Thursday, February 15, 2007

Beauty and Chaos


Yesterday there was a march in the Downtown East Side in memory of the missing women. My sister-in-law and I attended for the first time. The theatre was already full when we got there, and so we didn't get to hear the words spoken by elders, Phil Fontaine, and the women's family members. This didn't lessen the solemn, respectful atmosphere of the crowd waiting outside. The march proceeded very slowly along Hastings, stopping often. Jackie and I didn't understand why it was moving so slowly - reading the news reports afterwards explained that we were stopping in front of places the women were last seen.
One thing I noticed because of the slow pace was that my experience of the neighbourhood was very different on foot than as seen through the window of a bus or car. From the removed space of a vehicle, the streets of the DTES appear desperate and chaotic. But as we walked in the crowd of people we saw many people waving to each other and calling out to people on the sidewalk, there were smiles and hugs, and it did really feel like a neighbourhood where people knew each other and looked out for each other.

I think I was most moved by the handsewn quilt panels that many people were carrying. They expressed love and care and grief and loss.

I returned home and saw that the mess on the dining room table was becoming stratified and beginning to resemble an archeological dig.

I cleaned it off and took a picture of the results of some dyeing with madder root that I have been doing. These were actually under the mess somewhere. Beauty is often lurking in the chaos.

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