so a couple of years ago i heard about this great local organization that helps families in our area. it is called brehon. it is named for the “brehon laws” from ireland that insisted on hospitality and help for those who traveled through the countryside. anyway they do amazing things for families that need some help and support. they have the ONLY maternity house for homeless pregnant women to stay and receive help with their newborn (and other children they may have with them) and they help these women learn the skills they need to be good mothers. i started doing some volunteer stuff with them. and i wasn’t really good at any of the stuff that i was doing.
until one day it all clicked for me... literally. with the click on my camera lens opening and shooting one photo (of that mom and baby at the top of this page).
i was at the brehon house (the maternity home) and i had my camera and i took a photo of a mom and her new baby girl. i turned the camera around for her to see the photo and she said, “she looks so pretty! can i have a copy of that? i don’t have any pictures of her.”
and it hit me that i have albums and albums full of baby photos. and these women have no photos of this time in their life. and most of them have no baby photos of themselves or even any current photos of themselves. photography has not been a part of their lives, they don’t pour over scrapbooks of their past. and sometimes they can’t envision a future that they would want to have memorialized in photographs. but this present moment is special and they do want to remember it... they want a picture of their baby.
i know that i look back on my own children’s baby photos and i fall in love with those children of mine once again. and i want that for these moms. i want them to be able to look back on these moments when they held these babies and for them to remember how much they loved them and remember the promises they made to those babies and remember the promises they made to themselves.
and i want them to remember that someone cared about them enough to give them a place to sleep and care for their newborns. and i want them to remember that some lady came and took their photo and considered them beautiful and their babies precious. someone prayed for them. someone loved them and that person captured their beauty, their specialness, their love on film.
so i take photos of each new baby and mama at the brehon house. the new moms call me (i am quite famous around the place now. well, my camera is famous). sometimes they call me MINUTES after giving birth to schedule a photo session. sometimes they get their hair done for the photo session. they pick out the cutest baby clothes, they pick out their outfit with care, they have alternative outfits to change into. they want to look their best. they want what every woman wants... to look beautiful for just a moment. and they do look beautiful. they want what every mother wants... a moment of love captured between them and their precious new life in their arms.
i don’t think it is my skill in photography. i don’t think it is the magic of my canon 30d or my good lens (though that does help). i think it is the glory of the Lord shining round us. because these photos are much better than any others that i take...
it is a little bit like the story of moses and the rod in this hand...
the the Lord said to lea, “what is that in your hand?”
and lea answered, “a camera”...
and i take lots of photos with that camera in my hand. i listen to their stories. i hold those babies. i pray over them with every click of my camera punctuating my prayers in my head. Lord, watch over them. may they know You. may they love You. be Father to the fatherless. be Strength to the weak. be in my hands, be in my eyes, be in my words.
i send the photos off to be printed and i put them in a nice little album and take it to the mom a week after i take the photos. and we look through the album. and sometimes the moms cry. and sometimes i cry a little bit too.
and i put these photos up in my home, and i look at them and i pray for them and my kids see them and they pray. and hopefully my kids are learning something too...
but mostly it is me that is learning. i am learning how to love. how to love one person at a time. how to live in the moment of service. how to live a life that is about doing one small thing at a time. and like eric lidell in chariots of fire, every time i see these photos, with every click of the camera when i KNOW it have captured that moment, “i feel God’s pleasure”.
one mom said, “wow, these are good. you should do this for a living!” and i thought to myself, “i am doing this for a living, really... just not in the way she means.”
and i found this great quote from mother teresa and i made this with some of my favorite brehon photos. i sent it to brehon to thank them for letting me do what i do and for not making me do what i don’t do well (which is fund raising and all those other things that are so necessary and so not me). it may become a psa coming to a t.v. or magazine near you. but you can say you saw it here first.
and i liked it because it describes how i feel about the small thing that i do for these women (photographing them and loving them one a time). but it also describes how i think that learning to really love a child can transform someone’s life. and it describes how brehon views the way that they help people also through the local community, one family at a time.
and i do NOT think of myself as a mother teresa (and those of you who know selfish, self centered, nap loving, t.v. watching me know that there can be NO comparison between me and a saint. i am just a girl who has been given much in this life). and i really don’t think i will save the lives of 42,000 people like mother teresa. but maybe i can take a good picture of a couple of moms and their babies. i can love the people that God puts in my path. and i can walk a little bit out of my way to love some people who might not be over to the side holding a baby and begging for someone to take their photo and listen to their story and love them.
it is about making a living, starting at the ground level, loving one... with whatever you happen to have in your hand.
find one to love today. and you will make a living...
and as always love One, and you will live always...