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  • Katie Smith

BOTTLING- how NOT to capture a moment

We all do it. We don't want the "perfect" moments to end, so we try to take enough pictures, store enough keepsakes, extend the trip a few more days, or even repeat an experience hoping to conjure up the same feelings. But somehow it's never the same. We can't bottle it up or even accurately articulate how much we enjoyed it.

Artists have tried to capture these aspects of life through their colorful, talented fingertips, but we can't smell, taste, or feel a painting even with artificial intelligence or 4D technology--at least not the same way we experience real life. I've heard that A.I. now offers a bottling experience by emulating our loved ones who have died. They appear before our eyes after they've passed, and communicate through virtual conversations. It's the deep fake we want. We know it's not the actual person communicating, but it gives us a taste of what we miss.

While there are reasons that this is more detrimental than helpful, the point is the same--we want to keep holding on to people and seasons that we love. When something is so good, so sweet, or so unbelievable, we want to bottle it up right then and relive it regularly.

The risk of forgetting exists, but isn't that part of the increased joy-- the terminal nature of it? We know the sweet toddler voice will grow deep. The vibrant foliage will fall off the trees. The vacation days will expire. But presently enjoying a moment should prioritize bottling it. Imagine if Jesus' disciples were taking constant notes and photographs of every moment with Jesus instead of waiting for the Holy Spirit to help give meaning to His words after he died.

Bottling for nostalgic purposes produces sour fruit. Real artistry occurs when someone gives meaning, order, and beauty to our life experiences. This is what the entire Bible has done for mankind. Greg Morse explains it this way, "[The Spiritual Author] poured over the wise sayings of others; he wrote wise sayings of his own. And we, with lesser wisdom and ability, also measure and ponder, read and study, roast the truth over in our minds, never tire to hunt each morning for fresh discoveries in the forests of God’s Book" (Morse, "Order and Beauty").

When we wait to remember, we enjoy the present. Then, we can digest all that has happened from a more informed lens, and, with the help of the Spirit, consider what is worth bottling for the next generation. When we bottle in the middle of the moment, we essentially work towards an end that has already happened. We have stepped out of the moment in order to mummify it.

There's nothing wrong with storing up memories or even documenting them for historical purposes. But the bottling time seems to have taken over time itself. We are using our time to preserve precious moments, rather than enjoying them. Instead of bottling, we should savor the unbelievable moments given to us, and then pass them along to their proper place in time.

There is a time for everything, including taking pictures, gathering stones, and pressing flowers. But there is no need to manipulate our moments now in order to bottle them perfectly for later. Let go. Pour out the oil, pour out the wine, and it may be the perfect offering to keep you in the moment. "Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all." (Phil. 2:17)

We have made so many great memories in the last four months that it's hard to wrap my tiny mind around it all. It was God's beautiful timing that we found a cabin mountains of Montana to get out of the rig and reflect. We spread out our hands and rejoiced in the goodness of space, a solid foundation, and God's perfect provisions. "He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me." (Psalm 18:19)

Bottling Carefully and Carelessly

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