Contemplative Photography & Reflections

Tag: Light

Bathed in Light

Bathed in Light

A few evenings ago while taking a walk, I was stopped in my tracks by the irresistible sight of the late day sunlight illuminating chartreuse-toned, newborn leaves up in the trees. It was a stop-and-take-a-picture moment, which is my version of stopping and smelling the roses (except for when there are actual roses to smell!).

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that can transport us into awe, joy, and gratitude if we are receptive to them. If we can even notice them in the first place. I am passionate about photographing such “magic moments” and have a library of nearly 10,000 images that is essentially a visual gratitude journal. It helps me to remember. It uplifts me. And it trains me to see the light in this world. Holding that frequency is what I feel called to do. There are others who focus on the darkness. There are some who insist, “If you’re not angry, then you’re not paying attention!” There are those who are committed to finding solutions. There is room in this world for all of us. However, I know my place. I’m here to hold the light. Not in a Pollyanna sense, but in a despite-it-all sense.

I woke up this morning thinking of someone who often disturbs my inner peace. I tend to hold a negative opinion of this person, even though I realize s/he is hurting and has reasons for his/her behavior. Then the image of the sunlit, baby leaves popped into my mind, and I imagined visualizing people who annoy or upset me bathed in the kind of light that illuminated the tender leaves. I noticed how it felt to even think about doing that. My defenses were up. Why, though? What is so threatening about seeing people illuminated in the most flattering way, from an angle that allows us to perceive their goodness, which I believe is inherent in everyone, even if it’s buried deeply – perhaps beneath an overwhelming desire to be loved and accepted?

Hmm… It felt like my ego asserting itself again. (I named her Susie Q, by the way.) Cling to an unflattering view of someone else to…make me feel better about myself? Simplify my world? But the feeling of tightening, closing, and cutting myself off doesn’t feel good. It feels like shrinking and constricting. It doesn’t feel intuitively right.

It feels much better to soften, open, and connect with someone’s higher nature, to bathe him/her in the light of love and compassion. It doesn’t mean I have to do anything differently. I don’t necessarily have to get any closer, interact more, make myself vulnerable, or take on responsibility that isn’t mine. It’s really not about the other person as much as it’s about freeing myself from a narrow, limiting view that prevents me from expanding and evolving (which is what I think I’m ultimately here for).

All I know is that it feels good in every cell of my being when I’m able to shine some love and compassion on the stories Susie Q creates and to see others as beings of light rather than boundaries by which I define myself. And I am grateful for the power of images to awaken me so that, like the sunlit leaves freshly emerged from tight buds, I can open and expand and gather more light.

If you’re not doing so already, I invite you to follow me on Facebook and Instagram!


The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2017. SHARING IS CARING, and I appreciate my work being shared with others! Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (River-Bliss.com). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. In other words, I put my heart and soul into my writing and photography and want to be credited for it and have some traffic sent my way. It’s the high vibration thing to do!  🙂 

Sometimes the Universe Conspires

Sometimes the Universe Conspires

Sometimes the Universe seems to conspire to ensure that certain works are accomplished or (in my case) images are captured. You can call it intuition, inspiration, or various other names. It’s the voice that might literally wake you up so you can be in the right place at the right time and sometimes employs unwitting accomplices.

That happened to me yesterday morning, after staying up late doing research. At 6:00 a.m., my phone rang. It was the director of a private school calling to ask if I could fill in for the day. I had to decline because I had promised to care for my granddaughter for a few hours. After taking the call, I realized I wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep, although I closed my eyes to try. But something about the misty morning light compelled me to get out of bed, despite not feeling as rested as I wanted to be.

It had been a while since I’d photographed a river sunrise, mainly because of my late night work habits. It was a shocking 7° (F) outside and a morning when I’d prefer to stay indoors. But something wonderful was about to happen. I could feel it and (as I’ve said before) have learned to trust that feeling. So I put on my warm clothes, coat, and shoes and went to the chilly river’s edge to photograph the sunrise, which looked rather like a painting.

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If there is a way to predict the “wow” value of sunrises and sunsets, I have yet to discover it. But the pink-orange mist was intriguing, so I stayed outside to see how it would develop.

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As the sun began to climb the trees, the way it played with the trees and appeared to stretch their branches with golden light was phenomenal. In my four years of photographing sunrises on the river, I’d never witnessed that particular effect so intensely.

