There are few sights as beautiful as a sunset on a river. The light is dim, inviting a time of deep relaxation and contemplation. The sunlight is bright, but understated, almost as if it whispers to the soul. Breezes are gentle and the cicadas sing their lyrical songs. Some have called them the crying cicadas of sunset.
The image above of the Maumelle River in Arkansas calls out to me, “Peace can be found in this place.” And I am reminded that places of peace in my life are rare. Although peace is something my spirit longs for, I am trapped in mundane days and meaningless scenes.
I escape with photography and art. When I cannot physically sit on the banks of a flowing river, the photographs take me there. Even when I cannot physically go to a place where cicadas sing, believe it or not, I can listen to them on YouTube! I readily admit that this is a rather pitiful facsimile of nature’s captivating beauty. But, still, my appreciation of art and landscape photography feeds my soul. I am grateful for the artists that bring the world to life with their images.
Although many of us are imprisoned by our lives and separated from sunsets and rivers, God finds ways to caress our souls and fill us with grace. For me, art is the medium, my pathway to relaxation and contemplation. I can look at this photograph of the sunset on the river for hours, and I can find in the image the peace I so need. Even the stillness of the image moves my spirit beyond my circumstance. It’s called Contemplative Visual Practice, and it includes the following steps:
*Bring your attention to the present.
*Take several deep breaths and release them slowly.
*Release the to-do-lists yet to do…you can always pick them back up later if you wish.
*Gaze over the photo…take it all in…just as it is.
*Pause for several moments.
*Notice if a particular area of part of the image keeps drawing your eye.
*Notice if it is the entire image which is resonating with you.
*Savor what you are noticing.
*Let your imagination free to ponder the possibilities of what the Spirit is saying to you.
I thank God that I am able to escape through images, especially when sunlit rivers are so far away.