I awoke this morning intending to write a reflection on a topic that is often in my thoughts, but try as I might, I was unable to find words that would adequately express what is in my heart: there are not enough of them to describe the despair I often feel when I witness “man’s inhumanity to man” brought to us “live” on TV, or the sadness I feel when I hear of a friend’s fear-inducing medical diagnoses, or the helplessness I feel at the sight of devastation caused by tsunami, tornadoes and floods… There are so many more soul-crushing events that I could add to this list, but I know I don’t need to spell them out for you because you have your own.
With all the remarkable advances made in the twenty and twenty-first centuries involving cross-cultural understanding, religious tolerance, economic interdependency, scientific and health research, co-operative space research and climate change research, why are bloodshed, hatred and resentment still fueling wars in this day and age? I repeat the question time and time again, but the answers continue to elude me. If philosophers, scholars, theologians and others–of the few that I’ve read–have been unable to answer this question in a way that completely satisfies me on an emotional, intellectual and spiritual level, then how can I possibly attempt to do that myself! I can’t.
It’s often said that the worst situations bring out the very best in people, but I would like to think that kindness, generosity and altruism exist on their own–no painful prerequisite sharing of sorrows required to illicit them. The “good news” stories may not dominate what we hear and read about in the media on a daily basis, but they’re out there. Years ago, my mother’s engagement diamond escaped its setting and disappeared, with the dishwater, down the drain; it was later recovered from the trap. Like her diamond, each ordinary example of people caring for each other, helping each other through all manner of setbacks, needs to be retrieved, polished and held up to the light. Many people are doing that already, spreading positive messages about their families, neighbours and communities at a grassroots level, some using social media sites. If we are able to do that—to focus on what is beautiful about each other and in nature—then we will have hope, and therefore be more open to receiving and recognizing moments of unexpected grace.
The following reflections of the mirror image variety are ones that I captured with my camera in July 2013. They remind me of such moments. Perhaps the answer to Why? is simply Because! The beauty of these scenes flooded my whole being; I felt them; they spoke to me.