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In this election year,
with everyone under the sun telling us
what the Constitution says and doesn’t say –
most of them wrong –
I would like to propose that one of the healthiest attitudes
we can bring to the Constitution
(and the other documents that undergird our nation…
and to holy writ, for that matter)
is a sense of wonder. Literally.
And maybe we should wonder more and dictate less.
On this Independence Day,
I would like to propose that we stop living
in the self-imposed prison of certainty and go frolic –
at least for today –
in the meadow of curiosity
(and maybe celebrate with some fireworks).
[I wrote a longer piece on this theme last year. You can find it HERE.]
As we age
(which covers the time from about 2 years old
on up to the current moment),
most of us learn
where ‘there be dragons’
and we choose lives that avoid them
as much as possible.
We are taught and then teach ourselves
to stay out of danger.
I’m wondering —
not for the first time —
whether that is a lifelong process
of getting smaller and more
narrow-minded, narrow-hearted, narrow-souled.
I suspect I need to wake up and
‘think more risks’ in order to stretch past my comfort zone.
Oscar Wilde offers a provocative nudge,
‘An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy
of being called an idea at all.’
I am wondering if that is true of lives as well.
Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.
[The photo is Mudwoman at the Denver Art Museum. It evokes a sense of past stages for me.]
Centuries ago, in Ireland,
hand-fasting was a legitimate form of marriage.
Hand-fasted couples promised to be faithful
to each other for a year,
with the understanding that young love might not be long love.
At the end of the year,
they were free to part – with no judgment or guilt.
It seems to me that some friendships
could benefit from the freedom of ‘hand-fasting.’
I have been blessed with long-lived friendships,
but also with some that lasted for only a season of my life,
that were deep and wondrous during a year or a decade, through a life stage or (even) two,
and then seemed to come to a natural end.
Except they don’t end.
They go onto life support and breed resentment.
There is a cultural expectation (which many of us have internalized)
that growing apart is not an option, releasing someone to new relationships is not…
not what? kind? honest? loving?
And yet why should growing apart be any less valid than growing together?
Why do we celebrate one and not the other?
Why is adding on (a friend) acceptable,
but letting go (a friend) frowned upon?
Just pondering out loud here…
Stumbling (into) Justice
The journey out of old patterns of behavior and thought
through the barren desert of our own brokenness
is not an easy journey, or a short one.
It is a journey like that of the Habaru, leaving Egypt
for 40 years in the wilderness.
It is not a journey we can even start
until we admit that we are enslaved
by privilege and fear.
This is my prayer-meditation-reminder
that it is hard, but it is possible.
Step, step, stumble, recover. Step.
Unshod feet on dusty roads
between freedom and slavery,
between illusion and truth,
between love and fear.
Holy ground to my right,
holy ground to my left,
holy ground burning my soles.
Step, wobble, stepstepstep, fall:
bended knees, heart heavy, face first.
Delivered from running, from hiding, from wishing;
beckoned from rest
to trudge, climb, scrabble, scramble.
Breathe. Go. Speak. Overcome.
Trust. Cross. Step.
We call the United States a ‘Melting Pot’,
but that metaphor assumes
that everyone wants to be subsumed (melted)
into a shared cultural experience
(which would be a ‘normative’ white,
Anglo Saxon, middle-class, cultural experience, of course.)
So, I’ve been thinking
that maybe we aren’t really a melting pot at all;
we are actually more like a stew pot
filled with diverse ingredients
adding their unique flavors and textures
to nurture our common life.
In our American stew pot,
it is past time the white potatoes
began to appreciate the jalapenos,
and the goat meat,
and the chickpeas…
and vice versa.
We all have a place in this amazing recipe.
English is a wonderfully flexible language,
so I propose we take an adjective (illusionary)
and make it a descriptive noun (an illusionary)
to identify many of the people whose voices
are filling the 24-hour news cycle at the moment.
A visionary is someone who sees the world
clearly as it currently exists
and simultaneously sees
what it has the potential to become
(and, therefore, inspires others
to accomplish great things.)
An illusionary is someone who can’t see anything
but their own agenda
and, so, projects their own fear of failure
into the infinite future
(and therefore inspires others
to abandon all hope.)
Let’s call an illusionary, an illusionary…
and stop listening to them.
Text © 2016, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2015, 2016 Immram Chara, LLC