What’s in a Photograph? What’s in a Chair: Toss it or Rest?

   Sabbatical Trip Aug to Nov 20081401_editedTheCHAIRThere is something about this photograph that brings out an emotion in me. It is a feeling of longing, but longing for what?
   “I don’t see what you like so much in that photograph.” Richard says to me. “It’s just an old trashy chair.”
   “Oh honey, it’s not a trashy chair, it’s so much more.” I reply.
   And I’m not the only one who loves this photograph; it has touched the heart of several others. So, what is it?
   Richard took this photograph as we strolled along a forlorn walkway in Agria, a seaside village located on the Pelion peninsula on the Pagasetic Gulf of the Aegean Sea in eastern Greece. It was mid-October and most of the tourists had vacated this once bustling tourist resort. By this time in their season, people such as ourselves were few, if any; we pretty much had the place to ourselves. And it appeared that the beach tavernas were in the Mediterranean hurry (which means – no hurry) to clean up and put items into winter storage.
   In 2008, Richard was awarded a grant that is for pastors to take extended time away to try to find true ‘sabbatical’. Most of the places we stayed on our journey were large cities or in the center of towns, but every once in a while we ended up in out-of-the-way ‘where the heck are we?’ places. The fact that we ended up in Agria, we both believe was purely by the grace of God. (After car problems, wreaker/repair challenges, road signs in Greek, trying to find a place to stay in the dark, missing the town, kept driving because there was no place to turn around, and then we saw a sign “Resort” and we had hope.)
   The next day as we leisurely walk around we approached the spot where this chair was abandoned. I stopped and said “that would make a good photograph.” Richard obliged me. It has become on of my favorites ever since.
Sabbatical Trip Aug to Nov 20081397   Why? My first reaction is: it’s Greece. There is so much about Greece that I love – the people, the casual yet grounded lifestyle, the history, the sunshine, the food. It is someplace to which I could easily return and explore endlessly. I would love to find places like this and imagine sitting there in wrap in a shawl with the late afternoon autumn sun warms me while a calm sea breeze cools me and I sip a glass of local red wine, while a local yiayia makes homemade fish stew.  Ahhhh.
   But there’s more to it than just its location and dreams. My second reaction is: it represented our sabbatical. There are various meaning of sabbatical, our intent was to hopefully use this as an opportunity of rest and observation, to cease from the ordinary. This image captures many aspects of before, during and after the intent of sabbatical.
   First, the chair appears worn-out, tattered to pieces, ragged, ready to be thrown away, no hope. But yet…it is still sturdy, with a little repair and attention, it can still be a fine chair, useful, ready to serve once again. And finally, it will once again be there for someone who wants to sit and contemplate (in the late sun with a breeze and glass of wine) what’s really important in life that which brings one joy and to look forward with hope.
   Who’s to decide? Is it a beat-up chair ready to be trashed or an inviting place to sit and rest?
   What do you think? What emotion does this picture evoke in you? Richard and I would love to hear your thoughts.


About richardandlisa

Richard is the photographer, typically. Lisa is the writer, typically. We've both been know to cross-genre...is that allowed?
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