Epiphany in the Park

At about eleven o’clock the other morning, I was coming back through the park from the shops. It was a morning like many we’ve had in London recently – quite cold, about 7C, slightly misty, and although not actually raining, the atmosphere was damp enough to make the metalled path wet.


There was no other person in sight. The children’s playground was silent and deserted. There was no wind to move the bare branches of the trees. The only birds I was aware of were a robin singing his poignant little song somewhere in a tree or hedge close by, and one of the park’s resident band of crows stalking imperiously through the damp grass.

I rounded a bend in the path and started to descend the slight hill towards my exit. As I did so I became aware of a figure at the bottom of the hill coming towards me. It was too far away for me to make out, in that misty, overcast light. any detail. But as we drew closer, I saw it was a woman, medium height, short grey hair, maybe in her mid-fifties and wearing a three-quarter length coat. I had never seen her before.

Some people, as you pass them in the street, glance your way and say, “Good morning,” or whatever. Others make it plain, some distance before you actually pass each other, that they want no contact – they look the other way, or make out to be absorbed in thought. But then, occasionally something else takes place.

As this woman and I passed each other, we looked at each other and instantly, from both of us came a completely spontaneous smile. It was not one of those fleeting half-smiles. It was free, open, fully meant and felt. Then we were past each other and gone. I didn’t look back and I’m quite sure she didn’t either  – it hadn’t been that sort of smile. It had had nothing to do with gender; it had been in no way sexual. Yet brief as the exchange had been, it had carried within it something very powerful; some sense of absolute recognition.

Recognition of what, though? I had never seen her before, nor she me. There had clearly been no physical recognition. We were two strangers who had passed one morning in a park – and were gone thereafter from each other’s life. But something of it remained, and remains with me now.

As I continued my walk back home, I cleared everything from my mind in order to try and see that brief exchange for what it had been. And gradually, with a sense of something I can only describe as wonder, it came to me. At that moment of passing, at that moment when our glances met and we smiled, some part of me recognized its own self in her; and in her likewise, that same part of her recognized itself in me. It was not personal; it had nothing to do with male or female; black or white; affluent or destitute; or of any race or nationality. It was that which, like a single river with countless tributaries, flows within every one of us and is common to us all. It is that which, when the temporary trappings of our individual selves are stripped away, is who we really, ultimately are. It is life, unstoppable, eternal. We are life. And we are one.

Some years ago, I wrote a brief meditation on this subject, slightly amended for this post – 

“The problems of our world stem not so much from our failure to act as though we – its peoples – are one, as from our failure to recognize that we – its peoples – are one. We have, for millennia accorded life-or-death importance to superficial differences which are of no more significance in the world than the mosquito on the back of the elephant. Thus we resist one of the most profound and uplifting truths of ourselves as human beings.

Whoever you encounter and wherever, look into your brother’s eye, your sister’s eye and see there yourself.”


About besonian

Writer, photographer, film director
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22 Responses to Epiphany in the Park

  1. How delightfully written and deep. I love this! Thank you for sharing!

    • besonian says:

      Thank you, What Words May Come. It was, as you say, a deep – profound even – experience. Which sprang from such apparent ordinariness. And therein is a lesson. I’ve so often found that it’s not the ‘big’ events, the dramatic ones that expose those inner depths, but so many ordinary everyday things. If you have the eyes to see, that is. Fortunately, that day, I did.

  2. Hélène Vaillant says:

    Thank you for sharing your Epiphany. You described it incredibly well, I could sense the amazement of the experience through your words.

    • besonian says:

      How nice of you, Helene – I’m very pleased the feeling was communicated so well to you. It sprang out of such ordinariness – a damp, dark, empty day. And that day gave so much. I guess it’s all around us all the time if we have the eyes to see.

      • Hélène Vaillant says:

        Yes, having the eyes to see no matter where or what, it is always there for us. Thank you for sharing your moment.

  3. jenanita01 says:

    Moments like these are precious and don’t happen nearly enough…

    • besonian says:

      jenanitao1 – two things. Thank you very much for the reblog. And I think those moments don’t just pop up from time to time in a sort of indiscriminate way. They are ‘life’ and are there, all the time. But for so much of the time our eyes and our minds are not open to them. And there’s no point looking for them – we don’t know what we’d be looking for anyway. We need to empty our minds and be open to receive. Then, I think, we see.

      • jenanita01 says:

        Emptying my mind used to be so easy, not so much these days. Getting old, I guess…

      • besonian says:

        I know what you mean – but one needs to practise all the time. Otherwise the mind – the ‘monkey mind’ as the Hindus call it – will flood one ‘s consciousness with its trivia and its never-ending anxieties and fears. As I’ve written in my novel ‘Albatross’ – The mind is a wonderful servant; but a terrible master’. If you haven’t already done so, read Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The Power of Now’ – a bible for our times.

      • jenanita01 says:

        Thank you, I will…

  4. Suzanne says:

    I really like this post. I have been finding lately that some people are meeting in a similar way. There’s that element of surprise then a relaxation into some deeper kind of connection – even if it only lasts a second or two. I think it might be because more people are beginning to wake up to the greater reality you describe so eloquently. We are all one. The feeling of recognising that awareness in another is new and unexpected – hence the surprise. The heartfelt sense of connection is very, very real though. Let’s hope we get to experience more it. 🙂

    • besonian says:

      I think you put that very well, Suzanne when you talk of that sense of connection being so very real. It is – it goes right to the gut and beyond. And I believe you’re right when you say more people may be waking up to that reality. I’m sure it’s the only way out we have from the mayhem things are descending into at the moment.

      • Suzanne says:

        I completely agree. It’s that fundamental change in how we view others and the world around us that will lead us to a more positive future. In a perverse way the current chaos and mayhem is what’s making some people stop and question the way things are going.

      • besonian says:

        That ‘perverse way’ is, I firmly believe, the way Life has of redressing the balance when things go so far awry. So in that sense at least, we should welcome the present and seemingly developing chaos. And on a slightly wider level, I think chaos is a stage of flux between two states of order; an essential part of a process of evolution. I hope I’m right!

      • Suzanne says:

        Yes I agree with you. In one sense climate change and its implications is bringing aboutt tthe shift in consciousness. The chaos is the catalyst.
        Working through the fears that the chaos creates in the mind and emotions is ther challenge.

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