Apr 10 2013

Reserves of Strength

_CES4177“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place…” Psalm 8:3

My friends at R120 (make sure to check out their Facebook page) recently shared a quote from Rachael Carson’s delightful book, The Sense of Wonder.  It reads: “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for the spring. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.” I could not agree more with Carson’s words.

river sunset 576In God’s awesome Creation there truly are reserves of strength waiting for all of us.  I would like to emphasize the word “waiting” here because we do not gain strength from these reserves automatically.  As Carson points out, they prove profitable for those “who contemplate the beauty of the earth.”  Some will notice a flock of birds flying overhead and think nothing of it.  Others will just observe the crashing waves and give no thought to the perpetual ebb and flow of the tides.  As spring begins to put on its annual show of color many will no doubt take note but how many will give any noticable thought to what it means for the earth to renew itself this way each year?

AGPix_summers402_0010_Lg[1]In the Scriptures it becomes clear that David, Jesus, Paul and others paid close attention to what was happening in the natural world.  They found spiritual lessons there but one cannot help but believe they also found healing and strength in God’s Creation.  I am convinced that this was God’s plan from the beginning.  The natural world does not exist solely to meet our physical needs.  There is much in Creation that meets emotional and spiritual needs as well.  Spending time in nature can be therapeutic and healing.  By actually taking the time to contemplate on or study God’s “other Book” we can find strength to sustain us, as well as reason for hope.

I believe nature has something to offer us in all seasons but spring truly is a special time.  I encourage you to get out and enjoy the wonders of this season.  As you do so contemplate what you are seeing, hearing and feeling.  Remember that God is waiting to be found in Creation and that in nature He has provided for all of us reserves of strength to help us on our journey.  It only makes sense that we take advantage of this precious gift.

–Chuck

(I took the top image from my driveway in Pikeville, Ky; the middle image on the coast of California; and the coneflower in Tennessee.)


Apr 11 2012

Daily Devotions

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him?”  Psalm 8:3

While I was out in California a couple of weeks ago Rob gave me a book by Simon Barnes called How to be Wild.  I’ve been reading it the past couple of days and have already benefited from it.  Yesterday I came across a passage where Barnes claims there are two ways of enjoying nature.  He writes: “One is to go out and look for it: nature as a special treat, nature as something to be found in special places.  The other is to take note of what is all around: nature as an aspect of life.”  In the first approach nature is “an occasional pilgrimage.”  In the second approach nature is “part of our daily devotions.”

As I’ve reflected on Barnes’ words I’ve realized that I have probably put too much emphasis on the first approach and not enough on the second.  As you know from my writings, I enjoy traveling to and photographing national parks and other scenic locations.  Weeks, even months, before I take a trip I am excited about what I’ll see once I get there.  I’m very intentional about these trips.  I study about the flora and fauna I’ll see once I arrive; I try hard to learn where the most beautiful locations are.  All of this is well and good.  It helps me enjoy my trips more and also get better images.  Still, I must admit this enjoyment of nature falls under the category of “occasional pilgrimages.”

Unfortunately, I am not quite so intentional when it comes to the other approach to enjoying nature.  I, like so many others, often rush through my day and fail to take notice of God’s Creation that is all around me.  Because of this I miss out on a lot.  It is a shame that I give nature so much attention four weeks out of the year (my vacation allotment) and so little attention the other forty-eight weeks.

Perhaps it would help me, to use Barnes’ words, to think of enjoying nature as part of my “daily devotions.”  Every day I read the Bible and other devotional material.  Every day I pray.  I’ve done this for years.  I’m very intentional about it.  I think what I need to do now is start including the enjoyment of nature as part of my daily routine as well.  I need to make sure every single day that I take notice, if only momentarily, of the wonders of God’s Creation around me.  As I just noted, I read the Bible daily.  Shouldn’t I also be reading God’s “other book” daily as well?  I believe I should and realize that in order to do so I will have to be disciplined.  I will have to keep reminding myself how important it is to pay attention.  I cannot help but think there will be great benefit from doing so.

Is the enjoyment of nature a part of your daily devotions?  If not, shouldn’t it be?

–Chuck

(I took the top picture in the Alabama Hills of California.  The lady bug, likewise, was taken in California in the Santa Monica National Recreation Area.  I took the floral image here at my home this past Sunday.)