Friends out there reading… let me tell you… this story is a beautiful one. You are going to want to read EVERY WORD. Do not skip quickly to the end.
This harvest session began at 6:18am in a dark living room in Indiana with another negative pregnancy test result for the Archual family. Carrie, the mama, wanted to share as to why this should not have been excluded from the documentation of their day, as well as the heartbreaking joy that can come out of the darkest seasons.
“Looking at my little ones expending massive amounts of energy rolling around on her floor, then looking wistfully at me, Grandma Millie tells me, “This right now, this is the best time of your life.” (Over 9 decades on earth, 10 children, 25 grandchildren, 32 great-grandchildren – 35 counting those still in utero…I figure she just might have a bit of insider info which would behoove me to listen to.)
My breath catches in my throat; I hope to God that she is both right, and wrong. I hope she is wrong, because, mercy, is this as good as it gets? .…I feel like I’m dying. Multiple times a day. Maybe that’s just it, that’s exactly where the beautiful is being made – in my dying 87 times a day. When you die, you let it go, hand it over to what’s Bigger than you, and hope, and trust. I hope that Grandma Millie is right; because that means the weariness that reaches to my marrow every day means something beautiful.
Deep down, I know it does. It means something beautiful. The most beautiful of somethings. Being present to it all, right now, is the best time of our life. Hoping that Mercy will infuse it all, believing that it is infusing it all right now, is the best time of our life.
Like many mothers, I live my days in the in-betweens. In between heart-melting sweetness and meltdowns. In between racing and resting. In between letting them grow and internally pleading them to stop growing. My days take years to pass. My years flit by in what seems like days. In between it all, this life that we are building, is happening.
I know deep inside that there are more moments of exquisite magnificence packed into each day than I am aware of. Of course, I try. I try to look at the dimples on her knuckles and let the sweetness of them sink into the deepest fibers of my existence. I am so thankful they are still there. I am also so… so tired, and am often exceedingly disappointed that the exhaustion inside of me doesn’t allow me to fully be, at least to the fullness that I so desire.
So I wanted Joy to come and capture these moments, these thousands of moments in the mundane details of our days. The moments that I know are there, that I try to be present to and that often, I fail to fully live in. I wanted these moments captured on film, because while I attempt to be present to the sweetness of each one of them happening right before my eyes each day, I find great solace in the fact that I can slowly leaf through these images, and let the moment linger as I look at them. With little ones, many moments pass very quickly – they’re ready to MOVE! I have often found myself breathing a quiet prayer: ‘Let this moment be etched deep into my heart.’ These physical images let this weary mama’s heart linger in the moments a little longer. I want to remember these days existed, just like this.
It’s the realness that I most wanted to be documented. Our days aren’t fancy; they aren’t extravagant or noteworthy. But they are. I wanted the fullness of our days captured, I wanted it all, so as to see what I already know is true: that every one of these moments – the most beautiful, the most despairing – is what the life we are building is made of, and it is all beauty. The ugly beauty and the beautiful beauty – it is all formative, and thus beauty, if we accept it as such.
I wanted it all captured, because this is life. This is our life, this is everyone who is looking at these images, your life too. All of these moments actually happen, to every one of us. It’s simply our willingness to live fully in those moments – beautiful or ugly – or to try and pass over those moments as quickly as possible.
I’ve had enough negative pregnancy tests in my life to feel like it was utterly ridiculous to ask a complete stranger photographer lady to meet us at 6am, and 5 minutes later take pictures of the awkward disappointment of what would probably be yet another negative pregnancy test. It was another negative pregnancy test. But that’s what it was. That was the life we lived that morning; it happened to us. We lived it. And of all the negative tests we have ever looked at, this one had an odd, if still painful, sweetness to it. Allowing Joy to capture that raw and tender moment enabled us to somehow live in it a bit more fully. Is that not what our entire lives are composed of – moments we try to live fully in, or moments we try to breeze through? I wanted the fullness of our current life to be captured, and captured it was in these dreamy images.”