If we could truly open the windows of perception, our lives would be infinitely richer, finer, truer to the possibilities of the soul. We would become considerably wiser, in understanding and in action. We could occupy the moment more fully, and employ more of our latent capacities. We might begin to genuinely respond to life and to others, not just react. And our lives would not fleetingly descend in a slumbering stupor of hazy half-awareness from birth to the moment of death. The senses would become instruments of delight and discovery, the feelings would become a refined way of knowing: weighing, evaluating, tasting the nature and substance of what stands before us. And the mind would be immeasurably enriched through the questions raised and the material gleaned through direct perception. The energies of life could pass through us, transformed by a resonant awareness into effortless action and generous kindness.
from Deep Perception
“Excuse me, can I ask what you’re looking at?” has become a familiar question from strangers when I am out and about with my camera. The person observing me is looking and looking and not seeing what on earth there might be that is noteworthy to take a picture of.
“What is it I am seeing?” “What am I looking at?” “What is it?” are questions that many people ask when they look at my images, and these are questions to which, often annoyingly, I refuse to give answers, preferring that viewers work out for themselves what an image says to them. This is a component part of contemplative photography, images may take time to reveal their ‘meaning’; I hope my images provide the viewer with a ‘pause’ where thoughts might fade and seeing might take over, if only for a fleeting moment. In that pause, there is an opportunity for Spirit to speak to soul.
This is particularly true of those images that I have explored during my Facebook iPhone project Acts of Daily Seeing over the last couple of years. During that time I have also been fortunate enough to have worked with Canadian contemplative photographer Kim Manley Ort on a couple of her online courses. Last November I explored her #30daysofperception course at a time when I was very ill with severe depression. Focussing on photography (using my iPhone as, sadly, I felt I couldn’t see with my ‘proper’ camera, so dense was my brain fog) was more than a useful distraction whilst I passively waited for the depression to ease. Instead, it kept my seeing active, helping me exercise a muscle I miss keenly when it gets flabby. It also reminded me how much, as David Ulrich observes, what I see with my eyes can influence what I perceive with my mind; outer vision can rejuvenate my inner landscape.
As I wait for God to be revealed, I prompt myself to keep moving into seeing the world around me differently. Advent waiting is active: encouraging me to keep honing my viewpoint, so I don’t miss any flash of God that might appear – even in the unlikeliest of places.
Religion passes out of the ken of Reason only where the eye of Reason has reached its own Horizon; and that Faith is then but its continuation: even as the Day softens away into the sweet Twilight, and Twilight, hushed and breathless, steals into the Darkness. It is Night, sacred Night! The upraised Eye views only the starry Heaven which manifests itself alone; and the outward Beholding is fixed on the sparks twinkling in the aweful depth, though Suns of other Worlds, only to preserve the Soul steady and collected in its pure Act of inward Adoration to the great I AM, and to the filial WORD that re-affirmeth it from Eternity to Eternity, whose choral Echo is the Universe.
from Biographia Literaria (ch13)
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
inner landscape. iPhone image.