Dearest monks and artists,
We invite you to join us for an online retreat to celebrate the season of resurrection. Learn to see the world with new eyes, by joining our community to learn how photography can become a contemplative practice in Eyes of the Heart (an online retreat for the Easter season)>>
Photography as a spiritual practice combines the active art of image-receiving with the contemplative nature and open-heartedness of prayer. It cultivates what I call sacred seeing or seeing with the “eyes of the heart” (Ephesians 1:18). This kind of seeing is our ability to receive the world around us at a deeper level than surface realities.
We live in a product-oriented culture, where much of what we do is focused on an end goal or product to share. When we approach art in this way, we become distracted by trying to produce a beautiful image. When we focus on the process of art-making, rather than the product, we can immerse ourselves in the creative journey and discover the ways God is moving through our lives and how we are being invited to respond. We release our own plans and expectations and pay attention to what is actually unfolding within us.
The process of art-making or prayer becomes a journey of discovery, where we open ourselves to what is being revealed moment by moment, rather than what we hope or expect to see. This book offers an invitation to transform photography into a spiritual practice by attending to the process, and thereby deepening our relationship to God, to the world around us, and to ourselves.
Mythologist and storyteller Michael Meade says the word “moment” comes from the Latin root momentus, which means to move. We are moved when we touch the eternal and timeless. There is a sense of spaciousness in moments. We linger and feel lifted above the daily concerns of chronos time and dwell in kairos time. Both of these words come from Greek and help us differentiate the different qualities of time we experience. Chronos time is the sequential time of schedules and moving through the tasks of everyday life, the time we are aware of when we watch the clock waiting for the workday to be done. Kairos time has an altogether different quality. It is not sequential or linear. Kairos refers to the fullness of a given moment, a moment when something special happens, something unexpected. We can never plan kairos time, but we can make ourselves available to being seized by it through cultivating contemplative practice.
Giving ourselves over to the act of art-making is one way we find this moment of eternity, or even better, how we allow the moment to find us. There are many moments waiting for us each day, prodding at our consciousness, inviting us to abandon our carefully constructed plans and defenses and open our hearts to what is before us. The task of the artist is to cultivate the ability to see these eternal moments again and again. In this way, we are all invited to become artists.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Photo © Christine Valters Paintner