Photography has been an important thread running through much of my life—as you can easily see if you explore the daily postings on my Instagram account! I’ve been taking photos for as long as I can remember, in part because I grew up in a family where photos were a focus, taken and treasured.
I also remember more intentionally reconnecting with photography when I moved back to the Desert Southwest in 2006. In our first months living in New Mexico, Henry and I traveled around and photographed several parts of the state as we waited, watched, and prayed about how Henry’s ministry would unfold. This land is sacred to me, and it was a blessing to have the opportunity to reconnect with it through contemplative photography.
I’ve been thinking recently about the contemplative nature of photography because the past year has become a saga (which I can share in more detail with those who are interested, but it’s too long—and rather off-topic—for this blog!) to replace my beloved Nikon D90 camera, which was first introduced in 2008 and has become somewhat unreliable in its dotage. As you can probably imagine, very little digital technology lasts that long these days.
I think I’ve finally found my new camera, as I enjoyed a lovely photo session at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum on Saturday. I’m still getting to know this new camera (a Nikon Z5), but I like it. As we were wandering and photographing, I realized it might be fun to intentionally reflect here on some camera-related terms and connect them with the spiritual life.
So, I’m beginning today with a brief focus(!) on focus. In camera terms, it’s about adjusting the lens so that what is captured with the camera is not blurry or indistinct but has clear visual definition. In spiritual terms, it’s about recognizing that we benefit from focusing our attention on specific elements of our spiritual lives in a world that so often gives us more information than we can possibly absorb.
For example, you could ponder what you would like to focus on in prayer and study. It might be reading and reflecting on the psalms, for example (something I’ve done often here). It might be choosing a certain aspect of the spiritual life that you want to learn more about or commit to practicing regularly (such as sacred chant or lectio divina). It might be that you want to focus on a segment of society that needs your prayerful attention, ardent advocacy, and/or financial support.
So, I invite you to ponder focus. What is your spiritual focus these days? What has become blurry or indistinct and needs attention to bring it back into focus?