Reflections: Scarritt Bennett, Nashville November, 2012
In 2012 I talked to a friend who suggested I keep, as a spiritual discipline, a Lenten journal using my camera to capture images that spoke to me of God’s presence. Her suggestion gave me a whole new way of connecting with God, combining my love of photography with my desire to spend more structured time in spiritual formation. Later that year my husband and I attended a workshop on photography as a spiritual practice led by photographer Susan Hay at Scarritt Bennett in Nashville, which led me to (eventually) start my blog.
This year for Advent, “Alive Now” magazine, a publication of Upper Room Ministries, invites us to participate in an Advent practice and pray with our cameras. Here is the way it’s explained on their website:
“Are you a visual psalmist? Do you pray with your camera in your hand? If so, please join us this Advent season for Alive Now’s Advent Photo a Day spiritual practice. Come to this page each day to find the word for the day. Then stop, watch, wait, see … for God’s presence in the word for the day. Tag your photo on social media (Facebook or Twitter) with #(today’s word), #AliveNowMag, #AdventPhoto.”
If you are interested in participating, check out “Alive Now” for the word of the day–begin Sunday, November 29!
You can learn more about Advent here.
Peace, joy and blessings during this season!
In the assignment for day 8 of blogging 101, Michelle W. told us at least 2 things that I can vouch for: when you leave a substantive comment, you make the original post that much richer, drawing others into the discussion; & because engaging in conversation is inspiring, you never know where (or who) your next post idea will come from.
On Sept. 17 I shared a few thoughts in a post I called “Making Connections.” The comments made on that post, plus those on Facebook and in private messages, nudged me to give more thought to the purpose of “Shining Through: Seeing God in the Everyday.” Originally I planned to make it primarily a photography blog, to share what I’d learned about photography as a spiritual practice, with the hope that maybe others would find inspiration and look at the world around them more thoughtfully–or, as one of my favorite songs puts it, with “Spirit Eyes.” That goal remains, with the added one of sharing my spiritual journey and encouraging others. I assume that potential readers of my blog would either be at some point on their own spiritual journey or seeking. Why else would they even be interested in it?
As a Christian I am often saddened by the examples of “Christian” attitudes that make the news–judgmental, condemning, sometimes even hateful. I want my blog to be a place where others can find encouragement, inspiration, compassion and hope. I believe we all need those things, especially in these times of such deep division and acrimony in politics, culture, and religion–even among members of the same faith tradition or local congregation.
Instead of one of my own photos, today I’m sharing this quote from Madeleine L’Engle. I believe her words could apply to any situation, not just religious.
I welcome your comments!
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Finite Creatures.”
Today’s Blogging 101 assignment is to use a writing prompt as a starting point for a blog post. I chose this one from a few months ago, which asked “At what age did you realize you were not immortal? How did you react to that discovery?”
In reference to my physical body, I don’t believe I ever thought of it as immortal. My father died when when I was a toddler, just a few weeks after my younger brother’s birth, so death seemed as real as life–something that happens to everyone. I have a picture I drew in kindergarten of my family, and included with the stick figures labeled “Mommy” “Van” and “Laurie” is “Daddy,” the father I didn’t remember as a physical presence in my life. According to my aunt, when my mother saw the picture, she gently reminded me that I didn’t have a daddy, but I said, “Yes I do, my daddy is in heaven.” We visited his grave occasionally, and I grew up with a love of old cemeteries. They don’t seem morbid or scary to me, I suppose because I associate them with memories of my mother and the conversations we had about my father. She didn’t spend those visits crying, but instead shared stories so we would have some connection to him. To be continued….
I took this photo a few years ago in a cemetery in Fairhope, Alabama, just a few weeks after Mardi Gras. I call it “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”
The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. ~Mark Twain
Reading Big Erik’s post yesterday prompted me to share my thoughts about the need human beings have to connect with others and be understood. Often, happily, that occurs with people in our families, faith community, social circles or work environment. Right now I am in that blessed place in my own life, but it hasn’t always been that way.
In thinking back over some periods in my life, especially the long-ago miserable teenage years, I can understand how some people get caught up in self-destructive relationships and situations. For me, even more important than growing closer to others has been growing closer to God and trusting God’s unconditional love. My spiritual journey brings me nearer to both God and others as I seek glimpses of the Divine in all Creation.
John Wesley lived his faith, not only by teaching and preaching, but he also worked tirelessly to serve the poor, which often put him at odds with the “established order” of the Church of England. By establishing health clinics, orphanages, schools and other programs to help people transform their lives, he let the love of God shine through his example. I took the photo above at the Epworth rectory where he grew up. The garden’s plants are ones he recommended in a book he wrote for healing, “Primitive Physic, Or, An Easy and Natural Method of Curing Most Diseases.”
For the past 20 years or so of my life, one of the places I’ve most strongly felt the presence of the Holy Spirit is Blue Lake United Methodist Assembly, particularly in the chapel, where I captured this image. Retreats, opportunities to learn about missions, the people I’ve met and the natural beauty of the setting contributed to, and continue to be a part of, my progress on my spiritual journey.