a time of contemplation…

Stay at Home Order … day 8 plus 14 seclusion retreat days

The true person is
Not anyone in particular;
But, like the deep blue color
Of the limitless sky,
It is everyone, everywhere in the world
.

~Eihei Dōgen

Nikon D750 f/1.8 1/4000 35mm 200 ISO


Yesterday my mother came to visit…it was a remembered touch that announced her arrival not as the frail woman with a fierce determination time had transformed from the woman who carried with her the stature of Danish Vikings…warriors, explorers, conquerors, survivors.  The English genes of a woman whose life was colored by an incessant search for union with God, an unquestioning moral and social mandate, and an aloneness I did not know. 

She visited as my mom and walked alongside me as I gathered the ingredients for homemade soup, she watched me — with discerning eyes — as I made the bed and gathered the laundry, and she sat with me as I flipped through a photo book of fading memories. Memories…the mundane moments swept away into darkness by brooms of discontent, negation, and yes…shame. The shame that arises from a felt sense of a marginalized family’s “being different.”

She woke the memory within the shifting images of a night when I saw her sitting alone within the silence of deafness nested within the silence of night.  Before her was a topsy-turvy pile of children’s scuffed and worn shoes. I watched her from the doorway, hiding as I did not want to be sent back to bed, slowly polishing each one and then matching them into pairs, forming a straight row — creating a sense of order.  When her eyes acknowledged my presence, she invited me to sit alongside her.  Moments passed as I felt her listening presence…a mother and a daughter sitting quietly in a dimly lit room, a protective barrier. 

As this remembering faded, I felt a gentle gaze that spoke of a silent loving-kindness. It was as if she came from a place of waiting knowing that the barriers that blocked me from being receptive to the multiple color threads that weaved her life had begun to weaken and fade and — for the first time — I entered, felt, and embraced her aloneness. And she, in return, eased the discontent that ebbs and flows throughout this time of uncertain isolation.

I have often wondered, since her passing, that if we had met – not as mother-daughter but as children in a playground would she have wanted to be my friend?

2018 photography review, december

Olden memories

so brisk

in their fading,

this moment soon to follow —

shadows on the snow ~bckofford

within the present is the past and the future

Thank you for joining me as I wandered through the photographs posted on this blog throughout 2018 and shared the contemplations that accompanied them.

May each of your steps throughout the new year be accompanied with love-filled companions and joyous moments.

2018 photography review, may

May is the month of my youngest sister’s birthday. Within memory, it is also the month of promised freedom…freedom from winter’s bone-chilling cold and freedom to escape the confines of home and school as jump ropes, marbles, chalk, and baseballs emerged from dark musty closets. Its promise was the promise of summer which held the yearning for freedom from school; and thus, the freedom to swim in the Yampa River, to ride the train to Steamboat Springs, to lose myself in a stack of library books, and to explore a backyard that had no fence barriers.

The photo study project during last May was inspired by my initial reading of Bruce Percy’s ebook, “The Art of Tonal Adjustment.” and Ted Forbes’ educational video in which he reviewed low angle photography.

What childhood memories does May awaken for you? Over the past year have you been inspired by a blogger, a photographer, a writer?

I am grateful for all of those who, in a role of teacher–intentional and unintentional, were an inspiration and within the listening and processing of their worldview a new window to my world opened. One window was opened this morning with this very interesting educational video about frames of reference which I will need to replay a number of times in order ease my mental fog.

2018 photography review, january

A life review, a year review, an anniversary review, a retirement review, or a graduation review invites us to reflect upon memories and begin a private process of shifting through remembered moments as if they were grains of time in which we place into value-laden categories that generally fall into piles of “good”, “bad”, or “indifferent.” This is the ground work for the emergence of future plans, goals, and yearly resolutions.

Photography, through its visual recording of time, offers a quasi-concrete way of revisiting our yesterdays. It is the coming together of aged and blurry photographs and shared family stories that have formulated and validated the pre-memories of my childhood self beyond my birth certificate and my parent’s marriage certificate. As an aside, I have wondered about the impact cherished family photos have on remembered and shared childhood memories especially in contrast to the time before photography when family stories, diaries, paintings, drawings, songs, biblical records, and cemeteries were memory keepsakes.

At this time, I thought it would be interesting to do twelve photo review blogs of the images created during 2018 as part of the aphotostudy project I began last January. I would love to have you join me and share the photographs that highlight your blogging journey through 2018.

