Finding Solace in Helpers and Nature During a Sorrowful Time

I have many things to write about in the upcoming weeks: two wonderful, frugal Crock-Pot meals for the price of one; an exploration of Franco-American food and the lack thereof in Maine restaurants; a review of a terrific book—Best Food Writing of 2012; the celebration of spring and our backyard and our patio.

But all these potential posts have been superseded by the terrible incident at yesterday’s Boston Marathon. Whoever is responsible, this much is clear: The event was an act of terror, one of destruction and fear. People were killed and maimed at a celebratory event that encourages people to push their physical limits.

What drives people to do such horrible deeds? That I certainly can’t answer. There is a dark strain in humankind, one that finds pleasure and even power in inflicting pain on others. To reflect on this, as there is unfortunately ample opportunity to do, can lead to a kind of despair.

As an antidote to the despair, there is a quotation attributed to Fred Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Who knows if Fred Rogers actually said this? In the end, it doesn’t matter. At yesterdays explosion, many, many people hurried to help, and that is always heartening.

But for me, in hard times, my chief solace lies in nature, in its beauty and vitality and serenity. In its completeness. So here is a picture taken in our backyard in mid-April. The backyard is small—perhaps a half-acre—but it borders a big woods that flickers with birds and other creatures. As I’ve observed before, the backyard feels as though it is cupped by the hand of the forest, and above is the beautiful sky.

This picture is in honor of those who are suffering because of the explosions at the Boston Marathon—to the families of those who have been killed, to those who have been maimed, to those who had to flee in terror.

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