It didn't even make the first cut, this picture. It was marked for deletion seconds after my eye scanned it. Of course, 99% of this photo is beautiful - glistening water, baby blue sky - but even though the background is breathtaking, the subject is lifeless. Dark and lacking any detail, the sailboat in the picture disappointed me because I remembered it looking much more beautiful to my eye.
Maybe it didn't. Maybe it was always dark, and the miracle that is my mind filled in the missing light and allowed me to see the sails in their milky-white glory even though the signal sent from my eyes was dull. This is probably true. Cameras tell truths we don't see sometimes.
Delete these 83 master pictures from disk, or just remove them from Lightroom? the prompt asked after I finished my initial run-through of the new photos. The answer is always 'Delete from disk' -- no sense making the decision more than once. But as my mouse hovered over the button this time, one selected picture stood apart from the rest; a dark sailboat surrounded by beautiful water grabbed my attention and asked me to think about it. I hesitated. Then, in an instant, I clicked 'Cancel', removed the delete mark from the one picture, and tried again.
Delete these 82 master pictures from disk, or just remove them from Lightroom?
Delete from disk.
My heart felt happy as my eyes opened on June 11th this year. So many years I've woken to this date with a physical ache in my chest and a nauseous feeling in my stomach. It's been a heartbreakingly lonely day in years past... a day in which the barriers in my mind that control the pain lose their powers and allow the memories of our little stillborn son - both good and bad - to invade every crevice of my soul and body (my toes hurt, I remember thinking one year).
But this year was different.
Instead of the pain, there was beauty. Happiness and joy. A reverent respect for the lessons we've learned from Jess, and a humbling-to-my-knees gratitude for my faith and knowledge in the powerful and eternal miracle that we have been sealed together as a family in the temple of the Lord. This year, Brian and I gathered our children together on a blanket in front of the temple and, for the first time, I opened my journal and read excerpts out loud to them about those life-changing weeks that broke me nine years ago. And as I read, I was able to discern that, though those weeks did break me for years, so much grander was the fact that they had, indeed, built me most of all.
If the pain of the past could have been painted in a picture, it might look to my eye like a dark, lifeless sailboat. Regardless of the beauty surrounding it, it might seem to me unworthy of keeping, and so marked for deletion from my life. But the master artist, my loving Heavenly Father, saw something in the picture of my pain - all those years ago - that was worth keeping. Worth crafting, in fact. He knew that, as the sun moved across the sky and lit the sailboat from the other side, I would have all the elements necessary to create a truly breathtaking scene.
No matter how many pictures I took of that first sailboat, I never could have made it pop with light. Of course, it wasn't the fault of the sailboat, for it was always white and beautiful. The sun was simply in the wrong place. All I could do was wait.
Wait for earth to turn.
Wait for the darkness to become light.
Wait for the pain to become beautiful.