Each one of us, then, should speak of his roads, his crossroads, his roadside benches; each one of us should make a surveyor's map of his lost fields and meadows. Gaston Bachelard.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I am walking through a church in Rome, stepping on the marble tombstones that make up the floor, past the dark wood of the confession booths and the statues of saints when I notice a small chapel by the entrance. Always drawn toward smaller proportions, structures within structures, I enter. There is nothing extraordinary about this chapel, it has all the elements one might expect in such a place, but on my way out I notice something. On a low table right by the entrance there are two open photo albums with no explanation above them or inside them.


I flip through: each page contains a collection of candid photographs. Moments from people’s lives. Two people kissing, someone standing in front of the sea, a man holding a child, a teenager riding a bike, strips of photos from dollar photo booths. Some are black and white, some sepia and faded, others are in full colour, film colour, with the greens and reds so brilliant they make you long for something you never experienced. I wonder who these people are and why their pictures are in the book. Do they need a miracle? Have they died? What strikes me in this church, with all the emphasis on the soul and the heavenly realm, is how earthly these photo albums are, how fleeting the lives within them and how I am able to have this strange look into their lives.

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