. . .One day, there
will be nothing but the hum
of breathing, the drum of heart.
So for now, look up, listen with
the most acute attention. Can you
hear the world singing for you?
See the way it puffs out its chest
trying to get you to notice, notice it all?”
~ Jean Reinhold
Snow Geese on the Wing
This was gonna be really short. A roll call of heroes & sheroes to balance the grim news that seems everywhere. My first entry this beautiful story by Marlisa Mills in CT that I read on facebook: ‘…in a cold and windy rain…I saw a flock of geese trying to cross a busy road, maybe to reach a patch of grass on the far side where snow had melted, left a large puddle of rainwater. The birds were weary and winter-worn, hungry and thin. Two cars in front of me had stopped for the crossing. Coming the other way, a large old beat car stopped. One by one the geese crossed the street. Then a car behind the old white car honked impatiently, zoomed around and, missing the geese, sped off furiously honking. Suddenly, the door of the old car opened and an elderly man, stooped and winter weary himself, got out and stood solidly in front of his car as the geese slowly continued. Then the man in the car behind him got out, stood next to the elderly gentleman. Then two women. Soon, eight humans stood shoulder to shoulder making a barrier so the birds could finish their journey. Tired, wet, and longing-for-spring people, saluting the courage of their winged friends who survived another season. It was something to behold. Sometimes, if we look, we see divinity standing right in the middle of the road.’
I bow to those eight, as well as to people who passionately live in their hearts, don’t see issues as too big, like this chef in India, this man in Minneapolis, and Will Allen on his urban farm in one of Milwaukee’s worst neighborhoods. And people who speak loudly against the discrimination and marginalization of women and girls, like Jimmy Carter with his huge personal sacrifice and Malala Yousafzai who won’t be silenced by a bullet or the Taliban. I love The Nature Conservancy for what they do and their continual shares of good news & triumphs. Salute Jane Kleeb and Nebraska ranchers, and self-labeled Christian-conservative-libertarian-environmental-lunatic alternative farmer Joel Salatin, who break assumptions but never lose sight we’re in this together.
Then something happened, turned this blog into an unexpected journey. A woman in a big car approached in my lane on our narrow street, stopped, wouldn’t pull to the curb on her side though she had ample room, though it’s the courtesy protocol in the neighborhood. She remained in my lane until I backed up. As she slowly passed (admittedly, my window down, voice hailing her) I saw her raised middle finger behind closed glass. Raised for her entire slow passage. A heaviness hit me. “I’m SO darned tired of people like you,” I thought. Today I realize what I felt was a visceral recognition of the violence in that f**k you. get out of MY way attitude. Something I’ve experienced before, know on so many levels. I can’t but think how many times people feel this daily.
On the same day I read about the geese, I read this by Thomas Cahill: “<Our> future may be germinating today not in a boardroom in London or an office in Washington or a bank in Tokyo, but in some antic outpost or other — …a house for the dying in a back street of Calcutta run by a fiercely single-minded Albanian nun, an easy-going French medical team at the starving edge of the Sahel…a nursery program to assist convict-mothers at a New York Prison — in some unheralded corner where a great-hearted human being is committed to loving outcasts in an extraordinary way.”
School girls like Katie Stagliano who gardens for the hungry and Olivia Bouler who raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for Audubon can give me a boost humanity’s gonna be okay. Anne Lamott with her unapologetic honesty will remind me I’m okay. Today, though, I believe we’re all a sort of outcast when we can’t see we share the same big stuff of life in our hearts. Don’t see the divinity standing in the middle of the road. That we’re truly great-hearted souls when we do.
Another journey in mindfulness. Getting to Wise.
A Writers Life.
A secret: These posts always surprise me.
A favorite: Finding and giving someone a gift s/he loves.
Photo by Alan Berner, Seattle Times Staff Photographer