Jan 13 2010

Finding Joy in Creation

Fishpond-Lake-039I recently finished reading Wendell Berry’s latest collection of poems, called Leavings.  Typical of most of Berry’s poem collections, the majority of the entries are tied to the land or Creation.  I enjoy reading this author’s poems and commend them to you.

One of the poems I’d like to share with you.  It has caused me to do a lot of thinking.  It reads:

“Learn by little the desire for all things

which perhaps is not desire at all but undying love

which perhaps is not love at all but gratitude for the being of all things

 which perhaps is not gratitude at all but the maker’s joy in what is made,

the joy in which we come to rest.”

I have to admit I had to read this poem a number of times before it began to make sense to me.  What Berry seems to be saying is that behind all desire, all love, and all gratitude is God’s joy in His Creation and that our joy is made complete when we, too, find our joy there.

In each refrain of “and God saw that it was good” in Genesis 1 we see God’s joy in Creation.  When God speaks to Job he talks about how at Creation “the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy.” (38:7) The Psalmist prayed “May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works.” (104:31)   It would appear that “in the beginning” God found much joy in His Creation and does to this very day.  The question is, do we?

If God’s Creation is a great source of joy to Him, should it not be for us as well?  I have a feeling that if we did focus more on nature that we would experience what Berry called “the joy in which we come to rest.”  In the process we would experience more gratitude and love.  In the process we would experience the “desires of our heart.”  What do we miss when we separate ourselves from God’s Creation?  A lot!


(The image above was taken at Fishpond Lake in Letcher County, Kentucky.)

Oct 28 2009

Changing Perspective

Fishpond Lake trees 553In my camera bag I have a variety of lenses.  I have wide angle lenses that allow me to capture vast expanses.  I have telephoto lenses that enable me to focus more narrowly on faraway subjects.  I also have a macro lens that permits me to take close up images of very small subjects.  It’s wonderful having a variety of lenses so that I can look at the natural world from many perspectives. 

Early on in my photographic journey I used one lens almost exclusively, an 80-200 mm zoom.  I had other lenses but just liked the perspective I got from this lens.  There’s nothing wrong with that but it certainly limited the type images I could produce.  Eventually I learned that it was critical that I learn how to use my other lenses too. 

What is true for photographers is also true for general lovers of nature.  We should all strive to learn to look at God’s Creation from a variety of perspectives.  We should take time, to use Rob’s favorite phrase, to get “down and dirty” so that we can see the small things God has created.  We should, likewise use a wide angle perspective so that we can see the big picture.  I would also recommend that we learn to use a telephoto perspective by moving beyond the big picture and focusing on smaller segments of the scene before us.  

Just as I limited the images I could produce by sticking too much to one lens early on, we may do the same thing with our eyes.  Therefore, I suggest that the next time you go out in nature that you make a conscious effort to look at the world around you from all three perspectives—close up, wide, and telephoto. 

If God is to be found in all of nature, not only will you see far more of Creation by using all three perspectives, you’ll also discover far more about God.    To me, that makes it well worth the effort. 


(The picture above was taken on Monday at Fishpond Lake in Kentucky.  I hate to admit it, but I used my 80-200 lens to capture it.)