‘Breathtakingly beautiful’ events here this season

Published 1:39 am Saturday, December 5, 2015

I didn’t have a firm plan in mind Thursday night, when I left the office on foot to shoot pictures of the Christmas parade. I was early, so I just kept walking.

It was cold out, and Advantage Realty had hot cider (thank you!). The Gallery had its doors open, and a new show to peruse. East Three Notch was lined with people, and it was interesting to see how many, so I just kept walking.

The area in front of city hall was well lighted and not too crowded, so I paused.

And after a while, I noticed that the beautiful flags that fly at city hall were at half staff, and appearing in many of my parade pictures. I remember when a flag at half staff was rare. Now it seems as if the flags are more often lowered than flying full.

This week, of course, we lowered them to mourn the 14 people killed at a holiday banquet in San Bernardino County, Calif., earlier this week. We’d barely gotten them back to full staff following the terrorist attacks in Paris when the California massacre occurred.

The lowered flags were a stark contrast to the happiness surrounding me at ground level. Lights, laughter and squeals of delight as kids large and small scored candy. Happy people in a happy parade. Music, marching bands and the excitement of “It’s Christmas.” It was so in the air in Andalusia on Thursday, even the Grinch would have caught the spirit of the season.

People couldn’t stop talking about how good Andalusia looks; how exciting it is to have so many Candyland activities; and to make the Top 10 list of “Christmas cities” in Alabama.

And there in the background were those flags at half staff.

The contrast is a reminder that even when parts of life are dark, we can’t let the dark pull us down. Even as we wonder what we’d do if confronted by a shooter, or look around at a crowded event for suspicious people or things, we cannot give in to the fear of terrorists, or the terrorists surely win.

Back in the warm office, this, attributed to LR Knost, trickled through my news feed:

“Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and the awful it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.”

We have breathtakingly beautiful things happening in our beloved community this month. Breathe them in.


Michele Gerlach is publisher of The Star-News.