Oct 16 2013

There’s More to Autumn Than Colorful Leaves

_CES1172I love autumn.  During the long hot days of summer I start counting the days until fall arrives.  I enjoy the cooler temperatures that come this time of the year but I especially enjoy the show nature puts on during the autumn months.  I get excited when I start to see the foliage changing on trees.  I know what lies ahead and eagerly anticipate the time the leaves will “peak” and display their awesome palette of reds, oranges, yellows and burgundies.  After all, isn’t that what fall is all about?

whitetail-buckIf you happen to live in an area where there are plentiful deciduous trees you might be tempted to say “yes” but I hope you understand that when it comes to seeing Creation fall has far more to offer than just colorful leaves.  There is so much more to see and observe this time of the year.  Wildflowers may be more plentiful in the spring but fall also has its own delightful specimens.  My favorite are the asters but there are others to choose from.  During the autumn months you might notice birds you don’t typically see other times of the year as they migrate south.  If you look closely perhaps you will also notice changes in behavior and looks in various animal species.  Deer and elk, for example, experience the rut season during autumn and lose the velvet on their antlers.

_CES2593During the autumn months the length of daylight diminishes significantly.  You may even notice that the sun now sets in a different direction than it did a couple of months ago.  An elder in my church has a home that sits on a hill overlooking the Ohio River.  Earlier this year he asked me to come to his house and take pictures from his porch of the sun setting on the first day of each season.  The first image I took was at the summer solstice.  When I took the autumn equinox picture I was amazed at how much to the south the sun now set.  I had not really paid that much attention before.

Asters2-crAs we continue through the autumn season I encourage you to pay attention to all the changes you see happening around you.  Don’t focus on the obvious alone.  I often write about God’s two books on this site, the Bible and Creation, and would suggest that when we do focus only on the most obvious changes in nature it would be comparable to only reading the books of the Bible we like the most.  There are lots of wonderful passages in the Scripture that people rarely read or take notice of.  They miss out on a lot when they are selective with their reading.  In the same way we will miss out on learning what God has to teach us through His book of Creation if we just pay attention to the parts we like the most.  By all means enjoy the beautiful fall foliage this year but keep your eyes open to the other signs of autumn.  There’s much more beauty to behold and lessons to learn.

–Chuck

(I took the top image at Breaks Interstate Park, the whitetail buck at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the sunset on the Ohio River in Henderson, KY, and the asters at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.)


Feb 17 2013

“Sheddin’ Time”

whitetail-buckThis past Wednesday I was walking our dog, Sierra, in the back yard, when I came across something very interesting.  There on the ground before us was a beautiful antler left behind by a whitetail buck.   Just two days earlier I was telling a friend of mine that I had never seen a deer in our yard.  I still haven’t seen any deer there but I certainly have proof that they have been there.   When I posted a picture of the antler on Facebook another friend told me that this is “sheddin’ time” for deer, meaning that this is the season when deer typically drop or shed their antlers.  I had not heard that phrase before.

As I noted above, I found the antler on Wednesday.  That just so happened to be Ash Wednesday this year, the beginning of the season of Lent.  Lent is a forty day journey leading up to Easter.  It is a time when Christians are encouraged to do some self-examination and repent of their sins.  In some ways Lent might also be called “sheddin’ time.”  As we focus on the sacrifice of Christ we, too, may need to shed or drop a few things.

Whitetail-buck-in-frostAt the beginning of Hebrews 12 the biblical writer says “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked for us.” (v. 1)  The image painted here is that of a runner who throws off his robe, or anything else that might slow him down, in the race he is running.  There can be no denying that we all have sins and bad habits that slow us down in our Christian journey.  These need to be shed.  Lent is a good time to do so.

antler 531In Colossians 3 the apostle Paul writes: “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.  Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (vs. 9-10)  The picture painted here is a bit different than the previous one.  Here Paul depicts dirty clothes being cast aside and fresh, clean clothes being put on instead.  He says a couple of verses later: “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (v. 12)  Once again, there can be no denying that we all have dirty laundry–harmful attitudes and actions–that need to be shed.  Lent is a good time to do so.

It is currently “sheddin’ time” in the world of nature.  Hopefully it will also be “sheddin’ time” for many of us in our spiritual lives as well.

–Chuck

(I photographed the two whitetail bucks at Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The bottom image shows the antler as I found it this past Wednesday.)