Jamie Dedes posted a quote from Henri Nouwen about writing from our sacred space. I have long understood the importance of writing – especially as an exercise for thinking. I became excited about Nouwen’s idea of writing as a way to discover what is at our core, who we are, what matters to us as we make our way down the road of life. For me writing is about telling my story, especially about my connection to humans and nature.
Julie and I went on one of our photography excursions a couple of days ago and I was thinking about why I get so much pleasure out of photography. We went to the Hidden Lake Garden in southern Michigan, owned and maintained by our land-grant college, Michigan State University. This is a large garden, wonderfully accessible by both foot and car, through woods and landscaped fields. It is mature and continually maintained, both natural and nurtured. It is a photographer’s paradise – well at least mine.
We stopped at the hosta garden, on a steeply sloping hill down to the hidden lake. Among the wide variety of hostas, that are close to fully unfurling their leaves, are a wide variety of wild flowers, blooming their little hearts out in the dappled shade. As I was squatting and bending and planting my fanny on the gravel path to find what I hoped was the perfect angle, I was thinking about what motivated me to put my body through these painful and awkward maneuvers. I think it is the love of beauty. I think it is the challenge of finding a way to capture those images that portray what I find intriguing within the big picture that my eyes and brain are continually scanning.
I don’t remember whether I read Jamie’s post before or after I went on that photo shoot – it doesn’t matter. Sometimes there is a confluence of events that seem to be spiritual in that they come together to make me a more complete person, one who understands her purpose in the greater scheme of things. Could it be that God is speaking to me, giving me answers to problems in living that I haven’t clearly formulated in my brain?
Could it be that God wants me to be a happier, more passionate person, doing simple things that bring me pleasure and brings joy to others? Sometimes I discount this confluence that leads to my gaining greater understanding of who I am and what matters to me. After all, it didn’t lead to my engaging in a “big-event-that-changes-world-events” (or changes the direction of our U.S. political scene). I would love to be that kind of person, but I’m not. I have had grand ideas (illusions?) all my life of doing great things for the great good of society. If I view my life from the perspective of a little distance and maybe from the height of that hill over there, I think I have made a difference in a great many people’s lives even though I have never been in the public spotlight.
But when I sit atop that hill and reflect on life and the wild-flowers blooming around me, I recognize that I am so very happy with my simple life of capturing beauty through my photography and writing about the internal landscape of my thinking. And you were right, Henri Nouwen, as I wrote this post, my writing took me to a final destination I knew nothing about when I started. I have come in contact with some of my hidden riches and hope that sharing them with all of you, who have so graciously read this post, will start you on a similar journey, so you can increased your riches.