I stumbled upon a recent post by Grant Meyer, in which talks about taking some time to stop and appreciate the landscape around him. He talks about the looky-loos that come to photograph and otherwise enjoy the landscape in spring and summer, when crops cover the rolling hills around him, and comments on the stark beauty of the landscape in winter. “I often take for granted the opportunity that surrounds me,” he complains, and shares a couple of pictures of the gently rolling hills, “striped like zebras” in the dead of winter.
Now, Meyer lives near the Palouse, on the border of Idaho and Washington, and so it’s easy for him to get out and appreciate the environment, much like it’s easy for my Aunt and Uncle in Arkansas to appreciate the Ozark range, with all its beauty. But it’s also easy for them to take it all for granted, speed past on the way to work, get wrapped up in daily life and forget.
I was reminded first of how I take Irving for granted—I think pretty much everyone takes Irving for granted: it’s a suburb of Dallas and nice enough, but its mostly tract homes and strip malls of various vintages and economic ranks. Therein lies an opportunity, I think, photographically speaking. But second, and most importantly, that reflection on the creation can help us find and remember the Creator, to give thanks to Him for our minds and bodies, for the landscape, for the senses that allow us to see, hear, smell, even taste the creation, whether it’s the Palouse, or the Ozarks, or an Irving strip mall.
As Allah azza wa jall says in the Quran, Ali ‘Imran, 189-191
وَلِلَّهِ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and Allah is over all things competent.
إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لَآيَاتٍ لِّأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ
Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding.
الَّذِينَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَىٰ جُنُوبِهِمْ وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَٰذَا بَاطِلًا سُبْحَانَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ
Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], “Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.
And in Al Baqarah, 163-4
وَإِلَٰهُكُمْ إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ لَّا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الرَّحْمَٰنُ الرَّحِيمُ
And your god is one God. There is no deity [worthy of worship] except Him, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.
إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَالْفُلْكِ الَّتِي تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِمَا يَنفَعُ النَّاسَ وَمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مِن مَّاءٍ فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ دَابَّةٍ وَتَصْرِيفِ الرِّيَاحِ وَالسَّحَابِ الْمُسَخَّرِ بَيْنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ
Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and earth, and the alternation of the night and the day, and the [great] ships which sail through the sea with that which benefits people, and what Allah has sent down from the heavens of rain, giving life thereby to the earth after its lifelessness and dispersing therein every [kind of] moving creature, and [His] directing of the winds and the clouds controlled between the heaven and the earth are signs for a people who use reason.
InshaAllah, Mr. Meyer doesn’t mind me taking his post as a point of departure to remind myself, first, of the importance of remembering the Creator, and the relative ease of finding Him and reflecting on Him by looking at and appreciating His creation. InshaAllah, I can take advantage of the opportunity that surrounds me, photographically and spiritually.
There’s enormous value in slowing down and looking around. We never know what we’ll find, if we don’t make the time.