Chapel Hill: Opinion

Linda Haac: Moments amid the sorrow

I find certain moments call out to us, even in the worst of times. It’s almost as if a magnetic energy is rising out of the earth, or even the heavens. I found myself reminded of this in the last so many days as we, as a town, have been struck by the tragedy of losing three immensely promising, young lives, cut short by the most brutal of circumstances.

I no longer ask myself: How can such bad things happen? Rather, I ask: How can we in our humanity stoop to such a degree?

I do not have an answer.

Yet, I hold onto the small things that might give us hope: things like the hundreds of our university students crowding into the center of campus to hold a vigil and pay their respects, our many expressions of support and outrage that fill our newspaper, the attention of the world that has focused on such an unspeakable crime, the bravery of the parents whose courage I cannot imagine.

I pray this never happens again. It is outrageous. It is without reason. I hope for an end to our ridiculous idolatry of guns. I want us to wear white every Wednesday until we stop the insanity. I want all the mothers of the world to cry out, “Stop!”

I wonder how much more of this we can – or will – endure?

And in the midst of such sorrow, I hold tight to the small moments of wonder that the world can still offer up. A bluebird lands on my hanging flower bed on my deck and lingers there, pecking around for whatever it can find. The day is the first incredibly warm one in such a long time, and the bluebird is so close, and it stays for such a long time. The whole moment seems almost unbelievable.

Does that bluebird not realize its kin would fly away almost immediately?

I think back to the snow and ice and sleet, to the trees that are down and littering the sides of our roads. I think of our heaviest snow in particular and how the next morning, the main road into Carrboro was lined with the most whimsical of snowmen: one towering over its house with a crown on its head; two miniature snowmen acting as guards along a front walk; a female snowmen with the most revealing of shapes gracing someone’s front yard; and of all things, a snow fireman in front of Carrboro’s main fire station.

I watch as the bluebird flies away and later I go for a walk in the woods with my husband. As we tramp along the creek, we stumble across a magical sight: Someone or perhaps more than a few people have created a fairyland of stone sculptures at a bend in the water.

These stone edifices rise out of the creek, both fanciful and grave at the same time. They appear like totems, totems of ruggedness and timeliness, as well as mythical figures. Is that one a bird? An eagle or a hawk? Is this one over here an ancient head from some lost civilization? Am I looking at a family of tiny sparrows? Or is it a Cubist rendering?

It isn’t long before my husband and I add our own stone sculpture to the creek bed, a stacked, precarious tower that might wash away as soon as the next hard rain comes. With the sun setting, I stand by the water, though, and take in the moment and hope for a better, new season.

You can reach Linda Haac at