Friday, December 11, 2015

FINDING THE LIGHT

Whether it is Trumpeter Swans or the other wildlife I photograph, or the many exquisite beauties of the botanical world, or landscapes, I have noticed that there is one constant to most of my images, especially my personal favorites. And it is the one thing that is said most often to me by other people who see my photos...."There is just something about how you capture light."

There has been a lot of revealing light that has visited Julie and I this year helping us both understand better some darkness that has been a traveling companion in our lives for many many years. One of the things that has dawned on me this year is that my photography is an outcome of this darkness. It has emerged out of the darkest 10 years of our lives. This has made me a seeker of light in ways I never had been before. And the light I began to find all around me sustains me and is an ever present eternal warm embrace.

And these words from Thích Nhất Hạnh are about as close to truth as anything I have ever heard before.

“For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.”








Wednesday, November 18, 2015

TO BREATHE IN SOMETHING DIFFERENT



 I don't just love Japanese Gardens for their esthetics. There has been something more at work here in me over the past decade....it is much deeper than just liking a style of garden design.....it is more connected to being a better human....a way of understanding better...a pathway to compassion...and more.

These things have always been important throughout human history. And sadly too often ignored. In our time it is no different....it remains so important and too often ignored.

Naomi Shihab Nye touches on it here.

 BILL MOYERS: You write in here about what it means to be half and half, where love means you breath in two countries. Help me to understand that.

 NAOMI SHIHAB NYE: Well I think whenever you love something or somebody it means that you have to extend yourself, you have to grow-- get a little larger. You can't stay in your little comfortable-- spot. So you have-- it's a challenge it's a risk, and-- whether it's loving another culture far away that suddenly has been represented by an act of violence-- or whether it's loving another person-- and that always involves you know all kinds of growing-- we're challenged. And so every time you care about something or somebody that relates to a different place in the world, then you're empathy grows. And for example, for all Americans who have friends from Iraq, I'm sure that things that have been going on-- they're thinking about it not only in political terms, but in human terms. You know what will that mean for their friend's families, or what will that mean for all the children of Iraq? You know during the Gulf War I remember two little third grade girls saying to me-- after I read them some poems by writers in Iraq-- "You know we never thought about there being children in Iraq before." And I thought, "Well those poems did their job, because now they'll think about everything a little bit differently." They'll feel closer to that place in a different way

Sunday, November 08, 2015

A NEW WAY OF SEEING LEADS TO A NEW WAY OF BEING




 Learn to see the beauty that surrounds you in a new and imaginative way, and allow it to teach you a new way of being in the world.

All the things we need so desperately to retrieve, so often turn out to be the things so many write off as being naive. So people continue to neglect things like love, and beauty, and mind boggling generosity, and actually being peace and creating peace themselves, and instead continue to follow ways of thinking and doing that never have the ability to change them, help others to change, and in turn, change the world in some positive way.

I love the opening to John O'Donohue's book BEAUTY...The Invisible Embrace.

"These times are riven with anxiety and uncertainty, given the current global crisis. In the hearts of people some natural ease has been broken. It is astounding how this has reached deep into the heart. Our trust in the future has lost its innocence. We know now that anything can happen, from one minute to the next. The traditional structures of shelter are shaking, their foundations revealed to be no longer stone but sand. We are suddenly thrown back on ourselves. Politics, religion, economics and the situation of family and community, all have become abruptly unsure. At first, it sounds completely naive to suggest that now might be the time to invoke and awaken beauty. Yet this is exactly the claim that this book explores. Why? Because there is nowhere else to turn and we are desperate; furthermore, it is because we have so disastrously neglected the Beautiful that we now find ourselves in such terrible crisis.

 In a sense, all the contemporary crisis can be reduced to a crisis about the nature of beauty. This perspective offers us new possibilities. In parched terrains new wells are to be discovered. When we address difficulty in terms of the call of beauty, new invitations come alive. Perhaps, for the first time, we gain a clear view of how much ugliness we endure and allow. The media generate relentless images of mediocrity and ugliness in talk-shows, tapestries of smothered language and frenetic gratification. The media are becoming the global mirror and these shows tend to enshrine the ugly as the normal standard. Beauty is mostly forgotten and made to seem naive and romantic. The blindness of property development creates rooms, buildings and suburbs which lack grace and mystery. Socially, this influences the atmosphere in the workplace, the schoolroom, the boardroom and the community. It also results in such degradation of the environment that we are turning more and more of our beautiful earth into a wasteland. Much of the stress and emptiness that haunts us can be traced back to our lack of attention to beauty. Internally, the mind becomes course and dull if it remains unvisited by images and thoughts which hold the radiance of beauty."

I no longer just see a Great Blue Heron anymore when I see a Great Blue Heron. I see more. And that holds true with everything I now see.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thursday, September 24, 2015

THE COURAGE TO FIND A NEW WAY OF APPROACH



If you get stuck on asking yourself if it is realistic or economically viable you will never begin. And as Walter Brueggemann suggests "we need to ask if our consciousness and imagination have been so assaulted and co-opted by the royal consciousness (cultural mindset, conventional wisdom) that we have been robbed of the courage or power to think an alternative thought."

