Aug 17 2014

My New Hero

_DSC6224I have a new hero now.  It happened by accident a few days ago.  Rob Sheppard and I hooked up in Missouri for a few days of photography in the southwest portion of the state.  We wanted to explore the prairies in the area.  It just so happened that one of the prairies we visited ended up being located quite close to the George Washington Carver National Monument.  Since we were that close by we decided we’d stop in and visit the place.  That decision proved to be a significant one for both of us.

_DSC6217Neither of us knew much about Carver other than he was an Afro-American who became famous for studying peanuts.  I have long used a particular quotation by Carver when I do talks on God and Creation.  He once said, “Nature is an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour—if we will only tune in.”  Based on that quotation I assumed Carver was a person of faith.  I had no idea just how much so until touring the national monument that bears his name.

_DSC6201George Washington Carver grew up a slave that knew neither his mother or father.  He fell in love with nature as a young boy and in particular was fond of wildflowers.  With great determination he pursued an education, something that was not easy to do for a black person at that time in history.  He was extremely bright and talented.  He had great artistic talent and was also a musician, but he was destined to make an impact on the world through his botanical studies.  The list of his accomplishments is staggering.  In his book on Carver called The Man Who Talks With the Flowers Glenn Clark says “he discovered 300 new uses for the peanut and 150 new uses for the sweet potato and before he was through he had rebuilt the agriculture of the south.”  A movie about Carver’s accomplishment was shown at the national monument and after viewing it Rob and I both marveled that most people know so little about this great man.  His story truly is an amazing and  inspiring one.  It is a story of one who endured great hardship and adversity but overcame it.  It is a story of faith and perseverance.

Had blogs been in existence in his day it wouldn’t surprise me if Carver would not have written one similar to Seeing Creation.  He wrote and spoke often of the close connection between God and nature.  He once said, “nature in its varied forms are the little windows through which God permits me to commune with Him, and to see much of His glory, majesty, and power by simply lifting the curtain and looking in.”  At another time he said, “More and more as we come closer and closer in touch with nature and its teaching we are able to see the Divine and are therefore fitted to interpret correctly the various languages spoken by all forms of nature about us.”

_DSC6206George Washington Carver spent a great deal of time in communion with both God and nature.  He often gave God credit for his many discoveries and encouraged people to get to know both God and nature better.  He urged people to experience nature more, saying, “Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books,  for they speak with the voice of God.”  Once Carver came to look at the world this way he said “never since have I been without this consciousness of the Creator speaking to me through flowers, rocks, animals, plants, and all other aspects of His creation.”

I read a brief biography on Carver last night and it made me even more aware of what a person of faith he was.  His faith in God connected him even closer to nature and also to his fellowman.   He committed his life to studying one and to serving the other.  Carver lived a life characterized by humility and integrity.   He showed the world that faith and science are not opposites but companions.  He showed the world what one person who lives for the glory of God can do.  For all of these reasons and more, I now have a new hero.  How the world could use some more people like George Washington Carver today!

–Chuck

(All four of the pictures used above were taken at the George Washington Carver National Monument this past week.)

 


Jan 1 2012

“Tuning In” in 2012

“We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”  Matthew 2:2

On this first Sunday of 2012 many churches turned their focus to the role of the Magi and their coming to honor the Christ Child.  The Wise Men certainly play a central role in the Christmas story, as does the star that led them to Bethlehem.  Over the years I’ve heard people say the “star” might have been a comet or perhaps a supernova.  Perhaps we’ll never know for sure but it is worth noting that God used a part of His Creation—whatever it was—to lead the Magi to their wondrous encounter with the child Jesus.  That God did this should not surprise us at all; throughout the Scriptures we find God using various natural phenomena to lead people in His direction.

The list of natural things God has used to lead people to Himself is long and varied.  On that list you would find things like a burning bush, a flood, clouds, lightning, earthquakes, a giant fish, a donkey, and mountains.  From the beginning of time to the present moment God has been using His Creation to guide people in His direction.  It is interesting to note that even in biblical times not everyone grasped the significance of what was going on.  God was speaking through what He had made, some just failed to notice.

This makes me wonder how often we miss God’s messages or His attempts to move us in His direction through Creation.   I suspect it happens far more often than we realize.  If we want to see and know God better it would help us to pay more attention to what’s going on around us in the world.  George Washington Carver once said, “Nature is an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour—if we will only tune in.”  A good New Year’s resolution we might all make is to “tune in” more frequently in the coming year.  Doing so will not only make us wise men and women but will also lead to a very happy and blessed New Year.  That is certainly my wish for you!

–Chuck

(I took the top image at Myakka State Park in Florida.  The middle image is a humpback whale fluke I took in Alaska.  The bottom image shows a mountain I photographed at Banff National Park in Canada.)


Jun 10 2009

Let Justice Roll Down Like Water…

middle-prong-6682

George Washington Carver once said, “Nature is an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour—if we will only tune in.”  By now you know that I agree with Carver.  If we will slow down and listen carefully, God has much to say to us in His creation.  Many of the things we hear will be comforting or encouraging words, but at times the message may be challenging.

A few weeks ago I made a day trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with my friend Bill Fortney.  Bill wanted to go to the Tremont area so we could photograph the beautiful Middle Prong cascades.  As you can see from the picture, this is a lovely and inspiring location. 

When I am in places like this there is a passage from the prophet Amos that invariably comes to my mind.  Amos says, “let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.”  Roaring rivers and streams cause me to remember that there is much injustice in the world today.  There is racial injustice, economic injustice, environmental injustice, social injustice and a host of other injustices.  Countless people suffer today because justice and righteousness are all too often lacking.

A few verses after Amos made his familiar admonition he declared, “Woe to you who are complacent…”  Although these words were spoken over twenty-five hundred years ago I believe that it is, in fact, complacency that remains a major contributor to the many injustices in the world.    I know I am guilty of being complacent far more  often than I should be.  For this reason I remain thankful for God’s “unlimited broadcasting station” of nature and how it reminds me time and time again of His desire to see “justice roll on like a river” and “righteousness like a never-failing stream.”  Now it’s up to folks like you and me to see that it happens!

–Chuck Summers