What a cool picture. Do you have a guess what this is? When I first saw it I thought it might be plots of land but I couldn’t figure out what the stripes of color were. This is actually a bird’s-eye view of tulip fields in Lisse, Netherlands. In 2013, a man named Benjamin Grant was preparing a presentation for his space club (yep!) and discovered this among other amazing satellite images. He ended up publishing a book called, “Overview: A New Perspective of Earth.” [Check out the link to see pics of the Golden Gate Bridge or Yellowstone National Park from space.]
As I was looking at these cool images it reminded me of that leadership phrase of the “30,000 foot view”. I can’t even imagine how many tulips make up each of those strips of color. And what is the perspective of the tulip farmer on the ground that is tending to those hundreds of thousands of 1 foot plants. How often do we get overwhelmed by row upon row of plants (or problems) right in front of our face?
A few months ago I had the privilege and gift of receiving several months of a Spiritual Renewal Leave. It was a powerful time of vocational discernment and reflection. But it also unexpectedly became a time of family illness and loss of loved ones. And it was a time of packing and moving into a new home with both me and my husband starting new jobs. So much was going on that I could only focus on whatever the next step was in front of me. I did not have capacity to see at 20 feet let alone 30,000 feet.
Interestingly, the further away I have gotten from that hectic time in my life, the better my perspective has become. In that moment, life felt like planting one tulip plant after another after another. But once I was able to get to a 30,000 foot perspective, THEN I could see that those individual tulips were actually making a pattern in my life. Only when I was able to get to that 30,000 level view, could I see the absolute beauty of the tapestry of my life that God had been weaving. When I can remember those beautiful snapshots, it helps when I find myself back on the ground tending the “tulips” of my life.
Paul had something to say to us about this murky perspective. When we can’t manage to get to the 30,000 foot level to gain the perspective we need to bring peace or clarity remember this:
I have found life works in rhythms. If you feel like you are muddling through life in a fog, or the things happening around you just don’t make sense, or are not what you were expecting to be doing, or are overwhelming – take heart. Clarity will come. Perspective and focus will come. The 30,000 viewpoint will eventually come. And then you will see how the twists and turns or patterns that have been taking place work together to form the crazy, beautiful life that you are living. And if if feels like it is taking forever for that 30,000 view to arrive, I leave you with my favorite Scripture verse to ponder.
May you remember the power and the beauty of the 30,000 viewpoint. When you feel lost in the weeds, look up and figure out how to climb to higher ground in order to see. Trust that sometimes time is all you need to gain perspective. And that even the ugliest, most difficult series of “tulips” in our lives can often be beautiful from 30,000 feet.
Grace and Peace,