The Sacred Journey Down a Winding Road

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Collosi family portraits in San Mateo, California in the Bay Area. Jaunuary, 2013. (Bryan Farley)I am going to miss 2013. I never want to experience anything like it again, but I loved the year. Now that I am at the finish line, I love it even more. Love is not always easy.

 (bryan farley)“Everyday is a faded sign, I get a little bit closer…”

The year was a trip. Every single day was an adventure. Everyday was a winding road that somehow brought me a little bit closer to what I needed. Detours led to important lessons. Failures redirected me to successes. The pattern happened so often in 2013 that I began to trust the process… after awhile. My best photo of the year, taken at a Train concert, has only been seen by about three people. My best writing was about death. One of my all-time best posts was written during my worst period of 2013. I also found my new job- a job I love- when I had stopped trying so hard. It was that kind of year.

 (bryan farley)

It was the kind of year that started horribly. A year ago, I was recovering from a painful New Year’s Eve surgery. (There’s a metaphor here, but it is better left unsaid.) While my friends were celebrating, I was chewing on pain medication and time traveling to New Year’s Eve “parties” at my grandmother’s house. We would watch Lawrence Welk and then bang wooden spoons on pots at midnight. Fun.

 (bryan farley)

My back still hurt from an April car accident and physical therapy was not working as quickly as I had hoped. During December of 2012, I also realized that my online identity had been compromised. This is not the forum to discuss the details, but I can say that as a mandated reporter, my position was more complicated. I do not know whether someone wanted to harm me or harm another person. Was someone trying to distract me so that they could access our finances? I many never know. As a result, I stopped trusting all online communications and disconnected from many friends. It was easier, but difficult.

 (bryan farley)

I will remember 2013 as the year that I learned how to be grateful. I will also remember that my friend, Reverend Robert Warren Cromey, taught me the lesson. When I visited him early in 2013, he simply asked me if I told people thank you, but he asked me the way that John Gielgud’s character would have scolded Dudley Moore’s Arthur. I am not a multimillionaire and Cromey is not a butler, but I can still imagine Cromey telling me, “You’re a man who has everything, but that’s not enough. You feel unloved? Welcome to the world. Everyone feels unloved.” Arthur needed to hear it and so did I. Without gratitude, love is impossible.

 (bryan farley)

By reminding me to be grateful, Cromey helped me face nearly every obstacle. Even when I was down, I practiced gratitude. The more I practiced, the better I got… and I became more grateful. I also started believing in people. I did not trust them, but I believed in them. Even when I thought people were intentionally trying to harm me, I tried to be grateful. And I tried to learn how to avoid getting hurt.

   (bryan farley)

Every week, Anne Howard, the Executive Director of The Beatitudes Society writes a blog post about faith. This last year I read every one, often several times. There were many weeks when it seemed that Anne was writing for me. (I am not saying that she was really writing for me, but I had so much to learn it seemed that way.) I needed to read the Crazy Love post so I could learn more about how to love. I needed to read Grace by Losing so that I could fight the urge to become “respectable.” I needed to read “Saying Thanks,” because being grateful is complicated. I can relate to the one leper who returned and the nine who left.

  (bryan farley)

I have been wondering if all the things I’ve seen were ever real- were ever really happening.

I always found what I needed during the 2013 journey. Sometimes I found people (or they found me.) Other times I found music. Sometimes I found books. Somehow I found author Anne Lamott and her book Help Thanks Wow “The Three Essential Prayers.” A friend recommended Pema Chodron’s The Places That Scare You: A Guide To Fearlessness in Difficult Times. Last Sunday I found Frederick Buechner’s “The Sacred Journey.” I opened the book to page 57 and read,

“A crazy holy grace I have called it… And holy because these moments of grace come ultimately from farther away than Oz….”

But the moments came.

 (bryan farley)

So, good-bye 2013. You taught me how to be grateful. You reminded me how to believe in myself and others again. You also taught me how to love more and to feel loved. Wow!

Well, every finish line is also a starting line,

Everyday I get a little bit closer to feeling fine.

And I have gone into 2014 with this post. Thank you to all my friends and to Sheryl Crow for providing the soundtrack to this post.

12 Responses to “The Sacred Journey Down a Winding Road”

  1. Karen Clark says:

    Wow,Bryan! What a grata post! I love the pictures and writing as usual. Cheers to you and your family in the New Year!

  2. Karen Clark says:

    You are one of the most active people I’ve ever known. Look at all the places you’ve been and people you’ve met! I’m impressed with your journey. Much love and peace to you and your family in the New Year.

  3. Carrie (cuz) Mihalkanin says:

    Truly enjoyed the photography and the writing. Nice job, well done!

  4. Well done. Enjoyed this quite a lot.

  5. What a lovely post. You are certainly gracing the earth, Bryan. Happy New Year.

  6. Bill LaVoie says:

    Brian, beautiful, thank you.

  7. Goodbye 2013 – Grateful sounds good to me!

    • bryan farley says:

      Thank you Mark. I am grateful that we are still friends. I think about you often and hope to see more of you in 2014. I work close enough to you that we can plan a visit soon. Happy New Year!

  8. Kris Angelis says:

    Beautiful and intriguing photos. Love the sentiment as well!

    • bryan farley says:

      Thank you Kris for reading and commenting.

      You know, I have really enjoyed listening to your music lately (, especially while I have the artist signal window open. I hope to see you perform soon so I can photograph you again. I would love to promote your music. You are incredibly talented.


  9. Bryan Farley says:

    Thank you Karen Clark, Sheila D’Amico, Bill LaVoie, Carrie White Mihalkanin, Mark Michael Lewis and everyone else who has commented here or directly to the blog. I wish that all my friends could gather and know each other… more than just meet, so that my family and close friends as well as my new acquaintances could see how special all of you are. Even when I withdraw, I gain strength from the people who know me. Happy New Year. Hello 2014.

  10. Janene Marsella says:

    Extremely moving imagery and words, Brian. Best wishes for a healthy and peaceful 2014.