The light in the lens

I was around the age of 7 when I came across a Minolta SR-2 camera that no longer worked. I spent hours with that black and silver device, snapping pretend photos and imagining a magnificent world beyond my small country town.

I envisioned all the splendor of my own unique prints – how the light would dance upon the fresh dew of a petal fallen too soon…swords of light protruding through outstretched tree limbs…fiery orange and red sunsets over mountain tops…the fog as it’s shadowy veil lifted over the meadow…

As I grew, so did my love of photography. I made sure to take classes in high school where I could process my film and manipulate the exposure and tone of my final piece. My passion for dodging and burning reflected my love of light pressing through dark space – something that would become my life’s theme.

Over the years I took many photos, spent hours experimenting in the darkroom taking great care to process my film and turn negatives into prints. I was enamored with the entire process from start to finish.

And then, as so often happens in life, I no longer made time for the thing I loved…

I left behind my camera for the ease of using a cell phone camera…but never left behind the passion for a perfect capture.

A few weeks ago, I ditched the phone camera for the real deal. I took myself, my boy, and that camera for a long, uninterrupted walk. We explored, we skimmed rocks, we jumped and splashed. We watched light peek through trees and pirouette across the water. We were calm, at peace, a mindless restfulness…

And that’s when I saw it – his light through a different lens…

The petal, seemingly fallen from it’s host too soon, graced by the kiss of dew…

Outstretched limbs, embracing, sheltering…

Fiery orange and red, burning boundless, a mother’s love…

The cloudy veil now lifted…

The passions and dreams of my childhood had taken human form and were now standing before me and I marveled at the parallels, the truths, the coming full circle.

He is my splendor, my greatest passion, my soul’s eternal work.

He is always the light pressing through my dark.

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Together

Sometimes I sit here…staring at this screen…and I just don’t know what to say. Because sometimes, it’s just not easy. Sometimes, what you want to say and what you feel just aren’t on the same frequency. Sometimes, what pours out of your heart doesn’t always pour out onto paper.

And then fear. Vulnerability.

To me, fear always felt like a hostage situation. As though I was somehow handcuffed to circumstances I couldn’t break away from. And all the while, I’d forget that I also possessed the key to those very same handcuffs.

I was both the hostage and the one holding myself captive.

There’s something incredibly overwhelming about being brought to your knees in pure gratitude. About having your vulnerability bring people together. About being a part of something so much bigger than your self.

There is something incredibly overwhelming about being seen. For all that you are. All that you were. And all that you hope to be.

When I look at it, I am reminded of a fundamental truth…a truth that I nearly let pass me by in my river of sadness. I am reminded that while our own walk with God is just that…our own…our walk through life was never meant to be taken alone.

Because that’s what this life is really about. Crying together. Laughing together. Living together. Reaching out to the heavens…together.

Collision

“We were all heading for each other on a collision course, no matter what. Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story.” -Jandy Nelson, I’ll Give You The Sun

I read an article a few months ago about a group of scientists who believe there are people in this world that each of us is drawn to on a cellular level. It’s different than attraction, different than friendship, different than love.

They say it’s often something we don’t understand – something that we can’t explain – something over which we have no control. They believe that when these people are apart, life tends to go on seemingly unaffected.

However, if they suddenly find themselves in each other’s lives, a tension arises…a great force that leaves both people feeling a sense of restlessness and dis-ease. The closer those cells come to each other, the closer they need to be. And so they pull.

It’s both a strange and beautiful thought that leaves me curious about some of the people in my life…

It’s that person you think of and suddenly receive a phone call from…that person you had a dream about and unexpectedly run into them while going about your day…that person that doesn’t utter a word and yet, you know that something is wrong.

