Faith and Arts Dinner: September 30/12

We’re hosting an informal dinner and get-together for university students and other young adults at Centretown United Church, corner of Bank and Argyle. We’ll gather between 5 – 5:30 and eat around 6. There’s a simple, fun art activity after the meal, and we’ll be finished by 7:00.
Chili, rice, salad, bread, drinks, and homemade cookies!! A chance to gather, share a meal and visit. Its going to be fun!

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“L’estran”

Only a few were able to come to our contemplative photography event on the shores of the Ottawa River, such is the nature of our busy lives.  But many (perhaps most?) of us have powerful memories of walking along a shoreline and being moved to think about the larger questions of life.

David Lee wasn’t able to attend the event, but he shared the following poem with me and has graciously given permission for me to post it.  Thanks David!

Here is David’s introduction to the poem:

In summer 2008 my wife and I did a 400 km ‘pilgrim walk’ along the St. Lawrence River south shore below Quebec City, similar to our previous ‘Camino’ pilgrimage across northern Spain. This is a beautiful and historic region, deeply rooted in francophone language and culture. I found myself enthralled by the coastline including ‘l’estran’, the strand–the area along the shoreline which disappears at high tide but is fully visible at low tide. It raised questions as to what really exists, and evoked images of the high and low tides of our lives. The result was the following.

(L’estran : n. m.  Terrain entre la marrée haute et la marrée basse.  Métaphorique : endroit qui n’existe qu’une partie du temps, ou qui—partiellement ou entièrement—n’existe point une partie du temps.)

L’Estran
L’estran se révèle petit à petit
Comme le sourire de ma belle
Quand l’amour se dessine
Sur son visage révélateur.
Et voilà : l’espace libérée
De ses contraintes liquides,
Les poissons disparaissent
Les andouilles sinueuses aussi.
Mais, dans la lumière croissante
D’un soleil prometteur
Les crustacées s’étendent et réchauffent
Et les pierres-joyaux flattent les yeux.
C’est le printemps qui s’ouvre
Devant nous, comme dans un théâtre
Quand le rideau se lève
Et tout est possible, tout est à croire.
L’eau descend toujours, créant ainsi
Un nouveau monde, un monde à nous,
Domaine à merveilles, domaine d’espoir,
L’île s’approche. Peut-on s’y rendre?
Dans l’été de la marrée nous avançons forts
Toujours main dans la main, l’eau montant
Inaperçue sur les hanches.  L’île nous invite —
Vierge, mystérieuse.   Insaisissable?
Persévérer?  Ou renoncer?  Les buts,
Les idéaux de cette saison dans la vie
Sont-ils aussi vains
Que des papillons vacanciers?
L’eau monte.  Nous hésitons.  L’île
Nous accoste toujours, sa mine théâtrale
Nous offrant aperçus alléchants
De secrets ne dédiés qu’à nous.
Mais, voyons donc, l’automne a ses
Gloires – belles, même spectaculaires
Quand la marrée, envahissante,
Surmonte les derniers rochers en flèche,
Nous accaparant, nous ravissant, et apportant
Dans ses bagages des aquarelles, des aiglefins,
Qui, fluviaux donc jadis chassés,
Sont maintenant de retour en force!
Glissants, mouillés, les sourires graves mais satisfaits,
Têtes hivernales, mains entrelacées,
Leur remontée se joigne au retour de l’eau :
L’estran de la vie se ferme.

Contemplative Photography: Down to the River

This post has been a long time coming; sometime I’m going to write about the challenges of having too much to do, but not today.  Besides, there are lots of others out there writing about the time crunch, but none of them are going to write about our great photography event on the shores of the Ottawa River, way back on September 15th.

Kudos to Andrea, Christine and Marilyn who came out and made the afternoon a success.

It was a cool, windy day, with a constantly changing cloud cover, which made for some interesting lighting possibilities.

The sense energy pouring toward the camera was awesome.

Standing on the shore of a large body of water opens you up to the sky as well.  The expanse of the water, and the way it reflects the sky, creates a liminality, a threshold, between the world above and the world below.  I thought that, shooting on the shore of the river, this photography outing would be about the relationship between earth and water, but all four of us photographed the sky as well.  Our eyes and spirits were drawn upward as well as downward.

Here’s a picture of the sort that I set out to take, trying to capture earth and water in the same frame.

I loved the way the flowing water alters the appearance of the stones.

In this picture I was trying for a sense of the shoreline, to capture the way the waves roll in and over the shallows.

I took a bunch of pictures like this and I wasn’t satisfied with any of them.  Finally I realized that I cannot capture in a still photo the energy of the shoreline, the movement of the water and the sound it makes.  I needed a video camera!

Thresholds, transitional places are full of energy, moving from one state to another, constantly transforming what looks like an unchanging landscape.

Maybe that’s why we “go down to the river to pray.”

All sorts of regeneration happens down at the shore.

Contemplative Photography: September 15/12

Have you ever noticed how looking at something out of the corner of your eye changes the way you see it? Using peripheral vision is one way to break free of conventional perceptions and open ourselves to new understanding. Too often, we look at things only straight on and take them at “face” value when it is their edges that are truly interesting.

At this month’s photography workshop we will explore the notion of liminality. As we continue to explore the ways in which the art of photography can enhance our contemplative connection with the world, we inevitably come to the edges of things.

What do we see when we look out of the corner of our eye?  What lies between? Between earth and sky, between water and stone, between life and death? Some transitions are gradual and others are abrupt. Some changes are insignificant, others are dramatic.

We’ll explore these themes along the banks of the Ottawa River.  Join us at the Remic Rapids parking lot off the Ottawa River Parkway on Saturday, September 15th at 4:0p.m.