Last Saturday I introduced my Windwatchers group to contemplative photography, telling the story of how just over two years ago several strands came together and I found myself with this new prayer practice.
Not long before, my parents had given me a small, good digital camera, one that was easy to carry with me and that gave me excellent close-ups despite my limited technical photography knowledge. I had just finished developing this website, in the process learning how to post photos, and was aware that it had a blog feature. That Sunday we had learned that our young co-pastor had stage 4 cancer, and many people had been posting photos of candles on Facebook for her.
It was a gray, drizzly week, in keeping with the sorrow many of us were feeling. I came home from an outing and noticed the raindrops on the leaves of the rose near my back door. They were beading up and full of light. It struck me as a wonderful symbol of hope in the midst of grief, much as the photos of candles were intended. I fetched my camera and recorded a number of images.
As I looked through them on the computer, the nudge came to commit to a new prayer practice, looking for sparks of light, literal or metaphorical, each day, and then to share those in a blog on my website. I began doing so, finding that taking the camera out with me, walking with an attentive receptivity and a soft focus, opened my awareness to many sparks of light and beauty that I would otherwise have gone right past. Over time the practice has evolved to posting to the blog once or twice a week, often after an opportunity for a mindful walk or time in nature. As the weather turns cold, sometimes the "walk" is a stroll through old photos, noticing something that I hadn't before.
Saturday was a drizzly morning, much like that September day two years ago. I sent my group out with cameras and umbrellas to see what they would see. I also had time to do a little wandering and noticing and found many raindrops catching the light. Regathering, we had a good session, sharing what we noticed about what caught our eye and how it spoke to our souls.
I've got some photos of light despite the gray skies and rain today, but I'm also seeking light. Or rather, enlightenment.
A day or so ago I brought in the rosebud that had made it through several frosts. It's opening slowly and doing much better than the bud that I brought in earlier, which has stopped opening.
Here's the question -- looking at the rosebud, I realized it had green leaves. Yes, with burgundy stems and edges, but definitely green. This photo is of leaves that are still out in the herb bed, reflecting light in raindrops, a photo I recorded this afternoon.
These are the same rose leaves that I photographed back in September, the ones that inspired this prayer practice of looking for moments of light. At that point the leaves were burgundy. You can see them in the banner at the top of this page, and in this photo from September.
So I'm confused. These rose leaves were green in the summer, turned burgundy, and then turned green again. Is this normal? Unusual? This rose bush has been just outside my backdoor for about 23 years. Has this been happening every year, and I've been oblivious? Mysteries, mysteries.
To end, one more rose bud picture (from September), catching the light in multiple ways.
My approach to contemplative photography --
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"