Sep 26 2012

Seeing with the Heart

Eyes are critical for sight, but do we always truly see what is before us? Paul Baloche wrote a beautiful contemporary Christian song called Open the Eyes of My Heart:

“Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
“Open the eyes of my heart
“I want to see You
“I want to see You”

Sometimes seeing is not about just seeing what is in front of us with only our eyes. Sometimes we have to see with our heart. I believe that is definitely true, as Paul Baloche notes, because we cannot “see” God in any other way. As Jesus says in the Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”  Psalm 119:18 says, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” I really like the way The Message translates this passage, “Open my eyes so I can see what you show me of your miracle wonders.”

As a photographer, I cannot simply see the obvious things in front of me or all I will get is a simple snapshot record of the scene. Photographers have to dig deeper into their own hearts to find images that express something more than a scientific record of “I was there.” My grandfather used to call photos that people took of themselves in front of exotic locations “I was there and you weren’t” shots.

A good nature photograph should evoke something more than being able to show what is obviously there. It needs to dig deeper, and the photographer has to see from his or her heart, not just their mind/eyes. I think this can apply to how all of us see the nature around us. We can see it as simply something in front of our eyes, or we can see it from the heart and notice the special beauty God has embedded in the natural world. We can see it as the second Book of God, showing His creative hand in a most direct way. It is easy to see a pretty flower or a bee with our eyes, but when we see these elements of nature with our heart, too, life is revealed in new ways.

What does it mean to see eye to eye with someone? It literally means we are in agreement with that person. It comes from the idea that when you agree with another person, you can look them right in the eye and know you are seeing the same things at a much deeper level than simply seeing with just the mind/eyes. It definitely means seeing the other person heart to heart as well.

I believe we need to see nature from the heart, to see it eye to eye, heart to heart, because this both honors nature and the great Artist who designed and created it, God.

The first photo is of my beautiful wife, Vicky, the second, a wonderful little grasshopper nymph giving me the eye, and finally, an eye-to-eye connection with a black-crowned night heron.

— Rob


Aug 15 2012

What Are We Seeing?

Spruce trees are a beautiful part of nature. They stand tall and have a wonderful horizontal branching pattern.

Did you know that in some parts of the world, people cut them down and cover them with strange items made of plastic and some of these items are strange, filmy strips cut from some sort of mylar or something?

I am messing with you a bit. I am talking about a Christmas tree. I love Christmas trees and all the decorations that go on them, including the plastic tinsel. My point is simple – how we look at things, how we “see”, affects our thinking about them and that definitely includes God’s creation.

I was recently at a meeting of native plant enthusiasts. The presenter was talking about keeping a garden wild, and had some great ideas, but she surprised me when she talked about how some people will take a hose to wash the spiderwebs out of their trees and bushes. That never even occurred to me. Those spiderwebs are such a beautiful adornment for the bushes and show how tightly connected the natural world is, even in a garden.

Spiders are amazing creatures, even if we don’t always like them. Frankly, even though I enjoy photographing them and their webs, they do seem a little creepy at times. I don’t know what that is about our nature that makes us feel that way. Yet they are obviously an extremely important part of our world because they are so common. Spiders are the number one predator in the world, and without them, we would be covered with all sorts of bugs that would destroy plant life. There is a very important balance to predators and prey in the environment that works extremely well. And if we are to honor God and His creation, and honor God with the idea that maybe He actually knows what He is doing, we need to acknowledge that even if we don’t always like everything we see, such things are still important.

It does come down to how we see the world.  Paul Baloche wrote a song called “Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord”:

“Open the eyes of my heart, Lord,
Open the eyes of my heart.
I want to see You
I want to see You.”

There is much around us, including those silly little spiders in our bushes, that give us a glimpse into the wonder of God’s world, to see God. But we have to open our eyes to see the world, “open the eyes of our heart”, and not allow our very human limitations of sight give us a misleading view of nature.

The webs are made by small sheet web spiders. The spider in the big web is a jeweled araneus orbweaver.

— Rob