Can a photograph be a prayer?
During a recent retreat program this year, I briefly mentioned the prayer form known as Visio Divina, which means Divine Seeing. In the Catholic Church, we use visuals for just about everything to remind us and bring us into prayer with God. Crucifixes, statues, images, and paintings all fall into the category. Most of what is in the Church (images) have a theological, spiritual or ecclesiastical meaning. So what about those items in our everyday lives.
During the retreat, we looked at everyday items and discussed their relevance to our mission as Catholics. A water bottle, a journal, even a life jacket all can be handled and seen where God has created something which has purpose and meaning in our lives. I wonder if you notice everyday items in your life?
For myself, a photograph is something of value; often holding a spiritual significance. When we decide to take a photograph of someone or something, there is usually a meaning behind it. Perhaps we want to revisit that moment or situation? Maybe we want to share it with another, to bring this joy to another who cannot be there at the same time.
Imagine you were going to a desert island and you could bring three images with you? What would they be? Who would be in those images? Which images can you study and notice more than is there on first glance? We often see this in paintings, as we pry out or interpret the meaning of the artist. While we are looking at the image, we are also seeing the soul of the artist in some way; even if the artist did not intend it.
Perhaps this week we can look at some photographs and meditate on them. What are we seeing? Someone or something we love, or perhaps less so? What emotions does the photograph evoke? Love, desire, sacrifice, rejection, perhaps sadness. Take a moment and consider it. When you have come in contact with your feelings, then ask what God might be saying to me in this image, and in my reflecting on the image? Is God calling to me? What is that call?
I am attaching an image which to many might seem meaningless. It was taken at Valyermo in the high desert, California. Not that is really relevant to its meaning.
As yourself a few questions about this image. What do the stones represent? Why are some out of focus? What did the photographer have in mind, when you might have passed by these everyday items?
Then perhaps, you can ask yourself the question. Can a photograph be a prayer? Do I have any photographs which I might consider to be a prayer?
Copyright 2019 Reflection and Photography Michael J. Cunningham O.F.S.