Feb 5 2014

Ice Therapy

_DSC1234We got quite an ice storm last night.  My car was covered with ice when I got ready to go to work this morning.  As I drove into town every tree in sight was covered with an icy glaze.  Thankfully I thought to grab my camera before leaving the house.  Once at work I took some time to photograph the ice on the trees behind the church.  Later I stopped at some church members’ home.  They are out of town and have asked me to feed their birds while they are away.  As I was preparing to perform this task I slipped and took a hard fall.  I hit my head on the concrete driveway and lay there stunned for a few moments.  When I got up I thought to myself, “I bet I’m sore tomorrow.”  Actually I was sore much sooner than that.  When I got home I told my wife that my back and shoulders hurt.  She suggested that I put ice on them.  Having just come in from the frigid cold that did not sound appealing at all.  Still, I know that ice therapy is a legitimate aid in healing.

_DSC1190After Bonita mentioned the ice therapy I thought about the images I had taken earlier in the day and how taking the pictures was a form of ice therapy as well.  Those of you who are familiar with my photography know that I’ve developed a style of photographing that I call “macro therapy.”  I have found that when I use a macro lens with very little depth of field I am able to explore subjects in a new and creative way.  This practice soothes my soul and I often feel like I’ve been to therapy once I have finished photographing.  The primary subject of my macro therapy has been flowers up to this point.  Today that changed as I discovered the same effect and experience could be had photographing the ice with my macro lens.  There are no doubt hazards that come with an ice storm but there is also a great deal of beauty—especially when you look close.

_DSC1280Practicing macro therapy has enabled me to see a new world.  It has also helped me to see aspects of God’s Creation that I would never see otherwise.  As I began to focus on one particular icicle I was amazed to see that it had crystal formations on it.  I saw patterns and shapes I would never have dreamed of.  I noticed pine and spruce needles embraced by ice and they reminded me of the truth that we are all embraced by the love of God.  All of this made me feel good, very good.  It truly is amazing what a little ice therapy can do for the soul!

–Chuck


Jun 8 2011

Macro Therapy

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.”  –Jesus (John 14:27)

In his book, Our National Parks, John Muir beckoned, “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”  Muir knew as well as anyone the healing qualities of God’s Creation.  He sometimes described himself as a John the Baptist calling people to the wilderness.  He recognized that there are physical, spiritual and emotional benefits that come with immersing oneself in nature.

Unfortunately, sometimes we find ourselves in a position where we cannot “climb the mountains.”  Perhaps we are not geographically close to some wilderness area, or it may be that time simply does not permit us to get away.  Does that mean we cannot receive the life-giving benefits of nature?  Not at all!  Yesterday I was reminded that one does not have to go anywhere to experience the healing power God has bestowed upon nature.  I had a very busy and stressful day.  I was privileged to speak at the funeral of a wonderful member of the church I serve.  It was a beautiful service but I still found myself feeling drained and empty when I got home.  Before leaving the church, however, members of the deceased’s family asked me to take home one of the vases of flowers that were still there.  My wife thought that was a good idea so I brought a nice arrangement home with me.

When I got the flowers home I decided I’d take a few pictures of the flowers.  They were too pretty not to.  I put a macro lens on my camera and took the flowers outside.  As I moved in close and starting focusing on the delightful colors and patterns I could feel a burden being lifted from my shoulders.  Where there had been sadness I started to feel great joy.  I could definitely relate to John Muir’s words.  Nature’s peace did flow into me and refresh me.  It seemed as though my cares truly did “drop off like autumn leaves.”

Later in the evening I had a chance to work on the pictures I had taken of the flowers.   Even looking at the images on the computer screen proved therapeutic.  I ended up putting several of the images on Facebook and called the folder I placed them in “Macro Therapy.”  I enjoyed the whole experience so much I borrowed a floral arrangement from my secretary’s desk this afternoon and came home and took some more pictures.  Once again, it proved to be a most satisfying and soothing enterprise.

I share all of this with you in the hope that the next time you are feeling stressed or discouraged that you will remember that God has placed in His Creation healing powers that can truly help.  If you can head to the mountains, the ocean or desert, by all means do so.  But if you can’t, just glance around you.  Look closely at a flower, a leaf, an insect, a shell or even a rock—anything you can find nearby.   You may shortly discover your cares dropping off like autumn leaves.  If you do, know that this is by design—our heavenly Father’s design.

–Chuck

(The images above were taken today and yesterday.  Many thanks to the family of Mary Ruth Prater for the gift of the flowers!)