Pond Scum

Thursday, February 20

2-20By Lu Mountenay of Independence, Missouri, USA

The earth, lovingly created as an environment for life to flourish, shudders in distress because creation’s natural and living systems are becoming exhausted from carrying the burden of human greed and conflict. Humankind must awaken from its illusion of independence and unrestrained consumption without lasting consequences.

—Doctrine and Covenants 163:4b

There are occasional traffic jams inside the Temple lately. An eye-catching photograph display in the hallway gallery causes the standstill. The artist and photographer is R. Paul Davis, of Lamoni, Iowa. Each time I pause there I discover something new.

In some photos, viewers need to use imagination to know what they’re looking at. Paul gets up close and personal with pond scum. Who, but an artist, would search for and find such color and beauty in the mud? (I wonder what Paul’s neighbors think.)

The eyes of vulnerable African children draw you in and speak through a window, not confined in a frame. Next photo: Energetic wild horses pop into focus in contrast to the distant hills on the horizon. Then, a spiderweb, draped with dew, snags us.

Paul’s camera catches the soft green of a rusty fencepost in the light. But does he really “catch” it? Perhaps that’s not a good choice of words—considering the artist’s philosophy. To quote Paul, he “made the photos on these walls. Took is the word most often used…and it’s accurate in the sense the scene exists apart from the photographer and his camera. But taking implies removal/seizure/aggression. To the contrary, the scene continues after the photographer has departed.

Something is happening inside the camera and, one hopes, inside the photographer that feels more like creation than destruction, so let’s go with “made” the photos.”

As we travel this Earth, the Creator offers us visual blessings. They are offerings. And, as Paul says, we don’t have to take them to enjoy them. If we leave them undisturbed, the next travelers can discover and relish them, too. Our visual safari leaves no harm in its wake, and we leave the smallest footprint possible. The Sacredness of Creation endures.

Prayer for Peace
Generous God, may we always leave nature as we find it. May we always leave human conditions better than we find them, because we share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Caring for God’s Sacred Creation
Choose a way to notice, give thanks, and care for God’s sacred creation. Prayerfully consider one of the following practices or create your own. Walk in nature with a spirit of gratitude while looking and listening for God in all things. Write or pray a psalm of praise for the Earth’s beauty. Or, create and offer a prayer of healing and blessing for its wounds.

Notice the diversity of the planet’s creatures and be gentle to plants, animals, trees, and people! Fall in love with the vast, intricate wonder of God’s creation and give thanks.

Peace Covenant
On my walk with you today, God, I will step gently.

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1 Comment

  1. How beautifully you stated this concept of nothing taken but left wonderfully behind for the next person to enjoy, making as small a footprint as possible. Your wonderfully stated piece reminds me of your sister, Pam, and her awesomely stated prayers. I have also heard your prayers and know that you also share that gift. Thank you for your blessing today.

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