I’ve been thinking for a long time about why bonsai are so compelling to the viewer—both as art form and living object needing care. This month the term I’m playing with is “icon.” As you may know, an icon is a window— or better, a doorway— into the Divine Presence. Contemplating the painting or photograph— Thomas Merton’s photographs are examples— takes the viewer inward, to a deep awareness of Reality. Bonsai are like this— our awareness is moved to a new plane by the “disjunction” if you will of a tree in miniature, on a human scale, which we can hold and interact with in the intimacy of our domicile or garden. I find this process of being directed inward endlessly fascinating— a kind of prayer practice, really. For our present time when the connection to nature is increasingly disrupted— by technology and the urbanization of our environs— the need for a renewal of our connection to the greater reality of our Earth is readily apparent. Watching wonder and joy emerge on the face of a visitor to my bonsai garden confirms this essential bond to the sacred in the natural realm that is rewoven as we gaze on the tiny trees and landscapes.
[Note— I felt this eclipse photo better evoked the sense of wonder I am referring to…]