The Chorus: Time

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

“Some say it is best not to go near the center of time. Life is a vessel of sadness, but is noble to live life and without time there is no life. Others disagree. They would rather have an eternity of contentment, even if that eternity were fixed and frozen, like a butterfly mounted in a case.”

– Alan Lightman, from ‘Einstein’s Dreams’, a bible of my teenage years

being right here, right now is love and terror at once. because right now will never survive. all of the love that pushes out each breath will outlast me. but they must, or there would be nothing more to push.

time heals and hurts. it is memory on our skin, then all that tenderness turned inside out and rubbed against concrete. not allowed to scab. not spared from the sun, the elements, the moving on.

i look at my kids a thousand times, in moments of pure awake, and each one is a revelation. this is not an exaggeration. i am hit hard. i am desperate not to turn it away as it looks me straight in the eye. i am torn apart, i break, i bloom into what they have made me, and i feel the night start my wilting. i feel the past around me, it is palpable, it is a fierce ghost, it is a pool of recollection, into which i dip my toes, into which i go headfirst, whole soul, a goner. because each second is a loss. the ending that gives the living its strong and fragile pulse. the life of someone i loved as much as i could love a person, folded into thin air. i could not stop it, the finite point, and the moving away from it. each day, both a betrayal and a victory of grace. and i cannot stop the force that moves me away from these two children, as we are sewn closer, with thread we make. so i am terrified of time. it is the secret i don’t want to say out loud. in case my fear tempts it. i am terrified because i know only love can be forever, and we cannot follow it.

time is urgent. it’s an invitation to live. it’s the hot poker against our backs, our wounds, the fires we tend. it is the place we must come to terms, to rest, to fruition, to face ourselves. we swallow it whole, its thorns scratching our throats, knowing it must go down, that we must let it change what we will know. so i want right now, in all of its fits and storms and pure light. i want it up to my very last second.

– Amy Grace, A Beautiful Life Photo

‘I do not fear for my people now. As you say we will go to a happier place, far from these Napikwans, this disease and starvation. But I grieve for our children and their children, who will not know the life their people once lived. I see them on the yellow skin and they are dressed like the Napikwans, they watch the Napikwans and learn much from them, but they are not happy. They lose their own way.’

‘Much will be lost to them, ‘ said Feather Woman. ‘But they will know the way it was. The stories will be handed down, and they will see that their people were proud and lived in accordance the the Below Ones, the Underwater people, and the Above ones'”

James Welch’s “Fool’s Crow” was a turning point text for me in my life… If I forget my Father’s culture, the way his Fathers lived for centuries before Europeans came, the deepest fears of my ancestors will come true. I was the reason they continued to live. They are the reason I am alive.

They watch me at the edge of time.. They see how I breathe, who I love, where I serve… I hold onto the thought of them. Their living endlessness is in the stars.. the sea..the sun . These things remind me of where I am going next… I look forward to the future.. To my children. I will wrap them with these stars … And my reason for living will I’ll keep holding on

– Alexis Munoa Dyer

I was in my early twenties the first time it hit me, the despair of understanding how enormous and infinite the world is in comparison to a single life.  I was standing amongst a crowd of strangers on a beautiful August night at a five-dollar concert at the State Fair.  Everyone seemed happy and carefree, but to me the world looked dark.

Baffled I looked around at the smiling faces in the crowd and thought, “Why do you all care so much? Nothing matters. Everyone here will eventually die and the world will just keep turning around and around and around.” Right…womp womp.

I’ve since learned to keep these feelings at bay but I know they’re still there, waiting to creep up on me in the night after the lights go out and all the sheep are accounted for.  This is when I find myself falling further and further into nothingness towards a place where the air is thin and I can hardly breathe.

And now I no longer want a room with a view; looking out on the beauty of the world is mesmerizing but it also makes me feel small.  Sometimes it’s too much for me to take in and causes me to think, how cruel it is that were only allowed to exist here for a short time.  We’re like snowflakes born on a warm day; we form, we float through the world, and then we melt.

– Eleanor Haley

One never has the time
And then I became a wife
A mother
Then a mother once more
Leaving me with 1/4 of that time to call my own
Or is it less?
Do I ever have time?

