3 Owls and Greatness

A few minutes into a winter walk last week, wind chills below zero and the late afternoon sun doing its best to warm the air, I happened upon three owls, screechers I think, in a grove of pines.  I startled them, and they me, my heart’s rhythms increased by their de-perching and re-perching as I continued along the path.  Stopping, I was able to look into the yellow eyes of one that sat twenty feet off the trail on a barren branch. 

Today my place of citizenship swore in a new president.  This morning I received well wishes and congratulations via emails from Ethiopia and Honduras and a phone call from Benin City in Nigeria.  A moment in the history of the United States of America, and the world, that many feel is like nothing they’ve experienced before, and for many others, a moment that lived only in impossible dreams.

I have led a fortunate life.  One of those fortunes has been the opportunity to travel beyond the limits of my hometown, McSherrystown, in the Keystone State.  Back in 2005, Ghana was a ten day moment of my time here on Earth.  And for several hours touring the slave castles there, I was convinced that humanity’s inhumanity inflicted upon itself had wounds deeper than could be healed, or at least, the scars would be reminders of the pain we all, hopefully, share.

I am able to step back and recognize the magnitude of what took place in Washington, D.C. six hours ago.  I can believe in the righteousness of it. 

The Wildcat Creek flows icy cold, the banks of the central Indiana waterway snow covered.  A few deer gather beyond the opposite bed. 

 

white breasted nuthatch

picking a sunflower seed

from the metallic feeder

do you feel the resonance

of today’s transpiring

 

A campesino walks to parque central in Manto, Olancho.  His brow is dirty and sweaty.  He wears rubber boots and has a machete hanging from his britches held up by a piece of rope.  Corn grown in his milpa does not compete in the CAFTA market.

A Somali man’s dreams end in the knowledge that a refugee’s life is his current best option.  It’s that or risk of a bullet in the brain for triviality or lack of allegiance to thuggery.  A product of political fallout orchestrated far from his native land.

 

if greatness is not innate

but attained through life’s

work and perhaps circumstance

then why do we not find

greatness in our brothers and

sisters who wake each morning

and work against all odds to

overcome their circumstance

hoping only to survive another

day and see the familiar smiles

of the people they love

 

Forgive me for not believing the poor of our world will lead better lives after today.  We are told it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.  Some of us have been doing that already. 

When we hear our new president defend the way of life of the privileged miniscule, we cannot look out from liberty’s perch and see the beacon of justice.  We will wake up tomorrow, no different than yesterday, ready to uphold accountability.

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