The Chorus: Wonder

this is a project that has been burning a hole in my heart. we all sing our pure and shaky and earnest songs, to ourselves, our kids, our pasts. we sing because we need to hear our voices out loud, because it gets lonely sometimes, because it hurts, because the joy cannot fit in our bodies. mothers are always and never alone. i want to focus on the never part. i want to hear the voices together. i want to start a chorus.

– Amy Grace

“both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it all…” – walt whitman

my brother the kind and thoughtful and wide open mystic. his eyes were fused to his heart, which told him everything about how to see, what to look for when the world is a flood of everything. as it always was. the memory of him is the perfect spotlight now. death is everywhere so that life can let itself in. his absence makes his voice echo. in his sleep, i am more awake than i have ever been. and isn’t wonder the essence of awake? he wrote a little note, the week before he left us, “i’m growing skeptical of cynicism”, with a picture of his feet, stretching out into the pacific. he wanted the chance to un-see sometimes, he wanted to own a pair of blinders, to forget about injustice for five minutes, to let himself off the hook. but it was never him, to unhook. and the best hearts can never un-feel. because feeling is what they do, it is what he did, and what he does for me a thousand times a day. it is a full sensory, memory, laced with hope brand of wonderful. not uncomplicated, but worth every tangle.

the wonder of you. the two hearts outside of my body. the story of  what love does to our eyes. it is both a softening and sharpening of our core. old scenes, new light, new hope. eyes that must work for two. a heart i am exercising for someone who may or may not be with us every moment. opening it up so wide that it breaks and fills up so easily, i think it may crack me. but maybe then he will feel it. pure as being born. there is their wonder, and there is mine, when i look at them. when i see them for him. shadows and the sun work together. we ride this closed circuit of love and longing, together, infinite mirrors held up against the light. it is the best beginning, and the best end. eyes open, in favor of the stars.

– Amy Grace, A Beautiful Life Photo

Sometimes I marvel at their magic…
What he will become? Who will he be? How will he love? What will make him laugh? What will he create?
I’m in awe of how he sees the world and I wonder which path he will take…

– Xanthe Berkeley

“I open my eyes. I melt. Into the eternal night. A spark. You got me out of the darkness. You gathered me up from earth. You’ve brought me back to life.” – To the Wonder

– Becky Earl

It has been almost three years since we left Portland, Oregon. My husband and I decided to move back to the Midwest so that our daughter and any future children could grow up closer to our families and so that we could have more stability in our careers.
I still feel pangs of homesickness for the Pacific Northwest. I also sometimes am saddened by the fact that we gave up mountain views, walks along the Willamette and car rides to the ocean…but then I realize those are silly things to be sad about. Children don’t need to see mountains outside of their windows or to put their feet in the ocean to be happy. Children find wonder everywhere — whether it is an ant walking across the sidewalk, an airplane flying outside the window during dinner, or a balloon display at the grocery store — they always find occasion to be amazed. My children help me see the wonder that is truly all around, and they remind me that no matter where we happen to be on this great big planet, there is something magnificent in our midst.

– Annie Otzen

I observe the way she looks at the world with such wonder. And there’s really nothing getting on the way of her imagination and ability to feel amazed. There’s really no ceiling to the way she can dream. That’s how childhood feels. That’s the most magical time of ones life.
And now that she’s in her last few weeks of preschool, I fear that the magic of childhood will slowly start to fade. Will she have enough time to play and to dream?

I want her to hold on to it for as long as she can because once it’s starts fading it just never comes back.

– Val Spring


to walk as oneself,
senses open,
is to be a child.
to get back
that state
…a lifetime.
and so begins your work,
my child.

– Katy Tuttle

My boy wonder.

He was four years in the making. A true labor of love. One that I didn’t know I wanted until I had him. He was the smallest of the four embryos implanted that took. The roller-coaster journey for the one that was meant to be. My doctor called him the little blue eyed embryo.

And now he is almost ten years old. He is smart, funny, kind and often shy. He is my beautiful boy. One that I am truly amazed is mine. He is half me. Half Indian. Half White. When he was younger, we used to joke about his various body parts being Indian or American. When I really try to think about it, I can’t wrap my head around the genetics and how he turned out so perfect. I am so very thankful for this gift of my wonder boy.

– Alpana Aras

“I wonder …if it will rain, if we will get there on time, if she will be okay?”  We use this word “wonder”  but do we really mean worry?  I thought about this as I looked at this image.  I thought to myself…I wonder if they will always be so close?  But that is to say…I worry.  I worry about their future.  I worry that I will be a bad mother.  I worry that time will go too fast and all that I wanted to show them and tell them will be lost between birthdays, tantrums, and new school years.  I do not want to pass this wonder/worry on to them.  To rob them of the true meaning of wonder.  So to them I say.  Wonder in all the opportunities and learning experiences coming you way, wonder in the vastness of another one’s mind, wonder in nature, and wonder in yourself…in all that you will do.

