I am quite certain most of us feel like the world is a scary place these days. I do not have to list the reasons why. We are bombarded daily with new images and descriptions of violent acts and bad news stories, and feeling overwhelmed and powerless to change things in any meaningful and lasting way seems to be the norm for many of us. As if the global situation is not enough of a threat for us, 2017 in my part of the world has proven, thus far, to be a year of climatic events of biblical proportions. Our winter on the West Coast was the fiercest we have seen in a decade or so with one raging snow storm after another (yes, the rest of Canada laughed). The month of April saw only one day without rain, and British Columbia has been locked in a chronic State of Emergency this summer due to the hundreds of forest fires raging across the extremely dry southern half of the province. My own sister was evacuated from her city for two weeks, and another relative was kept from her home for a total of thirty-nine days due to the threat of nearby fires. I cannot help but move toward fall with a slight sense of trepidation, as in, 'What's next?' Still, I am glad to be alive and constantly yearning for a sense of balance and peace on this crazy planet. What else can I do?
Last evening my husband drove me up to the main lookout point at the resort where he works. He wanted to show me the stars without the diluting effect of ambient light. We drove up around nine pm and watched the sky as it darkened and the constellations revealed themselves one by one. The night was windy and quite chilly so we stayed in the truck as long as possible before getting out to gaze up into the night sky. Satellites and airplanes cruised across the starry dome. Shooting stars pierced like arrows and then were gone. The Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, Orion's Belt, and the Milky Way shone boldly as monuments to eternity. "We are so tiny down here compared to what's out there," said my husband at one point. "It's amazing to think that some of what we are seeing no longer exists, but we are seeing it now due to the time its light has taken to travel to a point where it becomes visible to us." Then, he told me again about taking groups of people on evening snowshoe treks up at Mount Seymour years ago when he was doing his practicum. He had made a chart with holes pierced in it in the shapes of the various constellations. He would shine a flashlight on the chart and the 'constellations' would appear on the snow. Then, the snowshoers would look at the sky and identify the matching constellations. He wore a little satisfied and delightful smile as he talked about those memories, and I felt so glad he was back doing a job where he could live and work in the outdoors and share the magic of nature with the public, and with us.
Just before ten we climbed back into the truck and drove down the mountain. Earlier he had been describing the look of the resort's wedding tent - the resort hosts a lot of weddings in the summertime - and decided to drive me 'round to see it all lit up. The tent glowed with ropes of white lights and Middle Eastern music filled the air. We could see a crowd of people dancing and hear them laughing and enjoying themselves. Earlier, there had been some tension between the families - one side Iranian, one side Cuacasian - but from what we could see that seemed to have dissipated with the celebrations. Perhaps the wedding had shown them they were all family now and they had better get along. I mean, if the bride and groom didn't mind their cultural differences, why should their families?
Earlier, in the truck, as we were waiting for the growing darkness to reveal the stars fully, I sat quietly. My husband asked me if I was alright. I said I felt sad, not for me, I had a good life, but for some other people. I felt sad for people who hold onto prejudices and grudges. I felt sad for people who refuse to forgive others, and for people who go so far as to foster hatred for people they don't even know, only because they represent some perceived threat to their comfort and security. Mostly, I felt sad for people who didn't know or cherish peace.
This morning as I sit typing in the morning chill with a second
I remember a song we used to sing in elementary school. In my mind's eye I see a crowd of kids dressed in corduroy bell-bottoms, crocheted vests and shirts with wide lapels sitting cross-legged on the carpeted floor of the assembly room. They are rocking slowly back and forth while singing:
Peace is flowing like a river,
Flowing out of you and me,
Flowing out into the desert,
Setting all the captives free.
Let it be so.