"Fear is the enemy of love."
"The world is full of people who have never, since childhood, met an open doorway with an open mind."
I really didn't want to go on Jury Service. I felt unprepared and ill equipped to formally "judge" others' actions or intent. Three weeks on and after a particularly harrowing case that reduced me to tears in court on more than one occasion, I feel privileged to have been randomly selected. I was fortunate to have been kept in a confined space without the usual diversions with eleven extremely conscientious and caring people. All cut from very different cloths, we wove ourselves together comfortably and seamlessly by the end of the trial. Faced with disturbing evidence and the raw emotion of some of the witnesses, my fellow jurors restored my belief that there are good people and true out there.
Obviously, I can't say much about the case and the private lives of those involved have already been ripped apart and raked through, however necessarily. Graphically evidenced for us; the terrible collision of lives bruised by lack of self worth and faith; the inexorable impact of an abuse of affection and a failure to protect innocence.
I've only had a couple of boyfriends in my whole life; it may be that I'm a singularly unappealing individual, but I prefer to think my single status is largely due to not wanting to compromise my values and beliefs. I've certainly preferred to wake alone on a cold winter's morning than to lie in fear for anyone or anything entrusted to me, whether that be a child, my sanity or my soul. There but for fortunate and grace, I guess.
Our jury, in equal numbers male and female, admitted to losing sleep during the trial and feeling deeply shaken after our verdict was given. We had become aware of the enormity of relatively small words such as reason and doubt. I think we all gained a new respect for the resolve of the judiciary and the resilience of the surrounding administration.
There was a child in this case who is, thank God, alive and safe. I feel profoundly changed by my experience, if only that I feel more securely me. I hope to stay in touch with a couple of the jurors and would be genuinely delighted to cross paths with any of them in the future. It occurs to me that "jury" can be a very special service. And yet still nothing compared to the beautiful and terrifying responsibility of parenting; at it's finest, a life sentence.
(Carol Ann Duffy)
Learn from the winter trees, the way
they kiss and throw away their leaves,
then hold their stricken faces in their hands
and turn to ice;
or from the clocks,
looking away, unloving light, the short days
running out of things to say; a church,
a ghost ship on a sea of dusk.
Learn from a stone, its heart shape meaningless,
perfect with relentless cold; or from the bigger moon,
implacably dissolving in the sky, or from the stars,
lifeless as Latin verbs.
Learn from the river,
flowing always somewhere else, even its name,
change, change; learn from a rope
hung from a branch like a noose, a crow cursing,
a dead heron mourned by a congregation of flies.
Learn from the dumbstruck garden, summer’s grave,
where nothing grows, not a Beast’s rose;
from the town veil of a web;
from our daily bread:
perpetual rain, nothing like tears, unloving clouds;
language unloving love; even this stale air
unloving all the spaces where you were.
"Skinny Love" Birdy (version)
"And I told you to be patient
and I told you to be fine;
and I told you to be balanced
and I told you to be kind;
and if all your love is wasted
then who the hell was I?
Who will love you?
Who will fight?
And who will fall far behind?"
(From "Skinny Love", Justin Vernon)