Nov 18 2015

Learning From Nature Not to Rush

e_DSC3033“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11

For the most part nature is rather predictable.  It has its rhythms and patterns and they remain more or less consistent.  The tides ebb and flow, the moon goes through its cycle of phases, the sun rises and sets at its appointed times, and the seasons change pretty much on schedule.  There are of course some exceptions along the way.  This time last year we had our biggest snow since I moved to Henderson and winter was still over a month away.  All in all, however, nature follows its steady course year after year.  Uninterrupted, nature has its own pace and doesn’t tend to rush things.

e_DSC3171I believe we would be wise to note this attribute in nature and learn as human beings to not always be in such a hurry.  Nature generally takes things slowly while we seem to want to rush everything.  Years ago the country band Alabama had a song with the refrain “I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.”   That could be the theme song for a lot of us.  Whereas nature takes its time, we want to beat time.  The tendency to rush through life keeps us from living in the moment and from experiencing what God has in mind for us here and now.

ASP0328Right now a lot of people are in a rush to get to Christmas.  As early as Halloween I was seeing Christmas decorations around town.  What’s the hurry?  Especially considering that Thanksgiving is still a week away.  Might we not want to slow down in the coming days to do what the old hymn says and count our blessings?  According to the liturgical calendar Advent does not even begin this year until November 29.  Why the rush to Christmas?  It seems like in so many areas of life it is when we get ahead of ourselves that we get in trouble.  There may well be blessings we will miss if we start focusing on Christmas too soon.

_DSC2191By paying more attention to nature we may hear God telling us to slow down and take it easy.  We might also find the Creator urging us to develop a more “natural” rhythm for our lives, one where we are content to be fully present where we are and not be always rushing to get ahead to somewhere we would rather be.  When I listen to the waves on a beach, look above at the stars in the sky at night, or simply walk through a forest I get the sense that God is calling us to find our place in this world just like the waves, stars, and trees.  I truly believe our peace is in our place and that we will never fully experience the peace God intends for us if we mindlessly rush through life and are always getting ahead of ourselves.  Perhaps I’m wrong about this but I don’t think so.

–Chuck

(I took the pictures shown above at John James Audubon State Park here in Henderson, KY.)

 


Oct 23 2013

The Importance of Focus

_CES9385Late yesterday afternoon I had a little free time so I drove over to John James Audubon State Park, about five miles from where I am currently living.  There has been very little evidence of fall foliage in town but I wanted to go to the park to scout it a bit, thinking ahead to when the colors do get good.  I was pleasantly surprised to find isolated patches of color in the trees around one of the park’s lakes.  I took a few pictures, hiked a couple of the trails and then went home.  I posted four pictures I had just taken on Facebook and then left to go teach my Tuesday night Bible study class.

_CES9375When I got home later in the evening I saw where a number of people had “liked” my images on Facebook but what surprised me was the number of comments that accompanied them.  People talked about the beautiful colors and one indicated that the image captured “fall” for him.  I was amused by the comments because there was actually very little color in the park.  I would estimate that the foliage was only around 15% peaked and that was just at the lake.  I hiked two or three miles and saw almost no fall colors at all in the woods.

_CES9369The experience has made me think some today.  By focusing on just a handful of trees I was able to compose images that gave the impression that fall was in full swing here.  People were excited by what they saw while I went home disappointed that we didn’t have more fall colors right now.  Now admittedly, others only saw what I showed them through my lens.  They didn’t see as I did that almost all the other trees were still green. Still, I have to ask myself why I didn’t focus more on the beauty at hand.  This reminds me in a roundabout way that what we focus on in life is very important.  I had made a conscious effort to focus on the beauty in a few trees with my camera but my mind seemed to be more focused on the lack of color elsewhere.  It is apparent now that my focus or attitude should have been different.  I should have been more grateful for what I did see instead of bemoaning what I didn’t.

This is something I, and a lot of other people, struggle with in other areas of life.  We tend to dwell more on what we don’t have instead of what we already d0 have.  This robs a person of much peace and joy.  It creates discontentment when that is not necessary.   All of this hits close to home—literally.  My wife and I still haven’t sold our house in eastern Kentucky so we have been living in temporary housing for the past few months.  It’s a small duplex and we are using borrowed furniture.  Over 80% of what we own is five and a half hours away.  This has created a lot of inconveniences and I will confess that it has bothered me greatly.  I find myself often dwelling on what I don’t have or what I’m missing.  The more I dwell on it the more depressed I become.

_CES9383I’m not sure that I will ever like living in this setting but I have come to realize that I will be much better off if I will focus on the good in my life, that which I have, instead of that which I’m missing.  I still have my wonderful wife with me and our beloved dog.  I don’t have all of my books and music here but I have a lot of my favorites with me.  Unlike a lot of other people, I have a roof over my head, a warm bed to sleep in, plenty of clothes and cabinets filled with food.  In other words, I am richly blessed.

I have certainly been reminded that I need to work on my focus, not just in photography but in every area of my life.  I hope one day I can get to the point where I can say with the apostle Paul, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”  (Philippians 4:11)  That sure would be nice.

–Chuck

(The pictures shown above are the ones I took at John James Audubon State Park yesterday.)