A Piece of Candy
by Lillian G. Leslie
Spring has a loveliness like no other, an exquisite reawakening of living things. As one who is directly involved in street work, however, I know another side to the season. I look into the faces of those refused even the tiniest shred of springtime’s delight. As such, I am the battleground for a persistent tug-of-war within. Although I am inclined with everyone else to behold a burgeoning landscape, the enjoyment mingles with a nagging awareness that spring means the onslaught of infants born to homeless animals - accelerated hardship for nursing mothers, the start of a miserable life for the young.
Firsthand experience of the other side to springtime taints my embrace of its loveliness. Easter brings a sorry fate for many an innocent bunny, chick and duckling purchased as a temporary novelty for children. A sadness takes hold as I anticipate phone calls from those now wanting to “get rid of” the infants who are beginning to grow as individuals and who no longer offer a novel amusement.
The wonder and beauty of spring humble me, I am awestruck but not without inner conflict. I may never again find it possible to revive a childlike enthusiasm for the season many regard as nothing short of magical. I appreciate spring’s gifts to the earth (especially the rain showers) but not with a pristine abandon.
The ugly reminders of spring (and summer) hardships we see in the streets six nights of the week nibble away at one’s emotional well-being. Watching the innocent bear relentless and unjust punishment ignites anger and sorrow which can poison the soul of a sensitive person. And so I see myself as a piece of candy - you know the kind, a hard shell coating the soft interior. In this the conflict endures to good end. Sensibilities driving me to do this work live on within me beneath a protective crust, a shield from the poisonous nibbles of rage and sadness. To sustain a love for creatures trying to survive on the streets as well as a commitment to do my part on their behalf demands that I become hard to a certain extent, so that rather than buckle under a sense of overwhelming evil, I see the ugliness yet refuse its victory.
Both aspects, the hard and the tender, must thrive together in my spirit so that I neither become so hard that I stop caring nor so soft that feelings immobilize me. In this way I can take a deep breath of fragrant spring air as I roll up my sleeves - much work has yet to be accomplished before spring’s awakening can be experienced as a blessing by all.