Gratitude: Changing Our Lives as Seasons Change

The Autumnal Equinox, which marked the movement from the long days of summer to the shorter days of the coming winter, has passed.  Now is the time to be thankful for the bounty that Mother Earth has provided and to rejoice in our freedom to practice our spirituality without fear. However, Mother Earth is responding to our neglect and the shirking of our responsibility to care for Her.  

We were made caretakers of the earth and have not lived up to that duty with disastrous results.  Climate change/global warming are producing rebellious actions by the planet…the elements of Air, Fire, Water, Earth are showing us that if we do not stop our destructive habits, Mother will stop providing the bounty that sustains us and all life. 

We need to do several things.  Look at our own lives and see what we can change to make things better.  Meditate to look deeply into our spiritual lives and discover how we can grow our beliefs to let the dimming light of the changing seasons not diminish the light within us.  Help others see that there is hope for our planet if we change our lives just as the seasons change. Remember that we need to respect one another and most of all respect our Mother.

—The Rev Tanya Trzeciak

Contemplative Sight

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To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour.

“Auguries of Innocence,” by William Blake

Contributed by Executive Director, The Rev. Tara K. Soughers, PhD

I have been finding, more and more, that my photography is a form of contemplative practice.

Of course, there are times when I rush madly around, taking pictures right and left, and those times are not particularly contemplative.  They are no more contemplative than other busy parts of my life.  Photography becomes another task to accomplish, another thing to mark off my “to-do” list.  I also find that those pictures, while often acceptable, are not usually my best pictures.

Photography becomes a contemplative practice for me when I make the time to slow down, and to become present.  I usually begin with looking for the obvious pictures, and I start there.  As I slow down, however, I begin to notice things, details, that I miss in my more hurried photographic  forays.

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Best, however, is when I sit in one place and let myself be present there.  In those times, I become see more deeply, and I am much more likely to be surprised by what is around me.  I can marvel at the texture of the rocks, notice how the light from the sun hits the trees, see the insects among the flowers, and watch the wind make ripples in the water.  For me it is a time of simply being a part of the world around me, allowing all of the normal activities and worries of my life slip away until I am at peace with the world around me.

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Like any other contemplative practice, sometimes I find it easier to get that place of quiet more easily than at other times.  In times of great stress, I may not be able to get to a place of calm presence.  Even on those days, when I am at my most distracted, however, I return from my contemplative time less stressed, more grounded, better able to face what lies ahead.

 

Does photography function as a spiritual practice for you?  Feel free to comment and to leave examples of your own photographic work.