We have failed to protect our environment, and our children. We have failed to be at peace with our neighbours, and to share our wealth and our food. We have failed to grow, to learn, to stretch, to reach our potential, to live a full life. We have failed to count to 10, to let well enough alone. We have failed to learn the lessons of our past, and to prepare for the future. We have failed to see, to hear, and to speak.
Those of us who attended church today heard a story of betrayal and pain, manipulation and meanness, taunting and tragedy. The thought that the ruthless and jealous and narrow-minded and prejudiced could win (and do win still) is maddening. I feel a surge of rage, a deep well of anger and sorrow stirring within me when I hear this story, because there are so many other stories that happen in the world around me that end (or seem to end) in frustration and weeping. It’s the earthquake in Haiti and the oil spill in Louisiana and the tsunami in Japan. It’s war and poverty and greed. It’s unfair.
And I am implicated. I am in the wrong just as often, or as easily, as I sit in the wings and gnash my teeth. Perhaps the worst agony is knowing that I’m powerless. Or knowing that I would also run away. Like Peter, not wanting to be seen, but unable to turn away. Not wanting to be tarred with the same brush, fleeing the accusing voice, the cowardice in my own heart.
And so the cock crows. The bell tolls. The darkness falls, and we are left alone with our fear and our failure.
[this is not how I want the story to end. so let it continue. let us continue to hope.]
Photo taken April 17, 2011
It’s that first whiff as a wave of wood smoke wafts by your nose. It’s the lawn chairs pulled out from the back of the garage, now waiting on the patio. It’s the surprising warmth of the sun in the late afternoon. It’s the pile of brush heaped into the portable firepit, spitting sparks and sinking into coals and ash. It’s all of this that draws me outdoors, out into the fresh spring air.
That’s when the bag of marshmallows emerges, and last summer’s marshmallow sticks are pulled from their hiding place. The stick ends are whittled clean, and the familiar ritual begins. Bundled against the chilling breeze, we lean into the warmth of the fire as we meditatively twirl our marshmallows over the hot coals. Smoke tendrils spiral upwards as the white-coated sweets turn brown and pocked with heat. I lift the perfectly toasted marshmallow to my mouth. Mmm.
Photo taken on April 10, 2011
I’ve been walking to work lately, most days. I take the neighbourhood route, avoiding the busy road until the winding residential streets run out. I walk in the cool of the morning, on the sunny side of the street, past quiet houses, and listen to the birds sing. Sometimes I see other people out walking their dogs, or jogging.
I arrive at work, where the spot I used to park has been taken over by roofers, and the rest of the parking lot has been removed by the construction crew working on a large building project. We are surrounded by drilling, thumping, hammering, blasting, and digging. Sometimes we can hardly get out the door for the cement trucks, dumptrucks or other heavy equipment moving in and out of the construction site. Yet people still manage to arrive, anyway, for art classes and gallery openings, workshops and meetings.
Then I walk home again, and when I reach the quiet streets of my neighbourhood, I see kids playing in backyards and cars pulling into driveways. And people are out walking dogs and jogging. And sometimes these two yappy dogs are out in their front yard, watching, ready to scold or gossip or at least make a lot of noise as I walk past, smiling.
Photo taken on March 31, 2011
I’ve been waiting for this, for the tiny patch of purple here, the splash of golden yellow there, for the crocus and scilla and hyacinth, the johnny jump-up and colt’s foot, the first flowers of spring.
It’s not easy to find flowers in our neighbourhood, as the deer have been brazen, nibbling the tender new growth as soon as it emerges. There are hoofprints in our flower beds at the front of the house, and signs that the deer have been leaping the fence to empty our bird feeder at the back. Some people put human hair around their tender plants to discourage deer, and others cover their beds with tangles of wire and fencing. Many people seem to have given up; they have no flowers at all.
We, on the other hand, are planning a bountiful crop of flowers, herbs and vegetables. My partner has been poring over seed catalogues and garden advice for months, charting hours of sunlight and drawing beds and borders. We have tiny kohlrabi and calendula seedlings up already, with many more expected to follow soon. And, yes, plants die, they fall prey to fungus and pests, drought and deer, but — this is my philosophy — if you plant generously, there will be enough for the pests, the deer, and you. And perhaps you will discover a patch of carrots miraculously untouched by worms, or a basketful of beans, or a pocket of perfect golden flowers to make you stop, and smile, and marvel at the persistence and bounty of life.
Photo taken on April 3, 2011