Sunday Morning ~ Lessons
Mbalame zomwera cigoli cimodzi zidziwana nthenga. ~ Birds which drink from the same trough know each other’s feathers.
~ Chewa proverb
June 14, 2020
Seven years ago today my first grandchild was born. Her birth was supposed to be here where her mom grew up, in the hospital where I worked. We were all looking forward to it. My daughter was coming up a week before her due date and I’d planned a gathering for the next day to send her into motherhood with the blessings and well wishes of women who loved her. That didn’t happen. Labor started early and fast on the day she was supposed to travel north. There was no time for them to get to Maine. I frantically searched for someone to cover for me and jumped in the car to drive to Massachusetts, crying the whole way. I was happy for her that labor was moving along swiftly but sorry for myself assuming I’d miss welcoming this child into the world. It was very important to me. None of my births had gone as I’d planned and I wanted to greet this child, ease her passage, and protect my daughter from any unnecessary intervention. The first lesson of motherhood is giving up control so I tried to accept this birth wasn’t fulfilling my fantasy as my own births hadn’t. Lessons I’m taught over and over again. But she waited, and I made it in time, and I was able to gently welcome her into this world, and felt the universe telling me it will all be okay. Early today, when it was just her and her brother awake, we talked via FaceTime and I told her the story again.
I can be outside in the morning now that the initial mosquito invasion has calmed and I sat on the porch swing wrapped in a blanket listening to birds, insects, and squirrels, sipping my tea, and talking to my two little loves. Blooming irises and rhododendrons were the backdrop. I’ve never seen blossoms like this. Sometimes I feel like the earth is singing a swan song; everything seems so much more vibrant to me now. Or I’m finally taking the time to appreciate it in a mindful way. I’m usually running past it way too fast. I’m learning the value of being still and am grateful with every bit of me to be able to do this. We talked about owls and larks. I told them I am a lark because I like to be up early. Owls like to stay up late and sleep late. We discussed which ones they might be. For a couple of hours no trouble in the world existed.
I’m trying to learn how to live in today’s reality and work toward justice while taking small escapes to a calm space. Like water stations in the marathon, each one is a relief, a short walk, and a boost to run again.
I went to protest downtown last week. There were about 600 people there, huge for such a small town on a night when high school graduation was happening. The event was organized and run by young people, younger than my own children. The speeches were given by young affected members of our community. They shared their experiences of growing up here, an island where there is little racial diversity. They were brave. They were honest and genuine. The crowd listened and clapped when one speaker was too choked up to continue. We clapped until he could talk, and then he went on. It was remarkable. It made me cry. Then we marched.
In 1992 I marched in the pro-choice rally in Washington but other than that I’ve done little in the way of organized protests. We pushed three year old twins in the stroller and held the hands of the other three. It was the first protest / support march I’d been to. I was overwhelmed by the experience, seeing people of all walks of life gathered for a common cause. There was even a group of priests carrying a sign that said “Catholic Priests For A Woman’s Right to Choose.” It was way before cell phones and we had our hands too full with the kids to take photos but I always wished I’d had one of that. I saw the power of coming together for a common cause and how energizing that is. I was in Malawi for the Women’s March and too young for the Viet Nam protests. I’ve existed in a space where opportunity for people like me was taken for granted.
I listened to Stacy Abrams this week. She continues to inspire me with her vision, energy, and optimism. She has every right to be angry but I don’t feel that from her. I feel potential. She said the protests are working. She lists the progress and in the next sentence lists what needs to be done next. I want to be like her: less angry, more effective. Lessons.
I went to the march again this evening and cried again. I cried as a First Nation leader spoke about the seventh generation prophecy. He explained the belief that this generation would lead us to a better, more equitable world. He said with incredible dignity that he did not care about the past, only about what we do with the future. Then we marched.
I think about how my grandchildren’s lessons can be a more realistic representation of history than mine were and am grateful for that. I want to learn the lessons of those wiser than me and not dwell on how far is left to go, but on the fact that we head in the right direction. I think about slowing down and using a pace that will make it to the finish.
Love to all,