Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Self portraits

I hate pictures of myself.

When seeing one, the only things I can focus on are all my physical flaws which are too numerous to have to face (no pun intended).
Trust me, I know exactly how shallow that sounds, but there you have it.

I have tremendous admiration for those people who have deformities beyond my understanding and limited capacity for self acceptance - like the woman whose face was literally ripped off by her friends chimpanzee.
Thanks be to God, I have not been tested by something so horrific because I can tell you right now, I would fail massively!

That being said, a recent assignment by a photography mentor was to take at least 3 self portraits and the Abbey was a wonderful place to fulfill that requirement with minimal pain!

And, since it was a time for personal reflection, what better way to symbolize that than by having all the images be reflections?
Genius, right?
The critic inside my head is hard to shut off since my immediate reaction to this one was - socks with sandals, what a dork! As self justification, it was cold, late at night (by monastery standards -probably 8:15pm or so!) and, if it's good enough for the monks who are far holier and wiser than moi, it was good enough for me!

The last one though is the one I love and, I suspect, it's an image I'll 'ponder' for quite awhile.

I caught a reflection of myself in the window going downstairs one night; a window looking out to the front of the Abbey with the BVM lit up - and I knew I wanted to try to capture what I saw.

As someone who has a fractured and wholly imperfect relationship with her mother, the realization that I could have, within me, the love and protection of Mary, is a real comfort.
(We Episcopalians are not known for our veneration of Mary; it's too far on the Catholic side of the Anglo-Catholic tradition blend to suit many of us - although we all know what an outlier I am!)

A friend looking at all these images shared his perceptions that my 'shadow' image (which is the first one I took) is eerily similar to the silhouette of the pure 'lit' Mary in the last one - and that none of us should be surprised to discover 'the holy' that has been inside us all along; we just have to see it.

These are images I not only can live with but be happy with too - and that feels like a start.

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