Intro by Belinda:
I wrote about "waiting" a couple of days ago. Little did I know that God would send something beautiful to Whatever He Says, but not through my keyboard! I love how he delights in sending surprises. And by the way, when you read the story below, in case there is any doubt, I loved every single moment of this particular "journey." I hesitated for the briefest moment to share what Ang wrote, because it involved me and my camera, but her writing is just to good, and the story too. Enjoy.
By Angela Catrambone
She didn’t just take some pictures that day…point a lens and click away amidst the giggles and distractions.
No, she wove a tale and walked me through a journey.
Zia had been visiting from Rome and was hoping for photos of the family. We had a portrait from years ago and some from school, but wanted fresh ones to give, so he asked Belinda, her of the large lens and heart to match.
She said sure and we made a date, drove over that evening in the fading light and I was rushing the process the whole way… “We’re late, the sun’s going down…”. We got there, slightly deflated and she came out of the house, welcome hugs, camera in hand and we went to the backyard, chatting, looking for a good spot for a family, a pretty place to pose those who were feeling hurried.
She smiled and we found spaces, patio stones lined up so we could pose a la Von Trapp family peeking out from behind one another. The chuckles started. The boys climbed a tree, hung off branches, big smiles, and the sun hung on.
All together framed against the grey board and baton shed, tall yellow flowers splattering the dim with light.
Her shutter clicking constantly she caught the inbetweens, the spaces between jostling and perfect that were the positioning, where the shoving and joking and admonishing took place. And then she got the great shots too; the ones that we want to give to Zia and other people, so it can be said “What a beautiful family.”
Isn’t that what we want? It’s what I’ve wanted. That others wouldn’t see the struggles and the word collisions, that we don’t always behave well and that sometimes everything feels rigid inside.
There’s shame in showing the ugly, the imperfect, brokenness that we clothe in smiles and “I’m fine”.
I thought I’d grown beyond this. This need to mask the real. I who loves to love the broken and welcome them, imperfect and struggling, yet my own who are still forming thought systems and beliefs I badger so they won’t embarrass me. Really?
The pressure is huge to obey and cooperate; yet along the way we lose a heart here and close a spirit there.
I looked at that sequence of photos when Belinda sent them. Out there in the cornfield, the light was nearly gone, but her camera could adjust so it didn’t matter. She wanted a shot with the children so I told them to get in a group for her, called them from far-flung places in the field. “Come on guys, the lights almost gone and we’re going to do one more.” It doesn’t sound bad, but the tension in me, trying to keep control of the distraction and energy pumping out of the four of them didn’t feel nice.
Did I want them to line up like pleasant little soldiers? No…but instant cooperation and “Yes Mom” would have been nice.
A day later the pictures arrived in our inbox and I saw four beautiful children in various stages of silliness, gradually moving from chaos to cooperation; from being scattered to gathered, from posturing to posing. And EACH STAGE WAS BEAUTIFUL.
I saw my handsome big boy, arms gathering the smaller ones in, trying his best to corral that energy. My daughter a bit fed up, smiling big for the camera, lightening up as she wrapped her arms around her brother and tried to contain his wiggles, and the two smaller brothers taking turns with faces and sillies. The final photo was taken with them all in place, a bit tired of the process, but doing it for Zia anyway.
I’ve tried to subvert the process for most of my life. I’ve wanted character before I’d earned it. Didn’t understand that “Love is patient…” means that He is patient with me as I learn too.
I've wanted my children to honor their parents, when I have been disrespectful to them.
The story is in the pictures. Rejoicing along the way, slowing down to hear what a heart is saying, being able to ‘still, and know that He is God’ in every moment.
Love is patient, patient enough to give us Zia, who wanted photos and a lovely friend to take them in such a way that the beauty of the journey showed through.