|Double Rainbow ©Lynne Buchanan|
To further the discussion of beauty started by a post of a Dove add showing women trying to decide whether they should walk through the average or the beautiful door, I would like to relate a “chance” meeting I had with an incredible handicapped woman and her friend, whom I met at a restaurant last night. If I had been thinking, I would have asked if I could take their photographs. Unfortunately, I was too moved to remember to do this. Instead, you will have to connect with their light through my words.
After my friends in Portland had taken me to an amazing field with wildflowers and Mount Hood, they went home to rest. I decided to walk along the river in downtown Portland since the clouds were so nice. As I was in the Pacific Northwest, the weather inevitably changed. Before the rain came down hard, first one and then a second rainbow appeared. It was such an incredible sight that I walked around and made images of these rainbows from several vantage points. Then the sky opened up and I made for the closest building, which happened to be the Three Degrees restaurant. I had been wondering where I was going to eat anyway, so I happily went in and sat at the bar and ordered a delicious Pistachio Loaf and a glass of wine.
A short while later, this woman entered and pulled up her wheelchair near me. I smiled at her and went back to my food. When I had finished eating, another woman came in with her dog. The two were friends. I moved my bag off the chair next to me, so the second lady could sit next to the woman in the wheelchair. The second lady had the sweetest smile and her dog was very good. It was a service dog, I later learned, but it was not wearing the vest and she didn’t make it behave like a service dog either. She has a brain tumor, though I would never have known from speaking with her. She was wearing colorful shoes that sparkled like her eyes and the three of us laughed and talked and I showed them a photograph of my own dog. Then, the hostess asked the woman to leave, as her dog was not wearing the vest and it was an establishment that served food. The woman smiled and said good-bye. She told me she’d known that was going to happen, but she’d wanted to come in and say hello to her friend. I was sorry to see her go.
The first woman told me that people often mistook the second woman for being homeless, but she wasn’t. She was married to a wealthy attorney, but she had this brain tumor. I said, I’d thought she was beautiful. Her smile said it all. Whether she was rich or poor or somebody or nobody had not even crossed my mind.
Then the woman in the wheelchair started talking about all the work she did with people in crisis and she blew my mind. Here was someone with no legs, totally impassioned, not complaining, and doing everything she could to help other people. There was no fierceness or anger or any sign of a chip on her shoulder. During our conversation, I learned she was widowed and had lost her brother and sister. I would have expected to see a broken person, but she was more whole than most people I have met in my lifetime. She too had an amazing smile and radiated kindness and compassion. I shared with her my water advocacy work and we both discussed the environment and eventually the conversation turned to Native Americans and the greater appreciation indigenous peoples have for the earth. Then the woman said that they, like the handicapped, are marginalized too. Their voices are not heard either. Always, it comes down to the loss of our voices and our courage to try and express ourselves even when we are being silenced and to do this with grace.
She told me I was going to change the world. I told her she already had. When I finally got up to leave, I told her how beautiful she is as I gave her my card and a hug. “Next time you are in Portland,” she said, “you have a place to stay if you don’t mind the couch.” Then she told me the best way to walk back to the hotel, so I would be safe and not in danger of being mugged.
The entire walk back I reflected on how totally uplifted I felt around these two amazingly beautiful women, whom most of society would not even have noticed. I also forgot all feelings of loneliness and lack of worth that I sometimes experience being a woman on her own over 50. The soul connection I had experienced was so deep that I even felt beautiful myself. This is the power of women uniting and sharing our voices for the benefit of all living beings, especially the marginalized, which in this day and age is everyone but the wealthiest individuals. When we heed the call, and step into our true power that is beautiful and suddenly people begin appearing all around us who lift us higher.