Sep 13 2009

Look Deeper

top of slot canyon 2Looks can be deceiving.  You’ve no doubt heard that before but it helps to be reminded of this truth from time to time.  I have had numerous occasions when my  first impression about someone or something proved to be totally wrong.  It happens to everyone, which is all the more reason to be more careful about rushing to judgment.

This point was pressed home to me when visiting the slot canyons in Arizona.  If you were to drive by this area you would not think that there was anything special there.  In fact, if you got out of your car and walked around the area where they exist you would still not find anything that would likely catch your eye. (Above is a photograph of Lower Antelope canyon from the surface.)  Lower Antelope Canyon 421If, however, you take the time to go down into the canyon (fortunately, there are steps) you will discover a magical world.  Wind, rain and floods have sculpted a fascinating world that when lit by the sun above becomes jaw-dropping beautiful.  The picture to the right illustrates the beauty that lies beneath the surface.

The slot canyons remind me that if we are not careful we will miss the beauty that is to be found around us.  This is especially true when it comes to the people we encounter in our lives.  If we only look on the outside and fail to go deeper we will often miss some amazing beauty. 

 In a delightful story from the Old Testament Samuel goes to the house of Jesse looking for Israel’s next king.  He looks first to the eldest son but God indicates that he is not the chosen one.  He does this with all the other brothers until he comes to David, the youngest, and discovers that he is the one to be anointed king of Israel.  It was here, in Jesse’s house, that God told Samuel, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

If God does not focus on “outward appearance,” then why do we?  We would be far better off  by going deeper and looking into the hearts of others.  There is where we will find the true beauty.


Jun 15 2009

New Perspectives

christmas-notes-8-smHow often do we go through life seeing things the same as we always do? Of course, that is not necessarily a bad thing. A lot happens during our day so if we looked at everything anew, we’d be exhausted before the day is through! Our perception needs to be restricted at times. When we are driving down the street, we don’t want to be oohing and aahing every little thing or we’d never get to our destination.

Yet, sometimes we continue this pattern when we don’t need to, or even when we could be seeing things in fresh ways. I think that is one reason why I like photographing from totally different angles at times. My Olympus E-3 has a tilting LCD that allows me to put the camera in all sorts of locations that would otherwise be hard to do. That gives me photographs that help me see the natural world from fresh eyes, and hopefully, other folks as well. In this photo taken in Acadia National Park, I also used what is called a full-frame fisheye lens to give an extremely wide-angle point of view and the curved “fisheye” perspective to further accentuate a new look at the woods of the park. This lens is so wide that you sometimes will pick up your feet or fingers in the shot, but it can be worth the effort to get such a different view.

In I Samuel 16:7, it says,”The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” While this is a passage about how Samuel should look at David, I think it applies to many things. Often we do see the wrong things and need God to give us direction, if we will listen, to see things differently. Sometimes we see nature purely from external appearances, especially as it affects us, and don’t look as deeply as perhaps we should as to what the natural world as God sees it, is really about.

— Rob Sheppard