"judy, you are favored," my new friend eagerly told me. i just sat there without a clue as to the next word that would come out of my mouth. so, i waited.
"judy, you are," she said more convincingly. "i don't use puffy words. I mean it." i think she did. the longer i sat there in silence, the more i heard those words resounding over and over. i was favored.
the backstory is simple. i'm going to a birthday party at a monastery tomorrow - the 102nd birthday of the founding father for the only monastery in georgia. i suppose my friend recognized something i didn't. i admit, it is kind of cool that i am being allowed in a part of the cloister where no one is allowed to visit, but i have been down this road before - a journalist asking for access for a story. but then i thought, of all the people in the world, this man - this father - would be the least impressed with my credentials. he couldn't care less. it was his birthday, and as i was told, he - as well as all those around him - wanted to share his life with me. in fact, who am i kidding - yes, i got access to jason aldean in sanford stadium, but he didn't know me from the faceless armadillo crossing the highway.
i realized that these two events are as different as night and day. the aldean concert was a media circus, his moment to flaunt before the home crowd just who he had become, and the more eyes on him, the better. it would make him a better man, a better entertainment. a better paycheck.
for father luke, his invitation is personal and selective. more than likely, he will not understand my role at his celebration, but he will hopefully catch my eyes and hear my greetings. he'll answer my queries, and with his wonderful humor, he and i will both laugh when he answers. he will care enough to bring me into his space, and hope that i will return the respect. he will not need my approval or presence to authenticate his life.
i am favored. not simply because i get the opportunity to do things many don't, but because i get to tell stories of a generation that still has so much to teach us. i'm allowed the opportunity to sit with the sages of this world, to photograph them and capture moments when they are happiest, and to write down their words so that when they have gone on to greener pastures, their legacy remains.
yes, my new friend, i am favored, not because of who i am but because of those i have met.
what a smile from father luke. happy birthday. august 3, 2013.
Whether it is exploring this amazing world or being content on my own piece of real estate near Athens, Georgia, I'm spinning stories and fashioning tales from a Southern perspective. As an editor and writer, I get to meet incredible people and share their stories. As a photographer, I get to cement these moments in time. As a wife and mother, I'm always excited to see what's around the next corner, For it's anything but ordinary.