Dec 7 2011

Losing Touch

Today I’ll be flying back to Kentucky. I’ve had a wonderful trip to New Mexico. Much of the trip was dedicated to photographing ancient Anasazi (Ancestral Puebloans) ruins in the northwestern part of the state. I have been reading a lot about the Anasazi Indians over the past year or two. I am fascinated by both their architecture and culture. We should give thanks that many of their ruins have been preserved and are now protected by the National Park Service.


As I’ve walked in the various locations this past week I’ve thought a lot about how close the connection was between the Anasazi and the land they inhabited. In both a literal and symbolic way they lived very close to the earth. Due to necessity they had to; their survival depended on it. Their close connection with nature appears, however, to have gone far beyond just using it to survive. They saw a spiritual element in nature as well. This is reflected in the petroglyphs and pictographs they left behind, as well as in the way they constructed many of their kivas or places of worship.

I’m afraid that in modern times most people have lost touch with nature. We live and work in buildings that do not depend on the sun for light. Our homes are climate controlled and we do not have to worry about where or how we will get our food. The Anasazi paid very close attention to the cycles of both the sun and moon. They were quite conscious of the changing seasons and how the varying temperatures would affect them. They struggled to grow their own food. The differences between their connection with nature and ours is immense.

When I was growing up both homes I lived in had woods nearby that I could play in and explore. I have a feeling that my time spent in the woods early on has made an impact on my love for God’s Creation today. My family would occasionally make camping trips when I was young and some of my earliest childhood memories include a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I believe this early exposure to nature was pivotal for me. I would even include these memories as part of my spiritual formation.

Having said all this, here is my concern. Most of the children I know today have little exposure to nature and the outdoors. Instead of being out enjoying and learning about God’s Creation they’re mostly indoors playing video games, watching t.v. and chatting on Facebook. Many kids today haven’t got a clue where their food comes from, how the tilt of the earth affects the seasons, or the names of the birds that fly by their windows. Unfortunately, in many cases it’s not much different with their parents.

We truly are losing touch with nature and we are definitely not better off for it. This loss of connection cannot help but hinder us spiritually. If God makes Himself known through His Creation, as the Bible says, then we are missing out on much when we fail to connect with the world around us. I hope and pray more  people will recognize this and begin to reconnect with the natural world. Perhaps you could help someone do just that…


 (The top image was taken at Chaco Culture National Historical Park.  The middle image was taken at Salmon Ruins National Monument.  The bottom image was taken at Bandelier National Monument.)

Nov 14 2010

Elmer’s Glue and Jesus

AZ-Glen-Canyon-NM-Horseshoe-Bend-(v)I have a good friend who lives in Page, Arizona, named Stan Burman.  Before retiring Stan worked at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.  He loves the West and its rich history.  Through our friendship he has created in me an interest in the ancient Cliff Dwellers.  I’ve read a number of books he has given me on the subject and recently went so far as to purchase an Anasazi bowl from a dealer.  I was quite excited about my purchase.  You can only imagine the horror and disappointment I experienced this past week when I opened the package containing my bowl only to discover it had broken into five pieces during shipment.  I immediately contacted Stan to let him know what had happened.  His response surprised me.  He said, “It’s amazing what a little Elmer’s glue will do.”   I purchased some Elmer’s glue and by following Stan’s directions was able to put the bowl back together.  It really doesn’t look bad at all.

AZ-Glen-Canyon-NM-Romana-Mesa-(v)-About the same time all this was taking place I read the apostle Paul’s letter to the Colossians.  In the first chapter of this book Paul speaks of Jesus being “the firstborn over all creation” and then adds, “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…all things were created by him and for him.” (v. 16)  It was what Paul said next that caught my attention.  Verse 17 says “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”   Paul makes an astonishing claim here.  He believed that it was Jesus who held this world together, that he is the glue that makes things stick.  Now obviously this is not a claim that can be backed by science but that does not mean it is not true.  By faith Paul held that it is the Creator’s hand that holds the world together.  By faith, I accept this to be true as well.

As the season of Thanksgiving approaches we should give thanks not just for the existence of this beautiful world God has created but also for its divine preservation.  When I look at my restored Anasazi bowl I think I’ll always think of Colossians 1:17.  I’ll also give thanks for Elmer’s glue and for the glue that holds Creation together—the hand of my Savior and Lord.


(I took these two images while visiting Stan at Glen Canyon N.R.A.  The top image was captured at Horseshoe Bend and the bottom at Romana Mesa.)