Jun 19 2011

Finding Our Niche

Yesterday Rob and I spent the morning photographing the tide pools on Trinidad Beach in California. It was a very low tide so we were able to see and photograph a large variety of subjects. Since I do not live near a coast I always enjoy the opportunity to visit tide pools when I travel. It is a fascinating world all in itself.

I always marvel at the diversity of life forms found in tide pools. At one point yesterday I commented to Rob that no one has ever had a good enough imagination to dream up the things we were seeing. I find in the wonderful variety of flora and fauna a visible testimony to the Creator’s greatness.

As we photographed a large rock covered with barnacles and a mixture of seaweeds we discussed how everything God has created has its role or place. Everything He made has a purpose and fills its own niche. In doing so every created thing honors our heavenly Father.

I’m not so sure, however, you can always say that about humans. Because we have been given free will we can choose to do what we want to do instead of what God made us for. Unfortunately, many choose to do exactly that. When we fail to fill our niche we fail to be what God made us to be. We also fail to bring honor to God.

What was man made for? What is our purpose? These questions have been discussed and debated for centuries. I cannot give a complete answer but I am convinced that we are given a great clue when Jesus answered a man’s question as to what was the greatest commandment with the response, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Furthermore, he added, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

If we would focus more energy on fulfilling these two commandments I cannot help but believe that we would at the same time be fulfilling the primary purpose for which we were created. We have free will because love cannot be coerced. We must choose to love God, others, and ourselves. When we do this right we honor God just like the rest of Creation. When we do this right we find our niche.


(The images here were taken yesterday at Trinidad Beach in California.)

Aug 15 2010

John of the Mountains

MR 878Last week I shared with you the names of some very special photographers who have been mentors to me when it comes to seeing and photographing Creation.  There is yet another person I also have to point to as a mentor.  He died decades before I was born and as far as I know never took a photograph with a camera.  Yet through his writings I have probably learned more about seeing the spiritual side of nature than from anyone else.  That person is John Muir.

I discovered John Muir’s writings about the same time I decided to take up photography.  I immediately fell in love with his writings.  I admired the enthusiasm he exhibited as he described nature and how he frequently used scripture and theological language to express what he experienced in nature.

ONP 739One of my favorite books is John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir edited by Linnie Marsh Wolfe.  The following passage, written by Muir on one of his voyages to Alaska, is a prime example of what drew me to Muir.

“All the wild world is beautiful, and it matters but little where we go, to highlands or lowlands, woods or plains, on the sea or land or down among the crystals of waves or high in a balloon in the sky; through all the climates, hot or cold, storms and calms, everywhere and always we are in God’s eternal beauty and love.  So universally true is this, the spot where we chance to be always seems the best, and it requires a distinct effort of the will to get oneself in motion for a change of place.”

Later, in the same entry Muir adds, “And thus we find in the fields of Nature no place that is blank or barren; every spot on land or sea is covered with harvests, and these harvests are always ripe and ready to be gathered, and no toiler is ever underpaid.  Not in these fields, God’s wilds, will you ever hear the sad moan of disappointment, ‘All is vanity.’”

I suspect many of you are already familiar with the life and writings of John Muir.  If not, I encourage you to become familiar with them.  I know no better guide to seeing Creation.


(The top image was taken at sunset in Mount Rainier National Park.  The tide pool  image was taken at Tongue Point on the Olympic Peninsula.)