A Book Review
Here is a welcome addition to the books that teach us how to avail ourselves of the Beauty of Holiness through art forms. Christine Valters Paintner, a prolific writer in the arena of spirituality, takes the time and the care to model and to teach a practice of “receiving an image” rather than taking a picture, as a way to deepen one’ s journey of Spirit. In this brief book, designed to shape a spiritual practice over a period of time, she grounds the practice of using a camera as one walks and moves, particularly outdoors, in the quest to pay attention to the way that God is present and communicating with us always and everywhere.
Her reflections are rooted in Scripture and in traditions of spiritual practices, old and new. She also integrates a psychological sensibility, primarily from the work of C .G. Jung. The most winsome aspect of the book, however, is the format of practices that are easy to follow in discreet steps, within each chapter, and cumulatively over time. The connection of “visio divina” to “lectio divina” creates a familiar and comfortable starting place at which to learn a new spiritual practice. Paintner also demythologizes the practice of photography, by first assuring the reader that the simplest of cameras, e.g, smartphone, is appropriate: then later in very clear direction she offers some perspectives on how to see, then use the gifts the camera can bring.
Each chapter contains content on an aspect of “eyes of the heart,” followed by suggestions for meditation, for photographic exploration, with some reflection questions for the one on the Spirit journey. The book is aptly illustrated with the author’s own photography in black and white, with the exception of the chapter with color photographs in which she invites the reader to notice color in the world as an expression of God’s energy and variety.
For one (such as I!) who continues to need to practice getting beyond my primarily cerebral understanding of faith and Spirit by learning to access more visual and physical windows of Grace, this book is a welcome invitation to see the Holy One more clearly, follow the Spirit more nearly, leading me to love God more dearly. I am grateful for the vision of Christine Valters Paintner who offers it to us.
Read more about Eyes of the Heart at the Patheos Book Club here.