Saturday, November 30, 2013

Waiting Patiently

The High Desert
-capturing a moment-

Recently I had a conversation with a "photographic" artist displaying her work at a local festival.  Her mostly "desert" images were magical and mystical. Her photos somehow managed to capture a moment when everything just seemed to fit together, creating something beautiful - colors, hues, light, composition, just the right moment. 

Since I find myself taking more and more photographs of desert imagery, I asked her how she did it, what was her secret for capturing such stunning imagery? Her response came immediately, "I wait patiently for the moment to happen and I take a picture of it." 

I've been thinking about that photographer's response.  I imagine her walking out into the desert and waiting patiently.  I'm sure there are many times when she sees nothing, no magic happens, and everything seems very ordinary. So she must be patient in her waiting; but she waits because she knows the desert, and is sure that the "moment" is out there and that eventually she will find it.

My artist friend reminded me of something Henri Nouwen once said:

A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are
and live the situation to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.

In the Christian calendar, the season of Advent now begins. Many people falsely think that these days of December are a "countdown" for the festival of Christmas - a season to get ready for an event that will happen sometime in the future. 

Even if you aren't a Christian or if you aren't particularly religious at all, for many people this is still a season for getting ready -getting ready for a holiday, getting the house ready for parties, buying gifts, and decorating.

In this "holiday season," in these days before Christmas, everybody talks about how busy they are. People everywhere frenetically preparing, rushing here and there, minds pre-occupied with "to do"lists.

The fact is that this Advent season really has little if anything at all to do with "getting ready for Christmas" or preparing for a holiday event.  In fact, all the frenetic "getting ready" does nothing but distract from the beauty of what this Advent season has to offer. 

This is a season for practicing the discipline of mindfulness - patiently waiting in the present, living fully in the moment, sure that something beautiful, hidden in the ordinary world of everyday life, will manifest itself. 

December is a beautiful time for living in the desert. The long cold nights, radiant star-filled skies, a fire in the fireplace, the crisp cool days of brilliant sunlight turning the mountains into gold as the sun goes down, the blooming of brightly-colored, exotic winter flowers on the stark desert floor. It's a magical and mystical time of the year -a time filled with moments of hidden beauty waiting to manifest themselves. 

So, I'm not giving Christmas or a holiday season a second thought. I am just waiting patiently and when the "moment" happens I will take a picture of it.


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