Grey Volcano Morning by bobfoto

Grey Volcano Morning

Chapter 58 continues.

The funeral.

I'll try and set a scene. As we stall and enter the church, I am asked to sit up front and I hesitate and say to the Minister that today is important to the family and my friend has such a large family that they should take pride and place in the first few pews. I was happy to sit back and merely observe and cry.

As more and more people entered the church, we are shuffled around by a Tolai woman in a blue meri blouse and she is making sure all the room is well used. There are 20 pews each containing 4 or 5 people, plus tents outside and even people sitting out under the trees. All of the kids are sitting on the floor of the church, some sitting next to me, occasionally holding onto my leg and looking up at me with their shock of blonde hair and their huge brown eyes. They don't know the words to the hymns but like me, they are amazed by the singing of the grown ups.

One woman starts. She sings the first line and then 20 of her friends join in for the next 3 lines. The voices of the ladies is beautiful, harmonious, filling the soul. But then...

For verse two, the men join in. Their baritone dulcet tones add such a resonance, and such a depth and such a warmth. The world fills with voice. It ebbs, it flows, it rises, it crescendos, it softens, it quietens.

I am sitting in the middle of the church.

The voices start on the right where all the women in their white and silver meri blouses sit. Their yellow and blonde hair, a stark contrast against their soft brown skin. The younger girls, like the boys have fresh scars and pink wounds where they fall over and scuff themselves, the older women and men, have older scarred skin, a lighter shade of brown.

They all have pink lips from the betelnut.

Some smear a little betelnut on the corner of their eyes.

The voices stop. There is quiet.

Then a man starts, he is sitting to the left of me. He sings a strong first line solo and then 20 men behind me and 10 men in front of me, sing the next few lines. Their voices boom with power. Then the ladies add the harmony. Their beautiful voices steal the tears from my eyes and mix them with the sweat from my brow. The crescendo again, the power of song, the power of belief.

Their song transports my friend to his other place. It transports the family along and in support.

Meanwhile outside, the volcano takes a supporting role.
See, it is very pretty there. Love the words.
August 1st, 2013  
@amandal - This is not Moresby...
August 1st, 2013  
@bobfoto Isn't it your country, though?
August 1st, 2013  
Beautiful, tranquil shot. Love the tones here and your narrative.
August 1st, 2013  
@amandal - yeah but that would be like putting a pic of NYC on your Ohio montage.
August 1st, 2013  
@fauxtography365 - thanks Ms T :)
August 1st, 2013  
@bobfoto It's not THAT big is it? NYC is 10 hours from me via car.
August 1st, 2013  
I guess this line " Their song transports my friend to his other place. It transports the family along and in support." made my day.... it´s so full of wisdom and great understanding of how this world keeps turning...
August 1st, 2013  
Very powerful photograph and the image of being transported is so spiritual.
August 1st, 2013  
so very lyrical and expressive; your shot is magnificent viewed large. fav.
August 1st, 2013  
This sounds very similar to an African american funeral in my country! the music is so beautiful. Your description is so powerful that it caused a sadness in me for you and all the people attending.

Your picture is perfect for the occasion.
August 1st, 2013  
this is a fav, but would be a super fav if the greenery was cropped out :)
August 1st, 2013  
You put us there with your narrative and photo- so calm, so welcome, such a beautiful way to say farewell to a friend.
August 1st, 2013  
You set an atmosphere as powerful as the presence of the volcano.
August 1st, 2013  
Powerful image and deeply moving narrative - & I don't really want to analyse anything about either but I am deeply grateful you were able to be there- Your last line gave me a sense of the country - the land marking the loss of your friend.
August 1st, 2013  
Such a dramatic shot, peaceful and moody
August 1st, 2013  
I was totally transported to your moment. Well written and thanks for sharing
August 1st, 2013  
A wonderful tribute to a friend sadly missed!
August 1st, 2013  
Awesome capture and writing - fav
August 1st, 2013  
Your words are amazing. I felt like I was sitting in the church. Beautiful photo.
August 2nd, 2013  
Beautiful words depicting hard and beautiful moments. The pictures are wonderful, as usual. I hope that the music described, the time with friends and the days to come bring much solace and healing.
August 2nd, 2013  
Man alive... I wish I could paint pictures with words the way you do. I can hear it and feel it. The gray tone of your photo is a fine photo for mourning.
August 2nd, 2013  
Your picture has the perfect components of grief. A bit misty, heavy in the middle. Umber spots where your eye can't see the bottom, no way to know everything that waits but the edges are apparent, wispy with light and hope.
August 2nd, 2013  
beautiful
August 2nd, 2013  
Fabulous description and a pretty cool pic too
August 2nd, 2013  
@agentzuckerguss - thanks Katia.

@angeliquenordal @catsmeowb - thank you ladies :)

@grammyn - Thanks Katy.

@houdiniem - might go back and try that croption.

@fricka - it was a fitting tribute.

