Photography : Coming together with all levels of experience and expertise, we will work together and as individuals to explore the theme of ‘Journey’ – we will make connections with our own journeys. You will need a digital camera of any standard (or be able to process your own film!). If you have editing software you may also want to bring laptop etc.
Saturday 18 July : Sessions 1-4
After an initial introduction, members of this group went off site to Holt Church. Having been briefed appropriately individuals were given free rein to explore the church and surrounding area. With the theme very much in mind, photographs were taken to reflect different aspects of key verses in the Psalm. After lunch, the group spent time walking around Hallow, seeking to add to the images gathered earlier in the day.
On Sunday morning, all groups had one more session to put the finishing touches to their work. This group had uploaded their work to a central source and then spent time discussing how these images could best be arranged to reflect the sequence of verses in the psalm itself.
You can view these images by clicking on the following link:
Each member of this group was invited to share some aspect of why a particular image was important to them.
“With the 23rd Psalm in mind and in particular verse 2b ‘He leads me beside quiet waters’ I was able to take this (see below) photograph. Three swans seemed to line up for me and then along came a fourth, so serenely and watchful. The fourth swan’s presence and the reflections both reminded me of a continuing theme for me for the weekend, that God is with us and will never leave us. How deep the Father’s love for us; His abiding love!”
1. We gathered as the Photography group – all feeling a little nervous about whether we were up to the task but also excited about the possibilities which lay ahead as we stepped into the ‘sacred space’ offered to us by the weekend. An inspiration for what we were doing came from Timothy Joyce who writes: “To wish to learn from the Celtic Christian is to wish to sense the passionate presence of God in all of life. It is to find God in the ordinary events of life, love, eating, working, playing. . . . It is also to perceive that time and place do not separate us from what we ordinarily do not see and sense. The ancient Celts believed that the other world was always close to us and became apparent in the ‘thin times’ and ‘thin places’ in which the veil that usually obscured them was lifted.”
2. We started with a carefully selected set of photos chosen to indicate different life situations, emotions etc. Each had the opportunity to choose the photo which best represented a response to the question : Where are you on your journey at the moment?
3. In order to consider the second key question : ‘Where is God on your journey at the moment?’… we read Psalm 23 slowly a couple of times through and asked : ‘Does any of this imagery tie in with your story? Where is your current meeting point with God?’
4. From these starting points, we moved on to brainstorm the imagery of Psalm 23, with a view to setting out to begin our photographic journey together :
Sheep and shepherds
Paths, tracks, signposts etc
Darkness and challenge/valleys
Comfort, protection, rods and staffs
5. We then divided up the rest of the day – outside of the times of corporate worship, shared meals and ten pin bowling – to photography. Distinction was made between taking photographs in an ‘unthinking’ way and taking photographs with an awareness of the presence of God with each other and our theme from Psalm 23. We were encouraged to be aware of God’s presence with us as we walked and looked around. To take photographs more slowly than we might otherwise do… perhaps to take less photos. Concentrating on the parts of the Psalm which coincided most with our own journeys, we travelled to a shared location around Holt Church in the morning and then to various separate locations on foot in the afternoon.
6. Regathering at the end of the day we surveyed where we had been, what we had seen and experienced on our own journey through the day – where had our journeys had crossed? Each was invited to choose their favourite 10 – 15 photos over night to share with each other on Sunday morning – together with the one image which spoke most clearly of God’s presence with us on our journey.
So let’s look back at our original two questions – ‘Where are you on your journey?’ and ‘Where is God on your journey?’ In the end we discover the answer to both questions is the same – where you are on your journey is where God is too – that is his promise. And, because God is beyond the limitations of our grammatical tenses, that can also be interpreted in all the tenses – I am where you have been/where you are/where you will be… etc
7. Finally we gathered on Sunday morning to share these highlights and form them into a Photo Presentation to accompany a choral version of Psalm 23 by Tenebrae.
8. Finally we joined with the other groups to share the work we had produced and the experiences we had gained of God with us and in us along the way. What had the experience meant to us? It was tremendously moving to see the quality of art produced in such a short time – but even more so the overwhelming sense of the presence of God amongst us as we shared and worshipped together.