Sunday Morning ~ Protecting Ourselves
Nkhanga zinapangana kusanapsye. ~ The guinea fowls made an agreement before the grass got burnt.
November 17, 2019
Guinea hens hide in tall grass. It’s a problem when the grass is gone.
I’ve always been a worrier. When I was six or seven I overheard my mom chatting to a friend, “Remember being a kid and being so carefree? No worries in the world!” I remember thinking: What is she talking about? I have a ton to worry about! What if my friends don’t like me? I might get in trouble for something I didn’t do! I don’t know when (insert some adult in my life) will be in a bad mood! I don’t know how to handle that! The list went on and on. I was constantly worried. After college many anxieties subsided but came back with a vengeance when my children were born. It was basic worry when they were babies: Am I right to let him cry it out at night? Should I start solids before he is six months old?–––stuff that seemed huge at the time but as they got older seemed wasted energy. That was JV worry. The real stuff was yet to come. When teenage years arrived, the worries multiplied explosively. It was before cell phones. If my kids were five minutes late coming home I was sure they were dead. I envisioned them under an overturned vehicle calling out for me as the life oozed out of them. I would be frantic by the time they got home, though my welcome was not a loving expression of relief they were safe. I was angry they’d caused me so much concern. After that my worry turned to thoughts of damage I was doing to their psyche because of my anxiety for their safety. Then I worried they wouldn’t win an award in the jazz competition. I worried they would lose a track race. If my kids felt bad I worried about that. I worried about how it would influence their decisions as they grew into adulthood.
But want to know what I did not worry about? My kids getting shot in school. Never once crossed the very vivid landscape of my mind loaded with potential hazards. Nope. I never thought of how some kid might start shooting and killing their classmates. Never thought that one of my five kids would be caught in gunfire. When my kids were in high school they walked into the entrance of their choosing, getting out of the weather and into their classroom. We’d drop them at the most convenient door and watched them walk in, proud of them, awards or not. Now, there is one door to enter. The others are all locked.
I pondered this as I walked into the high school to see Mama Mia Friday night. I thought back to when my kids were in the pit orchestra for the fall musical. I remembered the evening rehearsals, the worry they weren’t getting enough sleep, anxiety they might fail a test because they were putting all their energy into the show. I don’t have kids in the show anymore, obviously, but I was at the birth of many of the kids up there and my friends have kids in the show. It was wonderful and creative and a fun night. One of the leads got pulled that very morning and they had to replace him with another student with only six hours to prepare. She was amazing and pulled it off with grace and confidence. There was excitement in the audience as families got ready to watch their kids perform. I got nostalgic remembering that feeling and what our family was like then. Earlier that day I’d been preoccupied with other thoughts and was looking forward to a night out. I drove to the high school, parked the car, and had to walk around the whole school to the one unlocked door. It was cold and inconvenient. I passed four locked doors. It was then I gave appropriate thought to the kids who had died the previous day in California, shot at school as they went to their first class. In sixteen seconds two kids were killed and three wounded. The news story about it lasted less time than it took for the kids to be murdered. The sick feeling in my stomach when I heard the news was resignation, not shock. I thought of that as I entered and found my friend and we took our seats. I was thinking of that when we heard of the last minute replacement for Sam, a leading role. I thought something bad must have happened for a role like this to be replaced at the last minute. I wondered if the student had gotten terribly ill but learned it was a rule infraction that morning. I wondered if the five Californian students, children, were in their school play? I wondered if there was a scramble to find five others to fill in? I wondered if they would cancel the show? Then was incredulous I was wondering any of this.
It seems not a day goes by now without some call to action, yet I still have some deep feeling of hope. Children are dying in a bizarre war waged by cowardly adults guarding their piles of gold. But wars end, countries heal, communities rebuild, times and worries change. Brave people speak truth to power, others follow, and burnt grass grows again.
Love to all,