Walter is correct and is touching on something so important for us to face.

I had very little money to invest in this adventure I find myself caught up in today. And honestly, a photography business was not on the radar. In the beginning, this was therapy for me. And once I personally began getting healthier in mind, body, soul, and spirit I began to notice so many people around me struggling with feeling frustrated, stressed, trapped, and feeling powerless to change their lives as well as terribly unimaginative about it all....very much like Brueggemann described; shut down, locked into the royal consciousness, robbed of the ability and power to think an alternative thought. All of that left me wondering if there might be an imaginative way to share what I was finding so healing to where it might bring others along with me on this journey of reframing our lives in this world. That was all. There was no thought at the time of selling photos and starting a business. I just had this idea that if this was helping me so much, maybe it could assist others as well.

If I had looked at our economic situation at the time and allowed it to dictate to me what I could do and what I couldn't do, I would not have ever begun. And I had no one with deep pockets knocking on my door or calling wanting to invest in this idea. I was on my own, with basically no resources. But I just felt compelled/called to walk through the door that was opening before me in my imagination. So little by little I began. Some moments the choices I made felt risky. But the financial ones were also small enough ( they had to be ) to where I would always find the courage to take the risk. Today I am still approaching this very unlike any business model I am aware of and am having to do it with very little to invest. With some of the things that are now happening with the the larger scale sales, some of that reality will begin to change a little. There are investments I still need to make in order to take this to the next level, but I will have to do it like I have done it from the beginning...a little at a time. Some of those investments still feel so out of reach. But one of the beautiful things about the imagination being set free from the royal consciousness is that I can now imagine it. I can have an alternative thought about it all, in a healthy way, because I can now do it free of specifics as far as expectations and free of any settled plan or idea that I then would have to work to make happen. I am basically just riding a wave that began to form....unforced.

Another big change that was set in motion several years ago was the healing of the fragmented way of living that leaves most people with one half of their life they hate/despise/dread...the work/career part....and then the other part, their life away from work/career. And so many seem to despise both parts. That is really sad and tragic. I began to distance myself from this common approach that creates that dichotomy . And something wonderful and very healthy feeling began to happen....none of what I do anymore feels like work. I no longer look at it as career or business or profession (in the traditional sense at least) and I doubt I could find any career adviser or financial planner who would endorse my approach to it all. But guess what? I don't care. Today I know that the royal consciousness is sick.

All of life, every part of it now feels like vocation. Calling. And very ordinary. Not extraordinary. And for myself that calling is Beauty, and the most important thing for me to learn and to live attentive to, or at least hope to live out in some authentic way, is to participate with that Beauty in the creation of more beauty, in all that I do in every part of my life, that hopefully others can in some way use for their own healing.

So, if you are feeling stuck and unimaginative and powerless to change, you might want to ask yourself the very question Walter Brueggemann asked. And then spend some serious time with it and to do it long enough....as long as it takes, until you cross that threshold into something more real and more free and more healthy.

**********************************

Additional Note:

And even though I mentioned I have had to do this on my own, that is not completely accurate. I was speaking of something very specific when I said that in the original post. There has been a community that has invested in me and this adventure in huge ways in encouragement and promoting the photography and they are so responsible for most of where all of this has gone. And that is my clients.....the community of friends who come to the studio regularly.

So a big Thank You goes out to them. I try to make that gratitude apparent every moment of every day in the studio.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

DON'T BE AFRAID




Don't be afraid if a time comes when you begin to be freed of the limiting notions you have grown up with, with regard to beliefs about God that now can no longer serve you in the journey into freedom. All of our naming and defining at one stage or another might be helpful in those earlier stages of experience and development yet later on only become limiting frames, inferior images, inadequate language.

The Divine is more like a mist....more like a wind....all wonderful no doubt...but indescribable when we are at our human best and most honest....and most trusting...whatever comes.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A PRIMAL PLACE LONGED FOR......





Money can give you access to a lot of things associated with pleasure.

But it can not put your mind at peace or lead your soul to a place where it enters its rest.

The most important journey turns out to be the shortest one.....and thank God it is free which makes it accessible for anyone who longs for it.

Friday, June 12, 2015

LEARN HOW TO SHUT IT ALL DOWN

The silence and stillness of mornings, or anytime for that matter, spent alone in nature is a precious thing that should not be discounted. Reading books and conversations with others are wonderful, they really are. I cherish those things as well. But there is nothing like having all the voices silenced. This sacred silence is about as close as it gets. It has a way of cutting through all your inferior notions and answers arrived at during your time spent in the interpreted world.



