I stood in the bright, warm San Diego sunshine outside the entrance to the Museum of Man, in the shadow of the California Tower. I had just walked the one hundred fifty steps to the Tower’s observation deck, then back down. The three hundred sixty degreee view of downtown San Diego, Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, and the most colorful and vibrant flora I’ve seen in ages left me feeling exhilarated, humbled, and thankful. Such wonderful beauty is almost excruciating. It’s impossible to fully describe in words.
Then, as I contemplated my next activity, I was witness to something even more beautiful.
She was about three, thin and tanned with the flowing blond hair of an angel. She was crossing the street in front of me, trailed by her pregnant mother, watching her closely. She was excited, jerkily running along as only toddlers can. She pointed towards the steps leading to the museum entrance, balancing herself with the other arm pointing behind her.
“Gwamma, Gwampa! Gwamma, Gwampa!”
I looked to my right and saw them, an older couple, faces beaming, accompanied by who appeared to be the little angel’s father.
She ran at a steady pace, making the small transition over the curb, then reaching the steps, then taking them one, two, three, four, slowly and deliberately, never taking her eyes off her goal.
“Gwamma, Gwampa, I MISSED you this morning!” she exclaimed with toddler glee.
They embraced, this little family. They loved each other in public. They affirmed, with tiny movements and shouted I love yous that beauty and love and family and belonging are alive and well in this world, not only in this idyllic part of Southern California but in every corner of the globe that humans call home.
I heard the joy in the little girl’s excited shouts to her grandparents today.
I saw the joy in exquisite works of art from the fifteenth century.
I smelled the joy in flowers so meticulously crafted that only One who knows beauty can perfect them.
I even saw joy in the agonized responses of those who gave succor to the victims of the Manchester bombing.
We are here.
Fear and terror cannot win, because there is joy in the voices of children, the petals of flowers and the centuries-old artistic mind of man.
Joy will prevail.
Joy will always prevail.