The late afternoon sun changes the quiet, calm cemetery into a luminous landscape. Shadows of trees and headstones mingle across the green grass and brown pine needles. Here in this place I stand in a family history stretching back in a direct line for four generations. My father lives not far away and we retrieve my son from camp tomorrow. If I brought them both here, seven generations would be gathered in this place. Nearly 200 years of our family is represented here. For a nation that is not yet 250 years old, this is amazing. That I can continue to follow my roots even further back is an immense privilege. To some, this may seem odd, perhaps even morbid. I find it fascinating that I can share a moment with my 3rd great grandfather and feel a connection.
This sense of connection provides a sense of purpose, belonging, and meaning in a way that I cannot explain. I prize this knowledge, knowing that many are lucky to know their grandparents and little more. With the flood of DNA testing advertisements, I know I am not alone in this desire to know more about my origins. I am blessed to know as much as I do even though I feel I am barely scratching the surface. Had my life gone a different direction, perhaps I would have become a professional genealogist. There is magic (and frustration) in the search alone. That quest to find more is an extension of the connection for which many of us long.
I get a very similar connection through photography. As I look back through images I have taken over the years, I remember details about the subject that are not in the photograph at all. While I recall many details about the situation in which an image was captured, that is not what captivates me. Those conversations before, during, and after a photoshoot are part of my history. I learn who you are, share who I am, and we discover what we can be together. If even for a few short minutes, our lives intertwine. It is not simply a rushed, five minute portrait session. We create a connection. We become luminous beings, reaching beyond our physical selves. For better or worse, we are now part of each other’s stories.
All of this was very much on my mind when this amazing video came to my attention. I can think of no better way to close today’s post out than by sharing this inspirational insight with you.