“It’s beautiful no matter what, isn’t it?” the woman spoke quietly as she and her old Springer spaniel passed me on the trolley bridge.
She caught me snapping photos of the harbor in the middle of a late-afternoon drizzle. The scene looked to be painted entirely of Payne’s Grey and Antwerp Blue—a pale watercolor landscape washed by this early spring rain.
“It is beautiful,” I smiled back at her in agreement.
We do this. This woman and I who pass each other often at this part of the trail. She and I and the many others who have the chance to walk this hallowed path along the shore, no matter who we are or what we believe, we do this:
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
“What a wonderful day to be here!”
“It’s just amazing!”
“Aren’t we lucky?”
The funny thing is, we say this all the time. On gorgeous sunny days, when the marsh is teeming with life. In the bitter cold of winter, when the silence drapes around you like a blanket. And on days like this, when it seems saner to be inside than out—it’s beautiful here.
But I didn’t come to write about this. I came to write my rebuttal.
Last night, I stumbled on some words that caught in my gut—parochial words presented in an uncompromising (and joyful) manner. They were those arrogant kind of words that proliferate ignorance and hate.
My anger wouldn’t leave me—it churned all day. I thought this walk would help me find my own words to right the wrong, change the mind, convince and persuade.
“As if I have the correct answer?” I mock myself.
And then an egret takes flight from the marsh. And all around me, there are signs of the divine blessing that is this place. The ospreys that danced in courtship last week now sit patiently on a new nest. Two cormorants bob and weave in the shallow waters of low-tide. A field mouse hop-scotches across puddles in the moss.
And slowly I forget. The passion of the debate falls away like rain drips off the ancient rockface, down lichen into the damp leaves below.
“Do you know?” I laugh at the chickadee who stops when I call to it.
“Do you know who made this place?”
“You are closer to god than I, surely you have the answer?”
It laughs back and takes flight, as I look to the sky and thank God, Universe, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Pangu, and the Great Spirit. It’s beautiful …no matter what.
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©2011, photos by Jen Payne