Blinking in the Sun

When you have been
at war with yourself
for so many years that
you have forgotten why,
when you have been driving
for hours and only
gradually begin to realize
that you have lost the way,
when you have cut
hastily into the fabric,
when you have signed
papers in distraction,
when it has been centuries
since you watched the sun set
or the rain fall, and the clouds,
drifting overhead, pass as flat
as anything on a postcard;
when, in the midst of these
everyday nightmares, you
understand that you could
wake up,
you could turn
and go back
to the last thing you
remember doing
with your whole heart:
that passionate kiss,
the brilliant drop of love
rolling along the tongue of a green leaf,
then you wake,
you stumble from your cave,
blinking in the sun,
naming every shadow
as it slips.
~Joyce Sutphen “From Out the Cave” from Straight Out of View

Rather than mindfulness, I try to practice something I call “heartfulness.” Instead of staying so much inside my head while going through the necessary motions of everyday routine, I try to make sense of my place and purpose in the world to invest my heart in it. I pay attention to what is happening around me – the sights, sounds, smells – to where my feet will land next and to where my hands might extend to serve. For internally focused people like me, it helps to stretch my vision and my actions beyond my own needs.

It is like waking from a troubled sleep, and seeing familiar surroundings that have been in shadow, cast in a new light for the first time. When I first bought a phone with a camera over a decade ago, I started looking at the world differently, eager to capture the subtle changes I witnessed throughout the time of day and seasonal progression. Sometimes I receive feedback that my photos look “all the same” – they are only two-dimensional versions of what I see around me. Indeed, how can a photo communicate the fresh feel of dew-dawn air, or the crunch of snow underfoot, or the scent of spring blossoms or the smell of badly needed rain? My photo becomes my hook back to a focused moment of heartfulness for me — my reminder of what ‘was’ and ‘is” and what ‘will be again.’

As I climb out of the relative safety of my dark “cave” – a place we all retreat to when life is simply too much – I stand astonished and heart-full, blinking at the sun, aware that I’m meant to witness all that is beyond me.

And simply to share and tell about it as best I can.


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2 thoughts on “Blinking in the Sun

  1. It was heart breaking to me that someone told you your pictures look all the same. Your photos make me long to paint when I’ve been stuck in “art-fear” for so long… we ache for beauty. A medicine for sorrow. And you bring it. I don’t know how to pass on the moments I long to pass on, just like you catch photos that cannot hold the moment, just the image of the moment. As a teenager we lived at a hotsprings camp in the blue mountains with a series of pools nestled in a meadow surrounded by mountains and tall trees. I remember being alone in the morning sun and diving in, letting myself sink to the bottom, my arms floating above me weightless, then pushing off and raising up to break surface, gasping air and sinking again, the green water pierced by the fingers of sunlight and the sparkling bubbles of my breath rising while I sank. Over and over and over. My first experience of meditation and focused breathing before I’d ever heard of such things. The wet ropes of hair as I clamored out to lie in the grass. Beauty everywhere I looked. And it felt like life would always be like that. Now I ache to pass the moment to someone who is hurting and I cannot. To show how it was and it can’t be done. So I understand the need to take photos even if other people don’t understand the longing in them.

    Liked by 1 person

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