|Nesting stork, one of the many that have decided to make themselves at home |
on top of an aviary in the Munster zoo.
Munster, the little city that we live in, is known to be a safe place. People can walk home in the middle of the night without fear, and in general everyone is courteous and helpful. I've had an old lady stopping and offering to carry baby J, when she saw me struggling to set up the pram, and most people usually have a smile, and even sometimes a hello for you when you meet them on the street. Thus far, I've been able to bring both boys out on my own without having to worry about running into trouble.
Last Wednesday, I decided to try bringing the kids over to the farmer's market, which was a 20-30 minute walk from home. We managed to get there and did our shopping (flowers, raspberries and peaches). Baby J started fretting so I took him out of the pram and put him in the carrier. We headed for home, Junior J and I looking rather odd pushing the pram which held a toy dinosaur, fruits and a bunch of flowers.
We reached this rather quiet pathway, which runs parallel to the river. On most days, this part makes for a lovely walk, with the sounds of the rushing water, and a red brick wall running along the path that is now green with ivy. Some days we see ducks paddling in the water, and we spot berries in the bushes. This time though, we walk past a scruffy looking young man, sporting a bedraggled beard and worn clothes, headed in the opposite direction. He looks at us as we walk past him, and then he turns around, and starts following us.
I start to panic. There's no one else on the path. The man has one of his hands hidden in his pocket, and he clutches that hidden hand with his other. All those episodes of "Criminal Minds" start running through my head. Gun? Knife? I start to pray. I ask Junior J to walk faster, which of course was a signal for him to do the opposite. He lags behinds and says he doesn't want to go faster. I pretend to play a game with him, saying he couldn't catch me, which makes him run a little. But the man is still following us, and catching up. An old lady walks past us on the path, but then quickly turns and disappears. The man is still following us, his hand still hidden in his pocket. I'm still frantically pushing the pram while carrying the baby, and half-dragging Junior J with me, thinking that I only have $2 in my pocket and that I wasn't worth robbing, and that he was welcome to have our peaches.
And finally, we reach the main road, and cross over to the playground. The man reaches the road, and turns to walk down the street instead. My heart is pounding. We head back home, Junior J blissfully unaware of what had happened, me still taking occasional glances to see if we were being followed. Home never felt so safe before.
This week, I am thankful for safety. Safety that we tend to take for granted, be it here in Germany, or back home in Singapore. While there are others who live with the threat of bombs or natural disasters, we are blessed with ordinary life, devoid of unwelcome excitement. We can walk with our children on the streets and not have to look over our shoulders (but I think I will avoid that path when I'm alone with the kids and stick to the streets). We can let them play at the playground while only keeping half an eye out for them. And I am thankful for how we are kept safe in our Father's hands, under the shadow of His wings.
What are you thankful for?