I pulled a small wicker trunk from under my bed this evening. Inside, packed tightly, hides a decade of old journals. I periodically like to skim through these old journals, chuckle and cringe at my former ridiculous self, and praise the Lord that I’m not as foolish as I once was. This time, with just a few days left in the most difficult year ever, I poured over my scribbles with a different agenda.
I needed proof, tangible evidence, that there were hidden treasures in the darkness of 2013.
Last December, after coming home from a memorial service for one of the sweet, innocent, Sandy Hook babies, I wrote, “Still dabbling between those sleep and dream states, sometimes getting stuck in the middle…So this is what tragedy feels like.”
The thickest fog.
In March, slowly emerging from that community-shaking shock, an entry reads, “What gives me life?” I went over the letters several times with my pen, emboldening the words, and attempting to embolden my spirit. The paper won’t tell, but I’m sure I paused before writing more. I’m sure I cried. I’m sure I sighed. I’m sure making a list of life-giving activities and goals did end up being life-giving.
But I’m sure I had no idea I would have to grieve three more deaths and be braver than I’ve ever been required in the upcoming months.
In June, thrust into fresh tragedies, I took notes on a pastor’s words: “The gates of hell will not prevail. Gates are not offensive. They don’t attack. We are on the offensive…going out and exploding into the places of darkness and bringing light. We get to burst through the doors of hell and take back what the enemy has taken.”
A revelation of hope just strong enough to push me to join the ranks and march towards those gates.
So I armed myself with a camera and a desire to tell stories. These were my weapons.
My most recent journal with the broken binding definitely gives proof of hidden treasures in this darkness. There is evidence in the ripped pages and lavender sprigs that I am chosen and loved, that loving big means bringing the kingdom big, that adventures were had, relationships grew, and I’m really not as foolish as I think I am.
However, it’s in the thousands of images and the dozens of folks who stood in front of my camera this year that give the true evidence I craved. How can I even begin to express my gratitude to the ones who have opened up their sacred lives and let me honor their beauty?
To those who have encouraged and supported me in this art, I am humbled. To those who have let me experiment on you, I am thankful. To those who have patiently and passionately taught me, I am honored. Your love, laughter, smiles, incredible acting and modeling skills, appreciation for the arts, value, worth, and light brushed the dirt off the buried gold this year. I am grateful for each and every one of you. What a privilege to have grown with you in this way.
And so, here are some of my favorite frames from 2013, my hidden treasures in the darkness.