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Through the Lens: South Africa

This week’s reflection on the photos of Charles F. Stanley 

Tim Rhodes July 1, 2022

Photograph by Charles F. Stanley

This photo by Dr. Stanley reminds me of a trip to Kenya several years ago, when I had an unexpected opportunity to go on a safari for the first time. Sitting down in the open-air van with my fancy camera and neck strap, I was bubbling with anticipation—astonished to be visiting destinations I grew up reading about in National Geographic.

The only other people, an elderly couple from Uruguay, could see the excitement radiating off of me. As we started our trek into the grasslands, we greeted each other and exchanged backgrounds. The couple had lived in Kenya most of their adult lives, working in agriculture. They’d gone on safaris frequently during their time living in Eastern Africa.

As we began spotting wildlife, the husband kindly advised me: “Keep an eye out for the birds. Nobody pays attention to the birds.”

As we began spotting wildlife, the husband kindly advised me: “Keep an eye out for the birds. Nobody pays attention to the birds.”

It was the exact advice I needed. While I was fortunate to observe the expected highlights—your lions, rhinoceros, elephants, and so on—the diversity of avian wildlife was astonishing to behold. But they didn’t grab your attention and weren’t easy to spot. I probably would have ignored the birds altogether had I not been looking for them.

Thanks to the wise words of this man on the safari, my time watching wildlife was a richer and more meaningful experience. It reminded me how the extravagant and overt can keep us from seeing a beauty in the small or quiet, from experiencing those moments or occasions not vying for attention—but significant nonetheless.

This truth is brought to our attention in Psalm 104:24-25: 

Lord, how many are Your works!

In wisdom You have made them all;

The earth is full of Your possessions.

There is the sea, great and broad,

In which are swarms without number,

Animals both small and great.

What a beautiful reminder of the grace that God has for us, in both the great and small.

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