Psalm One Ministries
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around for a while, you could miss it." - Ferris Bueller's Day Off
I recently returned from a wonderful getaway at my friends' lake house. I had a checklist of lofty goals to accomplish: 1) to swim in the lake and 2) to rest. For once in my life, I completed my “to do” list.
My primary method for renewal: to look up.
I spend a lot of my time looking down. Reading, writing, studying, research, planning, corresponding, emailing, working on projects. I didn’t want to spend my vacation looking down at a book (even a great, fun, non-academic book) or a screen (even an entertaining movie on Netflix) or a magazine (even the fluffiest of fluff). I wanted to look around, look up, to look out and give my full attention to wonderful friends and a beautiful, living world. To listen to the lapping of the water on the shore, the chirping of chipmunks, the twitter of the hummingbirds.
A huge aspect of our spiritual formation consists in becoming aware, being mindful, observing what God is doing. To do this, I must develop the spiritual discipline of attentiveness. I need to spend time looking around, looking up, observing God's creation around me, giving full attention to the people I'm with, noticing the blessings and divine appointments God arranges for me. When I look up from the books and screens, I learn to discern God’s voice out of the noise and clamor.
God has creative ways of weaving the spiritual discipline of attentiveness into my life. Many of you have heard the amazing ways God has loved on me and speaks to me through his creatures. I know one should never approach wildlife, but apparently no one has told the wildlife they should not approach me. I tend to attract things with fur, fins, feathers, flippers, and fangs. I have lots of Close Encounters of the Animal Kind. Some of my friends call me St. Francis. Some call me Dr. Doolittle. (Even as I write this, two hummingbirds are whistling around my head…)
What is this about? What can the creation teach us about the Creator? How can photography be a spiritual discipline? In slowing down, becoming quiet, being still, and training my eyes to observe, I get a chance to interact with these beautiful creatures. I also get to experience the presence of the Lord in a powerful way. Even a five minute break at my kitchen window trains me in the school of attentiveness.
What does being still with a camera teach me? In these special encounters, I learn to:
Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life's span? And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these. But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith? Do not be anxious then, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'With what shall we clothe ourselves?' For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:26-34)
“Look at the birds of the air…”