something, especially a structure, established to remind people of a person or event.
For the past year I have been thinking a lot about memorials. Yes, you heard me right — memorials. A year ago I shot a session for a family that was getting ready to move to a different state. The house meant a great deal to them — their first years of marriage, the house they brought their children home to, where they wrestled with one another and with God over various life challenges. That session — it was the first time I saw the importance of what I do for a job. I mean, it isn’t like I am a brain surgeon or a kindergarten teacher or a garbage collector. The world would keep spinning just fine without me here doing my thang. I enjoy it. The people being photographed enjoy it. But it isn’t really important.
That day, however, — as I took pictures of the window sills and front stoops that framed this family’s life for nearly a decade, I got it.
You see, in The Bible, in Joshua 3-4 — similar to Moses and the parting of the Red Sea — God miraculously took the Israelites through the Jordan River on dry land. Once they passed through, the Israelites were commanded to collect twelve big stones from the Jordan and place them in a certain spot. “When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”
This family was setting up a memorial. Collecting stones from their own Jordan River to commemorate this chapter of their life coming to a close. And just like the kids of the Israelites, this family’s children and grandchildren will be able to flip through the book we complied together and ask, “Why is this here?” The parents will be able to recount God’s faithfulness as their family was just beginning to grow. And I, non-brain surgeon me, was able to play a part in that holy stone-stacking.
I finally got it.
On the outside, it may just look like a simple coffee table book or a pile of rocks on a river bank. But those simple objects serve a greater purpose — to keep the memory from fading. To bring back focus to what is most important. To establish a memorial in honor of the complicated, messy, joyous pieces that fit together to form our lives.
No, it isn’t brain surgery, but it is important.
And now, my own stack of stones. To those families that joined my *photographic family* in 2014, thank you for trusting me with your stories. This is my memorial to you…
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