Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Infinite Spirit of the Landscape...

I call that mind free which discovers everywhere the radiant signatures of the infinite spirit, and in them finds help to its own spiritual enlargement. 

- William Ellery Channing  

   The early Celts, after their conversion to Christianity, chose to practice their new faith in the same sacred groves as their druid ancestors.  St. Brigid had a druid father and a Christian mother and built her monastery on the site of a sacred oak grove, hence its name, Kildare which means "church of the oaks".  St. Columba himself, who brought the faith to Scotland, often referred to Jesus as his Arch-druid. 

    Even when they eventually constructed small chapels, the Celts sequestered them in solitary landscapes to which they could retreat and feel surrounded by their living landscape.  For make no mistake, the Celts saw the landscape as a living breathing manifestation of divine spirit not a dead space that they walked through to get from here to there.

   It is always my goal to try to tap into that spirit when I am photographing the natural landscape.  Whether it be through guided meditations, visual listening exercises or simply being completely still and open to what is before me, it this infinite spirit I hope to connect with.

   The Transcendentalists, a group to which both Channing and Emerson belonged, practice self culture.  Through their interaction and spiritual connection to Nature, they hope to perfect the human soul.  I believe that even if you don't make a single photograph, simply being within Nature's warm embrace enlarges one's spiritual connection.  Keep the camera on hand, however, for the landscape will surely gift you images that will enhance your spiritual practice no matter what it is and from where it originated.

Within us is the soul of the whole,
the wise silence, the universal beauty,
to which every part and particle is
equally related, the eternal One.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

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