Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Landscape is my Mentor...

To measure one's step by a universal rhythm and thus to bring one's life into harmony with a universal order, this is contemplation in our tradition.

A Listening Heart
David Steindl-Rast

A Listening Heart is a small collection of essays on the monastic practice of contemplation by monk/philosopher David Steindl-Rast.  I found several passages in the book that speak to the idea of contemplative photography as well and I would like to share one with you.

   Foremost is the idea that everywhere you go you are on sacred ground:

"All around in every direction; Holy of Holies." Ez. 45:1

   There are no divisions between the sacred and the secular - everything is sacred.  This, of course, is a Celtic world view and it is merely a small step from that concept to  the one which sees your photographs as icons and teachers.  Steindl-Rast calls it  Environment as Guru:

Any place is sacred ground because it is, potentially, a place of confrontation - confrontation with divine presence. -page 20

   He defines guru as a "dispeller of darkness" and he equates darkness with confusion.  Sitting in the landscape, for me, is like being in the presence of a wise and wonder-filled teacher who, as all great teachers do, does not provide us answers but opens our heart to the questions.  Great teachers direct your eye to where you should look but never tell you what you should see.

   My landscape mentor removes the clouds of confusion by presenting me with the embrace of the eternal.  I don't have to "know" everything - I just have to present myself as a willing and empty vessel.  I will be filled.


kimmanleyort said...

Yes, everything is sacred ground and your image really exemplifies that. It is stunning and leads my eye from bottom to top, settling on each element as I go.

Patricia Turner said...

Thank you Kim! Yes, when I really embraced the idea of the sacred nature of the landscape, its divine presence, it totally altered my approach to my photography.