On the night of Inauguration Day, I went for a walk with my dog after the boys were in bed. The sky was cloudy and the air damp, but there wasn’t any rain, so it seemed a good time to clear my head. I was feeling sort of numb, really, and my legs moved slowly as we headed up the street.
Then I felt a raindrop hit my nose. Just a little sprinkle, but it made me look up. We kept strolling through the neighborhood. More raindrops started to fall, bigger drops. My dog looked back as if to check on me. Steady rain. I picked up my pace. A minute later, my dog and I were caught in a downpour. We broke into a run. And it felt so good. I felt like the rain was saying, Wake up… Wake up… Time to get to work… Time to get to work. We ran all the way home and arrived drenched, and somehow changed.
I also felt changed the next day at the Women’s March: the energy was palpable and I felt buoyed by the hope and resolve in the hands that proudly held signs there that day. My favorite sign was a hand-painted piece of burlap worn down the back of an Ergo carrier that read “Love your mother” and had a painted picture of the earth and a bright red heart on it. Another memorable poster for me was simply a photo of the earth from space with the word “Respect” written across it.
Yet after the positive energy of the rain and the march, I am still struggling many days to feel hopeful and energetic. Are you? It is so important that we lift each other up as we look forward. We need to share our hope, and share our actions and ideas. There are many disparate issues–human rights, environmental justice, global community, to name a few–but I do believe these are all connected by the thread of respect.
I have felt bolstered by conversations with those who agree with me on many points, but I am struggling to have conversations with family who differ with me. I think we all know at least someone in our families or social circles–that person with whom you simply avoid certain topics. If we want change, it is important that we learn how to connect with those people. When conversations are strained, I think sometimes the best way to communicate is to live out what you believe, and let people see it. Be out there, being the change, and telling about it. Then, if you can, tell that person why you are so concerned about whatever it is that is bothering you. Seek a humble stance from which to speak, so that you will have a chance of being heard. Seek that basic level at which each of us and each living thing are all a piece of this mysterious creation. And listen to that person. I have found that starting these conversations has shed light on subtleties that had previously eluded me.
I have started work on the ivy in my yard. It’s a bear, and I curse the person who planted it there. But I can’t stop thinking about the trees, being strangled with ivy but still standing, dignified, just reaching for the light and waiting for someone to rip those damn vines from their limbs. And I’ve been thinking about those signs from the march: Love your mother (Earth). Respect. It sounds so simple. What is holding us back? What is your ivy?
Be the ivy-covered tree, reaching for the light and always hopeful.
Be also the person who frees the tree, ripping the ivy not only from it limbs but out of the soil by its very deepest roots, once and for all.
Yours in sustainability,
Mom to Cadel, 4’s class