Monday, January 31, 2011

Visit to St. Bernard Parish Family

This most recent trip to Louisiana I wondered what the hell I was doing.  Then I delivered this picture to and the family recognized themselves.

In a thick local accent, the man said. "That one's alright, but this one is something." He kept looking at it.  The mother of the children stepped out onto the lawn and agreed, with honest, palpable, honest-no-bullshit emotion. It made me go all silly. It was too much to hope for that they would get it, would reflect at me the feeling I get when I'm doing this work/art/play.

It's a piece of paper.  A picture.  What can it possibly mean? In the moment of giving it, it becomes much more. I can't seem to stop myself from hoping that they will recognize something in themselves that I see: great beauty in the common man and woman, the honest work in day to day survival, the struggle to meet the needs of their children, and their ability to find some joy in that struggle. 

Their thanks was  so heartfelt I was embarrassed.  What's amazing, I want to say, is that you let me in, let me sit on the neatly made bed in your living room, where you unwind to sleep at night, that your girls are climbing all over me and my camera equipment, have with pen and ink inserted their drawings, the reflections of their very souls into my notebook.  It's to you that I am grateful  for giving me a reason to pause and catch the breeze, take flight, regard the human spirit  as a fine, and  brightly feathered creature here in this fifteen foot wide stretch of heaven where you make and unmake your bed, furl and unfurl your life, this weedy and wonderful patch of heaven and earth.

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