Most Canadians are well familiar with the gray skies, gray slush, and gray film on cars in February.
The beauty of Ottawa is hidden by all this gray right now, but when you walk through the protest site on Parliament Hill, nothing seems gray.
There is a brightness, a buzz, a benevolent spirit in the air.
People who have been forced to physically distance and mask their smiles for 2 years are overflowing with warmth and kindness.
Strangers all smile at each other, and even hug, and conversations are easily started.
There is free food from a variety of pop-up stands set up to serve the people who are there to support the return of constitutional rights, and the streets are impeccably clean.
Hand-made signs line the fence around Parliament Hill for blocks and blocks...
All this on a weekday, when the big events aren’t even happening.
There are now groups of police officers casually walking through the site, but with no obvious agenda other than making their presence known.
One officer even stopped to appreciate the beauty of the soap stone carvings by an indigenous man creating art on the street.
Children are adorned in Canadian flags, happy to be doing what they are meant to do — breath freely, play together, and see the smiling faces of those around them.
One man in a wheelchair offers poems on the spot.
His name is Larry and he has a direct gaze with clear blue eyes.
“What do you want your poem to be about?” He asked me.
I look around and I am, once again, welling up.
“Freedom, obviously. But also the sense of connectedness you feel being here.”
He looks up for a moment, then begins to write.
Within minutes, with no scribbles or corrections, he has composed this poem, which he gave me permission to share in its entirety only…
We Are All Connected
What one does affects another
Do we act in unity as lovers
To bring six degrees of separation to zero
It is not as if we do not know
That we are all connected
That all rights are connected
And denying them to just one
Really means those rights are gone
Losing the freedom for which we long
Becoming just another pretty song
If those words are not put into action
To bring all humanity into the connection
That will give us the freedom
To declare together what we believe
No matter what covenant we claim
In rights we are all the same With equality of pride and dignity
And it truly is a horrendous pity
That the things that should unite us
Are the things we fight over most
The cost to freedom is great
May we recognize our connectedness before
it is too late
And we are connected in a fate
That is an expression of hate
Let love connect us
This is what I pray and what I trust
That each one that recognizes our connectedness
Is a source for peace that will help bless us
This world one person at a time with hope
Not just for those you claim as your own
But for people of beliefs and origins far
from your home
This is the peace of God which passes understanding.
Larry Peter Klippenstein
© February 11th 2022
While our elected leaders offer ominous threats and increase police presence, the people calmly and joyfully bond with each other.
Whatever comes next, this connection can never be severed.
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