One of my great joys working at Spirituality & Practice is creating the 12s Gallery each month. Aside from the thrill of coming up with the concept and design, there is the added adventure of finding /uploads/features/images to go with the quotes we choose to illustrate. It's an opportunity for me to engage in the spiritual practice of Play (even though it's my job, how great is THAT?!)

What makes it such an adventure is the search query results I get from our photo supplier. I key in my term such as "listening" and then I get to sift through pages and pages of pictures. There is always much surprise, a healthy dose of confusion, a bit of befuddlement, and some good belly laughs as I peruse the /uploads/features/images. You see, I just never know what I'm going to get after I hit that search button.

I've found my notions of custom and convention challenged. For example, I recently needed to find a picture of someone writing. Easy enough, you'd think. So up came all these pictures of people texting. What happened to good old-fashioned hand writing? Then I realized I wouldn't be surprised by pictures of someone at a typewriter or computer — so why am I so thrown off kilter by texting? It's not like I don't ever text myself. I pop off my fair share in a day. And texting IS the new writing, at least for the 30 and under generation (see the Spiritual Literacy Blog post on Flight from Conversation or Talking with Your Fingers?). So I’m also having to confront my ways of thinking and practice Openness.

But then, well, there is just the truly absurd. Here I give you some of the more amusing examples.

Search term = Compassion
Results =

Chacma Baboons Mating While Children Are Playing
(actual title)

macaroni and cheese

small pieces of coal

lots of sound mixing boards and car gear shifts as well as (actual titles)
• mouse
• toilet in cool checker board floor
• [an old rusted] control panel
• sole of a very worn out shoe showing a hole

Now I can stretch my imagination pretty far with some of these. I get that macaroni and cheese is comforting and by offering someone a dish of it you could be showing compassion. The coal I could stretch into helping those in need with basic necessities. As for the rest, well, I'm truly at a loss for explanation and so I just have to laugh.

Here are some other recent finds:

Search terms = help animal

Shrimp in Tomato Cream and Brandy Sauce with Chopped Onions and Rice
(actual title)

rubber bands

cash or check as well as (again actual titles)
• red paperclips
• this illustration that I created depicts elves building toys in Santa's workshop
• in pursuit of profit
• Christmas gingerbread ingredients

And lastly — a case of mistaken identity.

Search term = save dog

I'll let you exercise your practice of Imagination with that one.