Although I began to write this blog a year ago (and created the images two years ago) it has sat unfinished until now. Two years ago my father died after a long battle with congestive heart failure. He lived a long life and was very active into his upper seventies but alas, that old nemesis "death" stalks all of us. My "Sleeping Meadow" series was produced shortly after his death and stems from a January hiking trip in tribute to him, coupled with my deep spiritual convictions.
My father instilled in me a love for the outdoors which included hiking, camping and canoeing. His favorite park in Missouri was Hawn State Park in the southeastern part of the state. A week after his death, I decided to take a trip to Hawn and hike the Whispering Pine Trail, which was a favorite of his. Although I took my camera equipment, and made several attempts to capture the scenery, the winter scenery was somewhat uninspiring to photograph. However, I enjoyed the seclusion and silence of the woods as I hiked, and I reminisced on times we spent hiking this trail together. I recalled the last time he visited the park. I drove him there and we hiked a short trail along Pickle Creek. Even then he struggled with dementia, attempting to recall the scenery that was once so familiar to him. On this trip I stopped several times to photograph... but nothing seemed right. Suddenly it was late in the day and I still had a bit of a trek ahead of me. It had been a number of years since I had hiked the trail and I began to wonder how many miles were still ahead of me before dark. I stepped up the pace and realized I wasn't as fit as I used to be. I began to think about how my father would time himself as he hiked the trail (at a decade older than my current age). Albeit he was not stopping frequently to photograph like I do, he was nonetheless more fit than myself.
Needless to say, I finished the trail before dark and began to leave. Although the day had been unproductive from a photographic standpoint, I felt satisfied that I had taken the time to reflect on the legacy my father had left behind - my love of the natural world and the outdoors. I felt an overwhelming sadness over the loss I had recently experienced, yet at the same time a calming peace. Upon leaving the park, I stopped at a meadow clothed in the grey and brown tones of winter. The sun was sinking beyond the horizon and the soft colors seemed harmonious. As I photographed, I pondered the experience. I observed the beauty of this seemingly dead landscape, and I reflected on the brief and temporary state that existed. Soon spring would arrive and it would be alive and teeming with the vibrancy of life... yes, the meadow was merely sleeping. So too, my spiritual belief in a resurrection came into greater focus. As the Bible likens death to sleep, and the resurrection of the dead to the stump of a tree sprouting again, those metaphors made my spirit soar. How often I am rejuvenated when spending time amongst the natural world... and this was no exception. I look forward to the day my father will be awakened from the sleep of death and restored to vibrant health and life, when we can hike together again, this time in a paradise on earth. This meadow reinforced that conviction, thus the series title - "Sleeping Meadow".