The Second Gaze – Hands


It has been a little bit since I posted – there are times I have found with writing and sharing that things go a bit more silent and the last chunk of time has been that. There are two of the themes that have been stirring for me, both of which I have been working on writing about – White and Hands. I’ll get to the first soon but “hands” was something deeply powerful a few nights ago.

I lead a group focused on Contemplative Photography at The Hive in Cincinnati and this current session we are using poetry as our inspiration. Our first poem was by Tracy K Smith entitled Song. The poem doesn’t necessarily speak of a literal musical song but instead reflects on memories of hands and what a person sees in the hands of another (or their own hands). At least, that was what emerged as our group talked through out experience of the poem (text for the poem is linked above).

Our theme for the week was to take photos of hands and what emerged from the group was truly sacred and holy and deeply emotional and honest. I cannot go into the details of what was shared but the group did give me permission to share the video and the photos. What I can share is that there was an amazing depth of story seen and shared in just the ways that we saw and experienced hands. There were stories of past struggles and questions about current ones… stories of joys and hopes… intimate insights into peoples’ lives and hands seen in unique ways… a funny story of capturing a photo of a hand on a crosswalk light and stories of the responses of random strangers when one asked to take a photo of their hands. There were hands of the young, of the aged, of different races, and backgrounds… literal hands and figurative ones. And a series of photos that told a story that emerged over a long period of years.

In the conversation there were times of talking and sharing and moments of silence and stillness. There was emotion of loss and pain and laughter and joy. In short, in the fifty-nine hands in the photos was the fullness of life – birth to death and so much in between.

That is the power of what happens when we are looking, when we are seeking to see deeply.

Categories: The Second GazeTags: , , , ,

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