A small, clear vase on the kitchen table wrapped around the fragile stems of just the right-sized fistful of buds.
A friend of mine sat across from them with a sweet smile framed by a few of those lines that come from living fully. She made note of the tiny flowers and the way they were aging a bit, losing their youthful summer glow, with a tinge of frostbite perhaps. We agreed they were still beautiful though, strewn with those golden-brown lines that come with wilting – moving them from the spring birth of their lives into winter’s eternal hibernation.
I marvel at life differently now. I am easing into another stage of epiphanies, or they are easing into me, perhaps like the lines in those rose buds. This newness in perception is what I have time to notice about the essence of life now. My children are getting older, so they are moving about life more on their own. They too are seeking their unique style of moments of solitude, establishing themselves from tender flowers into a blossoming young lady and man.
This natural life process affords mom a bit more time to herself, to sit and consider memories, some that were forgotten even, only to fall like leaves into my lap again. Memories to look at in a new way, with more of the kind of wisdom that comes not from being perfectly wise, but from having lived through things imperfectly. Yes, it’s good to take time for thoughts about the meaning of it all.
Modern living can both excite and distract – simultaneously in fact. The other day, walking through the Seward County Museum on a field trip with Caroline, I thought about our human journey from unplugged to plugged in and how fast things change in the world as we age.
“Mom tell me about this,” Caroline said, motioning to a display of various tools and machines for washing clothes. First, a washboard, then various models of wringer washers and finally a unit with a chord attached to electricity – the beginning of freedom for the domesticated housewife.
“My, how that must have felt,” I told Caroline. “Just think of putting a load of clothes in and leaving it for the first time. No longer bare-knuckled over a pile of dingy laundry all day or week.”
Caroline looked up and smiled and went on to ask me about almost everything we passed by. Both of us walked curiously along together, marveling at art made of hair they used to save and how close family life would have been in sod houses. It was sobering to think of all that changed for the people who were here before our ancestors arrived. History is proof that luxury has dire consequences if it leaves others struggling or perishing behind. With all that inspires me about what we have accomplished in this great nation, it is always tinged with the blood of so many on the hands of history – from native nations, to slaves to a host of others.
Benjamin Franklin is credited for saying, “War is when the government tells you who the bad guy is. Revolution is when you decide for yourself.”
We certainly have allowed government to weave our public consciousness for generations. From the half-promises and half-truths poised in Manifest Destiny that led to genocide of Native people to our continued fight for equal rights for all. Yes, we are an argumentative country, a “fast-moving-before-we- sometimes-think” country and a country with faults to admit while we celebrate our successes too.
The next “revolution” I see making its way across the land, from sea to shining sea, is one of truth struggling to break free. It is truth shattering paradigms of what we thought America was and what she can really be. It is a time of radicalized extremes and a time of an increasingly more conscious, informed middle. It is also leaving people behind who are not willing to learn.
My greatest concern for the future, is what we have done to earth through conscious and unconscious mistakes about what was the “best” way to move forward. Like that small, inch of water in the vase holding fragile flowers, we only have what we have been given by God to hold and care for. If we don’t replenish and grow from a regenerative and renewable vantage point that has all creatures great and small in mind, we will not keep the circle of life going. Nothing we plug in should have dominion over us or be used for dominion over others. May these modern tools be combined with ancient wisdom and instead connect us to bridge gaps and build healthier, more inclusive lives.