There is strong shadow where there is much light.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Götz von Berlichingen
We enjoy a sweet morning playing Mastermind and Trouble, and visiting with our grands and their parents. In the early afternoon, after they’ve gone, Gerry and I head to my favourite city park with our cameras.
It’s hot, but there’s a slight and welcome breeze whispering, prompting Gerry’s to say what we often say when we’re looking at creation through the lens of a camera: “dang wind”. It’s not the best time of day to take photos—bright sunshine can be a challenge to shoot in—but the gift of this time is in the companionship as well as the photography. In that way it’s perfect.
I find a spot with dappled sunshine where shadows dance, and my imagination is captured by light on the petals of pink coneflowers. I lean in and press the shutter a few times, then gingerly move in for a closer look.
Out of the corner of my eye I see a scruffily-clad man, suddenly standing nearby and feigning interest at the flowers.
“X-a-scape?” he asks as my husband walks past him, pointing to the sign indicating we’re in the xeriscape garden. “It’s a pretty garden.”
I don’t believe for a moment that he’s interested in the flowers—some things you just know. His presence is odd, and I wonder why he’s here. I continue shooting and my focus shifts back to the flowers. If I were here alone, I would leave. As it is, I’m comfortable knowing my husband is nearby and monitoring our surroundings.
The man is gone by the time I step out of the shadows and join Gerry heading toward the car. He fills me in on what I missed while my attention was on the coneflowers—a swift transaction going down in the park on a sunny afternoon in July.
I feel sick, and deeply grieved, that it has come to this. Perhaps it was always this at some dark and secret level but even I, with the rose-coloured spectacles I prefer to wear, know it’s worse here now. I read the news stories; I see the evidence and know the consequences.
This is a part of the world that doesn’t often intersect with mine, but a piece of this ugliness has seeped like sewage far too close.
That something so vile happens here—in this place where flowers grow, and children play, and couples come to spend time together and capture a few images—hurts my heart.
I think of lives wasted, and spirits broken, and once much-loved children but now broken adults who are willing to do whatever it takes to provide a measure of relief to ease the relentless pain of living each day—and who are willing to take others into the abyss with them.
Later, as I wait in the car with our cameras while Gerry runs in to the store to buy soy milk and ice cream, I see a man narrowly escape being hit by a pickup truck as he strides unaware into its path.
And the afternoon is muddled with the awareness of pain, and of lives changed through choices made, and the ripples that grow ever wider, and how we’re all connected, and how without Love we are lost.