the word seemed to keep circling back around to the front of my mind through my travels and my fellowship this weekend at lake lanier with my sweet friends mary ann and karen and a few of our college friends.

we think of rape as forced sexual relation. the stealing of a most precious privacy.
it is violent. it is injurious. it is tragic. it is gruesome.
scarring to the core.
one can recover, but will always bare a silent scar.

as i drove from the eastern edge of georgia
to near the capital of our beautiful state,
i was surprised by the number of forests i saw
that had been stripped bare …
uprooted …
acre upon acre
trees disconnected from life-giving soil
and dragged away.

none of these appeared to be areas that were cleared for use of a new kind. they were too far from cities to be used for housing development or shopping/manufacturing. and most appeared to be beginning the process of filling back in with life, not being replanted with new saplings by their keepers. one can only assume that the lives of these trees were taken purely for financial gain.

these “forests” are barren scrub now … baking in the summer heat … fairly free of the life that once burrowed under shade trees, nested upon sturdy bough or even dined upon timber that had fallen naturally … turning wood back to rich, rejuvenated soil.

the word that kept coming to mind was rape.

1250–1300;  (v.) Middle English rapen  < Anglo-French raper  < Latin rapere  to seize, carry off by force, plunder; (noun) Middle English  < Anglo-French ra ( a ) p ( e ), derivative of raper

these woodlands have been seized. carried off by force. plundered.
violent. injurious. tragic. gruesome.
scarring to the core.
they may recover, but will always bare a silent scar.

upon arriving at my destination for the weekend
i listened … spoke … conversed … parlayed
around the island kitchen
while soaking in morning sun
snuggled deep into suede couch comfort
propped by the pool table
docked on the late evening deck ….
my mind continued to roll back to rape.

…. seize the private. carry off pixels by force. plunder the confidential …..

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bring myself to lift my camera
and *snap*

I took a few photos of these friends.
But, I also took photos of the deck and the water, a tissue box and Dutch Blitz. I snapped shots of a skink, sunrise and teaspoons. But, it was too much for me to breach the tender and intrude … to disrupt the personal interaction.
photography is richly intense and personal for me. almost too much so, sometimes.

Oh! I had the best of intentions. I had set my mind to do this. I had decided I would snap all weekend. I was determined to march in there and take dozens of photos of people. I wanted each of us in many different settings.
But, I failed.

Like the lone awkward tree … bare at the base because the limbs were shadowed and cramped by the heavy, dense woodland that once surrounded it …
now barren, left standing alone, exposed ….
I couldn’t bring myself to photograph the lives
the privacy
the friendships
the interaction.

This weekend was wonderful. It was grand to talk and revisit … to boisterously belly-laugh, passionately plea, richly, specifically encourage.

This weekend was intensely personal
and wonderful …
but I don’t have many photos of my friends
to represent our pleasures.


*My disclaimer: I am a lover of all things linguistic. If you have personally experienced the tragic touch of physical rape in your life, I plead that you not be injured by my analogy. I KNOW that the removal of trees or the taking of a photograph have absolutely nothing to do with the pain you have experienced. I in no way mean to belittle your agony,  nor do I mean to be disparaging. I offer sincere apologies if I have wounded.

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