Thursday, June 12, 2014

Writing and Contemplative Photography...

   For me, writing and contemplative photography are inseparable.  It isn't so for everyone of course.  I think of my images as prompts in a way.  They open up thoughts and ideas that I wouldn't necessarily think of.

   That's why I love working in SoulCollage® for as Carl Jung admonishes, 

The Soul speaks to us through images.

   On my last two days in Dublin, I decided to focus on the written word.  I wanted to complete the circle in a manner of speaking.  I had visited Iona, where the famous Book of Kells had been written.  The monks fled Iona in about 806 AD when the Vikings invaded and slaughtered 68 monks.  They sought sanctuary in Kells, County Meath, Ireland, hence the name of the book.  The manuscript came to Trinity College in Dublin around 1653 to protect it from the rampages of the Cromwellian period when  the fervor of the Protestant reformation destroyed so many monasteries and religious objects.  Now I wanted to see what the monks risked their lives to preserve.

   For Columba and the Irish monks of his time, writing was very much a spiritual practice.  It was far more than merely copying words...recording thoughts for prosperity.  The physical act of writing in itself was sacred.

   The Book of Kells is a masterpiece of Celtic illumination.  The pages shimmer and dance with images and gold.  One has to ask, why?  If it were only a case of copying out the four gospels, there was really no need for all this painstaking decorative illumination. But it wasn't merely a copy of ancient texts, the Book of Kells was an act of love and a meditation in paint and ink by the monks who created it.

   You might find last weeks offering on Sounds True "illuminating"...
Julia Cameron
author of The Artist's Way

    After visiting Trinity College library in the morning, I went to the Chester Beatty Library at Dublin Castle. It is, perhaps, the worlds greatest collection of the written word.  Illuminated manuscripts from all religious traditions are housed in this fascinating collection. I spend several hours marveling at the beauty of the these ancient texts.

    So sad to consider how unappreciated the act of writing is in today's world.  Oh yes, you can type out the words on your computer, as I'm doing now as I write this post, but the actual act of putting pen to paper is something worth doing.

    As long as I pursue photography as a contemplative practice, writing, the physical act itself, will be a vital part of the process for me. It may not be the most efficient way to record ones thoughts but writing slows me down and allows my thoughts to catch up with the words and anything that slows me down is a good thing.  Here is a past post about why I write.

No comments: