Wednesday, April 17, 2013

On Location - Gethsemani

   I simply must share some of my experiences here at the Abbey so I've traveled into town to access the internet.  The Abbey is located on 2,000 acres of beautiful, rolling landscape dotted with lakes and surrounded by the "Knobs", a series of small hills.  It is a serene and tranquil place.  It is easy to see how Thomas Merton would consider this his paradise on earth.

   I had absolutely no expectations when I arrived here Monday afternoon.  I simply entered into the spirit of the place and allowed it to direct my time.  There is a spiritual presence here  that is outside of any religious quality it might have...after all, it is a Trappist monastery.  That spirit runs deep and it is what inspired Merton's writing and poetry.

   What greeted me as I approached the Abbey's retreat house on my arrival was this momma bird, caring for her two fledglings.  It was a gentle way to begin my retreat and I allowed it to remind me that, for a time at least, I would be nurtured and cared for.  I would be given what I needed and I would receive the images I needed as well.  I think that is something we all must remind ourselves every time we go out into the world to gather our photographs.  As contemplative photographers, we will receive what we need...always.

   At the end of my first day I made this image of the sunset and the silhouette of the tree.   I was reading a prayer written by Merton after I had made my initial photograph.  I was just about to get up and leave when I looked again.  The tiny jet trail had appeared and three doves had settled on the branches.  It seemed appropriate to this excerpt and a peaceful way to bring to a close my first day...

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