To call out in a moment of awe

Some time ago my sister suggested I share one photo a day on social media. I wasn’t sure about that, at first. For years I’ve been writing almost daily on my blog. The blog is a spiritual practice for me. Setting aside the time at the beginning of the day to listen for what I am led to say is a sacred time. Times when time disappeared. It’s usually like waking up when I finish that day’s work.

I realized I would be doing this even if I didn’t make these writings public. But I have a strong spiritual leading to do so. I believe we live in times of great spiritual poverty. Although I don’t know of a way to measure that.

There has been a trend of people leaving organized religion for many years. Some turning to other spiritual practices. I believe one reason I’ve been led to share my writing is in hope that something might be helpful for those spiritual seekers. Most of what I write relates to spirituality, directly or indirectly.

After finishing the day’s blog post, my camera and I usually go for a walk for an hour or two. This practice came about as a result of another spiritual leading. I was twenty years old when I moved to Indianapolis, and was horrified to see and smell the foul air from car exhaust. This was in 1971, before catalytic converters came into use. It was an undeniable spiritual leading to not contribute to this pollution and I lived without a personal automobile since that time.

During my walks to and from work, I became more aware of the beauty I was walking through. This created one of those cycles. As I became aware of this beauty, I was able to see more beauty. What was once hidden became revealed, even though it was there all the time.

I began to bring my camera on my walks to record this. I routinely took over twenty photos a day. With the wonder of digital photography, I would edit and save each day’s images later in the day. In part to keep up with the incoming photos, but more because I was anxious to see them.

When I first began writing blog posts, a friend suggested I include photos with the writing. Excellent advice that I began immediately. It often seemed the photos were the best part of a given blog post.

There’s something happening here
But what it is ain’t exactly clear

Buffalo Springfield, For What It’s Worth

But lately I’ve begun to notice something changing. My sister specifically suggested I share just one photo daily. I haven’t been able to do that, yet. Because I have trouble restraining myself to limit the daily offerings to just four or five photos.

It seems that more people see and respond to the photos I share on Facebook than to my blog posts. There is something to the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. I have wondered why I take so many photos, especially when no one is likely to see them once I’m gone. As with my writing, taking and looking at the photos are enough in itself. There is a deep spiritual aspect to the process of seeing and capturing the images. And another way to express and share spirituality.

Unfortunately, as environmental chaos deepens, I’m beginning to wonder if images of these times might be viewed in the future as how Mother Earth once looked.

“I did not consider myself religious when I was younger, but in this journey with the flowers  — which I truly believe to be messengers from God — I began to see God’s work all over. Looking at a flower closely, no matter how wild or wondrous your imagination is, just what exists in the flowers we see is such a miracle. It’s a gift…and honoring the gift with your work is your responsibility or the way of showing your gratitude.

And so the simple technique that I teach my students is: “When your mouth drops open, click the shutter!” And it is this shock of recognition, this joy,  this wonder that shows itself in great art. To me photography is a way to do just that;  to call out in a moment of awe: “Will you look at that! Will you look at that!”

Harold Feinstein, A Garden of Psalms

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4 Responses to To call out in a moment of awe

  1. peterovisoke says:

    The flowers you take portraits of are indeed wondrous! And I do see them as portraits, rather than “photographs.” “What Wondrous Love is This?” comes to mind. What “wondrous love” is present in the world that such beautiful flower beings are here with us? The spiritual practice of daily writing is one that I aspire to do. You are a good model. Thanks Jeff!

  2. Miriam Kashia says:

    Beautiful photos, Jeff, and thank you for the intimate sharing. That’s beautiful, too.

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