“Where I place my feet” October 2019
I spend far too much time wanting to be somewhere I am not. I plan my days, my weeks, my months and years into delineated diary entries, and find myself looking ahead to the next event on the schedule while I have barely arrived at the current location.
It is so often ‘that’ that I am wanting to achieve, and so rarely ‘this’; which is as much as to say that where I am is not acceptable: only where I am not yet. I reach forward, step ahead, wish to leave behind.
Wouldn’t it help, to let ‘here’ and ‘now’ be where I want to be?
For this month I have decided to fulfill a daily practice, which is to take a photograph of my foot on a piece of ground as I walk, as unspectacular as it ever might be (but as artsy as I find it, if I find it, to make it fun as well as practice). I want ‘where I place my feet’ to be the locus of my pleasure, my joy, my seeking and finding of grace, and where my eyes and ears and all my senses are alive and alert to whatever is. The point is this: I have often found myself at the end of a day or a week with a sense of having not-quite-lived the previous hours and days; I frequently try to remember what I actually did recently and cannot bring to the fore anything other than the facts of my timetable. Driving to town, shopping, swimming, eating, a phone call, some household cleaning or listening to a radio programme. But I know for sure that what makes me feel alive, or what brings me joy – or, I seem to have begun to realise only very slowly, where I find myself in God, in Christ, loved and able to love – is more likely the shift of breeze in my hair as I hang the washing in my garden, or the flutter of wings as I disturb the birds feeding on the pavement, the dandelion self-planted in a crack in the pavement or the glisten of light on the muddy footpath puddle. And for sure, these are far more likely to be the places where I find myself inspired to create some expression of this life.
One day in 2018, when I was living in New York, and as I walked through the shade of a tree at the side of the road, there was a moment of such bubbling, fluttering aliveness that I found words pouring out of me that let themselves later be caught into a poem : I saw God in the dancing dapple of the sidewalk poplar … more of which experience you can read under ‘poetry’ (and apologies for not finding how to link that word to the poem!).
Sometimes, disguised in the most mundane of moments, there is an unexpected explosion of that thing we have longed for: a gift, and one that we might miss if we are not awake. Something that feels like presence, and lets us hear those longed-for words, that we are loveable, and loved. That there is a ‘yes’ to this life after all, and that we can participate in it.
So, the month of daily photos will demonstrate my intention to see where I am and to be thankful for it. I want to pay attention to the scruffy, the lovely, the bright and the dull, natural or humanmade; whatever takes my eye day by day. I don’t know if it will become anything more than a collection of images or stimulate some other creativity, but to start with, all that matters is to start.