Take A Closer Look - One Inch Photos
Not one blade of grass is not blessed
“ No blade of grass is not blessed” - Thomas Merton
I once knew a couple who were both gifted visual artists. Terry’s paintings looked like beautiful aerial vistas. It was if he were a bird flying above wide impressionistic midwestern fields, dotted here and there with small bales of hay. Evelyn’s paintings looked as if she were lying belly down and at eye level in that same gorgeous field, giving the viewer an image of the ground close up, textured stones, dry sticks and green blades pushing up through the damp earth. Both versions of the world were beautiful, each with their own perspective of the large and small things that pulled at their hearts and caught their attention and fascination.
Years ago I began a practice of taking photos while walking in the woods. I carry my iPhone (turning off the notifications and ringer) and take photos using a (more or less) one inch frame. Like Evelyn, I get very close, creating detailed images of the veins of leaves, the 200 year old wrinkles and canyon like crags in old oak trees, the mysterious beech eyes calmly watching over the ridge line. I have photos of the smallest black tadpoles in gelatinous frog eggs, the lacy filigree of ice at the edge of the creek, ancient geode crystals the impressions left in the grass where a deer recently slept. I am chagrinned to say that I have limited photos of graduations and 4th of July gatherings, but I have an amazing record of the many acorn caps I’ve encountered, as well as details of moss, the centers of asters and purple bluebell buds. I scroll through my days and see how shapes are repeated in the shell of a snail and the curled fern fiddlehead. I wonder at how the veins of a leaf repeat the fractal pattern of a tree, and the veins themselves are lined with another level of delicate repeating lines. I delight at the random wild hairs that grow out of the back of striped wooly worms, not unlike the wild hairs that sometimes grow out of older men’s ears. How the there is evidence of creatures in the limestone around the creek that long ago this valley was covered by a shallow sea. There is a photo of the crease where two trees entwined and the happy pebbly surface of my dog’s nose. I have captured the glow of the light shining through the wings of a bee and the tiny dents in the creek eddy made by the feet of water strider bugs.
What has emerged from this practice is an appreciation of detail, an utter delight in what will surprise me each day, and the assurance that if I slow down and really look, miracles always, always abound.
When I was a girl, a friend up the street got a magnifying glass for her birthday. For hours we would fancy ourselves the neighborhood Watson and Holmes (taking turns who got to be who that day). We explored the way ants would carry pieces of bread crumbs, the relative size of a boulder, back to their anthill home. We peered at beads of dew shining on a spiderweb and wondered how it is that somethings get more beautiful the closer you looked.
Yes, my heart swells at an expanse of sky or the depth of the grand canyon and a wide sunset over Lake Michigan calls up a long sigh. I am deeply grateful for these amazing long views and inspiring vistas. But somehow I am always drawn back to small daily wonders, beckoned close where I can smell the earthy ground, close enough to hear the whisper of wings and see most subtle shapes and repeating patterns.
Practice & Question:
Go outside and take a few photos of things using a 1 inch frame. Come back, scroll through the images.
Did you see something new? Did you notice something new when you looked more carefully? Describe what you saw in your comment.
(All Photos by Carrie Newcomer Except Ariel Burger portrait)
The Gathering of Spirits Concert June 5th
Thank you to my Supporting Subscribers and those of you who’ve supported my work throughout the years. If you’re not yet a Supporting Subscriber and are interested in learning more, you can find more information below. Though most of the content on this page is free, Supporting Subscribers get a few fun extras including the upcoming A Gathering of Spirits Concert on June 5th! Gary, Allie, and I will be playing together and premiering our new song from the Community Songwriting Project. I hope you will join us! I’ll be sending a Mandolin link soon to Supporting Subscribers!
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For more details visit my tour page www.carrienewcomer.com/tour
May Podcast - Episode 44: Memory, Witness & Lessons From Elie Wiesel's Classroom - A Conversation With Ariel Burger
This month on The Growing Edge podcast. Parker and Carrie talk with Ariel Burger, author, teacher, and artist whose work integrates spirituality, the arts and strategies for social change. An Orthodox-trained rabbi, Ariel received his Ph.D. in Jewish Studies and Conflict Resolution under Elie Wiesel. We explore topics from Ariel's book Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel's Classroom, his work as founding director and senior scholar of The Witness Institute, the nature of hope, navigating conflict, and the intersection of spirituality and art. It’s a conversation that stimulates reflection and inspires hope. To listen, CLICK HERE