Faith, Photography

A Corresponding Perception

On Saturday morning, I took my bicycle to the state trail for a little ride. A round trip of about 16 miles later, I had sore bum, a good sweat and a wish that I’d had my camera along for just one particular moment. There was a white heron perched atop one of several dead and hopelessly regal birch trees protruding from the soft, surface of shoulder-tall grass. It was gorgeous; everything about the scene made me want to capture it and share it with another human being. As I finished my ride, I considered how much I love to take photographs. So much more than the arranged, “everyone pause in what they’re doing and look at the camera” pictures that are taken at every gathering or event, I enjoy capturing the candid – candid conversations, candid children, candid action, and candid nature.

The latter is my favorite. All the beauties of the natural world, be they big or small, brief or lasting, are candid. They are not performing for me and my camera; they are not being beautiful for me. They simply are beautiful. When I take the time to think it through, I realize that the instances of beauty in this world can both humble and gratify me. That is, it is up to me to notice them because if I don’t, that doesn’t mean a thing to them. They aren’t under my control and won’t wait around for my attention. The rushing water will still pour over that cliff into the river below when I’m not looking. The sun will set in a pillow of pink, yellow and orange clouds on the horizon whether I notice it or not. The white heron will sit on top of the stripped birch tree even if my eyes don’t wander in its direction. I am powerless in the face of all the beauty in this world. Pardoxical, then, is the reality that God created this world’s beauty for our sake. He desires that we enjoy His displays of color and life. I think He delights in our delight, whether it come with a hike through the woods, an excursion on the lake, a sunset watched from our front porches or any other of the innumerable ways He has shown His artistry in this world.

“For all men who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature; and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know Him who exists, nor did they recognize the craftsman while paying heed to His works; but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift air, or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water, or the luminaries of heaven were the gods that rule the world. If through delight in the beauty of these things men assumed them to be gods, let them know how much better than these is their Lord, for the author of beauty created them. And if men were amazed at their power and working, let them perceive from them how much more powerful is He who formed them. For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator.” (Wisdom 13:1-5)

That’s what it comes down to: I am a fool if I don’t see Him in this beauty. If the scenes I capture on my camera don’t stir up gratitude to Him, don’t incline my heart toward Him, or don’t resonate with the irremovable longing I have (every person has) for Heaven; if all this is disregarded and the beauty is appreciated as if it exists independent from its Author, I dishonor God and sell myself short of the hope of eternal, perfected beauty awaiting me away from this world.

So I have decided to begin a little project: the Corresponding Perception Project. I plan to carry my camera with me at all times. It’s presence, and a commitment to being willing to use it in any setting and situation, will be the catalyst causing me to notice many more instances of beauty than I normally do. Ideally, the beauty I become aware of will go beyond the most obvious to include the subtler, quieter displays the Author of truth, beauty and life has provided.

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