– Lindsey Bergstrom

Lately, I find myself wondering with you, even though, typically, I am a mother of “doing” and you are my son of wonder.
I wonder if you really really meant to call me beautiful, at age two, and how life would feel if you weren’t in it. Or how your life would feel if I weren’t in it, or if I were somehow different. Would you still be the same person if I never gave you my empathy? Would you still whimper and pull at my skirt over the sound of passing airplanes? Would you still hit your cousin over toys that aren’t yours?

It reminds me of a piece of a favorite poem I haven’t read in some time. For you, I’ll look it up:

“Are dreams set in hallways because the perspective is screwed?
Or because they are long, open, unused stages in our homes?
The hallway was a dry riverbed I dreamed one night, an Indian turnpike on another.
(And it may have been those things before the house was here.)

How can it still be unwarmed after so many passings?
An outdoor that is somehow indoors.”

-David Berman from Actual Air.

Maybe, for now, I should leave the wondering to you, child, and I will just be.

– Amanda O’Donoughue

i somehow made it through that whole day. i did somehow.not sure how. but i did. tick tock, i could almost hear it, tick tocking by. i had thought about driving to the coast. or having my dearest friends over for tea, to celebrate him somehow. something, something to honor. but instead, i just did the simple things.a regular day. up at 6.20.t ea with jax. an early dentist appointment. a visit to mom- it had been awhile. a random call with one of my best friends who lives way too far away. editing the photos for the project that was due. the random things. the things i do every day. a dear person sent some love via a text and said ‘take good care of yourself today, do something he’d want you to do’. and all day, i wondered, what would that be? what would he want that to be? i kept asking him and all he kept saying back was, ‘jilsy, jilsy…and swisster’. that’s what he called me. that wondrous little boy, since he was wee, that’s what he and llana, our sister, that’s what they called me. and that’s all i could hear him say. no songs sum it, no poetry, no art, no talking of the good times, no looking at the photos. none of it helps, not yet anyway. the pain is always there, still so real and raw. i will never forget this brother of mine. the brilliant boy, full of wonder and curiosity and gorgeous brilliance. life was his oyster. he soaked it all up with awe and fascination. always. from the very beginning. the boy who was so wise.
and knowing. the boy who was this little boy forever. then somehow who grew up, and became a man. and was no longer just my kid brother, but my dear, dear friend. the uniqueness of our family, our lives. our childhoods. he was the one who got it. and he loved it all, all the bits of us, deep and so fierce, just like me.

i miss you john david wilson carroll.
oh how i miss you. more than i ever thought i could or would miss someone. and i wonder where you are one year later. is your truth and beauty and goodness living somewhere else now? are you here? i made it through one year. one year. and i imagine that many many more will pass. but the love will never lessen. the memories will never fade.
the photos will never be easier to look at. the treasures will always be treasured. the voice of your saying, ‘jilsy or swisster’ in both your little boy voice and your grown man voice, that will always be there too.
god speed my dear boy, god speed.

– Jilan Glorfield

Their relentless questioning makes for long car rides, delayed bedtimes and many tiring moments, but through it a glimmer of light shines as they build on their wonderment of this precious world.  One that may feel weary to these old bones, but is awash in newness, awesomeness, amazement and pure marvel to their young senses. In this journey of life they bring me to places where magic lives.  Childhood has that power. The irony is that when we grow up we spend the rest of our lives searching for that same sense of awe.

“The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.” ~Albert Einstein

– Cherish Bryck

Funny how the things I associate with the word wonder have changed over the span of my life. As an adult I wonder about things…wonder if I’m doing OK as a mother…wonder about the future…wonder if I will ever feel caught up. The kind of wondering I do spans from silliness to more important things. When I think about the wonder I felt as a child, there was something different. I distinctly remember my first airplane ride. I looked out the small little window at those clouds and wondered if I could run and jump in them. Imagined how soft it would be and fully believed it was possible. Anything was possible. I noticed the beauty of things around me more consistently than I do know. I remember seeing dust bunnies in the light in my room and being totally and completely fascinated by them. So much that I ran to get my mother and asked her what it was. She replied “That’s just dust”. To me is was magic. My two year old reminded me of this last week when she noticed the dust in the light of her room. The animation and excitement as she pointed it out to me helped me to recall this long buried memory of my own childhood. How often do I reply to my kids discoveries with “That’s just dust”? More often than I should. I strive to see the beauty and wonder in things always but as an adult is sometimes a struggle to let go of all of my “to do’s” and be present in the moment and aware of all the wondrous things around me.

“He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eye are closed.” Albert Einstein

I don’t want my eyes to be closed. When I am open the wonders and beautiful things around me, I feel alive and present and connected. Once again my children are my teachers…teaching me to throw caution to the wind, outstretch my arms and soak in all the wonder around me.

