Barry sat and held the empty frame in his hands, having removed it from the wall. It was a plain wooden picture frame, designed to hold a 4 by 5 inch photograph. It looked like the many others that adorned the wall in the hallway of his grandfather’s home. While it looked the same as the other frames, he always knew there was something different, besides the fact that it never held a photograph, about this one. It was not until today that he found out, not only how different, but also how special, this particular frame was.

The frame had always been sort of a family joke. It had remained empty for years, yet Barry’s grandfather, who everyone called ‘Poppy? had hung the frame amongst all the photos of birthdays, graduations, weddings, and other special, albeit normal, occasions that mark the passage of time for most families. Yet this frame always remained empty, save for the glass and cardboard back. Not surprisingly, an empty frame displayed with the family photos had a tendency to draw people’s attention and to provoke their curiosity.

Whenever asked, which happened nearly every time someone new came into the house, what the reason for hanging an empty frame was, Poppy always gave the same answer in his deep, baritone voice, “That one’s for my next photograph.? But new photographs came and went while that frame always remained empty, an enigma. Barry fondly, yet sadly, remembered these times. Poppy had recently passed away and it had fallen to him to finalize his grandfather’s affairs.

Barry found the explanation of the empty frame in a note securely attached to the back of the frame. It was from Poppy and read, “Whoever finds this note will no doubt know the teasing I endured for years for hanging an empty frame upon the wall. I must confess I enjoyed the ribbing immensely. It served both as a reminder and a secret, self-imposed challenge for me, a photographer by love, to always capture the sacred moments of life in my heart as they happened.

“You see, taking photographs of birthdays and weddings is like taking photographs of Mack trucks. By that I mean you see them coming. But it is the unexpected moments, the sudden smile of a child as they look up having found something they want to share with you, a knowing wink from the one you love, observing from behind the hand from the father to the son’s shoulder as they walk back to their car sharing a moment of connection, that give life added depth and help nourish the soul. Unlike the Mack truck, these moments fall tender, lovingly upon the heart like a feather, soft and unbidden.

“Remember these times and may you always have something in your surroundings that helps you never to forget their importance. And may this something, by design, be regularly brought to your attention so that it too is not slowly banished to the commonplace and taken for granted. Like an empty frame upon the wall.?

After reading this note, Barry had an even deeper appreciation for the frame and started again to study the family photographs. Barry gripped the frame tighter in his hand as he looked more closely at the photographic history of his family. He gazed intently at each one, as if by focusing he would be able to hear the laughter, recapture the joy of the moment, and live again the connection to the now muted figures before him. But now he also saw, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say felt, something more, something he never fully appreciated before.

After finalizing his late grandfather’s affairs, Barry went home and hung the empty frame upon the wall of his living room.

Writer’s note: The above story is fictional. It is dedicated to my late father-in-law, Poppy, a photographer by love.

Author's Bio: 

David A. Cronin is Content Manager for the Mind Body Soul
Network. His writings have appeared in numerous publications, both in print
and on the Internet. He has been teaching spirituality in one form or
another since 1974.

More of his writings can be found at He can be
reached at