“In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.”
― Robert Lynd
So what does it take to bring you to your knees? For me, it was a simple walk in the park yesterday. Life becomes so busy, rushing here, meeting there – or in my case, getting lost while trying to meet there. At some point our hearts direct our body to a place where we didn’t expect to be.
The sun was shining, which at this time of the year in the Cape is a miracle in itself, and I found myself in a park where people were going about ordinary park-like things. Kids playing, lovers loving, squirrels squirreling – my brain was in neutral and my feet were in autopilot; until I landed in this place.
As though my shoes were a set of blue GPS coordinates directing me around this corner and that, they carried me up a path into a warm sunny space. The kind of place we would usually walk past quickly, look on humbly, but not necessarily stop at.
With torn clothes, broken shoes and bags of every shape and size beside her, she gently and quietly broke bread.
I did not want to disturb her peace, or intrude in her moment but asked if I could sit beside her on the bench. She said yes, quietly – she did not move, she only smiled, and offered me the brown bag. I reached into my purse and found some paper of value, which seemed irrelevant but necessary – I asked her permission; I said I’d like to take a picture of her with all of her friends.
She smiled again, nodded and broke bread. She did not say a lot, but then words were not necessary, I could tell she had lost everything and that the umbrella and black bag beside her would be her only shelter.
She did not smile for the camera; she did not strike a pose – it wasn’t like that. I did not have a camera, only a phone. Birds of all forms and varieties descended as she reached into the brown paper bag. As I watched her hands I realised that it is when you have nothing to clutch onto, when you have no selfishness left, it is so natural to keep giving. Her motions were fluid and automatic, her hands were well-trained. This was not the first time she had sat there; this was not the only meal they had shared.
It was hard to leave, but I did not want to interrupt her Sunday banquet any longer. Only once I was up off my knees and looked back for one last time did I realise she was not alone, and never would be. Park-life went on. And she broke bread.
It was only after I downloaded these pictures, that I noticed the unexpected beauty suspended in the shadows and now suspect that she may have caught a glimpse of that beauty in the shadows too.
“Love only grows by sharing. You can only have more for yourself by giving it away to others.”
― Brian Tracy