At the end of August, I boarded the Seattle-Bainbridge ferry to photograph a friend’s wedding on Bainbridge Island. On the trip over, I went to the upper deck to possibly take some landscape photographs. There was a storm forecasted that day and the winds were already kicking up. About halfway through the crossing, the ferry personnel announced that we would be stopping for several minutes in the middle of Puget Sound so that a memorial service and burial at sea could be performed. I looked down and saw a family gathering, with roses and a large envelope, and ferry personnel nearby. It was clear this was the grieving family who would be releasing the ashes of a loved one into the sea.
I began to watch the ceremony, along with a few other people on the upper deck.Maybe it was because the boat was stopped and we were all out there in the middle of the sea together, that it felt like we were extended family of these people. There were tears in all of our eyes on that upper deck. It was such an unusual ceremony and incredibly beautiful. I decided I would quietly and reverently take a few photos to offer to the family later.I gave this a lot of thought first…about whether it would be appropriate or okay. I saw them ask one ferry employee to take a couple of phone pictures so it was clear they wanted some sort of documentation and I knew I could give them more than just a phone pic. I decided it would be alright as long as I put love and compassion into each photo as I composed it and pressed the shutter. When I (later on) approached the family with the offer of the photos, they were very, very grateful. I am glad I happened to be there and could give that to them.
A few minutes after the service, the ferry slowly began moving toward Bainbridge and within a time span of less than one hour, the atmosphere of my world went from people grieving the end of all that can be in this life with that person….
….to people celebrating a new beginning of all that can be in this life with their person…
There was a bit of a miracle on this wedding day. It rained hard all day, with high winds that caused power outages for a while, but moments before the ceremony, the rain stopped, the sky cleared, and the sun came out. Can you get a better blessing on your marriage than that?!! It stayed clear and sunny throughout the ceremony, the signing, and most of the reception. About halfway through the dancing, the sky opened up and the drenching rain returned. By then, everyone was inside, dry, warm, and having a wonderful celebration.
What a day, and yet, a day like any other…. beginnings and endings. Such is life, so it is wise if we are present to feel every moment of it, and spread love each day…. for we are one.