Tag Archives: inspiration

Healing Our Land

In an effort to put a few positive moments into a recent week of mostly negative, James and I went for a woods walk on the Sewanee Domain.  It’s something we don’t usually do because there’s so much work to do on our acreage, but this was a psychological necessity.

James pointed out this one spot:


Do you see anything wrong with it? To me, it looks exactly like the rest of what we were walking in.  Quiet woods, leaf-coated earth. Trees and more trees.

But that’s the point. It used to be the site of the Sewanee dump. James, who roamed all over this mountain as a teen, remember several decades ago when it was piles of bottles and tin cans, rusted bedsprings, a discarded washer and dryer. And now it’s woodland.

It’s healed.

This made me think of what’s needed in order for healing of any kind to happen. Time, obviously, but not just that. Some active effort to deal with what was there.

Beginning with the decision to stop adding more junk.

There’s something in this that seems to offer a lesson to us in this tumultuous year, as we try to heal some of the wounds caused–and revealed– by the election.

We need time, obviously. A little distance. Already, several weeks post-election, the emotional intensity has lessened.

But not simply time. Because I’m not advocating that we pretend the wounds–and the issues– aren’t there.

So we need to take a couple of active steps as well. For instance, each of us might think of some way to reach across whatever division we believe exists between us and whoever we consider “the other.” We might think of some positive action that would contribute towards our nation’s well-being.

But first we need to stop the trash-talking.

Which means that at a fundamental level, we need to recognize that differences of color or race or political affiliation need to matter less than the reality that we’re all human beings worthy of respect and compassion. That we’re all, well, Americans.

This is the hardest part, I think. Accepting that it’s up to us to make the decision to change our attitude.

Or end up with a ruined land full of junk.











Finding Words When There Are None


I’m not a crier, but so far I’m three-for-three in terms of places visited and number of emotional breakdowns this morning.

Words fail.

But here’s my disjointed attempt to articulate a fraction of my reaction, here in this buckle-on-the-Bible-belt, reddest-of-red areas in a red state, after yesterday’s election.

I’m not going into the whys and wherefores. News and social media will continue to do all that. I just want to offer this sentence from the late Robert McAfee Brown, Presbyterian minister, activist and author:

“A moral society will be a society of participants rather than spectators,” he says in his book on the famous Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel: Messenger to All Humanity:

There are many troubling parallels between the German election of Hitler and our own recent contribution to history. One of Hitler’s great appeals was that he gave a troubled and divided Germany a simple reason for their discomfort: the Jews. And a single solution: get rid of them. People then and now seem to prefer simple solutions. And self-proclaimed saviors to rally around.

A point made months ago by a national elected official reluctant to support Trump but doing so anyway was that any threat from the man at the top would be minimal because he could be controlled by his advisors.

They said the exact same thing about Hitler.

Chilling that today is the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht, “Night of Broken Glass,” the night when the hitherto-quieter actions against the Jews in Nazi Germany became public, with Jewish synagogues, businesses and homes smashed and burned and thousands of Jews arrested and thrown into concentration camps.

While the vast majority of German civilians stood by and watched and did nothing.

So this is what I want to say. Let’s not be bystanders. If we see injustice or prejudice in the coming months, let us speak up. If we’re troubled by whatever occurs, let us speak out. Whatever it is, let’s do our part to create a moral society. Let’s be participants, not bystanders.

In the middle of the nightmare that was last night’s electoral college counting, I finally was able to fall asleep by reciting the first lines from one of those songs we learned long ago in grade school: “God Bless America, Land that I love, Stand beside her, and guide her, Through the night with the light from above.”

It feels like we’re in that night. It feels like we need that light. But we can’t just sit passively and assume some higher power –or somebody else –will provide it. We need to light a few candles ourselves.




“The World Turned Upside Down”

“On the face of it, few historical incidents seem more unlikely to spawn a Broadway musical than that solemn moment in the history of mankind….” (Clive Barnes, New York Times)

The smash hit,”Hamilton,”right? this year’s brilliant hip-hop presentation of the life of that ‘fatherless’ immigrant Founding Father?

Actually, Barnes was talking of “1776,” Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone’s multi-award-winning 1969 musical about John Adams’ battle to get the Declaration of Independence passed by Congress. You may have seen the film with “The Graduate’s” William Daniels as “obnoxious and disliked” little John Adams. The script borrows liberally from writings of the period, including Adam’s opening words to the roomful of delegates: “I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is a disgrace, two is a law firm, and three or more make up a Congress.”

(No comment).

That musical transformed the mythic figures of our nation’s past into passionate, witty, amusing companions I wanted to know more about, sparking an ongoing fascination with the history of the period, a senior thesis on Jefferson’s philosophy of education, and a brief sojourn in a Senator’s office.

This generation gets “Hamilton,” and though words, at least on paper, rarely fail me, they are at the moment. How can I begin to describe this musical? The CDs my daughter left me her Itunes managed to scramble, so I’m listening to the music in complete chaotic non-order, piecing out the plot. Older generation that I am, the song that first yanked me in is the one written in an “old-fashioned” British pop: poor King George laments the loss of the colonies’ love the way any jilted heart might do–except that, “when push comes to shove/I will send a fully armed battalion to remind you of my love.”

But the more I listen to the rest, the more obvious it is that King George’s lovely, funny songs are as dated, as conservative, as the notion of sticking with Great Britain began to seem to the young revolutionaries. They are all, like Hamilton,  “as young, scrappy, and hungry” as their not-quite country, and their music embodies this. Caution given here  if you object to language, but picture Hamilton played by first-generation Puerto Rican Lin-Manuel Miranda (who wrote the show) rap-sparring with a black Jefferson. Picture a young cast in period costumes peopled by the same mix of nationalities as our contemporary America, including women soldiers. The show almost forces us to recognize how very radical our revolutionaries were, pushes us to experience the passion with which they pursued independence.

Perhaps also inspires a whole new generation to contemplate that “public service” isn’t mere dead rhetoric?