Photo of children about to go on stage as part of
the Shakespeare Gild’s Young Actors Workshop, Arden, Delaware.
Photo and prayer copyright 2014 by Danny N. Schweers,
“…when I begin to write, I open myself and wait.”
This sentence fragment was the starting point for the prayer above. It appears on page 4 of Pat Schneider’s How The Light Gets In, a book exploring the similarity of writing and praying. I saw that sentence and immediately wanted to apply it to all acts, not just writing. I want to say, “when I begin to x, I open myself and wait,” where “x” is a variable, a cypher standing for any act. For example:
“When I begin to wake, I open myself and wait.”
“When I begin to drive, I open myself and wait.”
“When I begin to work, I open myself and wait.”
“When I begin to eat, I open myself and wait.”
“When I begin to perform, I open myself and wait.”
“When I begin to sleep, I open myself and wait.”
And what we are waiting for? Life! At least that’s where my prayer went as I wrote it, the idea that we are called on to act, yet we all know it is not enough to get the words and the movements right. There needs to be vitality or the performance is dead. St. Paul said something similar, that without love even the noblest acts are hollow. We need spirit. There needs to be authenticity, or our words and movements are merely show. Sleep? Am I stretching things to talk about sleeping authentically? with spirit? Absolutely!
And what we are waiting for is tiny. The smallest spark is enough. That’s been my experience in despair. If I say the spark weighs nothing yet carries the world, you are hearing in part the influence of Gia-Fu Geng and Jane English’s translation of Lao Tsu’s Tao Te Ching. Their book has influenced me in many ways, not just in encouraging my love of paradox. Their book is where I first saw a successful pairing of photographs and text, which I have pursued for years in my Photo Prayers. Their book was also my first conscious introduction to the typeface “Centaur”, originally drawn as titling capitals by Bruce Rogers in 1914 for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Centaur is the type used in the above prayer.
Comments From Readers
Shari wrote: That nails it; picture to verse. You’re so poetic and I love reading your words first thing in the morning.
Patricia wrote: What wonderful words to reflect upon on this Ash Wednesday.
Harold wrote: Danny, I love this message…
Christine wrote: Love it! Thanks for sharing!
Bill wrote: Nice. I thought I detected hints of the Tao, and I was right. Blessings to you.
Betty wrote: bravo all the way around!
Larry wrote: WOW, absolutely great. I love the way you highlighted the “INVITE LIFE IN” by having it below the photo. You do very good work. Keep it up!
Terri wrote: Love your new format, Danny. Could there be a book in the future?!? Thanks for the reminder to invite life in.
Diann wrote: I love what you are doing with the printing of the words!
Katherine wrote: I love this, Danny.
Craig wrote: Another nice one; I’ll read the essay for sure. Have you read e.e. cummings’ “I thank you God for most this amazing” ??? Very nice little poem I heard first the other day. I used to really dig him, but his syntactical tricks grew a little tiresome. Nonetheless a poem little nice this is…. Bauhaus 93
The Author Replied:
I am a long-time fan of the poetry of E.E. Cummings, but not of the Bauhaus93 typeface, though I may yet try it. Yes, I am thinking of a Photo Prayer book, exhibitions, videos, lectures, and nothing at all. I often think of nothing at all.