Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Traveling Without a Camera

On my recent trip I decided to leave my camera at home. Sometimes when I travel with a camera I am not truly present to the beauty I see because I am trying to capture everything. My intention was to be more mindful and simply take it all in through the lens of my eye. It was a wonderful spiritual practice although I had my moments of longing for the camera. I was in western Pennsylvania surrounded by the Allegheny National Forest and there were certainly many photographic moments that I had to sacrifice. The Olmstead Manor Retreat Center was beautifully bathed in Spring Blossoms, little waterfalls coming from the forest hills was music for the heart. Mt. St. Benedict Monastery in Erie, PA also provided much meditation material. Even my sojourn in airports fed my soul because I made the intention to see as purely and contemplatively as possible. I practiced beholding all the beauty. I relied on my heart’s memory and brought it all home with me. This morning while praying I decided to take out my snapshot memories and pray with them. So although I don’t have any photos to share with you, here are some of my memories, I invited you to envision them like a slide show and let each one be as a beautiful icon in a picture frame. You might even hang them on the wall of your heart:

  • two red-tailed hawks playing in the clouds
  • the window in my bedroom framing pink and white blossoms supported by tree branches of lacy green leaves.
  • streams of water flowing through green moss and falling into small pools of water
  • the morning mist encircling a lone walker on the labyrinth
  • freshly anointed stones on a small altar, built in honor of the places where God has visited us.
  • retreatants sitting quietly in green places, meditating
  • the prelude to a sunset on Lake Erie
  • a little girl in the airport, dancing without reserve
  • moving slowly through the light filled tunnel in the Detroit airport even though I was aware that my plane was already boarding and I had a long hike to the gate
  • Belle flowers (which I had never seen before) pink, purple and white, making silent music
  • the night blooming cereus
  • stones loving placed in the memory garden on the grounds of Mt. St. Benedict Monastery in Erie, PA
  • a small flower growing out of a piece of bark

Yes, the lens of the eye is sacred. It, too, has its memory card. Sometimes I see things more clearly with the pure light of the soul. Constantly, life unfurls before our eyes--even when we aren't looking. Open your eyes this week. At the end of the week (or day) you, too, might want to share a few photograpic icons stored in your soul's memory card.


  1. What a wonderful turn of phrase "the soul's memory card". I will have to remember to use that. You are right, there is beauty everywhere, even in an airport. Thank you for reminding us to notice it.

  2. What a lovely thought! I can always depend on you to call me to prayer. This
    prayer. This morning with my 6 year old grandson, we sat at sunrise to watch the sun glow and sparkle on the lake. What a magnificant prayer snapshot.