|Elderly couple, two of the regulars we see|
each week during our stand
© L Kathryn Grace - All rights reserved
It is chilly this morning. I wish I'd worn longjohns under my trousers. Seeking comfort, I stand close to one of the pollarded trees at the front of the sycamore grove.
Suddenly, heat flows from the tree, mere inches away, as though she sensed my chill and radiated extra just for me. Somehow she has warmth to spare until the sun peaks over the tall buildings behind us, casting its bright rays across the plaza, dancing off the gold leaf trim on City Hall.
One by one, the Saturday morning regulars file by: The young man with the long, blond hair, always in sweat pants, pacing steadily and slowly round the plaza perimeter, a half smile on his face; the two Chinese women, about my age, who take their exercise in the grove, vigorously stretching, their voices happy, animated, sometimes laughing; and finally, the elderly couple.
At first, as always, she pushes the wheel chair just behind her husband until, fatigued, he stops and steps back so she can help him sit down, ever so gently. She turns the chair and waits patiently while a family of tourists--little ones, teenagers, moms and dads, perhaps an aunt or uncle, grandparents--pose for a picture. The gilding on City Hall's rotunda and doors sparkle behind them.
Each member of the family must have a picture. In twos and threes, they trade places, stepping from the little group to face them, shouting instructions as individuals regroup and pose for the shot.
One of the older men coughs violently, walks all the way to the street, spits into the gutter and returns. Having lived in the city for a number of years, experienced all manner of rude behavior, so much that I expect it rather than thoughtfulness, I feel a heart-tug blessing at this simple gesture: Showing respect for his family, the plaza, for the people who walk and recreate and work here.
While she waits for the family to get their photographs, the old woman removes a glove from her husband's hand and rubs it with both of hers, massaging his arm through his jacket, all the way to the shoulder. He leans sideways in the chair, as though their short walk so fatigued him he cannot sit straight.
All the while, his wife smiles at the family and their children, at their happiness in being here together, their animation.
|Happy tourist family posing while other family|
members snap their pix
© L Kathryn Grace - All rights reserved
When they've finished with their pictures, one of the men breaks away from the group and approaches me. In age, he is nearly in the middle: Younger than the senior couple of their company, older than the young couple, possibly grandfather to the children.
"Excuse me," he says in broken English, gently polite, smiling. "Do you know name of these trees?"
His question touches my heart. He has noticed them, these trees in whom I take comfort each week, cares enough to wonder what they are. Behind him, his family eagerly watches us. The trees matter to them as well.
They may be sycamores, I tell him, judging by their mottled bark. Later, I'll confirm my guess online; I've always meant to look it up. He smiles again. So do I.
Giving and receiving small blessings, we make peace
Such small things: The warmth and strength from the tree next to me; the woman rubbing her husband's arms to keep the circulation going while she waits patiently for the family to finish their excited picture taking; the man and his family, joyful in their time together, giving care for the other people who use this plaza, and curious about these trees, standing military-column straight in their truncated deformity; the man with his dog, engaging with this family from another land.
These small things bring peace to my heart as easily as my grandaughters' smiles. Taking my meditation in this public place, I am blessed. My heart beats softly in my chest, my limbs supple, warm in the sun.
I give gratitude for my stand today, for these trees, for their ability to communicate if we are still enough to pay attention, for the laughter and smiles and love of these people, one for the other, and for the privilege of witnessing their love.
May each and every one of them, each and every one of you who find this page, be so blessed, wherever you may be, whatever your day may hold.
I've been absent from this blog for a few weeks. I'll tell you about that in a couple of days. At least, that's the plan. I have posted pix and short bits about each of our stands for peace on another page. You can see it here: Two Grandmothers Stand for Peace.
We make peace in a million small ways every day.
All text and images, unless otherwise noted, copyright L. Kathryn Grace. All rights reserved.