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Possumhaw: The law of kindness



Shannon Bardwell


There is evil in the world, but the world is not evil. 




The ladies and I were sitting in the sunroom as each of us was asked to name something we were thankful for. I said, "Today I saw a butterfly." 


"I'll be glad when I have the time to enjoy butterflies!" Lynn said. 


Faces froze and I began to think how I could back-pedal out of the awkward conversation until, without thinking, I said, "You know, Lynn, if I had not known troubled times I don't think I could appreciate butterflies." 


We continued meeting together for weeks; Lynn began to ease and though her troubles did not change, her attitude did. She began to enjoy the butterflies. In fact, one day she brought me a gift -- a drawing by artist Uncle Bunky; it was of a butterfly. I hung it on the wall to remind me to remember the butterflies, even in troubled times. 


And so it was last week I left my Prairie paradise with a heavy heart. I ventured into town to the Lowndes County Courthouse where circuit court was in session. I determined to smile and be kind to everyone I saw, which was about 200 people who were waiting outside the courthouse doors. That's when something magical happened. Everyone smiled and was kind back.  


As I held doors open for others, doors were held open for me; my heart began to lighten. I'd say "hello," and they'd say "hello" back. Occasionally, I'd get that look like, "Do I know you?" It was fun. 


There was a long, lanky man parked on a sidewalk bench who spoke as I walked by, "Do you know how hot it is? I think it's a hundred." 


"No sir, I don't. But I think it's cooler than yesterday. Maybe in the 90s." 


Once inside the courthouse I saw a familiar face. His face was the color of cocoa, and his eyes were creased by what Momma would have called "laugh lines." He was dressed in a fine suit.  


I asked, "Were you an officer for the Starkville Police Department when Chief Sisk was there?" 


He said, "Yes, I was. Then I left and came back just as Chief Sisk was retiring."  


"That was a lifetime ago," I said. "I was the 'cake delivery lady,' a volunteer with the Salvation Army. I'm glad to see you're still alive."  


He laughed and nodded in agreement; he said he was with the District Attorney's Office. Then he asked about me, my life, and what I was doing now. 


As we started to part, my eyes brimmed with tears. I said, "It was a blessing to see you today. My heart's been heavy in these troubled times."  


He nodded in acknowledgment and said, "It was a blessing to see you, too." 


The day ended very different than it started, although nothing had changed ... except me. The world is a good place, and there are good people in it. 



Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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