Lately I have been thinking about life in terms of bookends. Beginnings and endings, not so linear but more like a messy squiggly line with a determined starting and ending point. Like putting a pen down to paper. That very first stroke that wriggles around the paper culminated in the final stroke lifting from what was once a blank white sheet. I feel like that is my life. Panning out, I am somewhere in the middle of a hair pen turn, looking back and yet moving forward.

I suppose life hasn’t taken the route that I envisioned when I was a child. Being a fire fighter or professional baseball player has not panned out (pretty sure those were my childhood dreams?). Being married and having a house with a river running through the back yard with children catching crawdads and frolicking in open fields has not yet manifested (‘the’ American dream with some personal flare).

Life has been fraught with many things – joy, disappointment, laughter, heartache, friendship, pain, connection, loss, gain, rejection, adventure, suffering, and other dashes of salt and pepper. If we are real about it, there is hope and there is hope deferred. Life truly is a beautiful mess and I will say that for much of my life, it was the beauty of the moments that I was missing.

About nine years ago after breaking off an engagement to be married, I picked up a camera. Oddly, it was extremely healing. I had no idea how it would change my life. It was a film camera. I actually had to wait to see how my pictures turned out. The experience of retrieving photos finally processed, cracking the envelope and flipping one by one. Delayed gratification at its finest. Ahh, those were the days. Now kids don’t get to experience the wait. “Let me see, let me see…

Here I sit saying the same thing to Papa…”Let me see, let me see…

And that’s just it…I can’t see. The film is developing. I’m in the darkroom. What I am grateful for in that space is the anticipation that soon I shall see. Color will emerge. For me, this is hope. Standing in the middle of hair pen turns allows me to see more of what is behind me than what is ahead. Perhaps you can relate from where you are sitting – with your pen and paper in hand, scribbling your line with bookends.

There is something that photography has taught me, and I had not realized it until recently. When our eyes and hearts behold beauty, there is a mending that occurs that words can not offer. Somehow this is connected to a hope that does not disappoint. How difficulty, trial, and dark rooms produce hope is beyond me, but after spending quite a bit of time there, I have come to learn that it is God in me who sees darkness and summons color – light. This is the hope my soul clings to right here in the dark room waiting for the film to develop in the middle of the squiggle.