May 29 2018

Let Beauty Sink In Deep

_CES5077Earlier this month I took a photography trip to Arizona and Utah. For reading material while there I carried along Reflections From The North Country by Sigurd F. Olson.  It proved to be a wise choice.  In this book Olson has chapters on solitude, harmony, awareness, beauty, simplicity, wholeness, contemplation, and a number of other interesting topics.  Since I was getting to witness some extraordinary scenery on the trip, the chapter on beauty especially appealed to me.   Olson begins by saying “In nature all things are beautiful.” A bit later he adds, “There is beauty everywhere if one can see and understand its meaning.” When I read these words I could not help but think of Ecclesiastes 3:11 where it says God “has made everything beautiful in its time.” Truly, for those with eyes to see there is beauty to be found everywhere.

_CES5101While I was in Arizona I was blessed to stay with a dear friend who took me to some remote locations where I experienced beautiful sites I had not visited before. At places like White Pockets in Vermillion Cliffs National Monument and a special place called “The Rock Factory” I stood in awe of God’s magnificent handiwork.  In addition to photographing the stupendous scenery and rock formations I also sought to let the beauty before me sink in.  There was a reason for this extra step.  At the end of his chapter on beauty Olson wrote these words: “In a lifetime of seeing beauty in the wilderness, I always feel a lift of spirit and an afterglow of serenity and content. I also know one must take time and wait for the glimpses of beauty that always come, and one must see each as though it were his last chance.”

_CES4875That final phrase struck a chord with me. We must see each expression of beauty as though it could be the last chance we had to do so.  Due to environmental degradation and governmental deregulation some examples of God’s beauty are disappearing.  There are places and things we must enjoy now while we can.  The other truth is none of us know how long we will live and when we witness the presence of beauty we must acknowledge that we may or may not get another chance to behold what we are seeing.  Doing so will cause us to experience beauty in a deeper way.


A recent example from my personal life has made me even more aware of this. My mother, a beautiful person, passed away a few days ago.  I got to visit with her just a few days before she died.  I didn’t realize that this would be the last time I would get to see her.  Had I known, perhaps I would have stayed a bit longer, asked a few more questions, or been more effusive with my affection.  But I didn’t know. Of course the truth is none of us know how long we have got to live, nor those that we love, but realizing this fact should cause us to live in the present more, to take advantage of the opportunities we have to show love and gratitude, and to make memories that will last.

_CES5184Trying to do this will make our lives richer. The same principles can and should be applied to our experiences with beauty in God’s Creation.  Let us learn to live in the present more.  Take nothing for granted. Let us learn to enjoy fully our time in special places.  Give thanks for expressions of beauty wherever they appear.  Let us make memories that will sustain us a lifetime.  There may come a time when memories are all we have.  Let beauty sink in deep…


Jun 13 2010

Aware and Alive

yellow flowers 059
“…the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  Nehemiah 8:10

This weekend Bonita and I celebrated our 29th anniversary by going over to Cumberland Falls State Park.   As always, I took my camera with me (I have a very understanding wife!) thinking I might find something to photograph.  As we entered the park it was raining and I quickly noticed that everything was green.  This is not my favorite time of the year to photograph and I began to think that I’d probably brought my camera along for nothing.  Then I began to notice all of the flowers.

Around here we have wildflowers about nine months out of the year.  Maybe because they are almost always around I sometimes fail to pay them any attention.  This is just another example of ways we can take nature for granted.  Some of us have eyes only for the spectacular.  We fail to notice and appreciate the simple.

This reminds me of something Sigurd Olson wrote in his book, Open Horizons.  He said, “Joys come from simple and natural things, mists over meadows, sunlight on leaves, the path of the moon over water.  Even rain and wind and stormy clouds bring joy, just as knowing animals and flowers and where they live.  Such things are where you find them, and belong to the aware and alive.”

If we are not careful we will miss out on a lot of the joys God has intended for us in His Creation.  Doing so is equivalent to receiving a precious gift from someone and never noticing that it is even there.  Creation is God’s gift to us and certainly deserves to be noticed.  Recognizing that our joy is at stake, perhaps we should begin each day by praying that God would help us to be “aware and alive” and more cognizant of the “simple and natural things” around us. 


(The image above was taken yesterday near the entrance to Cumberland Falls State Park.)