I was knocked to  my senses with one piece of advice
“Everyone has time, what matters is how you use it”

Ah yes, I hear you.  I thought the same
How unfair, that some people have more time
Or less

This image
May I tell you the time it occupied?
Six seconds
One, two, three, four, five, six

I stood my ground in the frigid water
I owned it
I used it
I was part of it
I gave myself up to it
Time that is

Time heals all things
One, two, three, four, five, six…

– Maryanne Gobble

dedicated to my surrogate father, richard parker walls, whose time on earth was cut way too short.

precious and fleeting
time gives
time takes
your past is a memory
your future is a mystery
all you know for certain
is your time now
this very moment
each day a present
how will you spend your time?
from the time you rise
till the time you rest
it’s a choice
your choice
what will your legacy be?
that you lived your life fully
and spent your time well
that you were kind and good and giving
i hope so
because time is a gift
i will do my best
to cherish every minute
and celebrate my time
but for now
it’s time to say
thank you
for YOUR time!

– Deb Schwedhelm

Sometimes the best words are the ones we find:

It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” ― Rose Kennedy

– Debbie Wibowo

A search on google said that time is defined by the following: system of distinguishing events: a dimension that enables two identical events occurring at the same point in space to be distinguished, measured by the interval between the events.

I’ve thought a lot of about this this thing called time. It’s a funny thing. Some days I wish it away, some days I cling to it desperately. Regardless, it keeps clicking away. Washing time away I’ll happily say good bye to. Holding drifting memories so closely as to not forget. Pain that goes by too slowly, and joys that can’t last long enough. Often simultaneously. Reluctantly, I accept both. Without the dark, there would be no light. So as the pain seems like eternity, and the joy a flash, the clock ticks the same for both. At some point, I will look back, and be grateful for both. For this thing called time, has carved out my life. It has defined me, it has given me moments, all of the moments. This thing called time.

– Heather Perera


until you value yourself you won’t value your time, until you value your time, you will not do anything with it

 – m. scott peck

and so it was. for i’ve spent the better part of this life hiding from time; catching a passing glance of time as it swept by cloaked in silence. there was always going to be a better some day – a better brighter more interesting time in too many moments of too many days, it’s been easier to pull back & put off until tomorrow. until all those tomorrows become today looking back through with older eyes and a wiser inside being seeing how much time there was and how little use i often made of it. how little i can still make of it. as in imperfect being in a mad mad world, i’m learning to view time with reverence, to pull my hands away and look at time squarely in the face with a smile and a different kind of melody.

– Pamela Joye

Time is not a ticking clock

but a cycle of our Earth turning

oceans dance to the song of the moon

seasons morph to the call of mother nature

the Universe, the ultimate keeper of time

plants the seeds and we wait for life

to water them

time is not sand through an hourglass

but our soul growing rich in lessons learnt

it is the breaking and mending of hearts

it is watching as tears go by

– Toni Raper

I have thought about writing it permanently on my wrist.  Maybe in red.  “Don’t forget this moment.”  It’s never the pretty ones I want to remember, those always get a photograph.  It’s the ones where my blood is boiling.  The ones where I am on the verge of a scream.  The ones where there is oatmeal all over the floor and someone’s feelings are hurt.  THIS TIME.  Do it differently.  Remember THIS time.  I am too full of mistakes to let half my life go.  We are born a pile of broken bones.  It takes a lifetime to pick them up and stitch their brittleness back together.  Threading them with the acceptance we are not perfect.  I am grateful for the thick resilience of skin.  The way is stretches, morphs, and glistens.  I have to have faith it all counts.  The sleeplessness, the wet beds, the ugly parenting.  The disagreements, the unruly mess, the snarly hair.  These parts of me are beautiful too.  I am trying to allow myself to feel the broken so I can devour the heal.  Know that there will come a time I will do it differently.  A time when I listen only to the small chirping of my heart.

– Roxanne Bryant

There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy’s life that he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.” Mark Twain As a photographer and mother whose heart is caught in the moments of childhood, I have a hazy sense of where my gratitude is strongest and where my anxiety stems. Is it the past, the here and now, or with what lies ahead? Every time I make a photograph I find that time stands still, somehow. As I press the shutter, as I focus in on a single moment, even though my life keeps tumbling and falling ahead I can finally breathe, catch my breath and see. I know that I will probably never quite understand how best to deal with time so I am grateful that I can find comfort with every photograph I make.

