March Week 1 – capturing the power of gentleness

March 1 - deer  WEBThe deer, ever gentle and graceful, beckon us into the wilderness of our hearts to learn the art of offering kindness to all living things.  At least that was the message I was hoping to capture in the portrait of this young deer in the Marin Headlands, just a few miles from the financial district of San Francisco.

I have learned from Jamie Sams (Medicine Cards Santa Fe: Bear and Company, 1988) that deer invite us to consider that there are other ways than violence to deal with one another and our environment; they show us that there is a power in the gentle word and touch, and that strength comes through caring.  Who can look into the eyes of this gentle animal and not be moved to feel compassion and kindness — towards others and ourselves?  Gentleness has the power to melt hearts of stone.  Those huge eyes seemed to be pleading: “Come, let us practice tenderness and loving-kindness in our lives today”

In the photograph, the background tonalities are the same as the deer, so, in order to both “see” and “hear” the message of the deer, I chose to render the background soft (out of focus) so it would not compete with the deer for our attention.

March 1 - poppy WEBSelective focus is a cherished artistic tool as well as a powerful skill for visionary planning.  Everything around the main subject/point needs to gently flow away or towards the focus point.  That is the mood that the center of a California poppy evokes when the petals are represented as cascading hues of orange and yellow.

The rains are returning to the drought-hardened mountains and meadows of California.  The wildflower crops may be fewer, but the first blooms don’t have the seasonal tall grasses to overshadow them.  If you pass a meadow of wildflowers and see someone sprawled out among them, it is likely to be me.  Please stop and say hello.  I urge you to try out my method of close-up nature photography – sit down on the ground, anywhere, and start composing!

A prayer so appropriate for the wildflowers blooming around and within us comes from Mary Kathleen Speegle Schmitt in her Seasons of the Feminine Divine – Cycle A.  Christian Feminist Prayers for the Liturgical Cycle:

You fulfill your promise of grace
through the pouring out of yourself
    upon the sun-scorched land
that thirsts, that cries out for your
Raise up within us the flowing stream
    of your Wisdom:
that, fed by your mercy and compassion,
we bring into bloom your justice and peace,
    world without end.
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