The Healing Power of Art

Last night, a moving blog post landed in my inbox, written by a lady named Sarah Guy and entitled “Moving with the rhythm of life.”

I was home lazying on the couch at nine o’clock at night, tired from a day of writing and processing images, when I quickly scanned the email.

In a long thread of forwarded messages, in which the author sought to track my information down, she said, in part:

“Here is the blog post which features Lily’s photo… and explains how the art work helped me process my feelings about my diagnosis. Cheers to the healing and binding powers of art!”

I sat up, clicked on the post and upon reading it, was moved with overwhelming gratitude.

Some of you on my Facebook Page might remember that a year and a half ago, I happily donated two of my travel photographs to Artists for Charity‘s annual auction, held in Washington DC every December. I was tickled that my photographs sold for $450 each, happy to know that the funds were going to help well deserving, HIV-orphaned children in Ethiopia (or anywhere for that matter) and that my work had benefited in some small way.

Almost two years later, I was finding out not only who purchased one of my pieces, but that it played a big role in the buyer’s acceptance of her sudden cancer diagnosis  — stage 3 ovarian cancer at the age of 30 — and her will to recover and survive.

In her post, Sarah writes:

“I also attended an “Artists for Charity” art auction where I bought this photo by Lebawit Girma, which summed up 2011 for me. I identified with the person jumping, because, when you’re surrounded by your community (as signified by the lighthouse), you can survive any situation.

By January 2012 I was back to taking weekly dance classes. During one of those classes I felt a very strange tension in my side. Within two weeks, my recurrence was confirmed.  I started a new line of treatment that March, and I realized that it was time for me to take action, and that I need to be the lighthouse, not the person jumping. I needed to provide other women with the same type of support that people have given me.”


Her words of courage, her interpretation of my work, brought me to tears.

As for the image above, that Sarah bid on and purchased? I took it while in Jamaica on my first sabbatical, just a couple of months after making the decision to take a break from the law and find my passion, which turned out to be travel photography and writing. That Sunday morning, I had abandoned my warm plate of ackee and saltfish after spotting a group of kids cliff diving just a few steps away at the resort, on the West End of Negril. That was four years ago.

Amazing how life works.

Have you experienced the healing power of photography or art of any kind?


  1. That’s such an amazing story! It’s strange to think of how your work can make a difference to someone you don’t even know about.

  2. Hi, Jess – It sure is amazing. All the more reason why we (who have that privilege) should all strive to do work we love.