PRAYERS AND PROCESSIONS
When I moved from Connecticut to the Virginia Beach area in 2009, the number of religious organizations and churches that lined along the streets were numerous. In contrast, active religious expression in New England was on the decline. I wanted to learn more about this community, especially given that my penchant for religion had faded over the years.
The result was a broad look at the faith community, from conservative Christians to a local Buddhist temple, from a devoted Muslim praying in his bedroom to a long walk with Mormon missionaries. The most intense moment was the first photograph in this collection. It is of a mother, whose mentally ill son had tried to kill his wife, after returning from a brutal tour Iraq, and is now in jail. As she recounted her struggles with coming to terms with this, she spoke intensely about her prayers to God, hoping for his mental recovery.
"I pray every night that God will hold him, because I can't." Ozawa alleges that his son was suffering from post-traumatic stress and that the military didn't offer any mental support for him once he returned home from the war after an 18-month tour. "Sometimes all I can do is just pray," said Ozawa. "I just want to hold my son one more time."
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