Friday, March 21, 2008

Reminders of the space within

My friend Karen posted this wonderful Henri Nouwen quote on her daughter's Caringbridge site:

"When we honestly ask which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand.

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not-knowing, not-curing, not-healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness...makes it clear that whatever happens in the external world, being present to each other is what really matters."

I am not sure how good I am at living up to this definition of friendship, but it seems to me that it has something to do with creating space for people. I am still reading Eckhart Tolle's newest book, A New Earth, and in it today I read the following:

"When you contemplate the unfathomable depth of space or listen to the silence in the early hours just before sunrise, something within you resonates with it as if in recognition. You then sense the vast depth of space as your own depth, and you know that precious stillness that has no form to be more deeply who you are than any of the things that make up the content of your life."

It is easy to become caught up in the things and events of our lives. But however those things and events may influence us, they do not define us. When we realize that something in us exists apart from the thoughts, challenges and emotions that absorb us for so much of the time; when we can move -- however briefly -- into that space within which rests untouched by fear, tension, anger, or sadness, it can be very freeing.

Which is, I think, what Nouwen is suggesting a good friend provides: an opportunity to be aware of the space around that which troubles us, a chance to remember that our trials are not all-consuming; that there is a larger world out there, full of invitation and love.

Perhaps that is what I strive for -- mostly unconsciously, I must admit -- in my photography. My mind is always churning, my thoughts darting restlessly back and forth -- from past to future, from fears to hopes, from guilt to pride -- and yet my eyes live mostly in the present, watching always, waiting for that which calls to me in what I see. When I stop, in response to that call, and capture the moment with my camera, I am stepping out of past and future into the present, into the space of the moment.

And in that moment, Tolle says, "When you are aware of space, you are not really aware of anything, except awareness itself -- the inner space of consciousness. Through you, the universe is becoming aware of itself!"

Perhaps this is why, every time I drove up or down my friends' driveway in Vermont, I found myself drawn to this image: the space in the image calls out to the space within me, a reminder of that inner space of consciousness.

No comments: