Wendell Berry once said "It is not from ourselves that we learn to be better than we are.” I spent this past weekend in slow motion, or at least so it felt. It wasn't until I was driving home that I had time to reflect on the contrast of it all. On Friday I attended a funeral of a sweet, sweet woman, the mother of an old friend from home. She left us too early. It was a rather sad day; I don't exactly attend funerals often. I saw friends from high school that I haven't seen in seven years, and was only able to cry, and not to laugh, with them. It all felt surreal.
That same night I got a call from my rockstar friend Kaitie telling me her baby boy would be greeting us soon. She then asked if I would be able to make it to Athens to be a part of it all, to tell the story of her sweet little Andy. What an honor! God was really sweet to me: even though I was over three hours away, I walked into the room only two minutes after the baby was born.
It's not everyday someone asks you to be a part of such a big moment in their lives and I am humbled by the opportunity. A few years ago, my mentor, Noelle, asked me to be there when Alyssa was born. I was still in college and just beginning to learn a camera, and yet she still extended the offer. It is from women like Kaitie and Noelle that I have learned so much, the majority of which has come from a willingness to share their lives - and their families - with me. For that I am extremely thankful.
In the hospital room on Saturday, I witnessed, through a camera lens, a three-year-old little boy meet his new baby brother. To see so much joy on Kaitie and Jared's faces while they watched Ethan meet Andy for the first time was overwhelming. Ethan ("Lil' E") can't seem to say "CJ", so the Bryant family refers to me as "PJ". I was floored when I walked back in the room and heard Ethan call me "Aunt PJ". What a way to share in a family's joys!
On the drive home that night I realized the contrast of those two days: Friday I shared in a loss of a loved one and Saturday the joy of new life. Back-to-back, death and life. It is through experiences like this, outside of myself, that I am learning a little more about the beauty of seasons. We may experience loss, but He is faithful to give life again.
His mercies are new every morning.