Starting Point
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Issue Date:  November 4, 2005

Starting Point


There is a new digital camera on the market. Its manufacturer boasts of its anti-shake mechanism. The technology somehow stills the inner workings of the camera when you take a picture. It is therefore far less risky to take a picture using a slow shutter speed and a wide aperture or lens opening.

With other cameras, you have to learn the art of holding the camera very still or use a tripod; this one does it for you. It is supposedly user-friendly, too. But such advances have raised the price of the camera from earlier models. Progress costs more.

We humans do not come equipped with an anti-shake mechanism -- we have to learn the art of being still so as to better see. As far as I know, all previous models of the human have lacked an anti-shake mechanism. We have to be shocked, smacked, slapped, strapped or comatose to be still enough to chill our horizons and steady our viewfinder.


The aperture of the heart can be very wide -- it can let in a lot of light and love, even in the dark -- but in order to do that well, we need to learn to rest, to be still.

Which is something that appeals to the natural monk that I think is in each of us, albeit more latent in some than others.

We are called apart from whatever place we may find ourselves to take time to steady our inner and outer gaze. That is how we develop a way of looking that is sort of anti-shake. It is how we see things about us in a different and might I say captivating way. A lot of natural beauty reveals itself when we slow down to take notice of it.

The picture that is life can become clearer -- and it can be shared with others at the modest cost of being still for a while, and seeing what is there.

Fr. James Stephen Behrens is a monk at Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers, Ga.

National Catholic Reporter, November 4, 2005

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