All my friends know that sooner or later, they are going to have to pose naked for my blog. It’s just a question of when. I’ve learned to snap the photo as soon as a woman is ready, as soon as that window of opportunity opens. So when a longtime friend said to me the other day, “I think I’m ready to pose for you,” I grabbed my camera immediately. And then thought to myself, “Okay, this is going to be a challenge.”
We were at a monastery. It was Sunday morning, which meant the usually quiet grounds were filled with townspeople who had driven up for Sunday Mass. Townspeople and monks milled about in the bookstore, enjoying the after-Mass coffee hour. Children and parents wandered outdoors along the fences to look at the baby sheep. After a long day of rain, the sun kept appearing briefly, and most of the retreatants wanted to be outside, to enjoy that bit of summer.
“Here?” I asked my friend. “You want me to take the photo here?”
She nodded. “Yeah, I thought it would be cool to have the chapel steeple in the photo. Or maybe the barn. Or some sheep.”
We’d just spent the weekend talking about big life changes so I knew why this was the right moment. And I knew, too, that the monastery — this place of sanctuary and healing — was an important part of her spiritual journey journey. So her impulse seemed right. We just had to figure out how to take the photo without sending a bunch of elderly monks into shock.
“I could bring a book as a prop,” my friend said helpfully. That seemed right — she’s always reading — but I didn’t think the simple presence of a book would be enough to make stripping naked by the chapel a socially acceptable thing to do.
Eventually, we climbed a path to a high pasture, where we could look down at the barn and the chapel. “I don’t think they turn the electricity on very often,” Reading Woman said as she slid her body through the wires of the fence. Nothing sizzled as she went through, so I followed, saying a prayer that this wouldn’t be the moment when Brother Tractor chose to throw the switch.
We wanted sheep in the photo, but the sight of a naked woman doing yoga made them run the other way. The sun didn’t cooperate either: it hid behind a cloud. Reading Woman sat down patiently in the pasture, avoiding the patches of sheep manure, and picked up her book. When the sun finally came out, she looked up at the sky, at the storm clouds retreating, and I snapped the photo.
Read more about the history of the naked blogging project and check out the gallery of photos.