Have you ever scanned through the photos in your phone or camera searching for patterns? What subjects have you shot repeatedly, perhaps unaware that you were even attracted to them?
Over twenty years ago, I devoured a book of self-discovery by Sarah Ban Breathnach titled, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. In one chapter, she suggested that her readers create an Illustrated Discovery Journal, blank pages waiting for random images – photographs, magazine cut-outs, museum brochures – anything that immediately said, "Pick me." Sarah instructed us to select without questioning why. It was through this path of intuition and feeling that we would discover our authentic selves, as we reflected on the patterns that filled the pages of our journals.
Throughout the years, I've returned to a version of Sarah's Discovery Journal as a way to listen more closely to my inner voice, the one that so often gets drowned out by the busyness and routines of the everyday. As I prepare to leave Montenegro, I decided to search the scores of photos I've taken over the past six weeks, looking for any patterns that might appear, any insights that might be waiting for me.
I quickly found two, repeated over and over again. I share one of them here and save the second one for my next post. Neither pattern surprised me, but the abundance of both in Montenegro shouted loud and clear. . . . "Pay attention!"
Shuttered, unshuttered, no shutters.
I stop, stare, snap a photo, and at each one. . . I imagine.
I imagine the story that lies behind it – the last person who stood looking out. What was she thinking that day; what possibilities stretched to the horizon; what uncertainties might have held her back?
Who latched the window and abandoned the house to creeping ivy and peeling paint?
Windows . . . remind me to wonder.
*All photos taken in Montenegro by Twylla Alexander
Pomegranates! I never even saw a pomegranate until I was fifty-something, browsing in an open-air market in Cairo. I picked one up, sniffed, and rolled it between my palms until the shopkeeper, who had no doubt seen this clueless behavior before said, "Can I help you, madam?"
"What is this?" I asked.
After a few quick squeezes to soften the skin, he pressed his fingers firmly into the leathery fruit and pulled it apart. Red popped out in all directions. Brilliant, shiny red - of poppies and rubies, cardinals and lipstick.
"Try," he said.
"What? The seeds?"
I could tell his patience was wearing thin; so I picked one, one lonely seed from a mound of hundreds.
That's all it took. The mostly sweet, slightly sour juice burst into my mouth as I crunched the kernel.
I bought that one, three more and came back each week for a fresh supply.
So you can imagine my excitement when I arrived in Montenegro to find pomegranate trees in almost every yard, scattered through open fields and along remote hiking trails. A neighbor kindly shared a handful of her tree's abundance, and I've spent the last hour removing seeds.
Pomegranates make me work for their goodness.
But the reward is worth the wait . . . that is, if I can successfully wait. The temptation is great to pop a few along the way. Just one seed here, a handful there.
Excuse me – sorry to eat in front of you. Come to Montenegro, and I'll share.