Listening for moments…

This past weekend…I was on the coast. Actually on the Outer Banks near Kitty Hawk, NC. I found myself in the middle of a story…one of many layers. For the past few months, I have been working on a project surrounding Clergy Health in North Carolina…going inside the lives of a few pastors in North Carolina.

I found myself in Poplar Branch, NC on Currituck Sound…just inside the Outer Banks (OBX). My goal, to interview Pastor Renee Edwards and capture her story. Her story is one of amazing grace…finding her place with a congregation on the OBX. But this post is not about the project, but this little moment in time while following her. See this post is the story behind the story! It is about the story that probably will not make in the final project.

As I walked into the Sunday School room…I was so worried that my big camera would take away from the morning’s chat. So I tried to do my best to be like a little mouse, moving all around capturing moments without disturbing anyone. Paston Renee Edwards introduced me as the session began…it was 9:45am and the talk for the day was about a letter.

There were probably 12 or 13 in the class and each wrote a letter to God. One of those exercises that has such a personal place. I was so worried…this small little room and this big ole camera intruding in this little moment in time. My goal was to capture some interaction between Pastor Renee Edwards and the rest of the class…let’s just say I was in the right place at the right time.

Each person had an opportunity to share their letter. A few shared and tears broke through. It was like I was suspended in time watching from a 1000 miles above yet feeling the emotion like I was sitting next to each person reading. One of the gentleman chose to read his letter…as he moved to the toughest part of his letter, he passed it to his wife to finish the last few lines. As I looked over, Pastor Renee Edwards was holding his hand, shedding tears with him. Such exposure, so much trust, willingness to share for all to hear.

As each person read their story, their letter…Pastor Renee Edwards was there to listen and comfort. Letters to God are words from the depths of our souls. Words crafted from our deepest feelings, expressed in ways we have never been able to articulate. Language gave life to these deep thoughts, expressions for all to hear. The tears provide relief and resolve that the burden have moved from their hearts to their pens.

As we moved around the room, I was slowly moving from spot to spot…trying to be prepared to capture the moment. I wore soft shoes that morning and made sure I had the rubber footings on the end of each leg of the tripod. This allowed to move quickly and reduce noice for noticeable movement. Churches have a tendency to creek and echo with the movement of video equipment. I have to have the ability to move fast, effortlessly so that I can be in the right place at the right time…capturing that moment.

A gentleman on the opposing corner from Pastor Renee Edwards decided to share. He fumbled through his book and decided to pass for someone else to read. You could tell he was going to have a hard time reading his deepest thoughts. His son-in-law was sitting next to him and he too past it on for someone else to read. Pastor Renee Edwards was next in line to read this letter. As she agreed and began to read, it was apparent that the letter was about her. As she read the words, her eye-lids began to fill with tears. Tears…those tears that express thankfulness and humility. It was the ultimate compliment, the ultimate moment…to capture the subject of the day reading a letter to God…and it was thanking her!

Moments in time make storytelling so wonderful!