The Zoo Fence
a commentary on the spiritual life

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Why Badstuff Happens
Elsa Joy Bailey

This selection is written by The Zoo Fence’s dear friend, Elsa Joy Bailey.
We have placed it on The Zoo Fence with her permission.

If it weren't for my beautiful sad mother
drinking a beaker of cold cyanide when I was three,
I wouldn't have learned
she could both love and abandon me
in one hot severe breath.
Nor would I have grown flowers in my heart
for people who urgently want to die.

If I had not broken my leg in a wild fall,
I wouldn't have learned that stark physical pain
is, to my great surprise, not permanent.

If I hadn't fallen in love with someone
who didn't love me,
I would never have realized that unrequited love
is still an ecstatic dance of the heart.

If I hadn't encountered praise and blame,
success and failure, heat and cold, darkness and light,
blows and kisses, pain and bliss,
never would I have found out that through it all
there is a Spirit within me
which remains unceasingly alive and loving.

If I hadn't received the gift of knowing you,
I would not have come to realise
that our stories are different in details,
but never in essence.

If I hadn't lived through an era of hurting
I would never have met the miracle
of being fed with kindness by a friend.

If I hadn't discovered that you and I
are two threads in the same vast cloth,
I would have remained forever lost and imprisoned
in my separate universe.

If I hadn't seen both good and evil
occupying space in the same event,
I would never have met the hand of humour
painting over these polarities
with new clarity and light.

If I hadn't wept a thousand tears
over the loss of a beloved,
I would never have been driven inward
to find the eternal companion,
my Soul.

If I had not witnessed cruelty
and man's inhumanity to man,
I would not have been forced to look
beneath the ugliness of fear,
and encounter the common Heart
that lies beneath it.

If I hadn't encountered our myriad differences,
I would never have discovered that you and I
are not two,
but infinite sparks of love ever arising
from one indestructible Flame.

And if I hadn't felt abandoned and heartsick,
I would never have heard the wordless whisper
of an abiding, unseeable Friend,
who translated the feeling of alone
into All One.

Ever Aspiring

For TZF’s essay “Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People” please click here.

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