Thursday, June 11, 2015

A NEW SPECIES......AN URBAN ONE

We have become primarily an urban species completely out of sync with the mystery and wonder of land and sky and open spaces and wild places and the infinite distance that stretches out beyond us. This has been devastating in ways most can't even begin to comprehend. It has left us stuck in a place having forgotten how sacred it all is. Wendell Berry says "there are no sacred and unsacred places, there are only sacred and desecrated places." The desecrated places are the result of this deep amnesia that has settled over us, a forgetting that leaves us missing the obvious.

 The Peace Of Wild Things
 ~ Wendell Berry

 THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.









Monday, June 01, 2015

IT IS NO ACCIDENT IT IS PART OF ALL WISDOM TRADITIONS





There is an inner sanctuary where a beautiful primal ease, simplicity, and symmetry are the steady rhythm. This inner reality wants to influence the surface level where things are visible. This transition though, in the beginning, requires that you purposefully slip down below the turbulence and the "known/familiar" of the surface and allow the presence of this inner landscape to slowly claim you....all of you. The shift itself will most certainly create its own turbulence. It will take from you everything you think you know and will begin to replace it all with a completely different orientation. And when it does, you will surely know something has drastically changed.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

WHAT IF?



It is just wise to learn to hold things loosely. Everything is passing. In an instant, everything you have become familiar with and attached to can change or be taken away from you. Even the plans you make for any moment beyond this one are tenuous. We have been so conditioned to believe that it is wise to map out the future even though everything beyond this moment is just an imagined uncertain future. What if that accepted conventional wisdom is just completely wrong? I mean seriously. What if that is a completely unwise-backwards-enemy-of-freedom approach to this one short unrepeatable unpredictable life? And please spare me all the arguments as to why what I am suggesting is unwise. Believe me......I already know those arguments.

What if there really is a radically different wiser way of being in this world? A way where we leave behind all the justifications and excuses that keep us hanging onto a way that really is just below us....below love. I for one really believe there is. Call me crazy. I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

STOP AND LISTEN




Nature is brimming full of eternal echo.....and is always trying to communicate with us.....and does with those who learn to quiet themselves to where they can hear it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

BEAUTY IS TRYING TO GET OUR ATTENTION

The healing of the soul and mind and eyes begins in a moment… When one recoginizes the beauty of the ordinary. Sometimes it is so visually astounding it stops you in your tracks and leaves you speechless. I love those moments. I really do. But my favorite moments, I do believe, are those moments when it is so astounding in its subtlety. It is this kind of beauty that is missed by most.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

THE MOST IMPORTANT THRESHOLD



 It might just be the first and most important threshold. The one that makes opening up to the other needed ones possible.

"To awaken a sense of our ancient longing for Nature can help us to anchor our longing. When we go out alone and enter its solitude, we return home to our souls. When you find a place in Nature where the mind and heart find rest, then you have discovered a sanctuary for your soul.

 Perhaps Nature senses the longing that is in us, the restlessness that never lets us settle. She takes us into the tranquility of her stillness if we visit her. We slip into her quiet contemplation and inhabit for awhile the depth of her ancient belonging. Somehow we seem to become one with the rhythm of the universe. Our longing is purified, and we gain strength to come back into life refreshed and to refine our ways of belonging in the world. Nature calls us to tranquility and rhythm. When your heart is confused or heavy, a day outside in Nature's quiet eternity restores your lost tranquility."
 ~ Eternal Echoes

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

THEATER OF DIVINE PRESENCE




Celtic spirituality had a wonderful recognition of Nature as the theater of Divine presence. That Nature in other words wasn’t an object and it wasn’t matter. It was the place where Divine presence articulated its imagination and showed in some sense its rhythms and its beauty.
~ John O’Donohue

Monday, February 23, 2015

THE TRUSTABLE AND THE UNPREDICTABLE NATURE OF IT ALL

I always get caught up in the anticipation of the arrival of each new season. But it is always bitter sweet. Every season is full of its own wonder and diversity and I always sense some loss with regard to the one that is slipping away. But one of the beautiful things about the natural world and the seasons is that in a very trustable way they always cycle back around. They are never exactly the same but they always carry a familiarity with them.

The Trumpeter Swans, Bald Eagles, and other migratory birds, as well as the bleak and eerily beautiful winter landscapes will return. And if I am graced with the number of days that allows me to be present at the arrival of the next one.....I will be out there again to brave the cold and sometimes harsh realities of this particular season.....anticipating the surprise made possible by the unpredictable side of it that is equally a part of it all.



 

AN ARTFULL AND POETIC LIFE IS JUST IMPORTANT

A few things have come together today.

In a Wildlife/Nature group on Facebook, someone referred to these photos of mine as poetry.

Then a friend, Yahia Lababidi, posted on his Facebook wall this observation made by Karen Armstrong:

“Our theology should be like ‪#‎poetry‬…. A poet spends a great deal of time listening to his unconscious, and slowly calling up a poem word by word, phrase by phrase, until something beautiful is brought forth into the world that changes people’s perceptions….”

And after reading that I was reminded of a conversation I listened to a few years back that just strikes me as being good and beautiful poetic theology. I will post a link to it in the comment section.


The Poetry Of Creatures