I was raised on water. Deep blues, indigo depths. Evergreen heights. These tones draw me in.
With an eye sensitive to color, the warm and the burnt tones were never for me. I've always worn colors that felt like home, like a misty grey morning on the sea. White. Grey. Navy. Deep greens.
Yet the consistent thread of what’s “gold” throughout my life is palpable and undeniable. A white picket fence outlining a buttercup colored home dubbed the "golden cottage" with bounding four legged golden retrievers inside. It’s becoming a part of me, this warm golden tone.
As I reflect on this past season, a season that’s brought me back to the ocean and away from a place I never thought I’d leave - I can’t help but label it a refining season, a gold season. One of renewal and refinement.
Years ago in Yellowstone, we came upon a scene so horrific I felt my stomach twist. A wildfire had taken out everything as far as the eye could see. Our initial reaction was of mourning. The nearby ranger stopped us, explaining that while it may look like total destruction - wildfires are actually natures blessing in disguise. That the pines hold too tightly to their seeds inside, remaining in bondage for up to 50 years. And that without fire, the seeds would likely never be released. The heat, and seeming destruction, is the only thing strong enough for those cones to open up and release what's meant for flourishing. After the seeds fall to the forest floor, the abundant growth process begins quickly, giving life to the next generation of trees.
Abundance by fire.
I pour over the gospel daily. His wisdom about the refiners fire has taken on new meaning. Purpose beyond our pain to conform our character. In the Old Testament, a refiner would begin by breaking up one rough hardened rock with a promise of valuable rare minerals hidden within. The breaking of the rock is necessary to begin the refining process to expose highly valuable metals to heat. Gold. The heat is never intended to destroy you, only to conform you.
Refined by fire.
I hope you can tell where this narrative is heading. The warmth, the fire, the gold, the burnt tones - represent what is vulnerable. What is beyond standing stoic and poised and impressive. What stands on the other side of slayed idols. What may look like total destruction.
Because love breaks us open. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.
Brokenness leads to abundance.
My aunt is a kindred spirit, soaking up all that this life has to offer and savoring moments, embracing people, and striving to make it more beautiful. A photojournalist in Memphis, her longstanding career can be traced back through the camera equipment. Year after year the latest technology began to collect.
A Nikon FM from the late 1970’s was gifted to me, slowly becoming a relic - lens staring at me from inside the storage unit filled with reminders of who I was, before the fire. One of the few items that holds value to me anymore - alongside a couple books, a few handwritten letters, a good chefs knife, my favorite vinyl records, and some family pieces. They’re all that came back to Seattle with me.
There's a camera shop walking distance from my new place. The Leica collector and film connoisseur there was thrilled at my request to bring life to the mission. I left with eight Kodak Gold rolls of film in hand, sent away to play. He explained that it would be wisest for me to use the “common man’s” film instead of the professional rolls, because the trial and error period may have messy results. I obliged gladly. Pocket full of gold.
This collection of images is an (unedited) result and tangible reminder of abundant life beyond what may look to others, who don’t understand growth, as destruction. A new season. A season of leaning into the warmth. Refined. Giving life to what’s next.
Follow along as it develops.