A contemplative photography and image workshop from SDI
90 minutes each. Sessions will be recorded.
Hosted by Matt Whitney, SDI Creative Director, and The Rev. Wilfredo Benitez, Contemplative Artist-in-Residence
· We will utilize Zoom Breakout Rooms, in which all participants will have opportunity to “go deeper” via the sharing of their own photos and small group companionship.
· We will focus on the act of seeing – taking long, loving looks at the images we make, and discerning the Sacred that slowly reveals itself.
· We will practice sharing our sacred stories through our images.
· Acquire new techniques around how we see, learn how to describe our own images, and articulate how the Divine shows up in our images. A potential addition to the spiritual directors/companions toolkit!
· All photographers, artists, imagemakers, and amateurs are welcome!
Session 1: Photo Visio Divina (Divine Seeing) - Uncovering the Sacred in a Photograph
…Merton… …invites us to… … notice that our meditations are complete when we can use the lens of a camera to see the interiority or the art forms of the world around us. The camera frames our world so that we can transform it into an image that speaks to the soul and spirit, and is an object of contemplation. – Thomas Moore
This session will be an opportunity to practice and apply Visio Divina (sacred gazing) to photography, and explore how the Transcendent can speak silently through an image. This spiritual exercise can serve as a catalyst for participants to engage in, or expand, their contemplative photography practice.
Session 2: The Camera as a Tool for Contemplative Practice
“On my last visit with him (Thomas Merton) before his trip to Asia, we went out together to photograph. He had now developed a photographer’s eye. He became excited by almost everything he saw – the peeling paint on window facings, plants, weeds, the arrangement of a stack of wood chips… I photographed him in an act of photographing, an activity in which his joy was unblemished and which added a special aura of happiness to his features. – John Griffin
In this session the use of the camera will be explored as a tool for contemplative practice. Simple steps that can guide this practice, with an emphasis on being present to one’s surroundings, will be explored.
Session 3: Sharing Your Contemplative Photographic Images .
The sweep and serenity of a landscape, fields and hills are enough to keep a contemplative riding the quiet interior tide of their peace for hours at a time. – Thomas Merton
This will be an opportunity for participants to share their images, and their experiences making these images with a particular focus on “seeing beyond seeing,” and getting lost in the contemplative/unitive moment of seeing with the interior eye.
Session 4: Completing the Circle: The Movement from Visio Divina to Contemplative Photography.
The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.” – Meister Eckhart
This session will focus on image making as a full circle from the moment one see’s what has caught the attention of the interior eye, to the actual making of an image that speaks to the soul.
The Reverend Wilfredo Benitez
The Rev. Wilfredo Benitez, M.S.Ed., M.Div., is an ordained Episcopal priest, and is currently the Priest In Charge of Saint John’s Episcopal Church, in Stamford, CT. He received his certification in Spiritual Direction from the Haden Institute, and has extensive interfaith experience. He is known as an artist (Contemplative Photographer) poet, and activist; and someone who bridges Western and Eastern spiritual practices. Through Spiritual Companioning he makes himself available as an Anam Cara (Celtic for spiritual friend or companion). Through this process he is fully present offering a listening and discerning heart. Discerning the silent voice of Spirit is central to his spiritual companioning.
Matt is the Creative Director for SDI. A multidisciplinary artist and educator who grew up in the Pacific Northwest and lives in Seattle, he works between drawing, painting, photography, video, design and illustration. He is the host of SDI’s weekly podcast, SDI Encounters, which engages in conversations around spiritual direction, contemplative practice, and spiritual care. He is currently training to be a spiritual director through the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute, an interspiritual program sourced in the Perennial Tradition, and as a meditation facilitator through Spiritual Paths, a resource for helping others discern and create authentic contemplative practice.