Saturday, April 14, 2012 —
When things are not going my way or when I feel defeated by life’s blows, my first instinct is to run, usually to the nearest mall where I can spend hours shopping for purses. Sometimes I shop the clearance heap and snag something for ten bucks. If I am really down in the dumps, I head straight to the Fossil store and spend at least ten times that amount. It is cheaper than a therapist, and I love the smell of leather.
Ironically, I also love hauling my leather handbags to points of interest such as the local zoo, where I hope the animals will not recognize my accessory as a long-lost cousin from their phylogenetic tree. On this day, however, I opt to bring my non-leather waist pouch in order to keep my hands on the camera. I am accompanied by two members of my own family tree — an almost ripe, pregnant woman who asserts that walking will drop the baby right out of her womb and a three-year-old princess who won’t feel complete until she feeds the giraffes. My own personal mission is to free myself of worldly chaos and become uplifted in some way by God’s creations.
The place is packed so we race to the Lory cage for a chance to feed apples to the birds. Humans outnumber birds, so we wait patiently and look around us for an opportunity to arise. A young man near us watches a colorful bird nibbling the apple from his hand. A tween-size girl leans an outstretched, apple-filled hand right next to his and listens to his calm voice describe the bird and its movements. She looks directly at the feathered fowl, but she doesn’t see it. I realize she is blind, and I stare. It is impolite, but I stare anyway. I am mesmerized by the connection between the young man, the bird and the girl.
She experiences the bird through the eyes of her assistant who prepares her for the thrill of feeling the bird move from his apple to hers. It is electrifying to watch the spark of the bird in her hand ignite the bright smile on her face. I watch through a well of tears and suddenly I am grateful for many things.
Walking through the menagerie I continue to witness the miracle of humanity throughout the course of the day. Hoards of healthy children clamor to see the animals. White haired couples walk hand-in–hand from one exhibit to the next. My granddaughter giggles and squeals on the merry-go-round and now wants to ride the train. The line at the train station is extra long due to several wheelchairs crowded at the front of the row, so we wait with an extra portion of patience. When the train arrives, caregivers gently lift mangled teens from the chairs and lovingly place them, one at a time, on the wooden seats. Other teens with special needs are helpful, and they happily save places for their teachers and friends on the train. The tears threaten to come again, but I hold them back. Instead I silently pray for angels to watch over these special children and their caregivers, all of whom are indeed angels themselves.
Before long, the Princess has fed the giraffes, and the pregnant daughter is exhausted but not in labor. I came to feed the animals and delight in their creation, but instead I have been fed by brothers and sisters of my own species who have blessed my life by just being here at the zoo today. I decide that I need to visit the zoo more often. After all, the price of an annual pass is less than the cost of a Fossil handbag, but it holds so much more.
(c) 2013 Patricia J. Angus
Originally published on April 14, 2012 at http://lifeisapopcornparty.blogspot.com/