– Heather McKay Bowes

It’s like an old, favorite sweater. We are thankful to have it, scared we will need it one day only to find it is gone, given away in a rush to organize our lives. We’re embarrassed of the stains and snags that show signs of its neglect. Gone may be its glory days. Permanent creases now grace its once smooth, soft, surface, making it look worn and ragged. The arms that embraced a loved one and cradled a sleeping baby are now saggy and thread bare. But it is still here, providing warmth to you on a cold day. It’s still here because you embrace it and refuse to throw it away. You treasure it. You find comfort in knowing that you still have it. You won’t have it forever. Eventually, like all good things, it will unravel. So, wear it. Don’t worry if it’s not what others would choose, it’s yours, it’s beautiful. Wear it.

– Rebecca Leimbach

When I wonder where the time has gone these last ten years, all I need to do is look at you.

You… the girl who came a year before I thought I needed her and proved to me that my timing was off. You… the girl who still prefers to sleep with a part of her touching someone she loves. You…the girl with the new, crowded, growing in teeth, sun streaked hair, and tiny, lanky frame. You… the girl with the memory of an elephant. You… the girl who welcomed her sister into the world without a hint of jealousy, overflowing with excitement and joy. You…the girl who goes into every situation confident, happy and willing to try her best. You… the girl whose laugh is truly infectious. You… the girl who is not always the fastest, not usually the winner, but consistently possesses kindness and sportsmanship. You… the girl that lights up my everything, her father’s everything, and her sister’s everything, every minute of every day.

When I wonder where the time has gone these last ten years, all I need to do is look at every fiber, every hair, every freckle, every beautiful, amazing cell that makes up you.

– Kelsey Gerhard

It takes who you are and changes you into someone I don’t know anymore.

It takes your pride. And your dignity.

Because deep down I’m the child you sat and drank tea with.

And I just want you back.

Because deep down I’m the child you adored.

And no amount of tantrum will bring you back.

And I have to live with that fact.

As I watch you slip away.

And time drags you further and further away from me.

– Suzanne Gipson

“And the past is the past and that is what time means, and time itself is one more name for death.”

-CS Lewis A Grief Observed

– Kjrsten Madsen

  • stephanie - this is why i love this project.ReplyCancel

  • the gift of time - […] you can view the entire choir of the beautiful and inspiring voices here. […]ReplyCancel

  • Breanna - This project always rips a raw place in my heart, in a good way <3ReplyCancel

  • Katie - Amazing as always… And such a wonderful theme. My parents are about to move in with us and these photos really make me think about how quickly it goes by. Thank you for starting this beautiful series.ReplyCancel

  • Summer Murdock - straight to my heart every single time…ReplyCancel

  • Kathleen - This will be one of my favorites . . .so many profoundly simple perspectives and telling images. This chorus could be a comfort to many and a source of both acceptance and hope. Thank you, Amy and the chorus of voices.ReplyCancel

  • Hannah - Caught raw in the tangles of truth weaving through each and every fiber and photo and bone of story in this post. A bittersweet ache after tears have fled, a good cry this morning. Beautiful collection, collaboration, creation.ReplyCancel

  • ailee farey - this is truly beautiful. i always love these posts but this one has touched my heart.ReplyCancel

  • Kelly Sweda - Thought-provokingly raw and beautiful, as always…ReplyCancel

  • stacy k - wow. wow. wow. speechless. so beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • laura - Just Beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • toni raper - words are caught in my throat, it never ceases to amaze me how artists delve into the depths of their being to unite. Is it me or is this theme particularly compelling?ReplyCancel

  • Heather Perera - What a stunning collection of images and words. Thank you for inviting me share among these beautiful women!ReplyCancel

  • Elaine - I am crying. That last picture is so insanely emotional. Bravo to all of you for yours words and pictures. I am so happy this exists.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - I’m having the hardest time exhaling after the last image. thank you so much for sharing that.ReplyCancel

  • Hannah Mayo - Heart wrenching, beautiful truth. Once again I am stopped in my tracks by this amazing project.ReplyCancel

  • Alexis Munoa Dyer - Each voice is so beautiful. I revisited this again today and was so inspired by every contribution…but oh kjrst,….I’m crying all over again. “Take note there’s still a hole in your heart…” – J. Vernon, Volcano Choir, DancepackReplyCancel

  • Time | The Chorus » Kelsey Gerhard Photography - […] week I was invited to be a part of Amy Grace’s moving project entitled The Chorus. Please visit the site to see all of the other talents, and how each of them interpreted […]ReplyCancel

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