It is raining this morning…as it so often does in Wales. I don’t really enjoy going out in the rain. For me, rainy days are made for hiding under a quilt with a good book. But last week, there was one beautifully sunny morning. So, I took the opportunity to walk through our walk park, the same park that had been the boyhood haunt of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. I took my camera because it was the splendor of the fall leaves last year which had been the impetus for my new hobby in photography.
Here are just a few of the almost two hundred photographs that I took during that hour-long stroll. Yes, a walk that would normally take me twenty minutes, took three times that. Why? Because every two steps it seemed, I would stop and take another picture.
The leaves were the worst. Every leaf seemed to call out to me…”Take my picture.” Like small children in faraway lands who rarely saw a white face and recognized you as exotic as much for that black box around your neck, the leaves begged my attention.
Then that still, small voice, the one I recognize, the one that I know to listen to always said…
Every leaf deserves a picture.
Every leaf has a story to tell.
Every leaf is worthy.
And so are people.
It was a revelation that I was to share the next day with another.
I had gone into town. Something that I rarely do these days. Too many people, too much noise. But I was feeling brave after that walk in the park, and I needed the steps. (I am back on my diet and exercise, trying to lose weight for my health.)
One of the things I enjoy most is charity shops. I was in one when I heard this woman speaking with the manager. She was upset, talking about how her family treated her. She was clearly ‘different.’ Neurodivergent? Perhaps. Likely even.
I took my purchase to the cash register. As I checked out, she asked me if I would buy her a cup of coffee. I told her that I did not have much time since I needed to get home to PanKwake, but that I would be happy to get her one.
She then asked if I would buy her something in the shop. We looked around a bit. I thought the large pink and purple ceramic cupcake would be a nice souvenir of the day. She preferred a dainty China cup and saucer candle set. I bought both. The manager did not even look at the price tags, telling me they both were only a pound. I insisted she take three.
As we walked to the coffee shop, Rachel told me more about her family. About how they made her cry, took her things, and money. How much of that was true? I don’t know. Life has taught me that things are rarely as clear as we see them. But I know that Rachel was hurting. That was all that mattered.
I shared the story of my walk with Rachel. I told her about those leaves. How they all deserved a photograph. How they all had value. How we all had value. How she too had value.
When we got to that coffee shop, I bought her a cup and a cake. She knew the woman behind the counter. She proudly introduced me as her new friend. She even promised me that next time she would buy me a cup.
We took a seat on the couches at the back, next to another woman. We chatted for a bit. I really did have to get my errands finished and get home to make Alan’s lunch and check on PanKwake, but I stretched the time. I invested as much as I could, and perhaps a bit more, into Rachel.
As I left that shop, I realized something. Rachel was friends with both the charity shop manager and the girl in the coffee shop. She had touched their lives. And they, in turn, had touched hers. She made them smile, just as she did me.
That day was the best I have had in town for a long time. I did not come home stressed-out. I got my errands done, my steps in, and went home almost energized.
Who blessed whom that day? I am still trying to figure that one out. Not that it really matters. Because the best blessings are always mutual ones.
Yes, every leaf has a story tell. Rachel was certainly good at telling hers. I hope that I am adequate at telling mine.
We all have value. We are all worthy. On those bad days as well as the good.
May the goddess bless each of you with beautiful leaves and bring sweet souls like Rachel across your path as she does mine. Seems the sun has even come out as I wrote these words. Another sign? Like the beauty in those leaves, they are everywhere…if you take the time to see and listen for them.