Yesterday's news

Dec 2016

By Jo Manning

Sleep-dulled, I opened the door to reach for the morning paper, a simple gesture, requiring bending over, hopefully not falling out into the hall because I didn’t have much on. All was well however, and now upright with paper in hand I saw heavy type declaring, “In a dark hour France declares war”. All was not well.

I put a few clothes on, winter is coming and warmth is needed, I must cover up. Made breakfast. Boiled an egg, fixed a bowl of cereal and fruit, made tea. Then I sat in my cosy chair and looked again at the headline.

War, suffering, death.

I sip my tea. I settle to read the news again, trying to comprehend. Where are we in this equation? The egg is delicious, free range and fresh. But there is a world far beyond my living room where unspeakable chaos reigns.

I make coffee. It is good, but what now? And why?

Why was there terror in the Paris where my daughter roamed, happily searching for the perfect croissant not so long ago? A Paris now gripped in grief. Innocents have died; innocent of malice, or evil, slaughtered. So easily is the fabric of lives torn, like bones broken when we fall suddenly; if it were only that.

I look out the window, up into the sky. I cannot see very far, but I know outer space is endless. We have no cred in its vastness.

It is the dark days near the Solstice, before the sun comes back. In fact, looking out my window, I don’t think it is there to come back. It is so dark. But our sun is there, we revolve around it, endlessly, forever. This is a truth.

Our moon, torn from us when the universe was new, circles our planet, lighting us in the dark hours with the reflected light of the sun. This is a truth too.

The wind blows my trees, I watch as they bend in its force. They are not constant, any minute they can fall, or lose a branch. They are prey to the winds of fortune as we are.

I think of earth’s peoples, there are so many, each with a belief that theirs is the only truth. But we are not even true to each other.

I take the dishes to the sink. Soon they will be washed clean, they at least can begin again. The minutiae of living keeps us moving as we wait for the next horror. Some bury themselves in routine or in the rigidity of a doctrine, closing themselves. Others follow the demigods who promise an easy way out, defining evil as those who are different. So easy.

I am an old woman. I cannot carry a spear into battle, to smite the enemy. And who is the enemy if each of us has a different truth? Who?

It is time to get away, to think this out. I grab coat, hat, gloves, glasses, purse, and head for the park. It is not far, soon I am under trees, wandering with the ducks, breathing the fresh air of growing things. There are a few others in this pre-Solstice dimness, engaged in the same delight. The earth has so much to give, why must we destroy? Why, I cry out. Why? There is no answer to this question as it echoes through the trees but crying out I find help, and I find solace as I wander aimlessly along the paths, in the growing dusk.