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I met god in Valley View

There are many nooks and crannies within my area that amaze me every time I drive through them. I am always surprised at the way people live. Many times I have taken a house as abandoned just to approach and find wet clothing hanging on the drying line or a child playing on a rotten porch. Valley View is perhaps 15 minutes from my front door down by the Kentucky river. Valley View boasts the only ferry left on the Kentucky River and it is the oldest ferry operating in the United States.  The ferry is what drew me to Valley View two years ago.

It was a novel concept to me and I wanted my son to experience a ride on the ferry. After we oohed and aahed and I, admittedly, took lots of terribly angled photos out the window, we reached the other side and just kept driving.{ One of our favorite things to do is go for an adventure, which basically just means a really long drive.} The stretch of road after the ferry will  remain as one of my favorite adventures of all time. I have been back multiple times since our first visit to the ferry but what I wanted to share with you was my most recent trip. I am participating in the windows phone challenge and have visited all my favorite haunts to see how the camera measured up on familiar territory. I went specifically to visit an abandoned church and rectory but I never made it to the rectory this visit. I visited the church first, sad that the pews had been removed and the walls had been gutted in a few places by people looking for copper. It was never a particularly lovely church  but I adored the white clapboard and deep brown wooden floors. It is never hard for me to imagine a place as it was before it was left to rot. I can see the people standing in the pews singing hymns like The Old Rugged Cross or Amazing Grace, fanning themselves in the summer heat.

I approached what I thought was one more in a long line of abandoned houses along Valley View. I loved that  sign so much I kept snapping away until I heard voices.

Oh that picture is lovely. Look at that sky.

Yes yes it is. Turn the page.

Tired. Tired of the magazine.

Keep turning. Keep turning

You can imagine my surprise after listening to the conversation to only see one man on the porch. I knocked. Once. Twice.

Sir? I took a step closer and knocked on the rotten door barely making a sound. I have a cold and a whisper for a voice so I stepped closer.

Sir?

I finally, quietly, walked across the porch and into the eyeline of the man.

Sir?
Oh! You!! How the hell are you?
She’s fine. Can’t you see that? She’s standing right there.

I just stood there. Shocked at the words and voices. I don’t know what I thought. Perhaps that there was someone I couldn’t see inside. But there wasn’t.

I…. I just wanted to take a photo of your sign. Is that okay?
What? Speak up. I can’t hear.
I typed on my phone that I was sick and had no voice and that I couldn’t speak any louder. I asked if I could take a picture of his sign.

Oh yes that sign. Love it. Used to be a store here. Do you know God?
I nodded yes.
He cupped his hand to his ear like he was talking on the phone.
Well. Then. He says your healed.
Yes healed you heard me. I love you and your healed. You have your voice back.

I whispered thank you and smiled as big as I could at him. Waved and went back out to take a picture of the sign.

She just wants a picture of you. Let her have it. She needs proof.
Nah. She doesn’t. She didn’t ask. It’s the sign.
Where’s the magazine?

Again, I walked onto the porch. I held up my phone and pointed to him. I figured if God wanted his picture taken I would take it. He sat up tall and brushed off his shirt. He smiled crookedly at me then relaxed. I snapped and snapped. I scrolled through my pictures and turned the screen to show him.

There look. That’s good. That’s a good picture of you.
You think? I don’t know.
Nah it’s good. I like it. Where’s the magazine.

I typed thank you and tell God thank you for me.

He smiled real big at me. I smiled back trying not to cry or to throw him over my shoulder to bring him home with me. He went back to his magazine. I stood there for a second trying to think of something else to say to engage him but he had already forgotten about me. I quietly left the porch and went back out to the road and started sobbing. It broke my heart that he was sitting there amid trash, dirt and firewood in a crumbling down house all by himself. I remembered shooting here a year ago and hearing men arguing loudly and I wondered if it was perhaps him and God. I wondered how long he had been ill and where his family was. I was grieved I had to walk away and leave him with his magazines. There are times when something touches you so deeply there are not adequate words to describe it. I will never forget his smile and kindness in healing me but more than that I will always remember the conditions he was living in and how he was happy with just his magazine.

9 Comments

  1. Oh, Anna I have goosebumps. What an incredibly moving piece. Thanks for sharing <3

    • awh thanks Jen! it was an amazing few minutes. I couldn’t quite capture the emotion i felt.

  2. Anna, this is a really powerful piece and the images accentuate your story beautifully

    • thank you Geri i appreciate you taking the time to read through it. it was a remarkable day to say the least.

  3. I love this story, Anna. He has such a grand presence within his eyes. I don’t feel saddened by him at all. Maybe it is because of the dignity that you have captured in his portrait. The dignity empowers him.

    • Rose!!!! i adore you! and i agree he seems so proud. i remember your comment on backspaces about him. i think it was his surroundings that made me so sad.

  4. You are amazing!!! this is storytelling at its best!

    • thanks dilshad :) i still say you are biased but he was an amazing character

  5. Awesome. Love that ferry shot!

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