photo by Tom Hussey

photo by Tom Hussey

Discussions on religion often revolve around the profound differences which exist between people of various backgrounds of belief. How on earth, for example, can an atheist find common ground with a Muslim, or a pagan with a Baptist? Although the world’s religions do differ drastically from one another, with equally varying and colorful conceptions of the spirit world, humanity is tied together by the common thread of aging and mortality. It is a fate which no-one escapes, whatever one believes. Photographer Tom Hussey has captured the common humanity of people from all walks of life in a series of photographs depicting the phenomenon of aging.

Aging: A Universal Theme

photo by Tom Hussey

photo by Tom Hussey

Hussey’s series features a remarkably diverse range of individuals with their own, unique stories, engaging in the same practice: they are all shown reflecting on their past, coming to terms with the long-faded glory of their youth, and contemplating the future. Most subjects appear in their 80s, when most people in the Western world are approaching the end of their life, the burden of what awaits them weighing heavily on their minds. The images strike a delicate balance between nostalgia and contentment, producing a thoughtful, bittersweet kind of poignancy. Regardless of race, religion, or gender, all subjects share the same fate, and all are forced to ponder its greater significance.

To convey his message, Hussey made a point of getting to know his subjects more

photo by Tom Hussey

photo by Tom Hussey

intimately to reveal their personal musings on their own aging. In fact, it was his conversation with a war veteran that inspired his series. Just before his birthday, the elderly man told Hussey, “I can’t believe I’m going to be 80. I feel like I just came back

from the war. I look in the mirror and I see this old guy”. In one photograph, a woman gazes into a mirror at her reflection, which depicts her as a much younger nurse in days gone by. In another, a retired firefighter contemplates an image of himself as a much younger man, in full uniform. “When you look in the mirror

every day, you recognize yourself”, says Hussey, “but when you go back and look at a photo of yourself years ago, you say, ‘Wow, I really have changed’”.

The Ultimate Insignificance of Difference

photo by Tom Hussey

photo by Tom Hussey

Perhaps one of the overriding themes of Hussey’s series is the insignificance of petty differences, including those of a religious persuasion. His subjects do not hail from the same stock of folks with the same beliefs about life, death, and mortality, but rather they reflect a composite of races, genders, occupations, and, very likely, faith backgrounds. Each individual has a unique history which may have produced a very different character with its own set of beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions, but this matters little. The passage of time does not discriminate on the basis of religion. Whether you believe in Allah, Jesus Christ, Mother Nature, or no deity at all, you experience the same fundamental life changes as your neighbor.

This is not to say that differences are completely irrelevant, of course. Diversity is something to be celebrated, and we should be careful not to shoehorn everybody into the same box. However, it is not a matter of choosing one, or the

photo by Tom Hussey

photo by Tom Hussey

other. It is perfectly possible to revel in the rich variety of human experiences on one hand, while also recognizing the shared struggles which tie those experiences together on the other. The earth-worshipping pagan, the rational atheist, and the faith-driven Christian are all made up of the same elements, and these elements eventually take a different shape—one might say decay or even wither—until we return to the earth. But before we do, we each have the opportunity to acknowledge our common mortal destiny.

Hussey’s photographic series speaks to every one of us regardless of our beliefs. He admonishes the viewer to “[t]ake time to appreciate every day, because these years will be gone before you know it. Don’t regret growing older. It’s a privilege denied to many”. Instead of wasting life sparring over ideological differences, we should spend it relishing its preciousness. No message better encapsulates the Universal Life Church motto, “We are all children of the same universe”.



  1. Gilles Levesque says:

    The more I read the messages from Universal Life Church the more I understand and the clearer life seems to be. I was brought up Catholic but never understood the teachings at all because they were not put in language that explaines it like Universal Life Church. This is why I wanted so bad to become a Minister now That I understand. Thank you Universal Life Church.

