Mar 4 2015

Reading Scripture Visually

Psalm 1A few months ago my pictures began to be used to illustrate prayers by John Philip Newell on his Facebook page.  The person who puts the images and prayers together does a fantastic job.  There is always something about the image that corresponds to the prayer.  I always look forward to seeing which image is chosen.

Psalm 21Getting to see my photographic work appear with Newell’s prayers inspired me to begin working on a new project.  In January I was invited to participate in a peer group of ministers from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Kentucky.  We began by spending three days together at St. Meinrad Archabbey in southern Indiana.  We will continue to meet together once a month for the next year to year and a half.  Prior to leaving St. Meinrad we committed ourselves to reading through the Book of Psalms together.  We then established a Facebook page for our group and everyone was invited to share reflections on the various psalms we read each day.

Psalm 31On the first day we read Psalm 1.  Verse 3  of this psalm says the person whose delight is in the law of the Lord and who meditates on that law “is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.  Whatever he does prospers.”  When I read this I immediately thought of an image I took several years ago of a tree situated right next to a stream of water.  I located the file of the image and posted it on our Facebook page, along with the verse.  When we moved to Psalm 2 the next day I had another image come to mind so I did the same thing.  A number of weeks later I’m still doing the same thing each day.  I decided it would be a good discipline to examine each day’s psalm and try to connect it to one of the images of Creation I have captured over the years.  Some of the psalms are easy to find images for, others not so much.

I have found that reading the Psalms while searching for pictures to illustrate a verse or two is both challenging and helpful.  It forces me to look at the scriptures in a new way—visually.  I am convinced that reading the scriptures this way can help one find new meaning in the Bible.  It is something anyone can do; you certainly don’t have to be a photographer to approach the Bible this way.  Just use your imagination when you read the scriptures and see where it takes you.  Try to visualize what you are reading.  Perhaps ask yourself what type of image you would use to illustrate what you are reading.

Psalm 11The Book of Psalms is probably the easiest book in the Bible to take this approach but it will work with any book or passage from scripture.  I encourage you to give reading the Bible visually a try.  See if it doesn’t help you and open new doors of understanding for you.  “O taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8)

–Chuck

(I used the first image to illustrate Psalm 1:3, the second image for Psalm 21:13, the third image for Psalm 31:3, and the fourth image for Psalm 11:1.)


Jul 3 2013

Seeing Things My Way

_CES5117“I wish you could see things my way.”  How many times have you heard that?  Or for that matter, how many times have you said it?  Typically when we hear or speak these words the intent is for someone to change another person’s perspective on something.  It might have something to do with politics, religion or any number of other things.  Regardless of the subject the point is that  there is a desire to change one’s view.

mag4586As I write right now I am wishing a lot of people could see things my way but here it is not some viewpoint I’m thinking about.  I mean it literally.  I wish more folks could see things through my eyes because they are missing out on so much.  It is becoming clearer and clearer to me that a whole bunch of people fail to see the beauty of Creation and also the presence of God in the midst of it.  They seem oblivious to what is obvious to me.  Now I will be the first to admit that I don’t see nearly as well as I could but I do feel that when it comes to “seeing Creation” my vision is pretty good.

What has got me thinking about this is a number of comments I’ve received recently about pictures I’ve posted on Facebook.  I posted a close-up picture of a red flower last week and someone commented on how beautiful the center of the flower was.  I got the impression this person may not spend a lot of time looking at flowers close up.  Another person commented on an image of a dragonfly I posted.  This time the comment was that they did not realize that dragonflies were so colorful.  Once again it made me wonder if this person had ever made an effort to actually look closely at a dragonfly.

_CES5476This afternoon I stopped to photograph a coneflower in the yard of some friends.  At one point I stepped back and asked one of them if she would like to look through my camera.  She expressed a degree of surprise at what the macro lens revealed.  Due to prior experience I knew exactly what I’d see through the lens.  She didn’t.  I almost found myself wanting to say “I wish you could see things my way.” Fearing that what I’m saying may sound cocky I want to reiterate again that there are lots of people who see God’s Creation far better than I do and they also photograph it better but it just seems that there are too many people out there who aren’t taking the time to really see what is all around them.  I want them to see more.  I want them to see better.   I want them to see things my way.

HS5373This desire springs from my wish that people would come to appreciate better the wonders of God’s Creation.  If they did I can’t help but believe that it would have positive results.  First, they would likely learn to appreciate nature more and would become true advocates for its protection and preservation.  Second, they might very well find God’s fingerprints where they had not realized they can be found and in the process come to love God more and worship Him better.  It is for these reasons I wish more people could see things my way.  It is for the same two reasons I often find myself asking God to help me see more clearly.  I know I have not arrived yet.  I realize that I have barely touched the surface when it comes to seeing the wonders and beauty of Creation.  I also acknowledge that my love for and worship of God constantly stands in need of improvement.

I have a sneaky suspicion that there are lots of times God says to me “I wish you could see things my way.”  That’s why I sometimes find myself singing the words of the old hymn,Open my eyes, that I may see glimpses of truth thou hast for me.”  In the end that is my ultimate wish, to see things God’s way.  Is it yours?

–Chuck

(I took all four of these above images recently near my home in Henderson, Kentucky.)