Craig Buchan has been photographing, the Sisters of the Poor Clare Order, in Humbie, near Edinburgh. The work constitutes a photo exhibition starting at the recently opened Trigg Gallery in Dundas Street, Edinburgh, on August 15th. Gallery is open Monday to Friday 8.30am – 18.30pm and Saturday 8.30am to 13.30pm.
Commitment by Craig Buchan.
“Sisters Dominique and Veronica live in the quiet countryside village of Humbie, 20 miles east of Edinburgh. Their home is a modest convent with a chapel and a well-tended garden, which they share with their well-loved two pet dogs Zara and Craigen, who also feature in the photo-essay. They are Sisters of the Poor Clare Order.
“The form of life of the Order of the Poor Sisters . . . is this: to observe the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by living in obedience, without possessing anything as my own and in chastity.” – Rule of St Clare.
Founded by Saint Clare and Saint Francis of Assisi, the Poor Clare’s are contemplative communities with lives centred on prayer in praise of God, and in intercession for the needs of the world.
Daily life in a Poor Clare Monastery is centred around the Eucharist and communal recitation/ singing of the Divine Office – the Prayer of the Church. Seven times a day the sisters gather for the different “Hours” of the Divine Office – Morning Prayer, the Office of Readings, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers (Evening Prayer) and Compline. They also have private prayer – one and a half hours – and spiritual reading, as well as Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on specific times and days. They also manage to find time to receive many visitors each week and emails requesting prayers from people from all around the world who are worried about illness, are bereaved, anxious about relationships, family difficulties or anything else.
“A vocation to be a nun comes from God’s free choice of certain individuals; commitment comes from our free choice to cooperate with the graces received with His call and is the fruit of our loving self-surrender to God”.
As an outsider and a photographer I was welcomed into their own quiet and private lives, they were open and honest and happy to let me document their world. I feel that their kind and generous characters, playful nature and selfless lives are honestly shown in my photo essay. It was fascinating for me to see things develop and get an insight into the parts of their lives that you would not normally see or associate with being a nun. To someone on the outside looking in it had a feeling of surreality seeing them doing the simple everyday things like playing with their pet dogs or washing their car or gathering wood. As sister Dominique said to me ‘like seeing how the other half live’.
I was intrigued by the kind of person that devotes their life to a faith and to help others especially in such a self-obsessed climate like today’s society where material belongings and career climbing mean more to people than any kind of spiritual enlightenment. Religion, to me, has a very mixed image in Scotland today. Most coverage in the media is of a negative nature, whether it be war or scandals involving priests or poor bank investment choices, but from getting to know the Sisters of Humbie and spending time documenting their everyday lives it was somewhat reassuring to see the positive nature of their religious beliefs and how this contented and fulfilled them.” – Craig Buchan.
Click here to see more of Craig Buchan’s photography.