And although there is this draw to each other, it’s also believed that these people can experience great unexplainable conflict between each other. Mostly because on some level, they make us feel afraid – we become afraid of what we can’t control. We become afraid of what they see…and we also become afraid of not having them in our lives. We seldom understand it, but we almost always, without fail, ‘feel’ it. And so we push…

Therein lies the collision…the desire to move towards something and destroy it all at the same time. The need to push…and the need to pull.

I used to believe it was my job to avoid collisions…we are taught to stay out of harm’s way. But then I realized that meant I wouldn’t get to experience that Divine force that brings some of us together…whether I understood it or not.

Right now, I’m trying really hard to just drive…even though it scares me. Because I don’t believe all collisions happen just because we are bad drivers. Sometimes the weather is harsh, the road not visible. We chart our course on pavement, and somehow, we end up in a sea of uncertainty. The depth of ocean washing over us, that threatens to swallow our fears, our vulnerabilities, maybe even our joys.

So I’m trying hard to just ‘feel’ those people in my life right now…because feeling is who I am…

I am a person who feels life.

Though I also see it and hear it and think it and touch it, my dominant sense in this life is to feel…Truly. Madly. Deeply. This is both my greatest strength and my greatest weakness…my ultimate undoing.

Because your tears become my tears. Your pain becomes my pain. Your loss becomes my loss. And depending on the person, this can be a problem. Because, if I love you…I will drown with you. I will throw myself overboard into the depths and darkness of salty sea…I will hold your hand…I will let my lungs fill up right alongside you…and I will drown in an ocean of our collective tears just so you don’t have to sink alone.

But I would really love to stop doing that.

Because ultimately, it doesn’t end up helping you…it just ends up hurting me. We both end up holding our breath while we wait for the glimmer of light to guide us ashore, or a search party to bring us back to life.

The truth is, being a human is scary sometimes. Loving people is scary sometimes. And knowing how much of yourself to give…is REALLY scary sometimes.

But I’m learning that my love can do a lot of things…

My love can teach you to swim. My love can throw you a life raft. My love can even call the coast guard. My love will search through all hours of darkness for you. But my love can’t rescue someone who doesn’t want to be saved.

And sometimes, as hard as it is, people need to see how far they can sink before their lungs cave in. I know…I’ve been that person.

But I can’t go down with you anymore, because my love also wants to be there for you when you come up for air like I know you will. My love wants to meet you at the shore…bring you a soft blanket…a warm fire…and a safe place to land. My love wants to help you recover and find your strength again…the fire that burns inside you, never to be extinguished.

And my love can’t do any of that if it’s being pulled from the water alongside you.

And so…the push…the pull…the drawing force of cells…the uniting and untying of souls, it cannot all be lost to some wreckage in a sea of abyss. Because my love doesn’t want to lose you…because my love doesn’t want to lose me either.
When the tides roll in and the current runs deep, I want to be there FOR you, not just with you. And because…I’m not done believing that we are only just meant to be in the same story.

 

 

 

 

 

Cherish the Valleys

Sometimes we can spend our entire lives waiting. And when we get there, our eyes are still set on the horizon rather than the ground beneath our feet. Sometimes we spend years climbing one mountain, we forget to live in the valleys between.
But what if the valleys are where memories are made? What if the valleys are where life is lived? What if this is the only time you have been given? Can you say you are using it wisely?

Time has a way of creeping up on you. I lived my life waiting for the “next” until experiencing life’s fragility taught me differently. It taught me to hold tightly to the moments. It taught me to live fully without holding back, embrace the mess of life and embrace the beauty. It taught me to cherish the valleys.
What if we spent our every moment looking ahead that we missed the very earth beneath our feet? What if we lived our whole lives hating the discomfort, hating the discontentment, when really, those things are what this life is made of and where the real growth happens.
Forge more life into each of your days! Cherish the valleys, the soil beneath your feet. Like the mighty oak, anchor your taproots firmly, then spring up and branch out; reach and stretch and allow yourself to be pulled toward the sun. When the winds of adversity blow, bend – but don’t break – and absorb all that this life has to offer.