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When the heart is touched

Whenever I go for my morning walks, I tend to see something beautiful along the way. Some mornings in winter, I see the cobwebs heavy with dewdrops that are so dazzling in the sunlight that they would be the envy of any diamond Jeweller.

On the odd occasions when I do walk in the evenings, I see beautiful sunsets that paint the expanse of sky in glorious crimson and fingers-of-God rays that I often gasp at the sheer beauty of the backdrop.

Some evenings, I get a stunning view of the sky while waiting for the lights on a bridge, which is about five minutes from my home. Determined to capture the scene, I pray that it will still be there by the time I get home and race onto my balcony with my camera.

These are the times when the quote by Albert Einstein, ‘There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle,’ comes to mind.

When my daughter was young, she was fascinated by her older brother’s careful, time-lapse photography recording of a nymph insect in its hard shell. It had latched onto a brick pillar on our front porch and was shedding its hard case or exoskeleton shell, to emerge as a winged adult, Greengrocer cicada.

The process takes hours and even when the adult cicada emerges, more time is taken to pump up the wings until they unfold, expand to their full size, dry out and harden, before it spreads its wings to fly away.

My young son, who was ten at the time, was patiently filming the entire process in 20 to 30 minute gaps and recording the stages in a book. A young herpetologist in the making, this undertaking was his own initiative.

Knowing how important this was to him, I allowed him to stay up later than usual, despite having school the next day.  He took his last frame just before bed, and asked me to take as many shots as I could before retiring. At this stage the cicada had completely emerged and its wing had unfolded and hardened, but it was yet to fly away.

The next morning, he rushed downstairs instead of following the usual ritual of brushing his teeth, dressing, gathering his school books and backpack for school. I made allowances for this special project while warning him to ensure he left enough time to eat his breakfast.

I stopped in midstride in making the school lunches, when he appeared at the door. His eyes stricken and his mouth quivering, he held out his camera to me. It was then that I noted the opened back of the camera. The film had been exposed!

His little sister, seated, eating her breakfast, piped up in her three year-old voice to demand of her brother, why she couldn’t see the pictures of the cicadas in the camera. While I knew she had no understanding of the enormity of the damage that had been done by exposing the film, I nevertheless proceeded to tell her that her brother’s long hours of work were ruined and she was never to touch the camera again. Needing to help her understand further, I began to formulate my words when my son interrupted me.

Hugging his baby sister while gently patting her at the same time, he kept telling her it was okay. I looked on with amazement at my son manfully shouldering his obvious disappointment and yet at the same time, trying to shield his sister from any wrath that might befall her. Feeling a fierce pride in him, I managed to hold my tears in check and wordlessly gave him a hug.

Yes, there are times when nature overwhelms us with her beauty and her unfolding treasures, but there are also times when we are overcome by the sheer generosity of the human spirit.

© Wendy Robinson

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future. ~ Paul Boese

What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.  ~ Pericles


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