A recent article in the Goshen College student newspaper, the Record, told of one student's discovery of miksang. Miksang, or "good eye" is a Buddhist practice, a "contemplative approach to photography with the goal of paying attention to simple, daily wonders." It's opening yourself to "colors, patterns, textures, and small phenomena that often go totally unnoticed."
I hadn't heard of this before, but it sounds much like what I'm trying to do here. Paying attention, taking notice, and using photography as a way to slow down, to zoom in, to focus (in more ways than one!) on the beauty, light and shadow around me. Using my camera as it, without special gear or much editing beyond cropping. Just discovering what is catching my eye, nudging my awareness, for this day -- the gift of the day, or of the last several days.
Last week was a celebration of color, drawing on photos from my archives, and running through red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet before culminating in several rainbow colored photos. John suggested that white would have been another appropriate culmination. Since we haven't seen as much white as usual this time on year, here are some photos of white things for you.
Frederick, in Leo Lionni's book by that name, is a small field mouse. The other mice around him are busy gathering corn and nuts and other good things for winter. When they see Frederick sitting there, staring at the meadow, they ask what he is doing.
"I gather colors," answered Frederick simply, "For winter is gray."
Here, to spice up winter grayness, are some cornucopias of color, to top off our color celebration week.
A week of celebrating colors, and today we've come to violet. It's a little tricky to know where indigo shades over into violet, especially when I'm working with two screens and one shows the flower above as violet and the other screen shows it as deep blue. What does yours show as?
This one, on the other hand, is definitely a violet.
Given the fog this morning, and this week's celebration of a rainbow of colors, these lines from John O'Donohue's poem Beannacht struck me as a fitting quote when I heard them this morning:
And when your eyes
The grey window
And the ghost of loss
Gets in to you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green,
And azure blue
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.
You can hear him read the whole poem at the On Being website. Beannacht is the Gaelic word for blessing, and this is part of a poem he wrote for his mother after his father's death.
Look back over the past several days posts for the flock of colors. Today we're celebrating blue, both indigo and azure.
Alpine flowers, Switzerland, June 2009
Azure is the color of the sky, indigo a darker blue, the color just before the rainbow shades into violet. I discovered I don't have many photos of indigo.
But the quilt below is truly indigo -- one seen at the Tokyo Quilt Festival last January, made of old indigo-dyed fabrics, laborers' clothing. Light and dark in fabric -- indigo blue.
"Hildegard of Bingen was a twelfth-century mystic, composer, and author of theology that knitted together nature and spirit, cosmos and soul. She described the Holy Spirit as the Greening Power of God. Just as plants are greened, so we are as well. As we grow up, our spark of life continually shows forth. If we ignore this spark, this greening power, we become thirsty and shriveled. And if we respond to the spark, we flower. Our task is to flower, to come into full blossom before our time comes to an end." Lauren Artress, Walking a Sacred Path, p 15
In this week of celebrating colors, we've come to green. When I read the above paragraph yesterday, I knew it would be on today's blog, along with these images of green-ness. May you know God's Greening Power today.
For this third day of our rainbow celebration, we've arrived at yellow, a color that was much more abundant at some other times of the year than it is now.
My approach to contemplative photography --
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"
Tesserae: small cube-shaped tiles of ceramic, glass or precious stone used to make a mosaic, or in this case, brief essays on some element of lectio divina with Luke 10:38-42.