I used to go to church a lot when I was younger. I would sit in the wooden pews and stare up at the beautiful ceilings. I would be mesmerized by the stained glass windows. I would breath in the incense infused air. I would get lost in the uplifting sounds of the gospel choirs. And sometimes, I would just sit in silence. The majestic and angelic sound of sacred silence.
The thing of it is though, that I only ever went to church alone. I would walk up the lovely stone steps of any church that I could find…peak in the giant wooden doors…and if the church was empty, then I would go in. Otherwise, I would walk away and wait for another time. I don’t know if I was afraid, or intimidated, or doubtful, or simply not “there” yet. Looking back, I think that I was likely worried that my immature faith wasn’t big enough to fit within the walls of the churches that I loved so much. Fortunately, I have since come to believe that faith and religion don’t need each other in order to deeply and truly exist.
Faith isn’t an easy thing for a lot of people though. By its very nature, it’s believing in something that you can’t see or touch or rationalize. Like love, it’s trusting in something that can be nothing more than felt. But also like love, faith is a journey…an experience…a relationship unlike any other.
When I was twenty-five, I confided in a friend about my childhood apprehensions regarding church services and within moments, she invited me to go with her one Sunday evening. She then proceeded to spend every week, for nearly a year, seated next to me in a church basement as I discovered my faith, challenged my faith and realized the true depths of my faith. Essentially, this friend changed my life. Granted, if she were sitting here with me right now, she would say that I changed my life, but I know with utmost certainty that without her patience, compassion and understanding, I would not be where I am right now. Because while having your own faith may not necessarily be an easy thing, I believe that it’s an even harder thing to walk someone else through theirs.
As I photographed this dear friend of mine on her wedding day – as she stood in her church, filled with her faith – I became overwhelmed with how wondrous the world can be; how a single person can change the course of your life, how magical and meaningful chance encounters can be, and how our faith – that most beautiful of relationships – can show its truest grace through the most beautiful of people.
Adrienne, even if our paths were to never cross again, I would never stop smiling at the thought of you. You have impacted my life in ways that you may never truly know and that I will never be able to truly express. Your kindness, love and generosity is immeasurable. Your faith is something that I will forever admire and my faith is something that will forever make me think of you.
Not only has it been a privilege to share in your life…it’s also been a privilege to share in your wedding day…