  2. Rev.Whitewolf says:

    Death is a natural part of life. The issue here is how Unknown the other side is. Though I know there is God and Heaven and everything that entails. Death means leaving those we love to carry on in this world without us. Death means they spend the rest of their lives missing you and never being able to see your smike, or hear your voice. Death is infinatly sad and disruptive to all our lives because of these facts and mny more. But death is also beautiful, because when we die, it is only our physical form, that ceases to exist, we, our soul, which is made up of electromagnetic energy, which even science says must go somewhere when we die. Our soul is eturnal, our father God, does not give up on any of his chilldren, not just the ones that believe. Those of us that truely follow his path will go to Heaven. Those of us who do not, may go to the inbetween plain, called limbo, or go directly back to earth to be reborn. Earth is a training ground for our soul, a training ground that has no exit except through Limbo to Heaven. Our souls sometimes get stuck in Limbo on their way through to one destinatio or the other, Earth or Heaven. Hell and Heaven are both on earth. Heaen is another dimension, parallel to this one as is Limbo. Hell one the other hand eveloution, backwards. If our soul is damaged enough, it is my belief that God uses this earth to teach our souls what they need to know to enter heaven and each stage of life on this earth of a stage of that training. God is an intersteller, intergalletic, interplainer, electromagnetic being of emense power. He is the ultimate good because that is his choice. We where created in his immage, his souls immage. We are the Angels and the Devils of this world, we are the best and the worst that heaven and hell has to offer. The only way to reach heaven is to make the concious choice of choosing good over even. Light must weild the dark with in ones heart and soul, or for them, heavens bell, will never toll. This is why some souls start out more damaged than others and regardless of the lives they live, require much more, to even see the door. While others can go through every hardship, and barely ever, even trip. Life/Death, Good/Evil, we can not have one without the other, until we intergrate them together. Death defines our life, and our darkness makes our light, all that much more bright. When light weilds dark, in plain sight. We choose who we are and what lessons we learn, from all we go through. But our death, of this body, of this lifeline, is the death of any other choices we may have wished to design. When we return to this plain, there are no memories in our brain, but soul memory is not the same. We all have a purpose we must fulfull, we must accomplish Gods will, our soul in this world will repeat, until His purpose, we complete. When our dark is weilded by our light, only then, can we see him, through pitch dark night.

    1. blackhawk says:

      i believe everything in this post.i attempted areply, and i guess i ran out of room.i am new to the computer.i will get back to you when i learn how to chat at length.

  3. Jan Schreiber says:

    Well said.

  4. thombar says:

    What a wonderful photo series this is! Wish I had thought of it since I’m a photographer! It is also a great lesson in a universal truth of man.

  5. Carl terranova says:

    What you have written is so true. Instead of arguing and fighting, people should cherish the experiences and beauty of this earth while here. C.T.

  6. Rev.Whitewolf says:

    Thank you Jan and Carl. Carl I agree with you we need to make heaven here on earth, and the only way to do that is for people to Judge not less ye be judged your self like the bible say. What I think that means is this, we are each a brick of God church. We do not need to go to Church to mommune with God, we are his Church. Each and every persons relationship with God is just that theirs, and until we meet God himself and he tell us who is righgt and wrong, no one is either, so long as we treat eachonther with if not love at least an indifferent respect. We tend to get stuck in negitive cycles in this life. The cycle of abuse is simply one of the more definced of these cycles. But I would go as far to say that most religions preach ignorance and closed mindedness. We are right, everyone else is wrong, their ideas have no marit, the earth is only 2000 years old. I could go on. The fact is to truely follow God we need to step out of these cycles and rise above them. Ignorance is not bliss, when it can hurt you. I have spent the majority of my life studying religion. Not just several of the Christian religions, but the Muslam religion, as well as asian pholosophys like Buddism and a few others. I have studied Wicca and even read a book on the Druid religion once I have also studied darwinsim in detail. And the big bang theory is a scientific fact. The biggest issue here is the scientest can not tell us HOW a single atom could simply explode without something or someone causing it to do so. So, Why? You might ask would someone who believes in God research so many other religious view pionts? The answer is simple, far to many people believe in each view point, for them to be useless, and have no real value, like other people would lead you to believe. Like I was led to believe by most of the preachers and ministers I spoke to who could not answer the questions I asked. I have answers for those questions, based of years of research. Maybe I am wrong, but God will tell me that when I see him. Until then I would rather be my kind of wrong the the majority of the worlds kind of right. My beliefs do not contradict the doctrins of the bible it is simply a new view point on the same topic. A new interpitation of a very old faith. I am Christian, I believe in God, I believe Jesus was his son. We all are his children yes Jesus was different then the rest, but he was still human. His soul made up of Gods Devine energy as all our souls are, and his body made up of this earthly plain, of the mother earth. Think of the big bang theory. Think of that atom as a womans ova, and Gods Devine energy, his very essence, as the first seed of life, a representation of which we see evident everywhere in nature. We where created in HIS . His souls immage, our body is of this world, our body is of our mother. Our mother, that we have been distroying, with prejudice, for generations and doing nothing to fix the damage we have caused because we would rather destroy our mother and ourselves than anger our father. We have the technology to make hunger thing od the past. But it would require the creation of life that God himself did not create. Simple plant life that can grow in any climate. How? By using the science we are so scared to us. There are extreamofiles on this planet. Micro organisms that can survive in any type of climate the most amazing of these is the water bear. This little extream o file. Can survieve iin the cold vacume of space with all the radiation as well as the solar heat, un aided. Now we have cloneing technonlgy, we recently have a scientist who was able to add a stand of DNA, a third strand. Now if we can create a whole new type of dna. Why can we not, slightly alter, some already existing, plant dna, so that it can grow in any climate. Radical idea I now, but just think about the people we could feed, with plants that grow at the rate of fungas, yet are apple trees, altered to grow even in the desert. People would argue that this is against God. I would argue that as long as it is done with caution, integraty, and respect, God would be all for it. He is the ultamate scientist and we are his greatest achievement. He is our father and would be proud of our actions as long as they where done to help not harm. The issue comes with the fact that once this type of technology exists, it can be abused, by those who are not well intentioned, and even good intentions can go astray. I bet we could cure cancer in the same way. Right now the only way to kill cancer is to radiate it. Which kills both good and bad cells. I have an idea using this very type of science that would cure cancer without harming the person. But I am no micro biologist. I have no knowledge in this field, other than the ideas in my head, and the science I know exists but little else about. God Bless you, and may your path lead you to heavens door. -Rev.Whitewolf-

