Jun 30 2013

Wanting to Photograph vs. Needing To Photograph

HS5286Most of the times I go out to photograph nature it is because I want to.  There are, however, times I do so because I need to.  Here I’m not alluding to those times I get assignments but rather to the moments in my life when it is a spiritual and emotional necessity.  This past week I found myself in that position.  At the church I recently began serving there has been a lot of sickness.  One woman I admire immensely was just given a very bad prognosis by her doctors.  When things like this happen it takes a toll on me too.  I cannot help but hurt when people I love and care for are having difficulties.  I often find myself feeling depressed and discouraged when others struggle so.  I have learned that when I find myself in this condition one of the best things I can do for myself is grab my camera and get out into nature.

mag264There is something extremely therapeutic about spending time in the midst of God’s Creation.  The naturalist and author, John Muir, once said “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”  In another one of his books he wrote,  “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”  Long before Muir penned these words the Psalmist talked about God making him “lie down in green pastures” and leading him “beside still waters.” (23:2)  It would seem that nature is, indeed, one of the gifts God has provided to meet not only our physical needs but our spiritual and emotional needs as well.

_CES5088I do find the peace and freshness Muir writes about in nature but when I am struggling I need my camera too.  It’s probably just me but often nature alone is not enough.  Even in the most beautiful spots I still find my mind wanting to dwell on the problems others are having or even my own.  Taking a camera along forces me to concentrate more on what I’m seeing.  Having to think about what lens I will use, what aperture I’ll choose, or what angle I will work from helps me to forget temporarily the things that are getting me down.  I know I could photograph any number of subject but I find photographing nature to be the most beneficial when I am seeking comfort and peace.  For some reason nature helps me keep things in perspective and causes me to stay better attuned to God.

_CES4935The pictures you see here were taken over the last four days.  I usually don’t photograph much in the summer.  I can’t stand the heat and humidity.  I went out and captured these images, once again, not because I wanted to but because I needed to.  Today I give thanks for both God’s Creation and the means God has given us for capturing images of it.  Not only do they give me much pleasure, in times like these, the combination of the two brings me a lot of comfort.


Jun 16 2013

Finding Comfort in a Picture and a Song

Dad and II posted the picture you see here of my Dad and I on Facebook earlier today. I saw countless others were posting pictures of their fathers in honor of Father’s Day and thought I’d do the same. The actual picture from which this one was taken showed more than this but it was in very poor shape so I used my macro lens and created this cropped version. The tighter crop has caused me to look at the picture differently.  The thing that jumped out at me most in the new image is how big my Dad’s hands look.  They almost seem to wrap around me.  I certainly know I’m not “the whole world” but for some reason when I looked at this picture I thought of the song, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”  This song, a traditional American spiritual, was first published in 1927.  I remember singing it as a kid.

The song apparently has a couple of versions, one short, the other long.  Both share the same basic message–God has everything in His hands.  The verse I liked best growing up is “He’s got the little bitty baby in His hands.  He’s got the little bitty baby in His hands.  He’s got the whole world in His hands.”  I couldn’t remember exactly how the other verses went so I looked them up.  When I did I found it interesting that both the short and long versions included aspects of nature in them.  The short version repeats the words “He’s got the wind and the rain in His hands.”  It goes on to include “the little bitty baby,” “you and me, brother” and “everybody here” as also being in God’s hands.

Pinnacle Overlook fog (h) crThe song’s longer version focuses almost exclusively on nature.  In one verse it says “He’s got the earth and the sky in His hands.  He’s got the night and the day in His hands.  He’s got the sun and the moon in His hands. He’s got the whole world in His hands.”  The next verse says “He’s got the land and the sea in His hands.  He’s got the wind and the rain in His hands.  He’s got the spring and the fall in His hands.  He’s got the whole world in His hands.”

CA Coast 973The song doesn’t teach us anything that the Scriptures don’t already.  The Bible declares in numerous places that God created the world and that it is also God who holds the world together still (see Colossians 1:16-17). Being Father’s Day I should hasten to add that the One who holds the world in His hands is like a loving parent, the most loving of all.  The thought of God holding this world of ours in His hands is a very comforting one to me.  It is the same comfort I see and feel looking at a black and white picture of a father holding his young son in his hands some fifty-seven years ago.  I’m very glad to know that God truly does have this planet, you and me in His hands.  There are, after all, no better hands to be in.


(I took the middle image at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park and the bottom image on the California coast not far from where Rob lives.)

Mar 7 2010

Rich Beyond Measure

Firehole-River-572A number of years ago I was introduced to the poems of Robert W. Service.  Service was sent by the Canadian Bank of Commerce in 1904 to work at their Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, branch.  While there he became famous as the poet who chronicled the Klondike gold rush and the beauty of the frozen north.  I enjoy Service’s Yukon poems and none more than one called “Comfort.”

Say!  You’ve struck a heap of trouble—

Bust in business, lost your wife;

No one cares a cent about you,

You don’t care a cent for life;

Hard luck has of hope bereft you,

Health is failing, wish you’d die—

Why, you’ve still the sunshine left you

And the big, blue sky.

Sky so blue it makes you wonder

If it’s heaven shining through;

Earth so smiling ‘way out yonder,

Sun so bright it dazzles you;

Birds a-singing, flowers a-flinging

All their fragrance on the breeze;

Dancing shadows, green, still meadows—

Don’t you mope, you’ve still got these.

These, and none can take them from you;

These, and none can weigh their worth.

What! You’re rich—you’ve got the earth!

Yes, if you’re a tramp in tatters,

While the blue sky bends above

You’ve got nearly all that matters—

You’ve got God, and God is love.

 In Service’s words we find a reminder that as beneficiaries of God’s Creation we are all rich indeed—rich beyond measure.  When times get tough for us, or we just find ourselves feeling down, it truly does help to look around us and notice the wonders and beauty of nature. 

This morning as I walked to the church building from my car I became aware that it was a glorious morning indeed.  The sun was shining (that hasn’t happened a lot around here lately), the sky was a beautiful shade of blue, and the birds were singing their hearts out.  In that moment I recognized that I was truly blessed and offered thanks to God.  Surrounded by the beauty of God’s Creation I smiled for I knew that I had God, “and God is love.”


(The image above was taken in Yellowstone National Park along the Firehole River.)