Oh, my gosh, what a beautiful just born grandson—my first!–born January 26, 2016 with all the promise of Spring ahead. For a precious moment I feel in the depths of my being an organic connection to the miracle we call life. I feel my own small part in the ever changing seasons of life on Earth. Already the snow lilies are pushing up in sun exposed yards along 5th Street. The sun, which is slow to reach our secluded cul-de-sac, ignites shimmering vapours from the warming grasses of our more exposed front yard . Sleepy trees dance in the wind as buds begin to swell along the naked branches with the promise of another fruitful season.
It is easy to imagine that life, stored for the winter in the roots of the forsythia, is sneaking up sleepy stems to herald the dawning season of colour and abundance. Life grows restless with its wintry mood and dreams of sending out yellow-green shoots to give colour to returning bird song and offer its blessing, as well, to a beautiful new born baby. For the first time this year, the sun catches the corner of our north-east window. Even with all the wintry troubles that beset us this year, I look forward with joy and anticipation to sharing the coming seasons with my new grandson!
Though retired now, as a Lay Chaplain for the Unitarian Church, I was delighted to preside over marriage ceremonies where I had a small part in the lives of people who were at a place in their lives so full of joy and hope for themselves, for their friends and community and for the children they look forward to bring into the world. I was, of course, also asked to be with people when they are saddened by the loss of a loved one. For me there was a connection between celebrating the life that a newly married couple would spend together and celebrating the life of someone who was no longer with us because in holding a celebration of life for the departed we have to ask ourselves, what does it all mean? What would I like to have said of my life when it is completed? In a wedding ceremony there is so much looking forward to the blessings that life may unfold.
Now you may be asking yourself what does all this mumbo possibly have to do with a post to a blog for activists. And here is the answer–as I see it.
I find that people at these powerful transition times in their lives look inward to connect with their most deeply held values. And those primary values seldom come out as, “Oh I want to make sure that our future includes many more kilometers of strip malls.” Or” I want to dedicate my life to making sure every square inch of land is developed—every last resource consumed.”
Instead what I hear people say is they want to be thought of as good, caring people, they want to leave their children a world of fresh air and clean water and landscapes rich with the vitality of a healthy natural world, they want the world to be a kinder, more compassionate, better place for their having been here.
And those are the kinds of values that bring us together—that, when realized, can from the bonds, the beginning place to come together to build a just, sustaining and sustainable world; the kind of world that I, so dearly, envision for my grandchildren.
We live in an age that has lost its bearing-its rudder; an age in which more is the mantra and more is the drum beat and more is the unchallenged answer to all our questions. But on this day—the first week of my new grandson’s life–so full of promise for the budding season, I feel terribly out of step with the boots marching to the throbbing beat of MORE. Instead of just more I want to know if a particular action/proposal/policy is, in fact, better. Does this make us better people? Does this mean a better world for our grandchildren?
Like the hopes of young couples seeking to establish their new family; like the friends asking what it means—a life lived and now gone–I want to know what we have done to make the world a better place. What have we done to ensure the homeless find a warm secure place to live and care for their families? Will our actions mean that our children—and grandchildren– have as much opportunity to live full healthy lives as we have? What have we done to promote all the fantastic volunteer work that is such an important part of building a better community? What have we done to foster the creative spirit of our community? What have we done to ensure that seven generations from now, the wild salmon will still return to our streams? What have we done to ensure that we do not use up all the resources that our children will need to build their better future on? What have we done to honour and care for our seniors that have given so much to us? What have we contributed to this grand experiment we call democracy? Have we reached out to our friends and neighbours to build a better community?
To those who say that consuming as much as possible during our short stay on this beautiful Earth is the best we can aspire to, I say check out what is going on around us. Do we really want to be like Flint, Michigan where corporate appointees save a few bucks on water supply by poisoning the children of the community? Do we really want to fry our life supporting atmosphere because we can’t kick the petroleum habit? Do we want our oceans to fill with so much wasted bits of plastic that they can no longer support living organisms? Do we want our children to get their nutrition from foods laced with ever more toxic chemicals developed from the deadly gasses we once used for poisoning the enemy ? Do we want to go on with this absurd idea of feeding the obesely wealthy few and starving the many desperately poor to the point we have to lock the world out and ourselves in to feel minimally safe?
Surely there is a better way—and there is. We can look into the loving eyes of our children and grandchildren and make a sacred pact with them that the world we leave to them will be more just, sustaining and sustainable than the one we inherited. On this beautiful spring day, holding this picture of my new grandson and thinking about the world I will be leaving to him, I will, indeed, make such a sacred pact—with all my being.