says it all. Vivid means “producing powerful feelings or strong, clear images in the mind.” And a second meaning is “Intensely deep or bright.” Similar words to vivid are evocative, realistic, true to life, faithful.

Spring is a vivid reminder of the beauty of God’s creation. Trees are budding. Birds are chirping. The sun and the rain are doing their work of re-creation that comes this time every year. Spring is a time of new birth.

And so is Lent, this season that comes before we celebrate Easter. Lent (and every day) is a time for us to open our hearts to God’s amazing grace and eternal love. John’s gospel is an excellent retelling of Christ’s life and purpose. For instance, John 12:24 is a reminder of the new birth we have in Christ. It says, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

This parable about planting a seed points to the importance of Christ’s death, and resurrection. Jesus must die. But the cross is not the end. Because Jesus dies, he can be born again. And it is through his death and resurrection that his message of love and mercy and grace bear fruit.

Then, Jesus goes on to say that if we want to serve Jesus, we must follow Jesus. We must die to self and live for Christ. Where He is, so we should be also.

So, where is Christ? Christ is everywhere. Truly everywhere. In the United Methodist tradition, we call this prevenient grace. The grace of Christ that literally goes before us.

Jesus is everywhere. Christ is there with us when we suffer. Christ is there with us when we experience joy. Christ is with us at every moment in between. And when we walk beside others in their suffering and joy, we embody the very presence of Christ.

We felt Christ’s presence as we scattered my husband’s ashes. There will never be a day we don’t miss him. Never a day where we don’t wish we could hear his voice. Or ask him for advice just one more time. Or hug him. Or tell him how much we love him.

There are things we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t live without but have to let go. And so, we go on, and we make him proud. And we remember to look for the little bits of him that live on in us.

As I was reflecting on these words on the drive home from scattering his ashes, I thought how appropriate these words are for all of us. We all want to experience life through a vivid filter. For me, that means walking with Jesus. I want to hear his voice every day. I want to ask him for advice. I want to tell him how much I love him.

And even though there are things that happen that I don’t understand, things that WE don’t understand; things like the death of our beloved, the death of a child, or cancer, or wars and rumors of wars; we go on. And we make Jesus proud. And we remember to look for the ways Christ lives in us.

Here is the question for all of us. Are we simply going through the motions in this life with Christ? Is our life a dull reflection of the life God longs for us to enjoy? My hope and my prayer is that we would experience the fullness of joy that comes from life in Christ. A life that means less of me, and more of Christ. And when we do this, we are living life through a vivid filter.

Ann Mann is an Emmy Award winning journalist, now serving as pastor to Barnesville First United Methodist Church. Her email is

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