Sep 29 2016

Mind Your Own Business

sd-mind-2I can remember growing up hearing, “Mind your own business”, from my sister. I think it is a common part of baby boomers’ times of growing up. Siblings used to love to say this, and sometimes parents would use this as a way of trying to quiet squabbling brothers and sisters. It is directed outward, as in, “Mind your own business, person who is bothering me.”

Now what does that have to do with Seeing Creation. A lot, I think, and it may say a bit about how we respect ourselves and God’s creation as formed in us. But I am not thinking an outward direction, but an inward direction.

sd-mind-3As Chuck and I know, nature photography is a great way of sharing God’s Creation. Yet, photography is a bit crazy in today’s world. In social media, we can see photographs from everyone everywhere, and we see a lot of what other people are doing in their photography. And of course, on Facebook, it appears to be all good. Photos are the best, trips are amazing, business is wonderful, and on and on. And it’s not just Facebook. Other places where the “world of photography” is put on display include Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr (still around), Google + and more. And all of it looks like everything is just great.

Sometimes it is. But that is rarely the full picture of anything, especially nature and photography. If we are only looking for the “best”, then we miss a lot of what God may want to show us. Nature is not defined by what we think is “best.”

Consider this, in Luke 12:6, Jesus says, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.” Or Matthew 6:28-29, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Note that Jesus does not talk about eagles or lions, but the common sparrow. Nor does He talk about some exotic flowers, but common lilies of the field. If God considers these things important, then as nature lovers (and photographers), we need to pay attention to more than simply the dramatic nature that gets attention on social media. And of course, we have to remember Genesis 1:31, “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” Not some things, a few things, but all that He had made.

The problem is that we have a tendency to want to compare our photos and what we see of nature to those bright and shiny posts on the Internet. “I should be photographing big landscapes and beautiful sunrises and sunsets, but all I have nearby are flat fields and average skies. I should be doing more than just photographing some common flowers or some stupid bugs. Why can’t I photograph like these other photographers? Why can’t I get better subjects?”

Comparisons are killers of creativity and our souls, who we are, who God created us to be. God did not create us to be someone other than who we are. God did not create nature in order to create bold subjects for Facebook.

So I think maybe we need to tell ourselves, “Mind your own business.” Or maybe even God’s business! But if we are true to who we are in how we see nature and in any creative endeavor, minding our business is God’s business as He has offered it to you. Your work can be God’s work. We need to pay attention to what energizes and excites us about photography, nature, and the world, how God is presenting it to us, not how someone else is dealing with that.

So whenever you are feeling conflicted because of what you see and learn about what other people are “doing” that you are not, remember to tell yourself, “Mind your own business!” That is probably God’s business as well.

sd-mind-1– Rob


Apr 18 2012

Pockets of Eden

“God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” Genesis 1:31

I gave myself an Earth Day present this morning.  I know it was a few days early but I’ve always enjoyed early presents.  I, along with a couple of friends, visited Lilley Cornett Woods in southeast Kentucky.  This forest is one of the few existing old growth forests in the state.  It has been designated as a Registered National Natural Landmark by the U. S. Department of Interior.  Lilley Cornett Woods has been described as “a unique ‘island’ of protected forest in a ‘sea’ of other kinds of land use.”  Since one may visit it only with a guide it is not a popular tourist attraction but it is definitely a place worth visiting.

The old growth forests of the east seem puny compared to their cousins on the west coast but they still contain some very large and old trees.  I was able to see a number of giant hemlock, beech and white oak trees on my walk today.  Even though it was raining it seemed like the perfect day to be in the woods.  Things were very quiet and peaceful.  The songs of various birds and the rain dropping to the forest floor were the only sounds heard.  The shades of green surrounding us were too many to count.  There was not a huge variety of wildflowers visible on this particular day but there were still many beautiful specimens to behold.  It was not difficult at all to sense the presence of God in this special place.

A couple of nights ago I watched a few segments of Ken Burns’ National Parks documentary.  I was reminded how blessed we are as a nation to have such wonderful treasures and how important they are to us.  At one point in the film my favorite John Muir quotation was cited, “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.”  Our national parks certainly offer us such beauty, but so do lesser known places like Lilley Cornett Woods.  I am very grateful that over the years people have been wise enough to realize that some areas have to be set apart and protected from development.  We need such pockets of Eden to turn to and enjoy for Muir was right, they bring healing and “give strength to body and soul alike.”  I know that for a fact; I experienced it today.

–Chuck

(All the images shown here were taken this morning at Lilley Cornett Woods.)