In sorting through my old photographs recently, I was struck by this one and its timeliness – even though I snapped it more than a decade ago. Although completely unposed, the graceful curve of the neck, the adoration of the child by the mother, and the child’s alert but peaceful gaze at the viewer reminded me of dozens of European Renaissance paintings I’ve seen of The Madonna and Child. The colors in the photograph differ from the heavenly blues and royal golds used by Western artists and instead are pure rural Bangladesh – a sea of greens mixed with sunlight dappled through the forest canopy, and glowing café-au-lait accents of south Asian skin.
For me, this photo is a reminder that faith is not found in a church, a synagogue, mosque or temple. Those are places for education, reminders and sharing with communities of believers. Rather, faith is found on the streets and in the villages and towns of the world – places where our actions as faithful people matter most. For some, faith can even found in an old photograph of an ordinary farmer’s wife and son from Matlab, Bangladesh. (Words and photo “Hail Mary”, by Laura Kelley).