Also, as this year fades into memory and opens a door to 2019, I wish to express my gratitude for all of you who shared your creative endeavors, knowledge, and thoughts throughout the year. May each step you take throughout the coming days be accompanied by love, joy, and peace.

reflections from a bridge

contemplativephoto-reflection
Reflections from a Bridge    Nikon D750   f/4.2   1/400s   45m   100 ISO

I’m in a forest of tall pine trees.  Smooth river rocks and trimmed elephant grass edge a pathway covered with dark red, black, and gray colored gravel stones.  The pine trees release their scent as they sway with the breeze.  The singsong of birds fills the air as they flitter from one branch to another.  Before me I see a clearing illuminated by the rays of the morning sun.  As I step into the clearing, I feel warmth of the sun’s touch and see a house centered within a fallowed field and question, “is this home?”

As I make my way through the fallow field, I find three ancient keys lying within a dust-filled furrow.  Silver is the first key.  A knowing tells me it opens a door to a space of tranquil abiding.  Gold is the second key.  It gives admission to a room of healing serenity.  Diamonds make up the third key.  It unlocks a keepsake of my remembrances.

The awakened groan of the wood planks welcome me as I step onto the weathered porch that surrounds the house.  I find that the silver key fits the lock of an entryway door.  Before I open the door and step over the threshold, I feel compelled to turn around and, with non-judgmental awareness, attend to and then put aside all that I see within and beyond the wheat field.

I step over the threshold and feel an inviting atmosphere of affectionate acceptance that encourages me to wander unencumbered throughout the interior of the house.

I find myself at the bottom of a stairway which I ascend. On the second floor I enter a room lightened by the light of the midday sun entering a picture window painted by the landscape that extends to where the blue ridge of the sky touches the earth’s multi-green jagged horizon.  Opposite to the window is a ceiling-to-floor bookcase lined with books, aged and worn.  The warmth within this room embraces me with stillness, silence, and clarity.  My eyes light upon a small trunk and I know that it is for me.  As I pick up the trunk I find that it is light and fits with ease into the cradle of my arm.

I leave this room and again walk about the house.  I find that the gold key opens a door to a central room of calm solitude.  Stepping into this room I sense the presence of a compassionate being who introduces herself as Sophia, the aged guardian of the innermost things, “my heart hears the wordless tears and fears within your heart and feels the quiver of your heart-filled joys.  You have entered the hearth of your home, an ancient site of healing.”

I sit comfortably on the floor and open the trunk with the third key.  As I explore the contents, I understand that they are mementos of my life’s journey.  My consciousness, mind, and body move in unison with the moment of my breath’s spirit as I hold one keepsake after another. I acknowledge the memories, images, feelings that each memento evokes with the reminder that I am in a space of healing serenity and that I am not alone.

I feel a slight tugging within my heart as dark memories hidden within darker shadows accept the invitation to ride upon the in-breath of the compassionate guardian.   With their departure, my body releases long-held tears.  With my in-breath, I hear her whisper, “This is a time of healing transformation”, and I feel a wondrous golden energy spread throughout my body.

A calling beckons me from beyond this house that feels like home. I hear permission to leave with a chosen remembrance or to place whatever arose back in the trunk.  I step over the threshold; I feel an invitation to return whenever I wish.

contemplativephoto-bench
Is this Home?   f/4.3   1/400   45m   100 ISO

Excerpts from B Koeford, A Meditative Journey with Saldage

 

memories

memory1118web
Nikon D750   f/2.2   1/800 s   35 mm   ISO 100

The stream of thought flows on; but most of its segments fall into the bottomless abyss of oblivion. Of some, no memory survives the instant of their passage. Of others, it is confined to a few moments, hours, or days. Others, again, leave vestiges which are indestructible, and by means of which they may be recalled as long as life endures. 

~William James  (The Principles of Psychology, Vol.1, pg. 643)

Speaking of memories, may I introduce you to an American science-fiction film, Marjorie Prime, that was based on Jordan Harrison’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated play of the same name.

weekly photo challenge: local

rockymountains

Within the local Rocky Mountains, memories of my childhood slumber.  A drive from eastern Colorado to the western slope on Interstate 70 will awaken memories of Sunday drives over the Rockies’s treacherous passes made even more perilous with my parents in front speaking with each other and every so often to one of us four children in the back…in sign language…which requires, far way too many moments, eyes diverted from the narrow and curved roadways bordered by sudden falloffs that disappeared into deep valleys.   Yet, again and again my heart was captured and my anxiety abated by the beauty of nature forever changing within the movement of days and seasons.