My name is Jane Dawson. I work with David Sherwin as the Arts Programmer for Faith and Arts Ottawa.

What should I tell you about me? I agree with the idea from Carl Jung that “you can’t understand the world if you can’t understand paradox.” In light of this, I have been trying change my mental habit from “but” to “and”. So…

I love poetry…and I don’t read or write it as much as I would like.

I am not a painter or an actor or a musician or a dancer…and I am gladdened and inspired by people who have these gifts.

I love yoga…and I am not very disciplined about practicing on my own.

I love meditation…and ditto about practicing on my own.

I love biking, running, reading mystery novels, eating sushi, traveling, canoeing, quiet time, and taking naps…and the minor matter of making a living makes my access to these pleasures less regular than I would like.

I was born in Vancouver, lived in Nova Scotia for many years, and now live in Ottawa where I am still coming to terms with winter.

I used to be a full-time professor of adult education but left academia to follow a call to become a spiritual director and help people – regardless of belief – explore the nature of spiritual experience in their lives.

Which brings me to Faith and Arts Ottawa. I believe the arts are the language of the soul. When people have a chance to express the creative possibilities within themselves they are closest to the pulse of creativity that infuses the universe. I am excited to be in a role where I can help make such opportunities happen!

The Art of Seeing: Photography as Contemplation

“True realism consists in revealing the surprising things which habit keeps covered and prevents us from seeing.”

Jean Cocteau

On June 2nd a small group of enthusiasts gathered in the Cottage at the Dovercourt Community Centre to explore ways in which photography can be a form of contemplation. With the able leadership of Doug Rowland and Jane Dawson we learned a little about how to look with the intention of seeing more clearly. By adopting a contemplative posture, slowing our minds and bodies, we were able to discover the wondrous and surprising in the mundane and ordinary. After a few exercises to free our imagination, we headed outside to contemplate our surroundings and see what was there through the viewfinders of our cameras. For a short time on a busy Saturday afternoon we were quiet and reflective, open to what the world around us had to offer. It was a time of learning, of serendipity. And it was fun! Here are a couple of my pictures.  Enjoy.

We are going to do it again. On Saturday, July 14th we’ll gather at Cafe Ninety7, 97 Main Street, at 4:00 p.m. After a quick orientation to our theme, “Nature in the City,” we’ll head out for an hour of photography around the Old Ottawa East neighbourhood, St. Paul’s University, and the banks of the Rideau River. We’ll gather again at the cafe for a drink and conversation about what we have seen and learned, and we’ll all be on our way by 6:00 p.m. This is an open event, everyone who is interested in exploring photography as a contemplative discipline is welcome. There is no fee, but there will be an opportunity to make a donation to the work of Faith and Arts Ottawa.