Ten thousand opportunities

I spent the weekend on Shaw Island, and on Saturday morning we visited my favorite beach there.  The sun was really too bright to get the kinds of images I usually shoot there, but that just meant adjusting my expectations and capturing a different sort of beauty.

Looking over the results of my labors this morning (and there weren't all that many shots from this trip, which was more about people and connection than about photography), I found I really liked this one.  I think it's because the rocks -- which could certainly be perceived as obstacles, interfering with progress toward some distant goal -- are actually marvelous graphic elements; a vital piece of the total picture.

... which, of course, is what obstacles often are, if we can stop fixating on the frustration, step back, and take a look at the total picture.  We found a wonderful book in the Shaw house -- which I suspect may have been left there by some kind, well-meaning friend, as I didn't remember ever having seen it before -- and though I can't quote it exactly, it pointed out that the instantaneous urge to curse when you stub your toe on a rock is really a kind of prayer -- certainly an invocation to the Gods.

So -- it pointed out -- if you were to notice that, you could then turn your second response (after that first aggravated "Goddamnit") into a breath and a blessing -- i.e., breathe, space, and then "Bless, O Lord, my poor swollen toe."  My sense was that if we could get in the habit of seeing obstacles that way it would bring us that much closer to integrating our contemplative practice with everyday life.

... which makes me think of that wonderful Thomas Keating story, of the nun who complained that her Centering Prayer experience was consumed by tenthousand thoughts, to which Keating replied, "How lovely!  Ten thousand opportunities to return to God!"


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