Sep 7 2011

My Obsession With Seeing

I have an obsession about seeing.  This is true for me both as a Christian and as a photographer.  As a Christian I long to see God.  I realize that I will never see God in all His fullness and glory this side of heaven but I also know that there is far more of Him to be seen than I have thus far experienced.  In the musical Godspell the song “Day By Day” begins with the words, “Day by day three things I pray: to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly and follow thee more nearly day by day.”  That is my prayer too.

As a nature photographer I also long to see the world around me more clearly. I’ve been doing nature photography long enough to know that I often miss much when I’m out shooting.  That’s why I usually pray before I go out to photograph.  I ask God to help me to see Him in His Creation and also to help me see more of the wonders in His Creation.  Andreas Feininger once wrote that “a camera is an instrument for intensified seeing.”   I truly believe that with God’s help my camera can help me see better.

In recent days I’ve continued to read Richard Rohr’s book, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See.  As the title suggests, he has a lot to say about seeing in this book.  Several things he’s said has caused me to pause and think.  For example, at one point he says “We see what we are ready to see, expect to see, and even desire to see.”  I suspect he is right about that and this has implications for both my spiritual and photographic vision.  I need to be “ready” to see more; “expect” to see more; and “desire” to see more.

In another chapter Rohr writes, “We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are.”   Who I am truly does affect how I see and experience both God and His Creation.   There are experiences from my past that may well limit how I see things.  Hopefully I can be conscious of how this affects my spiritual and photographic eye.  I am not, however, bound to my past.  I can, and likely shall, have new experiences that will enable me to see God and His Creation more clearly.  Some of these experiences I will have control over, others I will not.  The main thing is to always be open to learning and growing so that I can see better.

In yet another chapter Rohr says “Good religion…is always about seeing rightly.”  Here he quotes Jesus’ words found in Matthew 6:22, “The lamp of the body is the eye; if your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light.”  I know that Rohr is right.  That, once again, is why I’m obsessed about seeing more clearly.  For me there is even a connection with seeing more clearly photographically and seeing more clearly spiritually.  I really do want to see more clearly but by now you’ve already figured that out.

–Chuck

(The three images above were taken last month during a trip to Breaks Interstate Park, a location about 30 miles from my home.)