Monday 26 September 2016

Listening with Your Eyes!

“Listening with your eyes…”
- Peter West Nutting, Quaker Photographer

“Listening with your eyes...hearing with your heart…”
- Dawn Kincade, Multisensory Photography

“Listen with the eye – wherever the eye falls is the face of creation.”
- Sufi Saying

“Listening to someone is an extraordinary gift.”
- Kio Stark, author of When Strangers Meet:
How People You Don’t Know Can Transform You

The past week has brought an extraordinary parade of colour into my life. Wherever my eyes roamed, they were rewarded with rich, joyous, extravagant colour. What a gift! The Quaker photographer, Peter West Nutting, refers to appreciating this kind of visual magic as "listening with your eyes."

As a way of giving thanks for these colourful blessings, I’m posting these images, all recorded in the last seven days. Enjoy!

Hood ornament on a 1930s Buick, Victoria Avenue, Belleville

Bicycle helmet, Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre

Pocked front of a VIA engine, Belleville

Detail of Bill's glorious quilting

Food racks at Belleville's 200-year-old Farmers' Market

Unlikely treasures at the Hay Bay Church (1792)

Hollyhocks outside Hay Bay Church

Mailbox near Hay Bay

Fabulous fence ropes near Hay Bay

Happy flowers near Hay Bay

Hmmm - on a tree near Napanee. A mystery.

Freight car graffiti, Belleville

More freight car graffiti, Belleville

Bill's Middle Eastern vegetables, awaiting the turkey.

Steps on a CN engine, Belleville

Amazing sky and hydro wires, Belleville

So green - plants outside the Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre

Glorious orange in a planter outside the Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre

Beauty in our kitchen.

Monday 19 September 2016

Making the Ordinary Come Alive

Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is a way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.

-        William Martin, The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents.

I love this quotation. It embodies a wisdom that I have long sought to embrace but keep forgetting in the daily demands of my life. By making “the ordinary come alive,” we bring nobility, dignity, and integrity to our lives and to those whose lives we touch. David Tacey refers to the same concept in his book about Aboriginal/Australian spirituality, Edge of the Sacred (Daimon Verlag Publishing, 2009), a book I have mentioned in a previous posting. In Dr. Tacey’s words, “…we bear witness to sublime values and concerns found in ordinary places, people, and things…If there is anything sacred, let us discover it in the here and now.” (pp 184-185)

There is much wisdom in this approach to living – every encounter in our lives becomes an act of reverence and respect. As attendance in traditional places of worship declines, we can bring a sense of vibrant worship instead to every interaction in our lives.

Think what life would be like if we treated everyone and everything as holy.

Na├»ve? No doubt. But it’s the kind of world I want to live in. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

And how do I try being that change in the world? Humbly and quietly with my camera. I try to record images that honour the ordinary and bring thoughtful joy to people. 

Here are a few examples. I hope you enjoy them. As Winnie The Pooh says, “Sometimes the smallest things take the most room in your heart.”

Dawn at the Belleville VIA station.

Hay Bales Near Wellington

Mail Box, Mink Island Farm

Frances' Knitting

Frances' Fence Shoe

Frances' Spiffy New Bike

Double Wheels North of Belleville

Pink Mirror, Bridge Street, Belleville

Glorious Hosta Leaf

Saturday 10 September 2016

Sandbanks - A Domain of the Ghosts

September, 1989

Last week, Shelagh Rogers’ wonderfully delightful CBC Radio book show, “The Next Chapter”, showed up in my podcast playlist after having been absent for the summer. I have been a Shelagh Rogers fan for decades, ever since she gave her droll, witty weather forecasts on CKWS television in Kingston while she was a student at Queen’s University in the 1970s. She is now a national icon whose radio voice is instantly recognizable to book lovers across the country.

For this first program of the 2016-2017 radio season, Ms. Rogers interviewed Madeleine Thien, the Canadian author whose new book, Do Not Say We Have Nothing, has been longlisted for both the Man Booker Prize and the Scotiabank Giller Prize. The literate, engaging alchemy of these two remarkable women makes for memorable listening. (The Next Chapter/Madeleine Thien Interview

During the interview, Ms. Thien talked passionately about the profound impact that the Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 continue to have on Chinese society. When reflecting on the importance of memory in assessing this brutal chapter of Chinese history, Ms. Thien made a passing reference to “a domain of ghosts”, a phrase that has been resonating with me ever since. It especially rang true as a way of framing my experience of Sandbanks Provincial Park in Prince Edward County.

I have been regularly visiting Sandbanks’ magnificent beach and towering dunes for almost sixty years. It is a place of magic for me, a place to wander and reflect – to mark the passage of time, people, and chapters in my life. Most of the time, I have wandered the beach and the dunes alone, the main exception being my late partner, Spencer, who shared my love of the beach – but only when it was deserted and had been abandoned by the tourists. We spent time there just three weeks before he died in 2012, and I sought solace there soon after he died. So, yes, it is indeed “a domain of ghosts” for me.

Spencer, July, 2012

My retirement ritual is to now visit the beach on the Tuesday after Labour Day – a way of celebrating the many blessings of my retirement and to be reminded of how I have internalized the beauty of Sandbanks into my soul.

And so, as the new school year gets under way, I offer these images of Sandbanks Provincial Park – with my thanks for its constancy in my life. Enjoy.

"My" Tree