Contemplative Photography & Reflections

The Wonders of Waiting

Thanksgiving is over, and I hope you had a joyful day filled with blessings. Two highlights of my Thanksgiving were the generously stuffed squash (from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook) that I make every year as my vegetarian alternative to turkey…

and listening to my mom perform a Grateful Dead song (along with many other songs) on guitar. She started playing a year ago (in her mid-70s!) and is unstoppable. I also enjoyed having a special brunch at home with my husband and teenagers and having dinner with my in-laws.

Now begins the season of light. For some reason, this year I’m really understanding on a deeper, soul level why cultures around the world place such importance on celebrations of light at this time of year.

My longing for light had me up and outdoors before 7 a.m. on this chilly, frosty morning, and it was entirely worth it. Although I missed the first part of the sunrise when the colors were especially intense, the sky was interesting enough when I got outside and snapped a warm-up shot.

Then it was time to sit and wait for the next major event of the sunrise, when the sun first becomes visible on the horizon beginning with a sliver of blazing orange light. I sat quietly at the river’s edge and noticed a bird that touched down on a branch close by before zipping northward to another branch. I noticed my breathing become slower and deeper as I drank in the sprawling view of the river, acutely aware of my surroundings, as I am when kayaking. My favorite form of mindfulness meditation!

Nature photography involves a lot of waiting – for the perfect angle of light or the moment when various elements come together and something transcendent seems to manifest visually. I might have a vision of a certain shot I’d like to capture, but I need to wait patiently, and that is where the magic begins. In the spaces in between, there is so much beauty that I would miss if I weren’t so slowed down and connected with my surroundings. I become aware of the limitless possibilities and manifestations of each moment. Each moment offers a gift.

Soon, the clouds in the direction of the sun turned rosy, signaling that the first rays of the sun would momentarily be visible over the treetops beyond the bridge. Have you ever watched a sunrise or moonrise, sitting still enough to experience the movement of these celestial objects? It only takes a few short minutes from the first sliver of sun until the entire sun is exposed over the horizon. Perhaps my favorite moment is when the rising sun is reflected perfectly by the calm surface of the water. The river is almost always calm and mirror-like at sunrise.

When the sun has risen completely above the horizon, the river is flooded with light, and I climb back up to our yard to await the next act of the sunrise, when the field becomes illuminated with golden light.

I adore the way the world looks when it is bathed in light.

Last week, my husband erected the skeleton of a tipi in the back yard. He plans to make it part of next year’s garden so that beans and other vegetables and flowers can climb up the poles. In the meantime, it is a great place to sit around the fire and watch the moon rise.

It also is an impressive sight in the morning, with Tibetan prayer flags, feathers, and birds resting way up at the top.

I noticed the sunlight painting the treetops golden at the far edge of our yard and noticed how the taller structures in growing portions of the yard became golden at the top, as well. I decided to stay outside and photograph the first rays of light illuminating the top of the tipi.

It looked like it might take a while, so I began wandering slowly (so as not to scare away the birds) and became intrigued by the frost paintings on the car windows.

After turning my attention to the frosted windows for a while, I noticed how the sunlight was filtering through a tree in our next-door neighbors’ yard. I was drawn to the sunburst coming through the tree and the sun-kissed, frosted field of Queen Anne’s lace along the perimeter of the yard.

My intention was to photograph the sun rising over the river and the sunlight touching the top of the tipi. However, so much beauty revealed itself in the spaces in between. It is a simple matter of slowing down enough to perceive it.

And doing that is always worth it in my opinion! What a gratifying way to start the day, steeped in mindfulness.

I now have an Etsy shop open for business with prints and note cards of many of my photos available for purchase! In the spirit of “Small Business Saturday,” I invite you to check out what I have to offer! 

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© Susan Meyer and River Bliss, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all photos, without express and written permission from this blog’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 ( with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

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