Sunday, November 22, 2015

Being in Awe

How often are you truly in awe of something?  I'm not talking about superficial awe, as in "that's awesome!" I'm talking about stop you in your tracks beauty and spectacular majesty.

Students in a recent study who reported feeling awestruck frequently had the lowest levels of interleukin-six, which is an indicator of inflammation and poor health.  Who knew there are health benefits of being in awe?

There are definitely emotional and spiritual benefits of being awestruck.  In our travels, June and I are often in places where wonderful sights are all around us, such as majestic snow capped mountains.

Mount Denali

Olympic Mountain Range
Or mighty creatures just a few feet away.

Killer Whale

It's not always the huge and majestic but the small and beautiful that bring awe and wonder.   Take time and look closely at all the details of a flower.  They are beautiful creations of tiny intricate elements, each one worthly of awe.

Sometimes all we have to do is walk out on a clear night and look up into the night sky to be awestruck.
Milky Way
If you think about the sky overhead you can't help but be amazed and in awe.  That swipe across the night sky, the Milky Way, is 100,000–120,000 light-years in diameter and has over 200 billion stars. It is part of the Virgo Supercluster, at least 100 galaxy groups and clusters that are located within a 110 million light-years diameter.  Try to put your head around that!

We don't have to travel to distant places to become awestruck.  Sometimes a sunset right outside our back door is an awesome wonder.

Sunset From Our Backyard
Let's slow down and check out the awesome wonder that has been created all around us.  It will do our body, soul, sprit and mind good.

"As I stand here in Your presence
Of Your beauty I will always stand in awe
I reach my hands out to the Heavens, yeah
And I lift my voice to You alone"

In Your Presence by Jeremy Camp

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Look Around

Thursday Colors
I just finished a five day landscape photography workshop in the Smokies.   I was lucky enough to be one of over 200 photographers who registered in the first few days and got in.   The instructors at this workshop were the Who's Who of landscape, nature and outdoor photography.  Best of all, I got to catch up with some great friends from around the country and make some new friends.

Fall is my favorite season, but the beautiful part doesn't last nearly long enough. The colors went from brilliant on Wednesday to just about gone by Sunday.
After a couple days of rain most of the leaves were on the ground by Sunday.   The hill sides were no longer brilliant with the reds, yellows and oranges.   The only greens left were the evergreens.

When all the conference programs were over and the car packed up to drive home, I decided to take two more hours and make one more trip down the road past the Tremont Institute hoping to make some photos of the stream with fall colors.  After driving  a couple miles down the road I pulled off at a spot that looked promising for photos of the white water flowing around boulders in the stream.   What I found was I wasn't able to make any photos of the water that were worth posting.   The sky was overcast but bright, making a glare on the surface of the water that I was not able to work around.  It was looking like this last trip was a bust and I should head home.

After I gave up on the water photos I stood on the creek side for a few minutes and looked around.   It wasn't looking promising, until I looked down.

Morning Rain on Leaves

The ground was covered with fallen leaves.  Some of them still had water drops from last night's rain storm.   The same overcast sky that made photographing the stream difficult made perfect considiotns for photographing the fallen leaves.  I was so excited I started taking photos with my 70-200mm zoom lens, which is not really the right lens for close up photography but it certainly worked in this situation.

Maidenhair Fern and Maple Leaf

I walked back across the road to car to switch to my macro lens and discovered a spring wildflower blooming right next to the car!   What a treat to find this beauty this time of year.

Sweet White Violet

There were unlimited photo opportunities with the leaves, moss, and other objects covering the ground .  These last three photos were taken within 10 feet of the car.

Reds and Greens

What looked like a bust turned out to be filled with beautiful subjects that tell a story about the fall season.  I was blessed because I slowed down, stopped and looked around.   If I had only looked for what I expected to find I would have missed out.  

Life is like that.  We have expectations and when life doesn't meet our expectations we are disappointed, unhappy or even depressed or angry.   If we just open our eyes and look around we will find God has blessed us in ways we didn't even imagine before.   Stop and look around, even if it's just around your feet.