This May, I found myself on a plane, headed to New Hampshire for my grandmother’s funeral. Though we now live some 1200 miles away, I grew up just a hundred yards from her front door, so the news of her sudden decline and a few days later, her death, hit me hard – all the more because I wasn’t able to be there in person to say goodbye. And yet, when the plane landed and my dad picked me up, I could understand the Apostle Paul’s words, when he spoke of his own mental state: “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing”. Paul was speaking to the first century persecuted Christians about this incongruous state of mind that we so often have, where there can be deep, heartbreaking pain, and yet underneath it, an unquenchable joy because of God’s certain promise that all will be made right for those “who love God and are called according to his purposes” – Romans 8:28.
And so, it’s no surprise that our family was feeling the weight of sorrow, but behind and underneath that sorrow there was this sense of joy. It wasn’t the laugh-out-loud, raucous sort of joy, and it wasn’t exactly the joy I spoke of above, but it was something deep and persistent. It was in the joy of memories – the vacations to Bar Harbor, the holidays breakfasts, the old stories and the funny little traits we’ve each inherited from Gram. On top of these precious treasures of the mind, we too had the joys of the Creation, blooming and sprouting as the cold New England winter finally gave way to the manifold glories of spring – Gram’s beloved lilacs were in full purple bloom and overflowing with a sweet, almost palatable fragrance.
I suspect I am not alone among my photography peers in finding certain types of photography as therapeutic and even invigorating for my soul. For me, few things liven my spirits like landscape photography – and especially when the canvas is rural New England. And so, after all the formalities of Gram’s funeral and the departures of family, my parents and I set out for a few hours on a perfect spring afternoon to explore, shoot some photos, and reminisce. It was a wonderful time, and this post offers up some of the fruits of that brief excursion. I hope you enjoy them!
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Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing – A Bittersweet New England Spring