Thursday, October 16, 2014

Seen and Received

   I attended the Harvest Festival at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker village this past weekend.  What started out as a dreary cold morning ended in a glorious warm afternoon infused with that lovely light I love so much.

   This is a detail of a book in the gift shop which is a compilation of Shaker drawings. (You can learn about the Shakers here...)  I loved the title, "Seen and Received".  I have often written on this blog that I don't "take" or "make" photographs, I "receive" them.  I felt it very profoundly here in the village and it became the focus of my afternoon's camera work.

   The village was crowded with visitors enjoying the freshly made apple cider and all the activities of the day.  I did as well but I sat for awhile, a bit apart, to just breath in the beauty of the light on the facades of the pristine white buildings.  Receiving images requires quiet and stillness.  It doesn't come in a crowd.

   Because of the large numbers of people, my eyes naturally rose above their heads and I photographed the buildings from that viewpoint..looking up and out.

   The message to me was clear.  Above the happy hub bub of the day there was the serenity and quiet I always seek, wherever I am.  It is always there, even amongst the liveliest crowd.  Sitting quietly for a time allowed me to receive the images that I needed to receive.  It was the act of pausing that allowed me to forge that connection to this unique landscape.

   Seeing is one thing, receiving into your consciousness the meaning and message of the landscape is quite another.  The Shakers believed their drawings were gifts which they made visible through what they called their spirit drawings.  I think of my photographs as gifts as well.  What they did in their drawings I attempt to do through the lens of my camera.

   I will return to the village in early December for their Christmas Festival and to stock up on their wonderful herbal products the sale of which helps support continue restoration and preservation of the village. There are only three Shakers left, Sister Francis, Sister June and Brother Arnold.  They have put the 1800 acres of the village into a permanent land trust so this beautiful and tranquil landscape will endure for generations to come.  It is an endeavor I am happy to support in any way I can for I receive far more here than I give.

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