Saturday, November 21, 2009

Photography as Prayer

I've recently begun to try to learn how to operate our digital camera. For those of you who have already mastered this skill, you have my permission to go ahead and laugh at me. For those of you who are still scared of your digital camera, rest assured that I understand. We have a camera that can be a point-and-click camera, if you know which little symbol to choose, as well as all sorts of other settings. As with my computer, I suspect that this camera can do far more than I will ever know to ask it to do.

I took the camera with me to Mepkin Abbey. I didn't take it with me to help me remember the place, the way I do with so many pictures that I take. Mepkin Abbey has seared its way into my brain and soul, and I try to remember to go there mentally when I'm in need of refreshment.

I've enjoyed other people's photo essays, so I thought I might want to try that. I also like having the occasional picture to post on my blog, especially when I'm about to go on blogvacation.

If you've been reading my posts this week, you'll realize that I took the camera with me as I walked the labyrinth. In fact, I didn't walk the labyrinth without the camera. The first time, I chased some butterflies (and I finally got a good shot). The second time, I walked the labyrinth barefoot, and I was already thinking about a possible blog posting.

I did wonder if I was sacrificing the spirit of the labyrinth by being so focused on photographing it. Yet, I came to see using my camera as a different form of prayer. For those of us who operate on a more visual level, this form of prayer might work better. I'm a writer, so I see journaling as a form of prayer and/or meditation. But I also understand why that doesn't work for everyone.

The camera made me alert to the world. I'm abashed to realize how often I move through the world in a haze. The camera made me focus (even though it was an auto-focus camera!). As I took pictures of scenes that took my breath away, I tried to remember to offer a prayer of thanks.

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