Thursday, February 13, 2014

Following the Tracks of the Spirit...

I tread in the tracks of the fox which has gone on before me...with such a tiptoe of expectation as if I were on the trail of the Spirit itself which resides in these woods, and expected soon to catch it in its lair...I know which way a mind wended this morning, what horizon it faced, by the setting of these tracks; whether it moved slowly or rapidly, by the greater or less intervals and distinctness, for the swiftest step leaves yet a lasting trace.
- Henry David Thoreau
January 30, 1841

   I woke one morning recently to notice these footsteps in the snow behind my house.  Later that afternoon I was thumbing through some old National Geographic magazines a friend had given me to use for my  photomontage collages.  I came across, in one published in March of 1981, an article on Thoreau and the quotation above which began the article by William Howarth.  It fairly jumped off the page for me.  A wonderful bit of synchronicity to be sure.

   I often speak of picking up "breadcrumbs" as I walk through the landscape...little contemplative tidbits that lead me on.  Now I have another apt metaphor given to me across time by one of my greatest inspirations, Henry David Thoreau...following the trail of the Spirit.  How beautifully put.

   Following the tracks of the Spirit is what we do as contemplative photographers.  We understand each photograph as a footstep along a path of self-wisdom or, as the Concord transcendentalists called it, "self-culture".  We cannot help following along, it draws us ever forward on our internal quest.  

   Thoreau was a visionary and a mystic "who saw God in both man and nature, who believed the earth and our minds are ever intertwined."  A description that would easily apply to this contemplative photographer and many of you as well I'm certain. 

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