'twas the most gorgeous day here yesterday. we've had a long, cold spring, and cold windy summer so far. just in the last week we finally started to get the rain local grain farmers have, for many weeks, prayed would come. and it's warmed up to weather that feels like it's really summer. i hope it hasn't come too late for the grain crops and the hay fields.
so last evening, after a lovely, lazy day off, reading a trashy book while the laundry washed and dried, sipping a glass wine as i took my turn cooking the evening meal (butter chicken, with naan bread and salad - ta die fer, if i do say so myself) i took my poor neglected bicycle out for a spin on the walking trails in the city's green space. along the creek valley that bisects the city. initially, it was a business trip. i wanted to know how long it would take me to ride my bike to work. my ReStore is right on the banks of the creek, and my daughter's home, where i'm staying, is also near the creek. fifteen minutes, exactly.
but business very soon melted into pure pleasure. the air was thick with heat and humidity following an early afternoon thunderstorm. sweet and rich with the nectar of rose scent. thousands of wild roses in full bloom, everywhere i went. they're Alberta's provincial flower. they grow everywhere here. many think of them as weeds. gentle honeyed sunlight slanted through the incredibly lush green of overhanging trees... like warm water pouring on my skin. Every person i met, pedestrian or fellow cyclist, smiled a greeting. many commented on what a beautiful evening it was. i think my own smile, as Rudyard Kipling said of the Parsi Man who helped the rhino get his wrinkled skin, wrapped around [my] face. Twice."
so i continued on past my destination, grinning from front to back. i'd begun at the northernmost extremity of the trail, and sailed throught the heart of the city on a warm thermal that stroked its underbelly... to the southernmost extremity. it wasn't enough. i was intoxicated, and wanting more. so, as i turned round to head back, i determined to take the long way home.
which took me through the park @ the city's centre. there's a kind of natural ampitheatre there, where concerts are held. they've built a stage @ the bottom of it. i could hear music from far up the trail. and i thought, "that voice. i know that voice." a dark truffle of a voice, rich and strong and true. i was a moth drawn to the light. and sure enough, there she was, on the stage, belting it out as she strummed her guitar. bongos in the background, a bass guitar and a keyboard weaving soundwaves around her. a highschool girlfriend, moved away years ago, back in town for the reunion her church was holding that weekend. and there were others too! many others! in particular, a very gifted pianist i used to do a lot of gigs with back then, and for years afterward. she now has MS and is in a wheelchair. hasn't been able to play her piano for nearly a decade. as i approached this second friend's wheelchair, pushing my bicycle through the throngs of people dancing, singing, swaying, milling in front of the stage, calling greetings to each other and to me, i felt somehow ashamed that i could ride that bike, and walk alongside it, and push it. my healthy body was an embarassment.
there was a man standing beside my friend's wheelchair.
my hearing, after a lifetime of being in the middle of loud music, is not good. especially with a lot of background sounds, no matter how gorgeous they are. it wasn't till i was right beside them that i could hear what he was waxing so passionately on about, to my friend. it was the same old stuff. she's been hearing it for nearly 30 years now, since she was first diagnosed with MS. the same old fundamentalist Bible-thumper insolence and cruelty.... how she's in charge of her body, and how sickness is only a state of mind, or of spirit, and if she can just get it right, she can be healed. she's a gentle woman, a staunch Christian who rarely says a cross word, but i could see the strain on her face as he poured his poison over her. she was a captive audience. couldn't even walk away. couldn't so much as get a word in edgewise to tell him that she's already heard all that stuff. And poured her heart into believing it, and trying it. to no avail. many times. and beat herself up over it every time, till she was bleeding internally.
i wanted to hit him. if good health was really all about faith, there'd be hardly a healthy person on the planet.
instead, i kissed her cheek and asked her if she'd like to go for a walk. so i pushed her wheelchair off to the edge of the noise, where i could hear her, and we had a long visit. she's still waiting for some understanding of what god's plan in her illness is. still trying to believe in a miracle. and it still breaks my heart to hear, because i stopped beleiving that a long time ago.
some things are beyond our control. and life isn't fair. maybe i'm just old and cynical.