In my post, Photo Lectio - the image as icon, I spoke at length about ways to "read" your photographs to give direction to your contemplative practice. This method is derived from the ancient monastic practice of Lectio Divina or sacred reading. I have always loved combining monastic principles with my photographic work. Some may see it as a bit of a stretch but I've found countless connections over the years as I have with the Taoist principles that inform my camera work. I'm reading a small book right now entitled "Sacred Rhythms" and the following passage gave me the inspiration for this post...and you know how I love a story!
"One day, a Greek philosopher journeyed to visit Abba Anthony. Upon entering his cell, the philosopher was shocked to find it empty of books. "How can you be so happy, when you do not have the comfort of books?" the philosopher exclaimed. Anthony looked out over the vast desert and replied, "My book, O philosopher, is the nature of created things, and as often as I have a mind to read the words of God, it is in my hands."
|Riding the Thermals - South Uist, 2011|
Now, I must confess that I love my books. I sit surrounded by them and I find much inspiration and enjoyment in them. As a contemplative photographer, however, I also find the same inspiration and enjoyment in Lectio Natura...reading Nature. All the ways one can read a book or a photograph one can read the natural world. The wise monk in the passage above is telling the philosopher, a man of words, to turn his eyes to the source of all thoughts and ideas, the natural world. In ancient Celtic spirituality there was no disconnect between the spiritual and the natural worlds. For the Celts, nature was Divine presence. I have used this quote before but it is especially poignant in this context,
"Wisdom lies in places."
When one can sit quietly in Nature and listen to the wisdom that is contained within the landscape, one can gain all that one needs to know. Once you sense that wisdom you will be able to make truly meaningful images. Make this the year that you go in search of the wisdom in the landscape.