  7. terry lay says:

    yes sir,he who seeks to save his life will surely loose it.mankind is so fearful of death yet claims faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life.

  8. Stella says:

    The photos are beautiful and of course it is true we all die in the end. It is nothing to be afraid of. The people who seem to fear death the most are Christians in my opinion. I don’t agree with much of Rev. Whitewolf said but he is entitled to his beliefs as we all are. I don’t believe there is a heaven or a hell other than what we experience here on earth. Death is a release and our energy continues. And in my opinion, man’s interpretation of Christianity is one of the most perverse ever invented. Filled with judgment, fear, guilt, one-way only, etc. This is not the Creator’s intent – this is man’s intent (mostly white, sexist, racist, etc.). The Bible is man’s creation and was written by men. It has been rewritten and reinvented by men according to the period in which they lived. It holds no more truth than any other ‘holy’ book. And to this day it is still being misinterpreted by those with an agenda they want enforced.

    1. blackhawk says:

      this is so true about christianity.the true purpose for any relion is to find ones wish is to make clear the truths in the bible for those caught in the lies & mistranslations so that they may cure their racism,sexism,and selfrightiousness.

    2. blackhawk says:

      do you dream,Stella? are they pleasent dreams, are bad dreams?

  9. Rev.Whitewolf says:

    I agree with most of what you said. There are far more Christians that believe there view is the only view, but I must say that compleatly discounting everything, every religion has to offer, is just as nerrow mineded. Each religion must have some merrit or they would not have a following. The key is trying weed out the real information from the miss-information. The bible, like all religious texts, was written by man. The bible was retranslated more than once, as I said in my first post, it was first written sometime after Jesus’s death, in Greek, and the translated from greek, into laten, and i believe they usually us the laten translation, when translating it into other languages. On top of that there are several testaments that did not make the cut. The bible, like all religious texts, is a tool, meant to help us find our own faith. But due to time, and societal differences, the tool is out dated, and all but useless on its own. The bible was written in metaphorical form, for the most part, with fact and universal truths, weaved into its fabric. It is a useful tool when viewed as such, but when taken as, every word comming from the very lips, of God himself, we are placeing far to much credit on the HUMANS that wrote it. Because even if it was Ordained by God, and Written by man, as the bible teaches. The fact still remains, that it was written by man, who even according to the bible is intrinsically immperfect. Yet if we say that every word is exactly what God wanted it to be, then we ascribe perfection, to the HUMANS, who wrote down the words. None of us are perfect. Not a one. So even assuming the bible was, ordained by God , and written by man, logic, and the bible itself, state, that there must, be mistakes, in the pages of the original, and even more in the re-translated, incomplete version, that we all read today. This is one of the reasons,nwhy I looked so hard, at so many different religions, and philosophys. Heaven is on earth, it is just a seperate, parallel dimension. Hell is on earth is is de-eveloution. This is a training ground for our soul, each stage of life, is a level of soul awareness, that we must reach, inorder to have a chance, at success in this life. It is not a punishment to be de-evolved, it is a mercy. A chance for the soul to recover, from what ever damage, that blackened it so badly, it could not choose good over bad. It is not something he does lightly or often, we are usually just reborn, until we get it right. The electro-magnetic energy that make our body is Gods very essence. Our soul are of the father, our bodys of the mother. (Earth). You could equate Gods essance, to the sprem, and the atom (big bang theory), the egg. Science can not tell us how the atom went bang only that it did. God’s essence is made up of electricty just like our souls