spirituality in photography:

one congregation's experience with contemplative photography (a form of visio divina)

Central Christian Church in Indianapolis ...

... invited folks to gather on a Saturday morning to participate in an experience to consider photography as spiritual practice. Founded on processes initially offered by Christine Valters Paintner, each member of the group received and created a digital photograph that offered meaning and/or moved them deeply.

At the bottom of this page are a few of the images received that Saturday.

For your own practice, you are invited to use these photos with a process offered by the Through The Lens worshipping community in Sioux Falls, S.D. Here's how:

1. Select one of the images below to which you are especially drawn. Click on the photo to enlarge, and then click the pause button to keep the frame from moving to the next image.

2. Take a moment to pause. Position your body in a comfortable seating position with good posture; focus on your breathing; take breaths that are slow and deep, until you feel yourself settling into a more relaxed state.

3. When you are ready, be mindful to notice as much as you can about the image – objects, patterns, shapes, textures, lines, light, shadows and colors. What do you see?

4. Now, look deeper. Where are your eyes drawn? What feelings or judgments arise? Do you have any memories of your past emerging? Engaging your imagination, enter the image and walk around. Where are you? What are you doing? Do you see something differently from this vantage point? What relationships do you notice?

5. How do you see G_d in the image. How does the image enlighten your relationship with G_d; what qualities do you notice?

5. After a while, when you are ready, pause once more to focus on your breathing, deep and slow, but natural.

6. Now, allow the image to lead you into a time of prayer. Silently, offer prayers to God of gratitude, anguish, confession, or praise – whatever you find stirring inside you.

7. Readjust your sitting position once more, if needed, so that you are comfortable. You can continue looking at the image with a soft gaze, or close your eyes and imagine the image with the eyes of your soul. Release tension in your neck, shoulders, arms, hands, legs and feet. Breathe deeply and slowly. Find your quiet center. Rest in this quiet, being open to God’s presence within you. If your mind wanders, do not worry, look at the image again, or bring an awareness of the image into your mind.

8. When ready, open your eyes. Breathe deeply.  Be gentle with yourself and have no expectations of grand revelations. The point is to practice and to offer quiet time to be attentive to God’s presence.

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(click here to download a PDF copy version of the 8-step process shown above)