I was raised Catholic and my spirituality will always be founded and grounded in and on Catholicism. This does not limit me by any means to seeking spiritual wisdom in other faiths and learn from them, and often it brings about a change in perspective that ushers in an entirely new way of experiencing the same old thing. In some bizarre manner, photography has the same effect on me.

Many years ago while on a much needed spiritual retreat with the Jesuits up in the mountains of Kodaikanal, India, my mentor taught me how to incorporate photography into my prayer time. He pointed out that I am usually alone and silent when I  photograph which are the essential elements for prayer, the ideal for a conversation with God. So it was that I began to treat photography as my personal time prayer time, sorting out a lot of emotional baggage in the process.  An old Amish proverb says, In order to hold his people, God first has to melt them. Indeed, it has taken a crisis, an emotional or psychological meltdown to fight my way back to sanity, stability, and build my life anew. Remember my reflection on shards and fragments? Well, it was precisely while photographing the broken pieces that I decided to pull myself together and throw a lot of old baggage out and start over. Why hang on to pieces that will just draw blood and leave scars?

25.3.25
Who says the best way is up? ©MTHerzog

Having houseguests always provides the opportunity to re-visit some familiar sights and take the time to find a new way of approaching it, rediscover the fundamentals, and in the end, view the entire place with a completely new attitude, which is often much easier said than done. One thing that psychotherapy has taught me is to apply this approach to my relationships in general, which essentially is the whole point of therapy: take a step back and allow the eyes of my soul to be guided down a new path, because clearly the old one ceased being the right one.

I have been blessed with a recent wave of visitors from out of town, which my mother would have said is always a blessing, and my father would have reminded me to be a hostess in the Biblical sense as well – let your home be an oasis for the weary traveller. Give them the luxury of shaking the dust off their feet at your doorstep, and enter your sanctuary to give you the gift of presence. My parents lived this principle to the fullest till the very end of their lives, and this brand of hospitality is deeply ingrained in me.

Berlin is a learning curve for me in more ways than one. In the year (almost) that I have been here, I have passed certain landmarks frequently (some on a daily basis) but it takes someone’s sense of wonder or appreciation for details that I might have missed to draw my attention to a different angle. A visit to the Alexanderplatz drove this point home, as I pressed the shutter at what I thought was the wrong moment but ended up a curiously interesting perspective of the TV tower. So yes, certain principles I have clinging on to for decades in my life have ceased to make sense and I realised that they have been the reason for so much stress and inner conflict. It is time to switch apertures, adjusting the lighting, find the comfortable exposure and embrace change. Just see what turns out.