Sunday, May 18, 2008

What lies beneath

I spent most of yesterday at the Bloedel Reserve on a contemplative retreat sponsored by our local congregational church. It's rhododendron season, and I've never managed to spend time there with my camera at this time of year, so I knew I'd be taking my camera, but I wanted to be sure to strike a balance between contemplation and photography.

Knowing that the weather was expected to be warm and sunny, I went to the reserve earlier in the week, when the weather was damp and cloudy, thinking the light would be better for photography, and that if I shot photos of all the things that enchanted me I'd be less tempted to get distracted by my camera during the retreat.

So this morning I have loaded in both sets of photos -- the ones from the cool cloudy day and the "good" camera, and the ones from the retreat, shot with a lesser camera and a bad white balance setting (this camera is relatively new, and I haven't quite mastered it yet).

It shouldn't surprise me -- you'd think I'd have figured this out by now -- but the photos shot yesterday are better, even though I wasn't using my lovely SLR camera and I have to photoshop them a bit to compensate for the white balance setting (they are all rather yellow, so I have to pump up the blue). And what you can see in these images (I will show more over the next week or so) is that yesterday I was intentional; silent, contemplative; putting the spirit first, unlike the earlier excursion, which seemed to be more about the surface of things. And because I was looking from a deeper place, I saw what I hadn't seen before, the magic, the rootedness that lies beneath.

This morning in church, we heard again the familiar creation story from Genesis. And this time what I heard was not what was created on which day, or that the sabbath was created for rest, but rather that as God created each thing he blessed it, and "saw that it was good." And now I see that if I really look, if I pay attention to what I see instead of photographing with an eye to past or future, then I, too, will see that even the simplest thing, a root full of life bursting out from beneath a concrete slab, is good.

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