By God’s Side: October 21, 2020

Weekly Inspirational Reflections from the Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles

October 21, 2020

The Reverend Dr. John A. DallesMy kids will tell you that I have been taking a particular kind of photograph, one year to the next, of the two of them.

The first one happened when they were about five and six years old. We were at the beach, and I had my camera at the ready. We were taking a sunset stroll. The light was just right. The kids were standing side-by-side, looking at the ocean. I was a few feet from the back of them. That is when inspiration struck.

I asked them to hold each other’s hands. So picture, if you can, two cute kids, looking straight out on the ocean, while they were holding hands. Great picture! Snap, snap, snap, went my camera. Then, I said, “Okay, try this: look at each other.” Well, they got the giggles, of course, looking at each other, standing there holding each other’s hands. I snapped my camera a few more times. The pictures were not bad.

Then the best moment of all came. I said, “While you’re standing there, keep turning your heads, until you’re looking at me. And keep smiling.” Today, if you come to my office, you will see that picture, because it is a classic. There are the waves. There are Anne and John, in shades of light blue, so it looks like it was all planned, even though it was all happenstance. They are smiling back at me.

Each year after that, I tried to take an updated version of that photo. Many years, I did. Some years it did not happen. But I remember saying to them, “When you are fifty, and forty-eight and one-half, whether I’m around or not, I hope that you manage to get to the beach and take a picture just like this.”

It speaks volumes about love and family and togetherness and joy and support. I think, in many ways, it is a picture of how we relate to one another in the church. We find ourselves in a setting unlike any other, one that we can savor and enjoy. That savoring and enjoying is always best when we do it together in Christian love.

Blessed be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.
~ John Fawcett

The Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles
Interim Senior Pastor, Shadyside Presbyterian Church

About Dr. Dalles

Read more about Dr. Dalles.

Watch a brief video introducing a series of conversations with Dr. Dalles.

About By God’s Side

Shadyside Presbyterian Church publishes By God’s Side, a weekly series of inspirational reflections from the Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles, to support you in your spiritual journey. These pastoral messages appear in the blog section of the church website each week. (Our weekly e-newsletter includes an excerpt to remind you to read along with us regularly; click here to subscribe to the e-newsletter if you do not already receive it.) We hope this regular feature will help you to draw closer to God’s side in your life of faith.

Read more reflections by Dr. Dalles from By God’s Side.