Monday 24 October 2016

Pilgrim's Progress


Unbounded journey
Pursuit of enlightenment
Clarity found
Dark mind illuminated
Finally, comprehension.
- Delice Arleen Skelly, 2015

“[A pilgrimage is] taking your life for a walk.”
- Father Frank Brennan, SJ, as quoted in Tony Kevin’s book
Walking the Camino: A Modern Pilgrimage to Santiago
(Scribe Melbourne, 2007)

“Solvitur ambulando…it is solved by walking.”
- Attributed to St. Augustine

Pilgrims and pilgrimages have always fascinated me. The idea of setting off on a spiritual journey in pursuit of revelation, salvation, and healing has a tremendous appeal for me. As I wrote in an earlier posting, my father and I used to spend hours walking our farm in Prince Edward County when I was a child, thus imprinting on my heart that when I had a problem to solve or an issue to work through, I went for a walk. Best therapy around! And I’ve been doing it for seven decades.

And I’m in good company. The concept of pilgrimage is central to the faith journey for Bahá’ís, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Wiccans. Every faith community honours the journey – whether literal or metaphorical – from brokenness to healing, from confusion to insight. And you certainly don’t need to be a traditional believer to experience the power of pilgrimage – everyone has the potential to find healing and reconciliation in their own individual journeys.

I was reminded of the healing potential of pilgrimage recently while doing research for a presentation I’m making about contemplative photography at the November 6th meeting of the Prince Edward County Photography Club. In particular, Jan Phillip’s book, God Is at Eye Level/Photography as a Healing Art (Quest Books, 2000) resonated with me:

Many people I know have a love affair with photography. They’re filled with stories of transformations that occurred as they discovered photography’s power to soothe and mend the broken wing…There’s something holy about this work, something healing about this search for the light. Like the pilgrim’s journey…” (Page 8)

Her words have a particular resonance for me because my passion for photography is rooted in my own journey of restoration…my own pilgrim’s progress. In July, 2014, shortly after I retired, I injured my back painfully. An essential part of my healing were the daily walks I took to strengthen my lower back – “walking therapy”, according to my gifted physiotherapist. To add accountability to these walks, I took along my modest Canon PowerShot camera, having set myself a year-long goal of posting at least one image a day – an image actually photographed that day – to my Twitter page. Over the course of 365 days (September, 2014 to September, 2015), I posted over 550 images. As my back got better, so did my photographs. And what a superb training ground for my eyes! Suddenly, the world was filled with beauty and visual invitations at every turn. From the pain of my injured back emerged joy, passion, and delight. For me, photography has been a healing art.

With that in mind, I offer these images for your enjoyment. Until next time.

Antique Shop, Bloomfield, Ontario

Mist on Gull River, Minden, Ontario

Allen Lambert Galleria, Toronto, Ontario
(Architect: Santiago Calatrava)

Ropes on Jill's dock, Sturgeon Lake, Ontario

Labyrinth on the the grounds of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, 
Picton, Ontario

Picton Harbour

Disc harrows, Deerhaven Farm Equipment, Belleville, Ontario

Tim's bike

White feather...location unknown.

Edna on the Camino di Santiago, Spain
(with thanks to Photoshop!)

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