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It made me think of Moses and the burning bush – for the trees were “on fire” with brilliant light but not consumed. I hoped I could capture it exactly as it appeared so as to express what drew me to it and stopped me in my tracks – because when a sight grabs you like that, there must be some kind of spiritual nugget in it.

I selected the image below to share online because the way the various elements came together was most pleasing to me. The deciding factor was the relationship between the branches stretched by sunlight in the center of the image and the branches across the river in the lower right corner that seemed to reach out to them. That spoke to me.

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After I shared the image, people reported being drawn to different elements of it and seeing certain shapes and symbols in the sunlit trees. I’m fascinated by how we gravitate to certain images or elements and discover meaning or satisfaction in them. When we gravitate toward an image, it’s an invitation to go deeper. We can consider what calls us to it. What is our connection to it? What does it stir in us? What longing does it satisfy? What does it reflect that is alive in us?

As I contemplated the above image, the words that arose from it were: Source it higher. Fuel your life from a higher source. Gas station and food metaphors came to mind. Tapping into ordinary consciousness is like filling up with regular gas or fast food that makes you feel jittery. But there are higher quality options, like premium gas or farm-to-table, organic meals containing a rainbow of nutrients that leave you feeling truly nourished and energized. A beautiful soul who adopted the name Peace Pilgrim said, “Junk thoughts can destroy you even more quickly than junk food.” That is the idea I’m trying to convey.

My infant granddaughter, Ava, arrived soon after I photographed the sunrise. She napped a few times during the course of our time together. She fell asleep in my arms, when I swayed gently with her, and when I lay her on my bent legs so we could face each other. As she rested in her human cradle, I found myself feeling bad about conditions in her life. But then I heard, “Source it higher” and recalled the luminous image of the sunrise trees – and lifted into a state of trust. I thought of how many challenging circumstances I’ve lived through and realized that my own life experience will help me to trust in her strength and guide her to discover her own strength and resilience. It seemed the spectacular sunrise was the source of the energy I was giving Ava – the energy she was feeding on, even as she slept.

“Source it higher,” backed by the sunrise image, has quickly become my new mantra that helps to dispel worry and fear. It reminds me to unplug myself from a lower source of energy and tap into a higher, more luminous source. Without a mother or grandmother in my life anymore, it seems to be up to me to hold the faith and nurture subsequent generations. Connecting with that light eases my worries and allows me to trust what is and what is in the process of becoming.

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The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2016. SHARING IS CARING, and I appreciate my work being shared with others! Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (river-bliss.com). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. In other words, I put my heart and soul into my writing and photography and want to be credited for it and have some traffic sent my way. It’s the high vibration thing to do!  🙂 

Floating Under the Moonless Sky

Floating Under the Moonless Sky

Oh, the bliss of being out here on the river during late sunset! Come float with me.

It’s getting dark. The colors in the sky are quite vivid, and I’m floating in my kayak. The birds are singing their goodnight songs, the frogs are croaking, and I’m feeling incredibly light. There is an unidentified, sweet, floral fragrance in the air, and so far I’ve seen two beavers swim by me. Such peace! I breathe slowly and deeply.

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I have not a care in the world. Everything is right with my world. Everything is hush. All personal concerns are so far away when I’m out here floating. They can’t reach me and have no pull on me. I smile and fill with joy.

The colors deepen from moment to moment. Being under this sky is like watching an enormous Polaroid picture developing.

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I worked an 11-hour day today and have so much to do in the next eight days that it makes my head spin when I think about it. But not right now. Now is all just peace. I feel so light. I’m dictating into a voice recorder so I can write, and then I will write so I can remember that this state of being exists. It’s one big ahhhhhh.

The first light I see is a plane making its way across the sky as its reflection sails across the water, almost like the flight of a mosquito because of the gentle ripples on the surface of the water bouncing it around.

This is the real me. The unconditioned stillness. I recall when I felt grief deep down in my bones. Now I feel peace and joy just as deep. A line from Kahlil Gibran’s “On Joy and Sorrow” from The Prophet goes through my mind: “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” It’s not an unbridled, frenetic joy but a balanced, full-bodied joy steeped in tranquility. When you’ve been down as low as I’ve been recently, it’s such a blessing to feel this way. You really appreciate it.

I perceive a lengthy decrescendo of birdsong. Fewer birds are singing now.

I observe two pinpoints of light in the sky, which I determine (after several minutes) to be celestial bodies, perhaps Venus and Jupiter. One is larger and brighter, and the other is tinier,  fainter, and higher above the horizon. I could have sworn they were airplanes. It’s so hard to tell what’s moving and what’s stationary out here. I’m drifting on the water, the clouds are floating in the sky, and I can’t tell if the pinpoints of light are moving or if everything around them is.