are. He used that power to ignite that atom,then he sat back and waited, and tweeked eveloutio, where and when he needed to in order to get us to this point we are in today. I believe the evolution of this plannet was guided by the hands of God himself. Science proves religion. This is my view point. There is much more to it, but an intrinsic part of my philosophy is staying openminded. I know what I believe but I also know that much of what I believe, like all of us, is open to interpitation, and as long as that interpitation, is preaching love, understanding, respect, and openmindedness, than I do not care what name you give your God or your faith, because the path you are on is Just and will lead you home. But on the flip side if your faith preaches intolerance, hate, and judgement, than regardless of what you call your God or your faith. I want nothing to do with it and neither, i believe, does God. These are the false idols the bible warns of. -Rev.Whitewolf-

  10. blackhawk says:

    to think man can put a name on the unfathonable is an insecurety.dealing with this is dealing with the ego,which is mans true responsibilty.then he can have faith instead of having to know.

  11. Anne Fernandez says:

    I wish people would make shorter comments instead of writing a book it has more of an impact.

  12. blackhawk says:

    the bible as we have it to day was compiled by constatine and his hand picked “priests” to select from ancient christian texts the ones they could use and translate into greek to appease the exploding christian population.hence,the book man has used to justify the rape,pilage,and killing man has done in jesus’s name.this was all because of ego,the challenge given man to overcome.paul,when ask about religion,called it the divine trick.makes sence to me since it has tricked me right back to myself and my own angel to wrestle! he who dies of the first death, will not be harmed of the second death. with the death of the ego,we will not be harmed of the death of the body.we can keep our awareness [spirit,dreaming body if you will].there we will reap what we sowed in life. hence, The Golden Rule.-blackhawk

  13. Rev.Whitewolf says:

    Thank you all for your comments. My faith, my philosophy, is my own. I truely believe that the only opinion that matters for all of us, is weather God would approve or not. But I will freely admit that it is heart warming when my views are appreciated by others. I felt I was going a little crazy when they first started flowing through my mind. It has only been about two years sense a shunt was placed in my head to divert the excess fluid in my brain. I was a broken jig saw puzzel. I had filled in the blanks with reconstructed memories and started to pull the puzzel back together when all these ideas and thoughts rained upon my brain. I have studied religion my whole life. But never had any of these thoughts occured to me before then. Before the brain damage I was always searching for the truth, always expecting to find it in the teachings of others. It was not until the past six or seven months that these pieces just fit. Not just in a religious sense. My philosophys are based of science, history, and religious study. But because until recently my mind was a broken puzzel, withn these ideas, so different yet, so much the same, as everything I read about religion. It excited me, I did not question it, until my wife did. It scared her at first. Not because I did not make sense but because I did. I once told her jokeingly that I was either truely going crazy or I was a genious. She looked at me straight faced, and said, its probably a little of both. I am not crazy, though I was close to it at one point. Broken in mind and body, the only thing I had left to cling to was LOVE. The love of my children, the love of my wife, and the love of a God I had spent all my life trying, futily, to understand. When my mind finished rearranging itself. I realized I do understand far more than I ever thought possible, even before the brain damage. I am not crazy or a genious. I am simpley me, Gifted buy God, and tryely SAIN, once more. This is why I call my philosophy (Shlawn-Keel), phonetic spelling of a Gaelic word, that means sainity. God Bless you all, and may your path lead you to heavens door.-Rev.Whitewolf-

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