Happy Passover and Happy Easter to those who celebrate. Or, I could say Happy Spring! Even though it’s been the longest winter I can remember and outside my window there’s still way too much snow on the ground, the promise of new life is there. And that seems to be the message of these two holy-days — liberation from a long winter and the rising up of new life from the ashes of death. Hope and redemption.
I wasn’t religious as a child. But my appreciation for the sacredness of life only increases with the years and I know that photography has helped me to see that sacredness. I have come to realize that we have all been given a gift and the gift is Life itself. That is why my favorite expression is the Hebrew saying: L’Chaim! To Life! I see both Passover and Easter as a celebration of this awareness. As the heaviness of whatever oppresses us lifts — whatever it may be — a deep gratitude for life surfaces…again and again.
Creativity itself is a response to and an expression of the very real life force that runs through each of us and connects us all. The closer we get to that awareness of LIFE within us the more joyful we feel in our art.
In 1999, when I was enraptured by photographing flowers I shared these thoughts with my students:
I just want to pay tribute to it all! I want to exclaim and proclaim and sing the joyous sounds of tribute and awe to all that my eyes behold! Whatever is within the flowers is within us. We are a part of this universe! Whether I’m looking at a human hand or looking the galaxies of shooting stars or the flight of a bird…Something marvelous is going on and I’m part of it. We’re all part of it!
LIFE Magazine did a short video about my journey with the flowers. The title, A Garden of Psalms, comes from series of poems I wrote late at night when I would wake up filled with the dazzling beauty of flowers and head to my studio to take more photographs. I offer this one to you as my celebration of hope and redemption. Whatever it is you celebrate — Passover, Easter, or the coming of Spring — may you taste the freedom and joy that comes with the gift of life.
In the night-time I didn’t know
how far my soul had wandered;
How vast the dream had grown.
In the darkness leaves did call,
first one, and then another.
Many eyes did open;
each leaf rustling in my throat,
in my heart.
My mind listened.