Photography is a wonderful way to consecrate each day!
The next time you pick up your camera,
look, and then look again at the scene or person that has captured your attention.
Envision God seeing through your eyes as you receive a photograph.
Receive the image as a gift from God.
Take time to reflect and spend time with the image and the message inherent within its frame.
I am so happy to welcome Christine Valters Paintner to Consecrate the Day! Christine’s website Abbey of the Arts, Transformative living through Contemplative and Expressive Artsoffers wonderful resources, inspiration and sustenance for my personal Spiritual Journey. Christine’s books and online retreats offer invitations to deeper paths of communion and connection with God. Christine’s latest book, Eyes of the Heart, Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice explores a way of seeing that goes beyond the superficial, straight to the heart and soul. I invite you to consider saying “yes” to the invitations within Christine’s guest blog today…
Bless the World with Your Eyes
I resonate deeply with Mary Ann’s invitation in her blog to focus on consecrating the day. It inspires me to consider how might photography become a way to consecrate the day to God?
I am reminded of the beautiful Jewish practice of blessing the day. In this worldview, each act becomes worthy of blessing. Gratitude is offered for the gift of every moment – upon awakening, when crossing a threshold, eating a meal, lighting candles. The Talmud calls for 100 blessings each day.
This act of blessing is really a special way of paying attention. It is a moment of remembering wonder as our primary response to the world. It is an act of consecrating the day.
Photography is an especially accessible art medium in our modern world, where almost everyone carries a camera built into their phone, or small, portable cameras with good picture quality are widely available. In my book, Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice, I suggest ways to engage your camera as a tool for prayer and way to cultivate a different way of seeing the world. Eyes of the heart refers to a kind of graced vision, that is focused more on receiving gifts, than “taking” photos. Seeing in this way is different from our ordinary way of scanning our field of vision for the information we want to find. Instead, it is a spacious gaze which savors each moment.
In the Benedictine monastic tradition, everything is considered sacred. The stranger at the door is to be welcomed in as Christ. The kitchen utensils are to be treated just like the altar vessels. The hinges of the day call us to remember the presence of God again and again, so that time becomes a cascade of prayers.
So what if I imagine my eyes as a vessel of blessing? What if I moved through the day, and each time I felt drawn to take out my camera, I paused before pushing the button and consecrated what I was gazing upon?
Perhaps I might even say a short prayer: “Bless this shimmering moment, may my eyes receive its gifts, may my heart open ever wider in response.” You might craft your own holy words.
In this way, our photography can become an act of deepened awareness and love. We can begin to see all the everyday things of our lives as openings into the depth dimension of the world. The steam rising from my coffee, the bird singing from a tree branch outside my window, the doorbell announcing a friend’s arrival, the meal which nourishes my body for service. Each of these moments invites us to pause and to see it through a different kind of vision.
Consecrate the day with your camera. Bless the world with your eyes. Offer gratitude for every ordinary gift.
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, is the online Abbess at Abbey of the Arts, a virtual monastery and community for contemplative practice and creative expression. She is the author of 7 books on art and monasticism, including her latest, Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice (Ave Maria Press). Christine currently lives out her commitment as a monk in the world with her husband in Galway, Ireland.
Christine Valters Paintner, OblSB, PhD, REACE
Transformative living through contemplative & expressive arts
May 1, 2013
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As always, blessings friends on the journey!