This is a different sort of post for me. One of my goals in my photography is about capturing the connection between people (often, couples). This post though is more about connecting with a friend and her story; and inviting you to connect with her as well.
I meet Catie many years ago through Intervarsity. She's always been full of joy and rarely without a smile on her face every time I've seen her.
Catie approached me to do a photo session to help her capture where she is at in her life journey. She's 27 and four years ago took a fall from a rock climbing wall that left her with two shattered legs and one long road of recovery ahead of her.
Now there are many things that can happen to people, and many things do. Some are ‘easier' than others perhaps. But really, as Catie would say, “Life's just really tough.” It's how people respond to things, small and large, that always amaze me and I want to share.
Catie had been at the climbing wall that day with a friend. Early in her climbing experience, she found herself high on the wall without having clipped in, meaning, if she fell the safety rope would be of no help. As she started to make her way down the wall to a safer point, she became more and more nervous. Her muscles giving out, she fell. She landed on both legs and shattered bones in her legs and feet.
Her first reaction (besides crying and swearing) was for people to come around her and pray for her. That was the first moment of beauty and peace that she found. For her, the presence of God was with her. In her (literal) brokenness and need, she felt comfort. One of the aspects of beauty for Catie through this whole process has been the presence of God in her life. For as she points out, “Suffering helps you to see the face of God, and it is truly beautiful.”
She's also found beauty in those around her that have helped her; her friends and family that have give of themselves to take care of her. Catie's recovery included surgeries and months of not being able to put weight on her legs. Her parents brought her home to Illinois and transformed their dining room into her makeshift hospital room. Catie notes, “Our friends are more faithful than we allow them to be. Trusting others, and allowing their help is actually really scary. But it's beautiful. It's sad because we grow dumber and more ignorant of this fact as we isolate ourselves more and more.”
I'll leave you with some final words Catie wrote me, “I see beauty in the great tension that we all live in, this experience included. My life can be compared to my favorite chords I sang in choir; they were the notes that sat right next to each other, and my choir professor taught me to lean into the dissonance when someone else was singing a note right next to mine. It made me afraid sometimes because it's almost a painful sound, but when the resolution comes, it is that much more beautiful.”