A Practice of Photography
by Ryan Klinck
As we prepare to begin a new series of devotional thoughts in a couple of weeks, we are taking this time to spotlight some new work of several Missional Wisdom Foundation staff members.
This past semester at Perkins School of Theology, I led groups of students through a spiritual practice that I designed for a final project in my Spiritual Practices and Pathways class. This spiritual practice interwove aspects of lectio divina, silence, iconography, and film photography into prayer space. Many students were moved by the experience, especially during a time when they were overwhelmed with finals.
To participate in this practice, you will simply need a place to sit, a camera or phone to take a picture with, a timer, a journal or piece of paper, and something to write with.
Step 1: Gather yourself or a small group together in a comfortable seated position. Take a minute or two of silence to get in touch with your feelings, right here and right now, in this moment. After a minute or two, begin to look around. As you look with attention to what is around you, begin to look for something that connects to how you are feeling. Think of it as a place to anchor what you are feeling. Once you have located this something, take your camera or phone and take a picture of it. You may only take ONE picture of the item. Be very intentional and careful when you take the picture. Know that if it is blurry or not quite how you want the picture to be, it is okay. This one picture you have taken is a gift from God.
Step 2: Return to your seated space after taking the picture. Take three more minutes of silent time to intentionally pray with God concerning your feelings. You may do this in any way you like. You can close your eyes, look around you, or look at your picture, but sit and be with your feelings and God for three minutes.
Step 3: After the three minutes are up, speak or listen to someone in the group to speak the following question: “What does God want you to pay attention to right now?” Give the question some space and repeat it again. “What does God want you to pay attention to right now?” Allow that question to fall into the depths within you. Sit with this question for another three minutes in silence
Step 4: After three minutes, allow yourself to again look around the room and to pay attention to your surroundings. As your eyes wander, begin to look for something in the space that connects to “what God wants you to pay attention to.” When you find that something, take your phone or camera, and take a second picture with it. Again, only take ONE picture.
Step 5: After taking the second picture, return to the seated area. Bring up both of the pictures if your camera or phone has that capacity. (If your camera is a film camera, get the photos developed and then meet up with your group at a later time to reflect together on it). Take this time to reflect by writing in either your journal or on a piece of paper on why you took the first picture and then why you took the second picture. After reflecting personally on why you took each picture, take some time to share your reflection with your group. Share with a friend if you did this activity individually.
These two pictures are now icons for you, ways in which you can look back upon and gaze, gateways to an encounter with God.
Two examples from the project:
Invitation to Missional Mindfulness: Set aside fifteen minutes to do this activity, then, if you feel comfortable doing so, share your photos with a brief reflection to our Facebook page.