It’s been over five years now that I’ve been making photographs for the Seattle-area Tibetan community, and, though five years does not seem to me to be a particularly long period of time, I have witnessed some of life’s greatest moments of transition: The birth of children, wedding celebrations, and deaths.
A couple of weeks ago I learned that a sweet, elderly Tibetan gentleman, a monk who by all accounts had lived a life of great kindness and compassion toward others, had passed away. The monk’s family invited me to a Shay-gu ceremony, a kind of memorial service, held at the Tibetan monastery in Seattle.
Above are pictures from my archives that I had done of the gentleman in recent years at two different Tibetan community events; and below are images from the Shay-gu ceremony.
There’s a James Taylor song that I like very much, “Enough To Be On Your Way,” and the song’s lyrics have been in my head recently:
“So the sun shines on a funeral just the same as on a birth, the way it shines on everything that happens here on Earth...”
Only a few days after the Shay-gu ceremony, I did pictures for a young Tibetan couple at their wedding. It was a simple, sweet event, and the only people in attendance were the bride and groom, a few of the celebrants from the monastery, and me.
Five years ago when I began to do pictures for the Tibetans, I of course had no idea how my photographic undertaking would evolve -- no sense that the work would become a labor of love, or that I’d wind up with an entire community of new friends. At the time, I just kind of raised my hand and said “I volunteer.”
In hindsight, as Sweet Baby James might say, I was “on my way.”