Just some thoughts on a snowy day…

I’m not sure that I will be able to say exactly what I was feeling when I took this picture. I’m not a writer or even a deep thinker really, but I’ll give it a try because it felt profound to me.

We live about 1/2 of a mile from the gym where we work out and we always walk to get there. Part of our route takes us along a sidewalk that borders a large and beautiful park. (The park actually requires a fee to enter – not a common thing in Chișinău.) As you are walking along this sidewalk you can see over the fence into the park where there are paths through tall trees. Some areas are manicured…some not; some areas open…other areas more thickly wooded. It’s quite lovely. And then, as you are walking along this sidewalk and enjoying the view, you come to this one section where you can smell – literally every day and at all times – sewage.

It’s just a passing moment before you walk back through to fresh air, but it is undeniable for that moment. At the spot of that smell there is a sewer cover (“duh” you all are saying as you read this). And, because it is winter, the cover is mostly draped in snow. The snow and crusty ice lend everything a magical feel. And then, when you look closer, the magic deepens just a bit because you see that green plants are actually growing around the cover. (Or perhaps you feel unnerved because it ain’t natural for plants to be growing during the winter in Chișinău.) And no – it isn’t natural. On the particular day I took this picture it was actively snowing and the air was biting cold on my neck and cheeks. And yet there was green life growing up at my feet.

Going to the gym, and then on the way back, I puzzled to myself why this image seemed so profound to me. I first thought that it must be some kind of discrete pictorial analogy for one of life’s deepest truths. I just had to figure out what that truth was and package it up in some clever way to illustrate my time here in Moldova. Does the image represent the growth of my spirit in an icy foreign land barren of my creature comforts…..and also something about sewage? No wait. Maybe it means that we need to look for the little spark of joy in unforeseen places? But no. That isn’t quite what struck me either.

I think what I love is this: This picture doesn’t make sense. It’s messy and weird and beautiful all at the same time. Do I like the snow? Usually. Do I like plants? Sure. Do I like the smell of sewage? Well…no. But I don’t get to decide what that moment in time and place holds. I don’t just pick and choose the aspects of life I want; nor does a neatly packaged analogy do justice to this terrible, crazy, beautiful, profound life that we live. Life is ugly and it’s amazing and it’s confusing and it can be all those things at once and still be okay. And I don’t have to define that. I don’t have to justify it. I just note it, smile, crinkle my nose a little from the smell, and walk on.