Grateful for God’s artistic hand

Holy Week started yesterday, and on Sunday we will celebrate the end of Lent with Christ’s resurrection. Today I watched the 36th video of my Lenten journey with Dynamic Catholic. The video, Blessed and Grateful, was about counting our blessings  when we’re feeling down. By counting our blessings, we’re inviting positivity back into our point of view. We’re reminding ourselves to focus on the good that outweighs suffering.

“When I get discouraged or when I get down, the thing I’ve found that works—and works every time, and works the best, and works the fastest—is gratitude.” – Matthew Kelly

Every time I sit down to pray, the first thing I say is, “Dear Lord, thank you for all the blessings in my life.” I have led a very blessed life filled with family, friends, countless opportunities, essentials (food, water, shelter, clothing, etc.), a strong faith life and a functional body, mind and spirit. I’m grateful for the protection my guardian angel provides me and the unconditional love God gives when I’m feeling alone. It’s hard to focus on what’s making your life tough when you start thinking about the things that make your life wonderful.

Over the past week, I’ve had two experiences with nature. I’m not a professional photographer, but I enjoy capturing nature’s beauty. My favorite photos involve sunsets or interesting cloud activity. However, this week I focused on ground-level subjects. The first batch was taken during a walk. I was having a terrible day, so I decided to take a walk to clear my head. I ventured to the woods near my house, and here is what I saw.

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Yesterday my sister needed to go to Mill Creek Park in Shawnee for her Environmental Science class. While she was working, I walked a shady trail along the creek. I couldn’t believe how serene and beautiful everything was. The recent rain transformed the bushes, grass and produced small flowers. I knew I couldn’t leave without snapping a few photos.

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As I look at these photos, I can name one more blessing – God’s artistic talent. He paints breathtaking sunsets, colorful flowers, soft grasses and flowing streams. He never stops surprising us with endless sources of wonder.

Distinguishing the awe moments

After watching me whip out my phone to snap photos of beautiful landscapes, my boyfriend and I discussed getting me a real camera – a Sony Cybershot. When I opened it, I was surprised by the size – very small and easy to carry. Since he gave it to me before Christmas, I used it to photograph a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert and Christmas Eve and Day/my birthday.

“The sky is an infinite movie to me, I never get tired of looking at what’s happening up there.” – K.D. Lang, Canadian singer/songwriter

My camera is great – don’t get me wrong – but sometimes I still whip out my iPhone for quick photos of a sunset or captivating sky. After celebrating Christmas in OP, I drove back with my boyfriend to stay a week at his place. This afternoon we drove to a nearby town to return a Redbox DVD, and on our way back I suggested we stop at Lake Perry to see the sunset. We pulled into a camping ground next to the lake, and I walked closer to get a better angle. However, the sun’s intense glare prevented a worthy photo, so I returned to the truck in defeat.

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After we left, he took a surprising turn and drove us through a neighborhood I’d never seen before – He wouldn’t tell me where we were going. After 15 minutes, he pulled onto a small path alongside the lake – Only this time we were on the opposite side. The sun was still setting, so I seized the opportunity for a better photo and jumped out of the car. I got in several shots before caving to the harsh winds and darting back to the truck. I realized in that moment how lucky I was to be with someone who encouraged my love of capturing gorgeous landscapes.

After doing some minor editing and cropping, I saw true beauty in my photos – The way the setting sun illuminates the lake, the ripples that move effortlessly through the water, the wispiness of the cirrus clouds and the detail of each branch. I hope more breathtaking sunsets like this occur when I have my camera with me.