Thursday, February 28, 2013


My collector’s heart has for some years focused on what are called “found photos.” Somehow separated from their original owners, these photos each tell a story to which no one any longer quite has the key. With or without inscriptions on the back, these photos pose who questions, where questions, when questions, and – usually most elusive – why questions. I have grown used to the elusiveness, gotten to know that peculiar taste of unknowing without any longer particularly needing or even wanting the “real” story told, the identities revealed, the details wrapped up.

This week I “found” something else that had been separated from its original owner. I had been combing and deleting the earliest emails in an online account that I started five years back. Some of the people who wrote the messages archived in this account are no longer in contact. They are no longer entertaining any intention of being in my life. It happens that they each in their own way some time back left me snapshots of a friendship.

I was about to delete one message, and then I stopped to read it again. I was in the presence of a moment of my life that I had forgotten. No one who reads the blog these days knows the writer of the message, and the writer of the message no longer reads the blog. Like a found photo, the message is free to pose for the random reader who questions, where questions, when questions, and those most elusive why questions. Read on only if you do not particularly need or even want the “real” story told, the identities revealed, the details wrapped up.

You will meet a moment in a man’s life. Reverence it. I do.

When I woke on Saturday morning, I found myself in the bathroom, looking in the mirror, saying, “I am hungry.” My hunger was not the type satisfied by a bowl of cereal or a piece of toast – but rather the type of hunger that comes from an awareness of the possibility of things – my life – being different. The thought took me by surprise and I recalled your question, “Are you getting what you need?” It was not, by this point, any great revelation that I have not been getting what I need and have not been getting it for quite some time. What has changed during these past three months is my being able to admit to myself that life as I know it, is not quite working. So, what do I need? What is this hunger that caught my attention at 7:30 last Saturday morning?

I love the thought of “taking one’s life seriously.” I have been pretty good at taking other things seriously – work, faith, friendship, situations that others face and sometimes share with me – but have I taken my own life seriously? Have I placed my own needs – those particular, unglamorous needs that somehow make a difference – in the background, not trusting that they are worth paying attention to?

They were, they are, they will continue to be worth paying attention to. So go my thoughts four years after these words were written.


To live that day said...

Sometimes when I read an old message in the sent file, it looks as "found" as some old messages in the inbox. Detached, cold and separated from its original writer too.

John said...

You are perceptive. We startle ourselves at times, don't we?