pay attention?

blue bird on desert agave with blue sky

This morning as I was taking a walk I saw this desert agave (century plant) in bloom. I stopped to take a picture of it (with my iPhone) and just then this blue bird landed on the branch. Obviously, it’s not a shot I could have planned!

Part of what I love about photography is that it helps me to focus (metaphorically–the camera does the literal stuff all on its own) and to pay attention.

When I first began to take ‘photo walks’–heading out with my camera and the intention only of wandering and seeing what I might see, not worrying about wasting film (yes, this was in the days of film, and yes, the idea of wasting film on random shots and then having to pay to develop it was definitely something to overcome) I was amazed at how much enjoyment I got out of these simple excursions. That was over ten years ago.

In that time I’ve taken a lot more photos, taught workshops and classes in photography (one of my favorites is definitely photopiece, a great experience started by my friend Leanna Creel) and tried to continue to refine my capacity to be mindful, to pay attention, having fun with photography, but also ‘practicing’ it, as in a ‘spiritual practice’ that helps me to be aware and awake to the beauty of the world around me.

Lent, the season leading up to Easter, is typically practiced by some sort of act of ‘penitence’ or giving up, doing without–some way of emptying ourselves of ‘self’ so that we can make room for God, goes the tradition.  I wonder if Lent might also be a season for being intentional about paying attention–of taking time to ’empty ourselves’ of busyness or excess ‘noise’ in our lives so that we open up space to be aware and present?

 

 

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