Because there was a beautiful old Ford blue truck parked along the drive to La Luna Antiques in Rochelle, I stopped to take a picture and then ventured inside. The shop was filled with some of the most beautiful art I’ve ever laid eyes on – clearly a curated collection built upon the aesthetics of someone with a deep appreciation for making beauty.

Meeting Karen, one of the owners, was the highlight of my day. The minute I met her I knew there was something special about her, a soul-deep tenderness. And I knew that this would come through in a photograph. I asked to take her picture, and she graciously agreed.

When I sent the photographs to her in a message, she replied with insight and kindness. And I read the message over and again, wondering if I might be worthy of such a gift.

Do you know the poem by Gallway Kinnell, "St. Francis and the Sow"? I won't be surprised if you do, but if you don't, I won't be surprised if you love it. There's a line in it, something like: 'sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing it's loveliness'. You do that.

I think it's difficult for women at this age--50s and beyond--for so many reasons--to find our beauty. All we can see is what has gone. This is a longer conversation.

Photography may be the most mysterious of all the arts. It is easier to understand how making art with just your hand and a brush and paint will result in something very personal. But it amazes me how, with the same apparatus, and even with the same subject, photographers manage to create such utterly personal work. When I look at your photographs, the world--it's most everyday views--are reanimated. You reteach each thing it's loveliness. You did that for me. The mirror is a little less of an enemy because of the way you saw me. Thank you.

The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;   
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;   
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch 
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow 
began remembering all down her thick length,   
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,   
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine 
down through the great broken heart
to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering 
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.
–Galway Kinnell, Saint Francis and the Sow
Day 193

Day 193