Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life. ~ Hermann Hesse
When I embarked on what is now my photography business, I discovered a way to make my life meaningful. Initially, photography gave me my reason for getting up in the morning, getting out of the house, looking at my world, and finally creating something that I loved and was proud of. The healing process of creative photography. Later I discovered that I could work with my photographs on a deeper level.
When I photographed this wall, I was shooting an old mission and its grounds. I came upon this wall, discovered its surface defaced by thoughtless individuals, and framed a shot so I could focus on the wall and the grove of trees in the distance. Months later, as I was going through this catalog of photos, I saw this particular photo, and it took on an entirely new meaning. For me, certain photographs are like other people’s dreams. They provide symbols, metaphors, and hints of meaning. They are open for interpretation, not on a literal base, but intuitively.
In the photo, I saw the wall as a barrier in my life. The wall prevented me from entering a lovely grove of trees, the place I longed to visit for sustenance and revival. The wall was defaced by individuals who chose to follow their own impulses rather than consider the good of humanity. They chose evil over good. Beyond the wall symbolizing human indignities, the world opened into a newness, a sacred space of color and life, a place where nature could heal and provide strength to my body, mind and spirit. I wanted to stand under that grove of trees.
How could I reach that sacred space. How could I get over the wall? What were some of my options?
- I could throw my body repeatedly against this ancient wall, hoping that with frequent assaults I might wear away the barrier.
- I could scrounge for scrub wood and strong grasses, build a make-shift ladder, and climb up and over the wall.
- I could walk along the wall, following its edge until I came upon a gate or doorway, a portal into the world of greens and blues.
- Or…I could I look at the wall, its height and thickness, and give up before I even began.
The process of considering these options provided much food for thought.
I’ve created several of these vision or wisdom cards. I adhered a photograph to one side of a card and then wrote my options or questions, much like the list above, on the opposite side. I used these cards during my meditation practice, focusing on just the photograph. I also used the photo and the questions/options as prompts for journal writing.
I discovered in the process a vehicle that provided not only a way to use my art for healing, but a system that also promoted problem solving and goal setting. These simply made cards provided me with a framework in which to consider choices, make plans, and instigate changes in my life — the healing process of in-depth creative photography.
Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. This is the tenth in a series of twelve photographs from my portfolio “Barriers”. In this series, I explore the journey of claiming my story and sharing my healing process, using my photography as a stepping off platform. For the introduction to the project, see on “Heading in a New Direction.”