Little Things—Big Prayers

Dick Duerksen
Little Things—Big Prayers

It was in my pocket just a few minutes ago!”

Photographers often carry too much stuff. Camera body, tripod, long lens, short lens, zoom lens, lens cleaner, extra batteries. The challenge is to get everything you might need into the smallest possible backpack, while keeping the backpack light enough not to slow you down as you hike up the mountain.

Since I had already spent an hour on the trail and had decided exactly what I wanted to photograph, I left the backpack in the car and carried only a heavy tripod, one camera body, and two lenses. One lens was a zoom lens, allowing me to photograph fairly wide or zoom in a bit closer. The second lens was a small superwide lens that fit comfortably into my jacket pocket. I planned to use the second lens for a specific photo, one that would include some short golden grass at the bottom and a scraggly pine tree at the top. If I could get it right, the picture would show how God created both trees and grass to survive in craggy rocks on the side of a very steep cliff.

Yes, it was scary. To get the photo I had to lie down, lean out over the cliff edge, line everything up in the viewfinder, and then hold my breath while I clicked the camera’s shutter. All without moving the tripod.

I tried the shot with my regular lens, but it couldn’t shoot wide enough. Then I reached into my jacket pocket for my little superwide lens.

It wasn’t there!

Nowhere To Be Found

My mind flitted through the day, recalling where I had been, where I had last seen that lens, and what I could possibly have done with it! Even worse, I began to imagine where it might have fallen out of my pocket, and how far down it might have fallen. My heart was suddenly feeling very sad.

It was still before sunrise, and no one else had joined me at the top of Wolf Creek Pass. So I left the camera and tripod right where they were—safely out on the edge of a 2,000-foot cliff—and slowly trudged the long trek back to the car.

I looked down, at the ground where my feet landed, around at all of the rocks, and even under the few plants that grew near the trail. I looked all the way back to where my car was parked at the Wolf Creek viewpoint. The elevation here is 11,000 feet, high enough to slow down my breathing. And my walking.

At the car I did a full teardown of the car and my camera equipment. I checked under the seats, in the trunk, in every pocket and lens case, until I knew for certain that the lens was not in the car. It wasn’t an expensive lens, I kept telling myself, but it still had cost some money, and I knew I couldn’t afford to replace it.

The lens was lost. Gone. Hiding beneath a bush near the trail. Or, at worst, it had fallen from my pocket. I imagined it bouncing off rocks and careening over trees clear down to the valley floor 2,000 feet below.

Answered Prayer

I’m not sure when I started praying. Probably right away when I first noticed the lens was missing. That would have been a quick “Lord, please help me find this lens” kind of prayer. Now I was praying. Deep. Serious. Many words. A determined hope kind of prayer.

“Lord, I need this lens today, and I do not have the $300 it will take to replace it. I am very sorry and sad that I was careless. If it is still up here on the side of the hill, please show it to me. Please help me . . .”

I locked the car and began the long steep walk back to my camera and tripod.

My searching and praying had taken considerable time, so much so that the tourists had begun to arrive. Most just looked over the safety fence down to the valley, took a selfie, got back into their cars, and left. One couple was different. They were “exploring,” and passed me on their way toward the cliff where my tripod was waiting. I joined them and, when they asked, showed them what I thought might be the best place for a selfie that might make them look like mountain goats.

I enjoyed the conversation, but always was glancing around into likely spots where I might have dropped my lens. Nothing.

I helped the couple set up their dangerous selfie and then showed them the photo I had hoped to take—funny little yellow grass at the bottom, spindly tree growing in the rock at the top, cliff falling away to the meadows far below. They loved it.

As I turned to claim my tripod and camera, my boot hit a small stone and sent it catapulting over the precipice. My eyes followed, and there, just to the right of a small pine tree, was a round bit of a black leather lens case that shouted “Canon.”

All three of us cheered!

I moved very slowly, realizing that any motion might dislodge the lens from its perch. Only one thin piece of pine tree root suspended it above the 2,000-foot drop. To see it, and then lose it, would be worse than not finding it at all!

I crawled now, inching along, with two friends whispering encouragement, until the lens was mine again!

“You must know God pretty well,” the fellow smiled.

“He knows me,” I answered. “And I’m learning.”

The couple left, and I sat beside my camera for most of an hour. Thinking. Praying big prayers. Thank-you prayers. Friendship prayers. Praise prayers. All prayed out loud to my Best Friend. I climbed back to my tripod, changed lenses, and took the photo. It’s His photo. The One who cares. Even about small superwide-angle lenses.

Dick Duerksen