Saturday, January 15, 2011

Spinning Peace

Birdland is so cold that I have to dump ice out of the heated water dishes for the chickens and the dogs every morning. The dishes don’t work below a certain temperature, and I have to check throughout the day to make sure everyone has access to fresh water. The wind blows relentlessly from the west, and sculpts the snow with fierce brush strokes, writing its own winter wisdom or warnings across the prairie.

I don’t even want to stick my nose out the door, and only go out when I have to, preferring instead, to attend to interior projects—refinishing furniture and organizing closets, organizing my thoughts and trying to find some peace in our troubled land. My mind keeps returning to tragedies, both personal and national, and I can’t help but feel that things are never as simple as they seem. Only when we push through some of the contradictions, ambiguity and conflict can we find some wisdom, but this requires honesty and the courage for self-examination. This is much harder than choosing up teams, which always seem to have a “winner” and a “loser.” I think of our former president famously declaring to the world, “You're either with us or against us,” and I think we must find an alternate path to wholeness. I’ve heard a lot of comments about violent political rhetoric, and agree that it is dangerous, but it is not the only danger in our society. It seems to me that blaming a tragedy on one aspect risks losing sight of other dangers. The tragedy in Tucson was not only a failure of our leaders to project images of peace and understanding even in their disagreement, but also perhaps a failure of an educational system that allows children to grow up without the tools to engage in peaceful dialogue, a society that isolates people instead of welcoming them, a health care system that too often leaves illnesses untreated, especially mental illness, and laws that makes obtaining automatic weapons and a duffel bag full of ammunition so easy.

Today I’m tired and cold and lonely, and it’s all I can do to project peaceful thoughts. Instead I turn to others for wisdom and understanding. Betsy Jackson has a lovely blog at called This Being Alive. She posts short vignettes with simple images, sometimes just a quotation. Karen Singer’s blog, The Prairie Year, at, walks us through the restored prairie and sculpture gardens at Meadowbrook Park, sharing the sights and sounds. Her generous photographs of what she finds there remind us to open our eyes to the natural world wherever we happen to be. Her meanderings are a meditation, which she shares with an open heart. Karen and Betsy are just two who know that words and images are important. They spin peace out into the universe, yet they have the courage to look at not only the puppies and kittens and baby chicks and spring flowers, but at difficult questions that don’t have simple answers, questions that may not have answers at all. They have the courage to look for truth, even when it’s painful.

I look out my kitchen window to see a squirrel digging in the snow. She pulls up a nugget and holds it with her paws up to her face, spinning and spinning it. It must be a walnut, though it is far from where it fell from the tree. Did she bury it under sunny skies? How does she remember where to find it again? She spins it, drops it in the snow, picks it up again, spins it some more. I watch her from the window, spinning my own nut, wondering how to crack it, and what I will find inside.

Acknowledge Truth; Spin Peace; Blessed Be.

Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. She wants to approach life with an open-hearted curiosity. Maybe someday she will be able to do it.

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