The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. ~ Psalm 19:1
Especially in this past week, but always at this time of year, I am awestruck at the beauty of trees. Green leaves attempt to hold firm against an onslaught of bright reds, soft oranges, brilliant yellows, and the deep, nearly purple, leaves. Even on cloudy days the trees stand out in their brilliance, not needing the light of the sun to show off just how beautiful they are. There have been countless times when I have thought to grab my camera in order to take a picture of just how beautiful these trees truly are. The only thing stopping me is that I know better.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. ~ Psalm 19:2
My mother gave me my own camera when I was eleven or twelve years old. Before the progression to digital point-push-erase picture-taking, I had to make sure that each picture counted. The scene and subjects were carefully selected. The content mattered. I submitted photographs along with drawings to our local county fair, and I began to look to capture moments at an early age.
More than two decades later, having lived all of my life in Michigan, I have not lost my fascination with the changing of leaves in autumn. I would rather be outside at this time of year than in the summer months because I simply cannot get enough of the color, the ever-changing work of a true Artist.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. ~ Psalm 19: 3, 4a
My sense of wonder for our seasons was renewed earlier this year when our mission group presented a slide show of Michigan-specific photographs to students in Honduras. The photographs showed children playing in leaf piles, forests ablaze in autumn colors, skiers shredding the slopes and much more. Almost every picture created an audible response from the students. One or two students began giving an audible “Wow,” and very soon the entire student body declared “Wow!” as each picture changed.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. ~ Psalm 19:4b, 5
Reflect for a moment on the words of the psalmist that you have read up to this point. I assure you that the person who put those words into recorded history had no digital camera and was not posting photos for the rest of the world to “like.” No, the psalmist could only look and become so filled up with wonder that the words spilled forth in praise.
As recently as last year I took photos of the autumn colors. Every time that I look back on them, I wonder why I took the picture. The photo does it no justice. I have considered investing in a better camera, but I know it will not be the same as walking through a street or trail lined in color. Our technology today strives to make visual representations as lifelike as possible. We all know better. We know that the photo is not the same.
I am convinced that part of the fascination (and obsession) with social media is our futile attempt to capture the moment. We want to capture what we are experiencing and share it with others. It is our attempt to make our moments have value. What we have missed is that the moments have the most value when we are most present in it.
Noticing moments of gratitude and recording them is one step in the process of connecting to our Creator. Yet it is only a step. Much like committing a keyboard’s setup to muscle memory, we need the practice. I could record a moment of gratitude for the autumn colors. I can find Scripture that supports my gratitude for what I am seeing. I could take a photo of the colors and share it with others in an attempt to add the value of others to my moment. But true gratitude comes when I see the beauty, I am in awe of the mystery, and give thanks to the Creator of what I am seeing. Gratitude comes when I remain fully in the moment.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. ~ Psalm 19:14