As I see and hear reports of the monumental flooding throughout my state over the last few days (and more is on the way as the rivers rise) I am reminded of the transitory nature of our human condition. I also pause to reflect for a moment on one of the reasons I am drawn to nature and capturing its beauty through the camera. As humans and their impact on the earth come and go in the stream of time, it is the earth which remains (altered perhaps but nonetheless steadfast). The earth's power to heal is a constant and the renewal process can provide inspiration. I find solace and draw healing and renewal from this as I put life's pains and sorrows behind me.
This photograph of the Black River at Johnson's Shut Ins is a prime example of what I am referring to. Just over ten years ago, on December 15, 2005, the man-made earthen dam on Taum Sauk Mountain broke after prolonged heavy rains had weakened it. The deluge which rushed into the valley below inundated Johnson's Shut Ins and the hillside still bears the scars. However, ten years later with some human effort and assistance, the river course in the shut ins appears much like it was before the deluge. The erosion resistant igneous bedrock has changed little in its aftermath. Looking through my gallery of Johnson's Shut Ins one cannot tell which images were taken before and which one's after the deluge. I can only imagine what this valley looks like right now as I have witnessed flooding from heavy rains through this valley. But when it is over, peace and harmony return to the valley.
Yes, the earth has an internally designed power for renewal and time is a channel for that renewal. Likewise, in our own lives we have the capability to heal over time. Like Johnson's Shut Ins, it may take effort and assistance from those who care about us along with a willingness to respond to the help. Too, we also may bear scars as those seen on the hillside above the shut ins, but there is potential for healing. The flooding we see in our region today will also pass and eventually become simply statistics. No doubt it will leave long lasting scars on some who have been more deeply affected, but the floodwaters will recede and the rivers will continue to flow. The springs and streams will continue to feed the rivers which will flow to the sea and the earth will continue to renew itself. That is what draws me out into the natural world, renewing and refreshing my spirit. That is the beauty I try to capture in my photographs.