Clay, Jars of Seeds

I would like to quote one of my new favorite song writers Roz, “Thank the Lord I am free, Thank the Lord I am free.” 

My mind did not stop working last night. I am sometimes busiest in my dreams in between awake and asleep. I become a visionary for my own projects, how I could shoot them, who I could take them to and how I could execute some of the more dificult topics I am faced with. The sun is rising now and in between it and I are a few tv antennas and laundry lines as I watch it slowly peak over the rooftop horizon of Brooklyn. 

Celebrity is an amazing thing. I was out here in New York about 3 weeks ago here for the Emmys and visited some of my photographic friends. I always fly to places with a few days extra so that I can keep open the possibility of spontaneious business meetings/frienship startings that so often occurs in my life in foreign cities. I had met a national geographic photographer, Robert Clark, a few years ago and from time to time while visiting New York I would run into him and his wife. This trip to New York, I texted him on Sunday and he told me to swing by his new studio in Brooklyn to say hi. I did not really know him but what has become of that 2 hour encounter is a lot more than I could have imagined. The point of that story is the following meeting with Clay Patrick McBride. Clay and I went to the Eddie Adams workshop where I had begun my career as a photographer 4 years to this month of October. It was in a barn in upstate new york that I began to realize the importance of being dedicated to my craft of story telling. There is no good gift that doesn’t come from the Father of Heavenly Lights.  At that workshop students from around the world come together to listen to speakers from the best areas of photography ie National Geographic, Time Mag, NY Times etc as well as photographers from the freelance world, like Clay. Clay had a hard upbringing that was anything but easy. I don’t know anything about it but I can imagine he was not close to his father until later on in life as his father did not know how to show his son Clay, love. Listening to Clay talk about his dad and about his career really made me pray for him and want to know him more. Clay, 38, showed a movie about his dad that he made in the hospital and almost everyone was in tears. His story peaked when Clay talked about the time he went to his dad’s work and to Clay’s suprise, his dad had kept the issue of first time Clay had made the cover of Time Magazine in his desk for years after it had come out and heard stories about how his dad would go around showing it off.  The following years at the Eddie Adams Workshop only strengthened our friendship as we talked about our experiences. Clay is a super passionate photogapher who is on the upscale side of photograph.  Two years after that initial workshop, he called me up to help him shoot Kidd Rocks party and ended up being rained in NYC. So taking the reigns I shot it for him. 

Fast forward to 3 weeks ago.  Robert Clark’s career is a succesful one. 25 National Geographic assignments and countless trips abroad for various books and companies. He is about 48. He has an awesome south Chinese wife, Lai Ling, and they live in an amazing condo in Brooklyn on the 11th Floor. Walking down 4th Street between A and D in Manhattan, the trees talked. I am always unsure of how the meetings I schedule literaly hours sometimes in advance will go. Whether they are meetings or reaquaintance get togethers. Whether I consider these people i meet up with friends, more than they consider me a friend or whether since I am in the area, they are just going to amuse me for a minute. I knocked on his unmarked door noticing the cow head through the slip in the covered window. 

He cracked it and a smile followed. He was just finishing up work. The conversation was brief sentences formalizing us from where we were to where we are now in not only eachothers life, but life in general. We had planned on going to lunch. His office was not small but only one room that was packed with odds and ends that only Clay, the rockstar he is, could have acquired. “I cooked us lasagna if you have time to walk home with me”, he stated. 

“Sure, For sure” I said, humbled he did so. 

We continued catching up on the walk to his condo. Hands in my pockets I fiddled with a present I was hesitant on giving Clay. At Robert Clark’s studio there was a cactus from Mexico Clark had gotten on one of his trips that only blooms at night. It does that so the flower doesn’t dry up in the intense heat. The cactus only buds one bud at a time and after a few nights of budding, the flower will stay open through the following day and die. Once it falls to the ground it curls up into a hard flat oval so that the wind can take it where the wind wants to. The seeds, inside the wilted hard flower will be dispersed as it rolls along the desert floor.  A few of those seeds were at the bottom of the cactus in a jar. While Clark was telling me this, God mentioned to me, “Take one for Clay”. 

So walking to clays house, I was hesitant not wanting Clay to think of this seed as weird. After eating in his humble Manhattan condo an amazing bowl of lasagna, I gave it to him. I gave the seed to him and told him the story of the seed. At that moment God told me to relate the seed to how God is God and we are we. It not only blew my mind but it blew Clay’s mind. This seed was to meet Clay’s understanding of the infinite and how that source (God) cares for us but we have to die to ourselves in order for new life to come. God met Clay through a seed from Mexico in New York City. 

I am a few minutes from coming back home to Detroit after flying here for an event that I felt called to attend. I met who I needed to meet and now I am off to shoot an assignment in Detroit that is in 5 hours. Praise be to God.

1 comment
  1. Torsonya said:

    So cool McGee!
    It does just blow your mind when God moves in and through you like this, right at that moment when you wonder if what you have to say is stupid but do it anyway. I’m outdone just reading about it.
    I have been struggling a bit about where I am, letting go of those things that are behind, and where I’m going from here. Trying to remember that all things work together.
    “but we have to die to ourselves in order for new life to come. God met Clay through a seed from Mexico in New York City.”
    This reminder just rushed me.
    Your friend is so blessed that you hear, listen and move.
    You ****

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