I’ve only written about this topic a few times. I think it probably makes some people uncomfortable. Maybe not. I don’t know.
Anyway, in October of 2008 I became an affiliated photographer with an organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. It’s an organization made up of professional photographers who donate their time/talent to go to hospitals and photograph new babies who are either close to death or have just passed away. At first thought, it might sound morbid. And I think that’s where people get uncomfortable and turn off their listening ears.
But when I heard about the organization I had to do it. Had to. I couldn’t sign up fast enough. And in that time I’ve worked with about 12 babies and their families. Each baby and family, precious and unique in their love and their grief. Each experience beautiful and draining. There is something about being present at the birth of a child that just seems Holy. There is something also Holy about being present as a family not only welcomes their new baby, but also says goodbye at the same time. In every hospital room I was in I felt like I was standing on Holy ground. I haven’t felt as enveloped by the presence of God and so used as an instrument for His purpose in my life as I was on those 12 occasions.
But at some point in the last year or so my heart for serving in this ministry sort of got squashed or something. I got “too busy” or whatever. Maybe I became too disconnected from my own pain of my pregnancy losses. Maybe I started thinking it was just a crazy thing to do. Anyway, about six months ago I was up to renew my affiliation and I let it lapse. I just kept not getting around to it.
I just now got around to it. Some things are just too important to put off any longer.
Is it difficult for me to enter a room with a shattered family and introduce myself, and then go to the baby and smile and tell them their baby is so beautiful?? Is it hard for me to take that baby in my arms, the same arms that held my own son after he was born way too soon, and look at that sweet baby with awe? Is it awkward to then make the mental shift to a professional and “glove up” and take the only photos this family may ever have of their child? Does it break my heart? Yes, but God hasn’t entrusted and equipped a whole lot of people to do it. God calls us to do hard stuff. We can do the easy stuff without being asked to. We can do the easy stuff without God’s help.
It would be easier, and has been easier the last 6 months or so, to not be called for these situations. It’s a call you never want to get. And the calls tend to come at very inconvenient times. But if God calls you to something and gives you the gifts to do it well and you choose not to do it, you really are missing out on something Holy. I’ve been missing out on something Holy by avoiding doing this.
I have permission to share these photos. This permission was given to me by baby Caleb’s mom. Usually it’s the baby who isn’t going to make it, but in this case, Mom was terminal and the baby was most likely going to be okay. I was there the first time she held her son. These photos will be treasured by their family for a lifetime. And I don’t share these to pat myself on the back. I share these to point to the One who gave me my story, to the One who created me to be a photographer, to the One who gives me strength to walk in the hospital room and “glove up” and do the thing He’s called me to do.
Are you avoiding “gloving up” as I have been? Are you up for a renewal? Are you missing out on something Holy?