I arrived back home at 2 am on Saturday morning, these days the bankrupt American Airlines serves up more delays than they do pretzels. The air was brisk but the same full moon that I woke to in Grand Goave greeted me as I hauled my bag out of the cab, though the earth had spun a full circle east to west while I had traveled north. Sleep was sparse and I rose to go to yoga thinking that I would be a tottering disaster after so much time at 35,000 feet. But the bike ride to Bikram woke me in new ways.
Spring on a Cambridge morning with just enough clouds to give definition to the glorious sunshine is a symphony of color, a complete contrast to our bleached out winters. In my own yard the forsythia is blinding and the flox already creeping over the stone walls. Along Huron Avenue the flowering pears are virgin white as the snow we never saw this winter. Brattle Street’s stately mansions are festooned in brilliance, daffodils and pansies and lilies carpet the ground, azaleas and weeping cherries, dogwood and crepe myrtle are all in bloom, the magnolias are magnificent, pink and white, pale peach and plum, and a few towering willows have let loose their long hair, kernels of gold giving over to green. At bicycle speed Brattle Street becomes an impressionist canvas, a 3-D enfolding me just as Paris enveloped Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception.
After yoga (I balanced quite well after two weeks gone and little sleep and air flight, thank you very much) I made my weekly pilgrimage to the Cambridge Public Library, our city’s $100 million crystal palace of learning. I picked up some books and videos and marveled at the families with their one or two children, all sporting jackets bright as Easter eggs, checking out stacks of picture books, playing in the adventurous playground out front, earnestly debating among each other the latest findings of the child care canon. As I ride up Observatory Hill past the runners and the strollers, everyone glows in good health.
The rest of the day Paul and I prepare for our Easter brunch that will encompass the best the world has to offer. We will be eight, starting with appetizers while we color a few dozen eggs, then move on to roast leg of lamb with mint sauce, French green beans, Asian cole slaw, potato salad, organic yogurt dappled over fresh fruit, Armenian Easter bread baked around colored eggs, wine and champagne and Indian lassi, Russian cheesecake and a fruit tart for dessert.
I have to pinch myself to remember that 24 hours ago I was in Haiti, where the single purple pendant of a banana tree provides the sole color relief from the overriding tawny grey, where four year old boys roam the countryside in packs, barefoot, fending for themselves with no idea where their next meal might come from, where picture books are rare, where libraries do not exist, where there are no strollers, or runners, and although some people have a healthy glow, more have scars, scabs and blisters, and where my last meal, as a well-off missionary, was potato, yucca and bois (boiled dough) with a side of carrots.
As I pedal my way through the Cambridge spring, abundance overwhelms me. I not too big on god, and abhor religion, but I do believe there is something larger than us out there, and that we have a responsibility to acknowledge the gifts in our lives. For the moment we take our wonders for granted they whither, and once they stop flowing generously, they become points of complaint. Unappreciated abundance leads to complacency, which leads to considering the resources of this world as entitlements rather than gifts. That is why my experiences in Haiti are so valuable not only when I am there, but as a gauge to our incredible wealth when I am here.
Happy Easter to everyone; may your lives be rich in blessings and may you treasure every one.