Think about a painting or photograph that you like. What do you like about it? Why does it draw you in? Is it the subject matter, the story it seems to tell, or the skill of the artist?
Several years ago, I saw a photograph titled “Aspens in Full Fall Glory” by Pulitzer-prize winning photojournalist Dallas Kinney. I’d never seen an aspen tree, much less an entire grove of them, and what I saw in his photograph made me stop and linger. (I don’t have that photograph to show you, but the one above is similar, courtesy of John Price at Unsplash.)
Sometimes it’s hard to pin down why a piece of art or beauty pulls you in. Sometimes you just like it and that’s okay. For me, it was the colors in the aspen grove photo that grabbed me: an explosion of yellow-gold leaves against white tree trunks in golden light. It made me want to be there, to see what he saw, to walk through that grove myself.
Kinney’s photos of the beauty around us always have that effect on me.
After doing a little research on aspen trees, I wrote the short piece below. I thought I’d share it with you today, as a way for you to see how a photograph inspired me and, if you’re interested, a way for you to think about why or how something of beauty inspires you.
The light in this aspen grove is golden—but silence is not. Because of the way aspen leaves are made, they tremble with the slightest wind. They flip and flutter constantly. Passersby do not see the wind but they hear the leaves whispering and see them dancing because of its presence.
Far below the leaves and white trunks lies a huge underground system of roots. An entire grove of aspens can come from just one seedling, spreading with the help of root suckers. New seedlings can appear as far away as 40 feet from the parent tree. Even though the trees above ground may die, the root system lives on, continually sprouting new trunks.
I think God is a little like this. Just like we can’t see the breeze that sets aspen leaves rustling and quaking, we can’t see the God who created them but we have evidence of Him through His creation.
New trees in aspen groves confirm that roots are spreading and stretching underground. Similarly, even though we can’t see Him, we can be assured that God’s working in the lives of those who know Him—working to grow something new and beautiful in them.
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19).
I’d love to hear about your favorite photograph, painting, or other work of art. Tell me about it in a comment below. With your permission, I might use in a future blog post. Thank you for reading!