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.