Going Back

Softest Pink Photo by Sherri Woodbridge
Softest Pink
Photo by Sherri Woodbridge

One of my favorite places is the rose garden at the company of Harry and David. They used to own Jackson and Perkins until they sold it several years ago. Jackson and Perkins specialized in roses. Harry and David’s rose garden was the ‘test’ garden. Every color, species, and size of rose you can imagine, hang out at Harry and David’s garden.

I’ve made several trips to the garden this year, while living in Oregon. I’ve taken guests there – my granddaughter, my neighbor and more. Most of them have had a similar reaction to mine… breathless. Speechless. In awe.

The colors are magnificent and stunning, surprising in some instances as the flower buds in a deep red, color open up to orange and fades to a yellow. Some have one large stem that dons eight or more blooms – a bouquet in itself.

When I go alone I take my time and enjoy every step. I could spend the day there. There are asters, lilies, peonies and butterfly bushes. Ornamental grasses, fruit trees, lavender and well – I could go on and on – it’s there. The saddest thing to me is that, usually, no one else is ever there. It’s always void of someone to walk it’s path, linger over the fragrances as my little granddaughter loved to do.

In each row, with each step, I find a reason to praise God. With each water drop that twinkles in the sun’s rays, I find a reason to smile. With each honeybee that buzzes from one petal to the next, I almost laugh. I find I can disconnect from the despair I sometimes feel. The tough moments. The trying times. The mundane. I can walk on the thick, lush grass and find one more bloom, one more color, one more surprise to be thankful for.

Eventually it’s time to go home. I have filled up the camera card with pictures of bees, blooms and bunnies. I download the photos onto my computer and relive those moments again. I see God in every picture. I see His beauty, His creativity, His peace, His provision. I see how He cares for me.

I hadn’t been to the rose garden for a while and as I walked the paths today, God refreshed my spirit. Sometimes we get caught up in the day to day despair of life. In the tough stuff that we must deal with. In the tedious, the mundane, monotonous day to day of life. We wonder if there’s anything greater than washing dishes, folding clothes, or taking the garbage out.

And then, we spontaneously take a trip back to a place where once we were met by God and find Him there once again. And once again, so faithful as in the times before, He strengthens and refreshes our spirit. Sometimes going back is a good thing. Sometimes it’s the only way to go forward.

I encourage you today, if you’re tired, weary, worn out and feel defeated, think of that place where you have met God and been renewed. If at all possible – go there and bask in the love and grace of His presence. If it’s not possible to go there, find a quiet place where you can close your eyes and remember the time (or times) you did, dwell on it and He will come to you, right where you are.

Let Him fill you up.

He will.

Count on it.

Photographing and Shooting

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately. Someone recently told me that I was obsessed with taking pictures. In a bad way. I admit, it hurt. And I thought long and hard about this and while I’ve thought about it, I haven’t taken any pictures. Until today.

I awoke earlier than usual to a familiar sound. The birds were singing. I knew by their songs that outside at the feeders there were Chickadees and Juncos, Finches and Doves, Hummingbirds and the ever pesky Blue Jays. I couldn’t stand it.

I got up, got dressed, grabbed the camera, and while everyone else was still sleeping, I was shooting birds. Not literally.

First, I shot the hummingbirds – two babies and their nattering mommy, telling them to be careful of that lady with that big black thing strapped around her neck. To which they responded to her by sticking out their tongues and talking back. Not very honoring, but very amusing to watch.

Next, the other birds beckoned me with their chatter. I walked toward the fir tree where the other feeders hang and of course they – all flew off. In the summer months, as I work in the garden, they will stay and eat because they’ve gotten used to me being out there with them.  I stood off to the side of the tree and waited. And, one by one they came back. The Juncos and the Chickadees, the Finches and a new little bird I didn’t recognize. So – I shot them, too.

After a few more photos of the hummingbirds, I grabbed my purse and keys and went hunting for more birds to shoot. I drove through the outskirts of town where the orchards and the vineyards lie. Grapevines were still rich in colors of rusts, bronze, golds and purples. Orchards were barren trees spotted with unwanted, golden pears. I saw cows who wondered why I was shooting them. And then I saw my favorite of the morning.

Two red-tailed hawks sat atop a telephone pole in silence as I approached. I slowed and stopped. No one was coming and so – I shot them. And then, one flew off and so I shot him from behind as the other one watched, as if saying to him (or her – I can’t tell), “Chicken.” I would think that would be an insult to a bird of prey. The one left perching let me shoot him several more times without flinching. I tried hissing like a snake, roaring like a lion – anything to get him to fly so I could shoot him in flight. He just looked at me as if I was crazy. As I drove away, I laughed. Perhaps I am.

Down the road an American Kestral waited for me to shoot him before he chickened out and flew off.

One thing that bothers me when I am out shooting little creatures and such is how fast people drive. I was going slow, I was enjoying God’s gifts and this guy just races around me as if he’s got a pregnant wife in labor, inside the car. But that wasn’t the case. He was alone. And it is at times like that I wonder, “Do you know what you’re missing? Have you noticed the colors? The details?” Perhaps I am obsessed, but I don’t think of photographing God’s creation as an obsession. If it is, it’s an obsession with the Creator because what excites me, what prompts me to take pictures is the beauty I see. The amazing color wheel God created and dips his brushes in to paint the sunrise and the sunset, the feathers on each different bird, each cow, each fallen autumn leaf. You usually won’t find me photographing man-made creations (unelss it’s a picture one of my grandkids drew).

When questioning whether I am obsessed or not, I came to this conclusion: my love for photography can be attributed to a love for God and His marvelous, majestic creation. For me, it is a form of worship. It is impossible for me to separate the two from one another. If some think that is an obsession, so be it. I can’t think of a better one (unless of course, writing about being obsessed with a marvelous God).