One of the classes at my church that resumes in September is “Photography as a Spiritual Practice.” The overall theme for the year is journey and pilgrimage. We are drawing inspiration from Christine Valters Paintner’s book, The Soul of a Pilgrim: Eight Practices for the Journey Within (Sorin Books, 2015).
The first session will open with a song by Patchouli called “The Woods” from their album Anything Is Possible (2013).
I go to the woods to feel good
I go to the river to let my mind run
I go to the mountain to gain perspective
I go to the fields to open up
I look to the lake to reflect
I look to the sky to imagine
I travel highways to go somewhere new
This verse prompts me to ask: Where do I go to gain perspective? How much time to I spend there? What images remain with me?
As you might expect from my previous blog, it is not the mountains! My immediate response would be the seashore. The seashore, particularly in early morning, soothes and comforts me. It is the place to which my parents brought me from an early age. It is a connection with family fun, home, and vacation. Yet, I don’t spend much time there anymore, despite the fact that I live 15 minutes from some of the world’s best beaches. When I imagine the seashore now, it is the soft light of early morning, the gentle lapping of waves, the seashells and driftwood along the water’s edge, and my experiences at Kiawah Island in the 1990s and at Sanibel Island this past June.
So where do I go now to gain perspective? As in the song, “I look to the lake to reflect, I look to the sky to imagine.” Reflection and imagination help me to gain (or re-gain) my perspective. Physical reflections over water (whether lake, sea, or marsh) remind me of the need for spiritual reflection. Looking to the sky and its cloud formations reminds me of “the big picture”, and helps me to dream of a better life, a better world – that anything is possible. This is perhaps the reason that so many of my recent images are of the changing colors of the sky and reflections of clouds in the waters of marsh, lake, and sea.
Where do you go to gain perspective?