@will_wooderson - Thank you William.

@kittikat - community is so important here.

@amandal - this was a two hour flight away...

@michelleyoung - Thanks Michelle.

@andreajoy - you're welcome.

@gmost - Cheers Glenn, thank you.

@joeyc - Thank you Joey

@mtpagano - the photographer in me wanted to take photos of the beautiful people that sat around me, the musician in me wanted to record the voices, the friend in me made me sit in silence and enjoy the celebration of a life.

@geocacheking - I think with the massive outpouring of grief which would appear to be able to be turned on and off by the Melanesians, it gives a sense of release. Where some people and some cultures will hold back emotions as it rots our insides, this outpouring seems so cathartic. Get the emotion out, make it part of the moment, something real and then, we can move on.

@rvwalker - Thank you Ross, I am humbled by your words. Thank you.

@traceyhn - that's lovely Tracey, thank you indeed.

@helenw2 :)

@swilde - Thank you Sue.
August 3rd, 2013  
Beautiful shot. As someone else said, you paint with your words.
August 3rd, 2013  
I forgot to say that this is a wonderful tribute.
August 3rd, 2013  
NYC is about that. Maybe further, though, I didn't have a direct flight.
August 3rd, 2013  
Where is your collage? Weren't you working on it all day?
August 3rd, 2013  
Music is powerful. So are your words. So is the picture.
August 3rd, 2013  
@daisy - Thanks Kathryn :)

@amandal - Haven't even started on the collage...

@olivetreeann - Thanks Ann. :)
August 3rd, 2013  
Mac
You're waxing poetic, Jason. A beautiful description, it brought me to the scene and immersed me. God rest your friend and give you all comfort.
August 3rd, 2013  
You write beautifully Jason - I was right there with you then. I remember at a friend's funeral hearing the menfolk sing together added a depth to the occasion that just pulled my heart up to my throat. If you wrote that you'd have said it better. The volcano is beautifully subdued too :)
August 3rd, 2013  
More beautiful wordings.
Their song transports my friend to his other place. It transports the family along and in support.
August 3rd, 2013  
@riverlandphotos @filsie65 @kjarn - I once contemplated finishing my project after Year One. Just doing 365 and disappearing, but I wanted dearly to reflect on my life in PNG 2006-9, and I believed that this site was the platform I needed. My Year Two project was cathartic and uplifting and "the kicking of balls" and everything that is life in PNG. In the back of my mind, I wanted back, there was more to experience and I spent the second year in reflection all the while hoping that my third year would be here.

Yesterday, I spent some time with the Patron of DCO, Mrs Linda Hurley whom is the wife of the Chief of Australian Defence Force and the DCO has a Ulysses Butterfly on their gift coins. Mrs Hurley presented me with such a coin and we talked about the Ulysses Butterfly and my ambition to one day get "the" photograph. It became an analogy of some of the key moments in my life. One of them being my time in PNG.

I didn't return to this country to attend the funeral of my dear friend. But I did return because of the people. The service on Thursday will bring a tear to my eyes for the rest of my days...
August 3rd, 2013  
You bring a tear to my eye.
August 3rd, 2013  
August 3rd, 2013  
Quiet beauty in this scene.
August 3rd, 2013  
August 3rd, 2013  
Your story paints a beautiful picture in my mind and heart....I have been to churches where all the music is a capella and harmonious...it raises goose bumps on my arms and brings me closer to heaven....
Your photo shows the stillness that that kind of a service brings to the soul...
Thank you...I feel humbled.
August 8th, 2013  
@lynnb - You're welcome Lynn. Their voices were so heartfelt and so full of emotion. I just wanted to sing along!
August 8th, 2013  
That's a beautiful spot to stand and contemplate.. It certainly suits the mood of your story..
August 18th, 2013  
@buggus - Thank you Oleta. It was a beautiful moment.
August 18th, 2013  
In a journal my father left for us to read after he was gone he said that music was his religion.

Your ashes and dust piece yesterday and this one here are so evocative of why he felt that way, and why I guess I do, too.

The music of the earth, the music of our souls , the music of it all.
September 20th, 2013  
@squamloon - music is an amazing thing, it can be so organic, yet so manufactured, but it ties in so many cultures and pleasures. Thank you for bringing me back to these posts, I have re-read them again.

Yesterday in a different part of this country and in a different part from where I will be tomorrow, I spoke again with the family of my friend. They are re-building... both physically and mentally. They exude a solidarity which is built with kinship and wantokism. They impress me.
September 20th, 2013  
So wantokism is a new word for me, and a brief googlage gives me a good idea of what you're talking about.

I like the beer-and-chat idea very much.
September 20th, 2013  
@squamloon - are wantoks and wantokism is a PNG beast. Quite destructive at times but also it can build bonds stronger than family.
September 21st, 2013  
@bobfoto Thanks Jason - truly appreciate!
October 5th, 2013  
@mbrunner - you're welcome.
October 5th, 2013  
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