– Summer Murdock

to my children. may you always marvel at the sunlight hitting the water as it splashes over your hands. may you forever be amazed by butterflies and airplanes, and bubbles and dandelion fluff, and all other things that fly across your skies. may you continue to be fascinated with the way blossoms appear in the spring, and snow falls in the winter, and stars twinkle in the night. and may you always know that i am here, cheering you on; and although i’ll help you up when you stumble, i’ll still let you fall down, because some of the most wonderful moments will come during the climb back up.

– Andrea Hanki

i exist in a sea of wonder.
the verb and the noun.
feeling heavy and weightless. dark and light.

i question.
i doubt.
i ponder.
it’s heavy.
i cry.
i struggle.

but amidst the wondering there is a world of this powerful emotion, shining it’s beautiful light all around me.
letting it in and paying attention.
in awe
of my kids and every minute detail that makes them who they are.
two truly awesome people made up of the best pieces of me.
of the bond we shared before birth.
of unconditional love.
of their curiosity and questioning.
i remember, like it was yesterday, his small hands reaching for mine for comfort. to be close. to feel love.
the wonder of those little moments…
and her little five year old self marvelling at caterpillars, combing through leaves on the branches she could reach on her tiptoes.
trying to will these tiny creatures onto the leaves she had waiting for them. carefully and gently placing them in her treasure chest.
filled with wonder over the thought of being able to witness their metamorphosis.
at that moment i realized i was doing the exact same thing…

– Melissa Weicker

  • Jennifer Warthan - Aw, this looks so wonderful.ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca - I’m just loving this project so, so much. I can’t stop staring at the photos and reading all your words. Chills, I tell you. You all have such beautiful hearts. XOXOReplyCancel

  • tamar - just beautiful. words and photos. thank you!ReplyCancel

  • alana - beautiful project!!ReplyCancel

  • Sophie - My heart is so full after reading through all three weeks of The Chorus. What a beautiful idea. Goosebumps and tears and lots of smiles. Eagerly awaiting next week. xoReplyCancel

  • Amanda Voelker - I glanced through this earlier and am so glad I came back and took time to follow it through. I sit here in my quiet house as my little one is asleep and my husband is at work, with tears in my eyes as I feel resonance with these words and photos. Thank you for this.ReplyCancel

  • Vanessa - Simply perfect!ReplyCancel

  • part of the “chorus”.. » Summer Murdock Photography - […] My friend talented  Amy Grace of A Beautiful Life Photo asked me to be part of a very special project she has begun called “The Chorus“: […]ReplyCancel

  • Linsey - So incredibly moving… tears are hard to hold back as I read through these amazing words and reflect on my own life. Amazing images and amazing words, love this so much.ReplyCancel

  • Linsey - So incredibly moving… tears are hard to hold back as I read through these amazing words and reflect on my own life. Amazing images and amazing words, love this so much.ReplyCancel

  • Renee - I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying this lovely series, each more beautiful than the last!ReplyCancel

  • tina hunter - this is such a beautiful series. love reading it every week.ReplyCancel

  • Jackie tyghem - You are all amazing photographers with beautiful souls and a hearts of gold!!! I loved every one of these images 🙂ReplyCancel

  • stacey - Gorgeous. Love.ReplyCancel

  • Kirsty - Again, I pause and reflect after reading another wonderful chorus – thank youReplyCancel

  • Heather - Absolutely wonderful!ReplyCancel

  • candy - I just can’t get enough of this. Each photo with the words, those words is a gift.ReplyCancel

  • Katy tuttle - My heart is full, also, my eyes.ReplyCancel

  • andrea - so proud to be a part of this chorus, alongside each and every one of these wonderful mamas. never alone indeed. xo.ReplyCancel

  • Elaine - Amy I think I held my breath reading this tonight. In the quiet of my house to get to see and meet so many women and see how they feel. Thank you for this project.ReplyCancel

  • Lara - So moving and beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • STEPHANIE - This is one of the best sets I’ve ever seen. All of the contributions are breathtaking. I am really enjoying this project, Amy.ReplyCancel

  • justine - Amy, I am loving this series so so much. Beautiful words & beautiful photos by all. Thank you for starting this up. It’s a new weekly one I now look forward to.

  • Summer - So powerful to read and see these images together. The title the chorus is so perfect. Thanks Amy!ReplyCancel

  • as seen on . motherhood with a camera | adventures in pinksugarland - […] honoured to be included in this chorus of mothers and photographers, speaking about ‘wonder’. i typically avoid any projects […]ReplyCancel

  • Breanna - I just love this project- so honestly raw & beautiful xoReplyCancel

  • Cassaundra - such a beautiful project. happy i found it through andea hanki. lovely, gorgeous and inspiringReplyCancel

  • Val Spring - You have a gift to make others bring the best out of them. You do that with me and for that I will always thank you. Such a wonderfully touching project. Each image paired with their words touched my heart. Each week has been a pleasure of mine to sit down and savor this project. Hugs sweet friend!ReplyCancel

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