Sunday, January 10, 2010

~ nan ~

How do you sit with a dear friend as she prepares to cross over into uncharted territory? You can only go with her so far, then the passage is blocked. She must take those final steps by herself. How hard it is to accept that, especially when you've shared life for years. She must go on alone while you stay behind.

I don't even know if I believe in an afterlife, but one thing I do know: once we have loved and been loved, we are bonded for life. As long as I live, my friend Nan will live. And that goes for all the lives she touched, lives that count in the millions. For Nan Merrill is the author of six books and founding editor of a newsletter called Friends of Silence that was sent to thousands every month for over 22 years. And now she lies in her bed in a hospice in Vermont, with her son Mark and her daughter-in-law Susan holding the phone to her ear as farflung friends like me tell her we love her.

I just reread the interview that is linked to "Friends of Silence" above, and called Nan back so I could read aloud to her the Prayer of Abandonment by Charles de Foucauld. It is her favorite prayer.

Beloved. I abandon myself into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever You may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all. I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me, and all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, my friend.
Into your hands I abandon my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart.
For I love you and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve, with boundless confidence.
For you are the heart of my heart.

Go gently, dearest Nan, go gently...

And on Saturday, January 23, she did. After three weeks of standing at death's door, Nan gently pushed it open and became one with the Light. May she continue her work among us.

Friday, January 1, 2010

laying the old to rest; embracing the new

Time is a human construct. It does not really exist. All that exists is this moment, and it's gone as soon as we recognize it. Nonetheless, the end of one year and start of another offers a good opportunity to sit down and reflect on our lives, to see where we have been and where we want to go next. I use a journal as a tool. It helps me focus and express in words what I am thinking. I am often surprised at what comes. But not this time. When I sat down with my journal this week I was not surprised to see words of gratitude cascading down the page as I looked back on 2009. I won't bore you with the particulars but photography was at the heart of it all.

What happened to me as a photographer in 2009 fills me with wonder. And it was more than what happened to me from the outside; it was what happened on the inside. I have finally claimed my identity as a photographer. I am no longer just someone with a digital camera who takes pictures. I now am the camera.

Does that sound egotisical? I hope not. I don't mean it that way. It's just that it no longer matters whether or not my camera is in my hands; I still see the world through its lens. Every moment is a frame. Every feeling translates into an image. Not that anyone else can see it. That doesn't matter. I see it. I am it.

So I enter 2010 as a photographer. I have no idea how that will manifest itself in what work I do, how that work is shared, what challenges and joys I will encounter. What I do know is that I am who and where I want and need to be. If I stay true to that, the rest will take care of itself.

Happy New Year to you...