I’ve not been able to get out and photograph for about two weeks so I went out early this morning to try to capture some new local autumn images. We are still a good bit away from being at peak colors but it was still nice to be outside and to do some photographic work. I was only able to photograph for a little over an hour but during that time I got some nice images and also was reminded of a couple of important spiritual lessons.
I started the day at one of my favorite places in Henderson Sloughs Wildlife Management Area—the Jenny Hole. Last year I was able to capture a number of images I really liked there. I discovered once I got there that the cedar cypress trees have already turned to their autumn rust color. There was some nice side lighting shortly after sunrise but I had trouble getting excited about what I was seeing. The scene looked practically identical to what I had photographed last year. It didn’t make much sense to take pictures if they were going to look just like the ones I’d already taken. As I started to walk back to my car I looked back and noticed something I had not earlier. There were reflections of the cypress tree. Last year the water still had duckweed and other vegetation in front of the trees and the reflection I saw was not present. I found delight in being able to photograph this beautiful tree reflected in the water.
The lesson I was reminded of here is to pay more attention. If we are not careful we will fail to notice things that are slightly different than they were before. In doing so we will miss that which is new. That can happen both when photographing and also in one’s spiritual life. There are periods in my life when each day seems basically the same. In those times I may be lulled into thinking nothing new is going on when, in reality, if I were truly paying attention, I would see that God was up to something new or different. I know the Bible talks about Christ being the same “yesterday, today and tomorrow” (Hebrews 13:8) but I also believe that the Scriptures reveal a God who is always up to something new. In Revelation 21:5 John hears God say, “Behold, I am making all things new.” If we are wise we will strive each and every day to pay attention to what’s going on around us. It may seem to be just one more day like every other when, in fact, God is trying to show us or do something new.
A few minutes later I drove to a small pond and noticed a yellow tree reflecting nicely in the water. When I got out of my car I scared a duck that had been in the pond. The duck flew off and its departure created lots of ripples in the water that disturbed the lovely reflection I saw when I first arrived. I went ahead and took a few pictures but waited long enough for things to calm down. Eventually, the reflection I first saw reappeared. Every good photographer knows that to get mirror-like reflections the water has to be calm or still.
As I waited for the water to calm I was reminded that as a Christian I am called to be a reflection of my Lord. The goal is to reflect Jesus as perfectly as I can in my life and conduct. I have discovered that this is very difficult for me to do when my soul is troubled or I am physically stressed or tired. I feel I offer a better reflection of Christ when I make sure to take time out to be still, to meditate, to cease from striving. The problem is I often go long periods without taking the time to do this. I’m afraid God often has to say to me the words He spoke through the prophet Isaiah long ago, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” (30:15) I really should know better by now.
I’m glad I was able to photograph this morning. Not only did I get some nice images, God gently reminded me of a couple of lessons I needed to hear once again.