Aug 22 2015

Like a Waterfall

e_DSC7882 (2)Last week a friend and I went to eastern Kentucky to photograph a number of waterfalls. Unfortunately there are very few waterfalls near where I live now so we had to drive a ways to photograph these. I’m convinced the drive was worth it and not just for the nice images we got. There is just something about waterfalls that appeal to me and also speak to my soul.

e_DSC7998 (2)A couple of times while we were photographing the falls I thought about Chris Tomlin’s song “Waterfall.” I remember hearing Tomlin talk about this song on the radio. He indicated that the inspiration for the song was Psalm 42:7, “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” Here are the words to the song: “O God, my God I seek You; I wanna move when You move. You’re more than I could long for; I thirst for You. You’re an ocean to my soul to my soul. Your love is like a waterfall, waterfall–running wild and free. You hear my heart when I call, when I call. Deep calls to deep. Your love is like a waterfall, waterfall–raining down on me, waterfall, waterfall. O God my God, I seek You in this dry and desert land. You lead me to streams of mercy once again. You’re an ocean to my soul, to my soul. It’s coming like a flood; I’m dancing in the rain. Everything I’ve done is covered in rivers of grace. Amazing!”

e_DSC8044God’s love certainly is like a refreshing waterfall. It brings both joy and cleansing. The only problem I have comparing God’s love to a waterfall is that I have experienced a number of seasonal falls. The first time I saw Yosemite Falls it was spring and I was overwhelmed by the power and height of this amazing waterfall. The second time I visited Yosemite National Park it was summer and Yosemite Falls was for all practical purposes nonexistent. You could not see any water coming over the top. I do not picture God’s love as a seasonal waterfall but one that is always flowing.e_DSC7970 (1)

I like Chris Tomlin’s description of God’s love “running wild and free” like a waterfall. Even though there is something quite predictable about God’s love (the Bible describes it as “steadfast and sure“) it is at the same time unpredictable. God’s love is constant but we often experience it in unexpected ways.  You never know where, how or through whom you might experience the love of God.

In order to photograph waterfalls these days I have to drive a long distance. In order to experience God’s love I don’t have to go anywhere. What I do have to do, however, is put myself in a position to receive this love. That does not always come as easy as some might imagine. If we are not careful we can let our problems and the stress of day to day living keep us from letting God’s love wash over us. I have certainly been guilty of doing this. Hopefully we can learn to be more receptive to God’s love and also open to the many different ways we might experience it on any given day. The more we do so the better we will be able to handle our problems and the stresses of life.

As you read this today it is my hope and prayer that you will somehow feel God’s love anew and be “covered in rivers of grace.”

Chuck Summers

(I took the pictures shown above last week.  The first and third images show Cumberland Falls; the second image is Dog Slaughter Falls; the fourth image is Eagle Falls.)


May 29 2011

Names and Places

This past Friday I got to spend an entire day photographing.  Although I was able to photograph a variety of subjects the day began and ended taking pictures of waterfalls.  It started with a beautiful waterfall called Creation Falls in the Red River Gorge National Geological Area.  It concluded at another pretty waterfall, Broken Leg Falls, in the Daniel Boone National Forest.  The two waterfalls are very different but both are quite scenic and made delightful photographic subjects. 

On my way home I kept thinking about how the two waterfalls were both lovely but that their very different names seemed to affect my experience and enjoyment while in their presence.  The name “Creation Falls” put me in a contemplative mood and made me mindful that Creation was putting on a show for me.  It made me mindful of the Creator’s presence and prompted words of praise and thanksgiving.

The name “Broken Leg Falls,” however, had a different affect on me.  I’m not exactly sure how this falls got its name but after taking the perilous trail down to the bottom to photograph it I think I have a clue.  This waterfall was delightful to behold but for some reason its name bothered me and dampened my mood.  I confess I have the same feeling whenever I visit Dog Slaughter Falls near Corbin, Kentucky.  Shakespeare may have believed that a rose by any other name would have smelled just as sweet but I’m not convinced that names don’t influence how we feel about things or experience them.

On visits out West I have photographed Devil’s Tower in Wyoming and Devil’s Canyon in Montana.  In both places I couldn’t help but wonder what the devil had to do with either one.  Both the tower and the canyon are majestic examples of God’s Creation and deserve better names.  Why do so many places have the “Devil” added to it?  (The only place I’ve thought it appropriate was the “Devil’s Golf Course” in Death Valley National Park. If you’ve seen it, you know what I mean.)

Names are very important. The Scriptures certainly back this up.  In biblical times place names and people’s names typically told a story.  Names also were more than what someone might call you.  Names represented one’s character.  In fact, in numerous cases when a person’s  character changed he received a new name.  Abram becomes Abraham.  Jacob becomes Israel.  Simon becomes Peter.  Saul becomes Paul.  Names make a difference.  They did then; they do now.

Obviously, I cannot change the name of places I feel deserve a better moniker.  I’d like to, but I cannot.  I guess this boy born half way between Possum Trot and Monkey’s Eyebrow will just have to accept that some of God’s wonders have gotten stuck with rotten names and try not to let it interfere with my enjoyment of those wonders.  It won’t be easy but I’m going to try.  Wish me luck…

–Chuck

(Top image: Creation Falls.  Bottom image: Broken Leg Falls.)