This post is a slightly updated version of one from three years ago, since the message is still relevant. The second to last paragraph has also been adapted as a poem that is found in Cold Spring Hallelujah, available now anywhere books are sold.
It’s Thanksgiving time [a complicated holiday if we look through the lens of colonization] here in the United States, and what a strange season we are in. The Amazon burns while floods swallow sea level neighborhoods. Planned power outages become business as usual to prevent wildfire while incredible amounts of energy are used to keep indoor ski resorts going in deserts. People in high office in too many countries seem to have missed the history lessons about the horrors that result from unchecked, systematic racism and the dangers in acting from fear and entitlement. Constant growth remains the goal while finite resources vanish. Work hours are long, jobs are lost, people are sick, loved ones are hurting, the dog is getting old. There are many things to lament and grieve. Grief and lament have their place in the world, and they are necessary. Yet so is giving thanks. Gratitude is nearly always possible.
Elie Wiesel wrote, “When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.” Gratitude doesn’t mean burying unwanted feelings or looking for the silver lining in the midst of a bad situation – gratitude means acknowledging what is still good even alongside the mess. Continue reading “Gratitude, anyway”
“America would not be the wealthy country it is without slave labor. We would not have our power or wealth if we had not, for a very long time, depended on the unpaid labor of millions of human beings. I feel like I shouldn’t have to spell this out, but maybe I do. America was … Continue reading Listen to Black Women
When I sat down to write a blog post today, I was going to write about this encounter I had with a hummingbird last week. I was going to tell you how I had just stepped outside after dealing with some issues with our health insurance policy, issues that made me feel uncomfortable and required a phone call to sort them, and how I was reminded of the bigger picture of what’s truly important by watching a tiny bird flit around the wildflowers that cover the hillside behind my house. I was going to tell you how the hummingbird eventually flew up to where I was standing with my coffee and hovered directly in front of my face, just inches from my nose as we looked each other in the eye, one creature to another. It was going to be an illustration of finding the beauty that hovers even in the midst of dealing with undesirable things, like health insurance.
And as I started to think about what to write, all I could think about was my privilege as a white person in this country. I could have opted to simply describe my encounter with that hummingbird, keep my focus on the beauty of nature around my home, and move through my days giving thanks for what I have. And there’s nothing wrong with doing those things. But that’s the definition of privilege: to opt out of thinking or talking about something because you can. There IS something wrong with not talking about what needs to be talked about. Hummingbirds, nature, and gratitude are important. So are basic human rights, peace, and changing our cultural story.
If you haven’t seen the news lately, white supremacists held a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend, people were hurt, lives were lost, and the continued ugliness of what is still happening in the world in regards to race and equality has been slammed back into focus yet again. Continue reading “Encounters With Hummingbirds”