Photography and God and Othona
When we were at our parish day at Othona (and a very lovely day it was), a christian retreat and we were encouraged to spend some time looking at, contemplating and just being part of god’s creation. Very much needed in our busy lives as we simply never stop.
God requires that we “be still and know that he is god” and I notice that when I am busy or focussed on worldly things he can become a bit distant. That’s me not listening as opposed to him not being with me though, because whenever I do stand still then “whoosh” there he is (although I always worry when you assign god a gender).
That day and subsequent days since I have found my newfound hobby of photography is perfect for bring back a very “othona” type experience.
Photography, life though a lens , makes you look at your surroundings first from a high level and then at the detailed level.
Light, composition, the shift in the days, seasons, changing faces and places, seeing everything again and again. cannot avoid being in the moment and connected to your surroundings when you hold your camera and look for a shot.
One recurring thought I have when I find a place that I really think will make a great shot is “wow, thank you god for making all this”. That’s very much the one of the core goals of our day wasn’t it?
Also the process of trying to take it all in and not taking it for granted , noticing it, looking at it. Also when done over and over again has one more aspect to it, when you start to notice the detail both large and small you start to really experience the vastness and diversity and detail of gods creation. It really brings it home.
I quite often go to the same place and being as I started at Christmas (yes my camera was a present), you can start to see the change, where I photographed an icy footprint is now lush and full of bee’s, bare trees in leaf etc. I like that as well.
Also some of my favourite spots are right outside my door, just outside my window , the big pink shrub (I am no gardener) outside my house.
You don’t have to travel far to see life’s beauty it’s all around you? I wandered out my garden the other day just to see a meteor shower, after a while I gave up trying to take shots and just sat and stared up at the sky, and the stars and thinking “wow”.
Sometimes when I have taken a few shots or I am wondering where to start, I just sit, watch the bees and insects buzz around, and look for the light, and find myself very much immersed in the sights and sounds of the place I am in.
I lost that when I grew into the duties of being an adult, I get that back quite a lot these days. Last week I just sat for ten minutes and watched the wind through a wheat field, awesome . I was still and god was it felt like enjoying me, enjoying his creation. For ten minutes I was properly grateful and he knew it.
Also one thing becomes very clear the lens through which you view something makes a great difference to how you see it, where you focus makes the mundane seem brilliant, and occasionally reveals a thing to be very light on substance. The thing you decide to focus on and how you see it, shapes how you later think about things.
One more thing it makes you realise, that sometimes after the actual event you edit the picture and then the edited version over time becomes real. I wonder how many times do we do this in our lives? Since I became a Christian looking back at my life it’s as if he makes you strip away the editing software and see again how it really happened. Our encounter with jesus makes you re-evaluate, things and events through his lens. Once you do that you learn to forgive others, yourself and appreciate your place in creation, small and beyond value all at once. Humility, as you know you needs forgiveness a lot, an awful lot.
I wasn’t expecting it, but life through a lens doesn’t as the metaphor insinuates “take you away” from god’s creation, it actually brings you closer, makes you more aware of the detail, the range, the size, of the big of the small, of the light, of the seasons. Makes you see the layers we put on that distance ourselves from him, and the way we sometimes edit our past.
Mostly though you become more aware of how unlikely it was that chance alone, made all of this. That very awareness is quite nourishing, the more I see it the more certain I become.
Maybe to make the point, just to bring you into the moment, just sit and imagine if I were to photograph this what would it be of, that bee in the shrub, the sun going down, my Childs smile, etc etc
Then thank him for it. See that , I think that’s Othona every day, and you have, most likely just been still and known that he is god. That is something very special.