Preparing For My Forty Day Photo Pilgrimage

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On September 22nd, I had a remarkably intense dream. In it two girls led me to a little boy named Timmy. Rarely do I get up in the middle of the night to write anything down, but that night, at 3am, there I was at my desk jotting down very quickly what I remembered of the dream- what I remembered about Timmy.

“We are supposed to leave him after the girls have fed him. I ask all kinds of questions about how in the world he takes care of himself the rest of the day. They say they leave food out next to him and somehow he manages to eat what he can grab. I can see he is undernourished, maybe even a bit impaired because he has been left alone so much. I refuse to leave him. I decide to adopt him…I take him home. I will not put him down. He and I have an incredible bond, I feel it between our two hearts. I am not at all scared about taking on a baby at my age. It feels right- and exactly what I need.”

I know Timmy, have known him my whole life. Same with the girls who took me to him, their names are Katie and Amanda. They are parts of me, inner lost children. Children held in remote interior places, partly by the tragedy of sexual abuse. Kind of a multiple personality thing without the outward manifestations.

Fractured pieces of self, scattered by trauma, hidden away in the darkest recesses of my soul.

But they refused to remain hidden. Outward circumstances and inner pressure caused them, one by one, to emerge. I needed them in my life, desperately. But each one carried pieces of my pain, something I had separated myself from in order to survive. Or so I thought.

Listening to them, at first, was hard. For so long they were silenced, by me. I didn’t mean to neglect them and ignore them, I just didn’t know how to let them speak. They scared me.  Yet I knew I needed them back, to embrace them, in order to be whole.

So I finally took a risk. I didn’t just listen. I let them speak.

Katie spoke first. Her voice was part of a novel I wrote back in 2007-2008 titled “Little Girl Lost.” It was painful. I had to let go and move aside. She brought intense emotions that caused me to give up many times. Even after I finished the manuscript I chose to put it away in my basement. I still wasn’t ready to fully embrace what she meant for my life.

Writing became more important, and the novel kept drawing me back. I attended a couple writing retreats at Holy Cross Monastery, and for the first time I began to believe I was a “writer.” Katie gave that gift to me. How could I possibly thank her for waiting within me, ignored, all those years? And Katie then introduced me to Amanda, her twin.

Amanda’s voice started with a not so random meeting with a horse in Florida. I share a little of that story on my page listed above titled “A Horse.” I finished that short novel in April. She brought a poetic lilt to my writing style, and the idea of a different way to tell the story Katie had already started. I thought that was the story I was meant to tell, wanted it to be. I gave it to some close friends to read. But there was something missing.

The novel and the story now sit on my desk. The two, together.

What was missing was Timmy’s voice. I had seen him first in a dream 20 years ago. Of my three inner children, he was the one I kept locked away deepest. Maybe that is why his voice will go public as it erupts. Here. During this pilgrimage.

Except that Timmy doesn’t just represent words, writing. Since the dream it is my photography that is taking center stage. And with it the beginning of a possibility, one this photo pilgrimage will represent. I am listening. That is the start. I have my camera ready.

Right now I’m here, sitting on this bench, resting and contemplating where my pilgrimage will begin tomorrow. Will you join me? There’s definitely room on this bench for two. Or maybe more….

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