The sky grows dimmer, and the air becomes cooler. It feels wild to be out on this great river alone with all these sounds in the stillness under the darkening sky. I feel so alive, even tingling. Surely, this spacious serenity is my more natural, open state. It feels like being Home.

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Star light, star bright,
First star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have this wish I wish tonight.

I wonder: What does my heart wish for? To follow love, not fear, and to experience right now what it would be like to let that energy flow like this river. Imagining this makes my whole body smile. Makes me feel vibrant and liberated.

I look in the direction of the swamp – where the frogs are croaking in the distance – and notice what at first glance appears to be car lights coming down the road. But they’re not. The fireflies have come out! I’ve been waiting to see them flashing their light in the darkness, looking for love. The light show has begun. Now there are no birds singing at all. The sky is almost completely dark. There will be no moon tonight.

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The first few stars are twinkling in the sky, the fireflies are flashing below, and all the light is reflected on the water like a mirror. Some fireflies are near the ground, and some are way up at the very tops of the trees.

The sight I’m most drawn to (besides the light of the fireflies) is the rippling light on the water, the reflection of the last remaining light in the sky. Light and darkness dance on the surface of the water in a wavy pattern.

I barely can make out a beaver swimming in front of me. I can only tell by the interplay of light and shadows moving silently on the surface of the water. If I were to start paddling, the beaver would slap its tail on the water, adding a percussive touch – like a kettledrum – to the swamp symphony.

Now there’s almost no light whatsoever, so I decide to head back to the dock. This is such a different state of consciousness than the gravity of being on land.

But there is grace upon returning home, for the light of hundreds of fireflies flashes in the back yard in a spectacular light show. It looks  magical, like the light of hundreds of fairies – and fills me with delight.

I hope you can feel it, too.

The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (river-bliss.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Dawn of the New Year

Dawn of the New Year

New Year’s Day was our fourth sunny day in a row (so far!) after a long string of gray days in December. It’s been such a joy to take out my camera again!

Although I would have preferred to sleep in, I opened my eyes in time to notice intense sunrise colors low on the horizon and was out the door within a couple minutes – with my sleep eye mask still dangling around my neck!

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The bridge and trees obstructed much of the color, so I jumped in the car and set off in search of a better view. The intense tones were elusive and fading quickly, but I was on a quest for sunrise inspiration and beauty in whatever form it appeared.

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Then I was drawn to the Saratoga Monument, which commemorates the American victory in the Battle of Saratoga – the “turning point” of the Revolutionary War.

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That was the image of the day. Something about the juxtaposition of the sunlight and the cannon spoke to me.

Going off in search of beauty and inspiration is a great pleasure in and of itself. It’s like a daily treasure hunt. The images I capture become part of my visual gratitude journal – which presently contains thousands of images that remind me on gray days of the goodness and wonder that exist in the world. Meditating on what drew me to a particular image takes the process to an even deeper level.

The image of the tree standing in between sunlight and the cannon speaks to me of the choice we have every moment of our lives to be at war or in harmony with the present moment. Are we receptive to the grace that shines in our life even when we are on the ground fighting our various battles? I believe that pausing to connect with the light makes all the difference.

After returning from my New Year’s sunrise quest, I tried to get a little more rest. As I lay down, the sunlight beamed through the window, and I experienced the sensation of being filled with light, beginning in my toes and going all the way to the top of my head. It wasn’t something I tried to do; it just happened, and I allowed it. As light filled me completely, the word grace (and the feeling of grace) entered in as well. For a few moments, I was filled with light and grace – and felt as if I was light and grace. I have experienced this sensation a couple other times, and it is a most wonderful gift.

Being receptive to the light that shines in our lives – the light that is at our core – is a gift we can give ourselves. Every moment is a choice!

The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (river-bliss.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Astonishing Light (a new poem)

The Astonishing Light (a new poem)

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I am a devotee

Of sunrise, sunset,

Sunlit flowers and leaves,

And love. But why?

Friend, I want to show you

The astonishing light that

Shines in this world

Of shadows

So you will know

You are never alone

And always

In the presence

Of grace.

I want you to look

In my eyes

And see the reflection

Of your inner light

And fall in love

With your

Exalted self. I want

To awaken you

To illuminated moments

When sunbeams penetrate

 Shadow and form

And extend a ramp

To paradise.

—Susan Meyer

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The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (river-bliss.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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