This blog has had many incarnations over the years. Currently, my plan is to use it as a medium by which to explore the intersections between photography and spirituality, creativity, and what it means to live a graced yet extremely imperfect life.
Thus, using my two passions, words and images, I delve into stories of discouragement and heartbreak, of contentment and joy, of love and grief and what it means o be human. And photographs about finding grace in the little things–like puppies, and sitting on the rocky shore of Lake Superior and, old letters written by my grandmother in the 1930s I have experienced a lot of dark places but in the end, I find that grace always shines through, although often it takes me a while to see it. In my hospital room, in the dark of night, in my struggles with childlessness, in my worst nightmares, when I buried my parents…all of these are places where I have experienced God’s presence in special ways. And more and more, I have come to think that the people who love us, whether friends, family, teachers, neighbors, etc., show something of God’s love for us…
It often requires conscious effort on my part to notice these everyday wonders, and tell the truth, there are days I can’t see them at all. I’m not a saint, pain makes me irritable and gloomy and bitter and resentful (on my worst days). I have fibromyalgia, mysofascial pain syndrome, chronic migraine, infertility, cervical spondylosis, scoliosis/kyphosis (and a steel rod attached to my spine to straighten it, but I don’t have full corrrection, especially in my cervical spine, oh and the surgeries included a thoracic spinal fusion too), and then asthma and a seizure disorder which are both, thankfully, well controlled with medication. I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (yes, it is a real thing) right after college and fibromyalgia a few years later, so it’s been years since I have felt “well” or had a day without pain. Sometimes I feel as though I my entire youth was stolen from me…and then I remind myself how much fun I’ve had in spite of it all, and how blessed I was to meet my husband, to have a circle of supportive friends, to find a fantastically awesome parish that has represented the best of the Catholic Church to me.
This is my life. This is my one life, the only one I will ever get. As a favorite poet, Mary Oliver asks, “…tell me, what is it you plan to do/ with your one wild and precious life?” In the final analysis, I refuse to live an unlived life. Although I have many bad days, I still have made a conscious, deliberate choice to seek out the everyday wonders, the small miracles, the graces. And there I have not been disappointed. I’ve also found activities that nourish my soul, my mind, my heart–photography, writing, long walks in nature, reading, gardening (when my back and neck can stand it!), learning to cook, researching my family history…And then there are the family and friends who love me and even treasure me even at my worst, sort of like God does. I’m not sure I understand it, and many times I have trouble believing it, but I know this love is real, it’s palpable, and I don’t think I could survive without it.
Most of the time I don’t even realize that small joys are lurking in the corners of my life, in a multitude of everyday occurrences: a long stroll around Lake Calhoun; a cup of real dark hot chocolate (my secret recipe) on a chilly fall day; playing and snuggling with our furry little cocker, Fiona; a beautiful sunset along the Mississippi; the garden in full, riotous, bloom with coneflowers and lupine and lilies and Queen Anne’s lace while the bees and butterflies frolic amongst the colorful flowers ; catching the first snowflakes of the season on my tongue; photographing the pink tulips my husband brought me from Trader Joe’s; a trip to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (a truly incredible place) with our friends Tom and Kristine as a birthday treat; cuddling with my husband on the couch, eating pizza, while we watch Casablanca (again!) .