Backward Pictures

Cynthia L. Eppley    05/28/2021

I’ve noticed pictures showing up that are taken from the rear view of the person. The person is walking away, and the photographer can’t resist but take the picture.

I’ve done it myself.

It seems a universal appeal. I asked my daughter in law why people do this? She responded: “It’s just so adorable!”

And indeed it is.


But I can’t help but wonder if there is a deeper message for us.

Usually you want to capture facial expressions.

And generally, catch the person at their best. (Although more recent selfies tends to defy that impulse….)

And I’ve noticed the pictures are taken by parents.

What is happening?

The World through Their Eyes

When we view people from the back, we are seeing what they are seeing. We know their vulnerabilities. We know the challenges ahead. But they are full of wonder and excitement:

“What a great big world is in front of me!”

“What a wonderful world!”

There is no pretense or posing; only pure joy in life and experience. As one of my friends said: “There is joy and wonder everywhere when you see the world through the eyes of a child.”

Family Legacy and Traditions

Often a picture is taken of a Grandparent and a child. They may be immersed in an activity, or spending a quiet moment together. Wouldn’t we like to hear the conversation? One thing we know for sure: the interaction is golden and ripe with significance, for grandparent and child. This is the stuff of warm memory and family legacies.

Captured Time and Infant Footprints

Often the picture is of a parent and child.

Often the child is very young, and reaching up for the parents’ hand. The child has just begun to walk, and the parent’s gait is slow and measured to match the faltering step of the toddler. You may see footprints in the sand. The large print of the parent eclipses the tiny mark of infant  feet. We recognize that these moments will be fleeting so we capture the moment. Time marches on, and the next tide may wash away the imprints. First they toddle, and then walk, followed by running and sprinting. They may be taught how to handle a fishing reel. First, with Dad’s strong hands. Then on their own.


Catch them as Best Buds

Or two children together.  I don’t think I’ve seen a picture of two siblings tearing each other’s hair out. So perhaps this magical moment is a reflection of our desires of their relationship. We catch them being best friends. There may be squabbles and sibling wars; but our deepest longing is for them to defend each other. We pray that the years would be kind and that they would grow more united. 


Or perhaps a parent is handing down a treasured well practiced skill. At first, a boogie board was sufficient. But the child has grown and requires a full surf board now. He and his sister are in surfing competitions.

Hours of teaching and coaching and practice. But the foundation is time spent with parents. We stand amazed at the skill of these teens. And Mom and Dad stand behind them, cheering them on.

(See http://Backward Pictures: Take 2)

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

So much lies before them. And we, who stand behind, want only the best for our children. We long for right choices and direction and courage.

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” Nelson Mandela

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of it.” Mark Twain

Hopes and Fears What are the lyrics to ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’? Written in 1868, the lyrics rang true then—and now.

O little town of Bethlehem How still we see thee lie Above thy deep and dreamless sleep The silent stars go by. Yet in thy dark streets shineth The everlasting Light The hopes and fears of all the years Are met in thee tonight

We may have high hopes for them. But in this changing world we may also have fear. Certainly the graduating class of 2021 has weathered their Senior Year like none before. But notice in the time honored Carol:

“The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.”

Hope and a Future

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

So as we watch from behind, we can have a hope for our littles, and not so littles. Our role as cheerleader and coach has matured and changed. But we still stand behind them, watching with pride. We can sent them off with bittersweet joy, knowing that these times have flown past, in the blink of an eye.

But also knowing that the very God of the Universe has plans to prosper and not harm.

That they do, indeed, have a hope and a future.

Published by Counseling from a Christian View

Counselor, Teacher, Wife, Mother and Grandmother. It is a privilege to serve God. All my roles have taught me more about God's grace and mercy. And all of life is counseling.

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