Yesterday I came down the steps of the cathedral into a winter wonderland,my heart light from sharing beautiful harmonies. The snow was white on the ground, the air was misty and damp. It was cold. Subzero cold. I pulled my jacket around me, shoved my gloved hands deep into my pockets and began to walk towards home. The park was deserted, apart from one guy walking his dog there was no-one to be seen. And then I heard the strains of a familiar song – La vie en Rose – being played on an accordian somewhere close by. Who would be playing music at this time of night, in subzero temperatures? And then I saw – on the bridge, under a lamp post, was a young woman in a fur lined hooded coat, playing the accordian with what must have been frozen fingers. Playing alone, on a bridge in the lamplight. Surrounded only by snow and the winter spirits of the city. I stood and listened for a while, leaning on the bridge, watching the blocks of ice drift on the quiet river. La Vie en Rose morphed into Les Feuille Mort – the dead leaves….
Many thoughts drift through my mind – why is she here? What story does she carry in her soul? She is clearly not playing for money. On a snow covered bridge with no one around on such a crazy cold night. No. She is playing for herself. Perhaps to sooth an aching heart. Perhaps for the sheer joy of it. Perhaps to fulfill a dream. Perhaps for no other reason other than to create beauty in this place and this time. And I am the lucky recipient who happens to be out and about on this dark cold evening, in this place at this time to catch this one soaring moment of gloriousness. Without her dream, without her story, my own narrative would be infinitely poorer. Without her story bumping into mine on that bridge I would simply have walked on without taking those moments on the bridge to watch, to listen, to feel, to open to the coldness and loneliness of the night. I would simply have gone home.
So often we trudge through our days, one moment to the next. Our ‘have to’s drive our days. I have to: get my son to school/go to work/get the shopping/pick up the kid/clean the bathroom/cook dinner/complete that assignment/answer that email/return that call etc. Running from one end of the day to the other. From one end of life to the other.
And then. This young woman on a bridge. Playing for no one. For a small moment of splendour my ‘have to’s’ disappear. They just…. stop. I don’t have to run for that tram. I don’t have to get home as quickly as possible. I don’t have to do anything except be here, on this bridge in the snow, under the lamplight, listening to La vie en Rose….