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the path back is the path forward


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a spot of tea. [merely-a-thought monday]

care packages would arrive often from my sweet momma. a big box that, inevitably, my poppo had turned inside out so my momma could pack it up with anything and everything she could think of. macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles, m&m’s, twizzlers, stickers, pa pads, andes candies, newspaper and magazine articles she read and wanted to share, coupons. the list was long and always included a new tea or two.

she was clever about packing these packages, taking the tea bags out of the boxes – to take up less room – and putting them in glad bags. but she would enclose the label from the box and sometimes, she’d enclose some other smidgen or two.

the other day, in a tea mood, while searching for the perfect tea, i came across one of these smidgens. a side of a celestial seasonings box, a harriet beecher stowe quote, perfect timing. my momma’s care package did it again. a source of comfort, of reassurance, of love, unexpectedly, in the course of a day i needed it. “…never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

our lives – in actual comparison to what else is happening in the world – seem ridiculously easy. we have had our challenges and setbacks, but i wince when i think about complaining in the middle of watching news coverage of the atrocities of ukraine or climate crisis real-time in lands of glaciers or the amazon rainforest or the overall covid pandemic decimation or the fight to maintain absolute LGBTQ+ freedoms or womens’ ability to choose what is right for them and their bodies or the continued discrimination of black lives or the economic hardship that is befalling vast numbers of people in our own country. i trust that harriet beecher stowe, a woman before her time, would shudder at ALL of this.

it would seem – even upon simply reading headlines – that this country is in retrograde. we are slipping backwards and it horrifies me. each day i read of people-with-agenda designing ways, strategizing, lobbying, legislating, to usurp the freedom of others just trying to live their lives. i wonder how these people – some with screaming loud and obnoxious voices, some with haughty, righteous, quiet intentions, some with silently evil thoughts – sleep at night. how they live with their own warped view of equality, their own bizarre view of peace, their clear disdain for the basic tenets of life, of loving one another. they become more and more powerful as we watch and i think of the work of harriet beecher stowe and i think of my sweet momma’s approach to life. retrograde, indeed.

referencing harriet’s arguably most powerful book, “uncle tom’s cabin”, it was written “the goal of the book was to educate northerners on the realistic horrors of the things that were happening in the south. the other purpose was to try to make people in the south feel more empathetic towards the people they were forcing into slavery.”

to educate. to make people feel more empathetic. the value of truth-telling, stifling deadly misinformation. the necessity of looking – really looking – at oneself. the compassion that empathy brings to the soul. these make all the difference. to bring kindness – always and under every circumstance. to not stick your head in the ground and avoid the tough stuff. to speak up, to speak out. to hold on, even in the hardest moments. to never give up. to hope. to believe. the tide will turn.

i looked up and whispered “thank you, momma” when i found the tea-box-cardboard quote. i didn’t hear anything back at that very moment, but i knew she was listening, perhaps, though, with half an ear. i suspect she was busy. there’s much to be done. my sweet momma and harriet were likely having a spot of tea.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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and today we wait. [two artists tuesday]

guarding the sidewalk

and today we wait.

you can feel the energy in the air.  nervous tension.  our city waits for the unwanted arrival of the president, who is apparently coming to kenosha to add photos to his photo op collection of inappropriate pictures taken at inappropriate times in circumstances about which he has no empathy.

we wait, nervously, wondering what the afternoon will bring.

in a city struggling to heal and move forward, this president will churn up any dust that has settled.  his rhetoric will spur on angry voices of hatred and division.  his actions and attitudes will suck the hopefulness out of people who have done so much in these last days after the police shooting of a young african american man, the ensuing protests, the riots and looting and arson wreaked by extremists, the pleas for the embracing of black-lives-matter change, the death of two protesters in the streets by a little boy from out-of-state with a very big gun playing militia, and this very president’s lack of compassion, lack of healing words, lack of condemnation of all that is obviously wrong, lack of truth, lack of moral compass in addressing all of what kenosha has experienced in the last nine days.

we wait, nervously, wondering what evil the inevitable rally will unearth, what the retort will be by the people of kenosha who truly care, what the extremists will do, who may enter this city from outside to do damage or stir up violence, what will happen to the baby steps we have taken.

we walk or hike every day.  lately we have walked a lot in our neighborhood.  we turn the corner down a ways and, tucked in front of the fence, next to the sidewalk, positioned in front of the clover on a broken piece of glassware are these two military figures.  both armed and at-the-ready.  what is this?  what does it mean?  even these kid-toys sitting there, day after day, seem to be a statement, seem unsettling in this climate.  and so we wonder.

and we wait.  the stress is palpable as the town listens for the giant military helicopters to arrive or the motorcycle brigade or the national guard entourage parade.  and we wonder what the evening will bring.  will the peaceful protests be overrun by presidential fuel added to the embers?  will all hell break loose?  will kenosha lose ground, the slightest of forward-moving crawling it has done?

we wait, nervously, and wonder how our city, our state, our country can overcome the ugly division that is forming a wall between factions resistant to change, impenetrable, armored to the hilt.  we wonder how we can be a city, a state, a country of dignity and inclusion, respect, equality, safety, peace.

we believe hate-speech is not the answer.  we believe pushing people down to raise oneself up is not the answer.  we believe people in the streets armed with weapons of destruction is not the answer.  we believe divisiveness, in all its colors and genders and socioeconomic forms, is not the answer.  we believe falsehoods and stoking fire and inciting animosity and violence without impunity is not the answer.  we believe abhorrent agenda-riddled self-indulgence on the part of the leadership of this country is not the answer.

stand up, little plastic soldiers.  look each other in the eye.  look the enemy in the eye.  put your guns away.  start with love.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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“hope.” so do not come. [merely-a-thought monday]

hope

do not come.  president of this aching, grieving, diseased, severed, chaotic country, do not come to kenosha.  for you have missed the glimmer of hope on our horizon.  you have ignored the pain of a family wracked with the police shooting of their son.  you have minimized the impassioned pleas to live in a world where black lives matter.  you have distorted the value of lives lost on the very streets of kenosha, lives taken by a little boy with a big gun.  you have stoked the flames of violence and are inciting division in all the ways your cold soul knows how.

do not come.  we do not need a rally for your ego.  we do not need your smug law and order wagon to come through.  we definitely do not need you to instill further tension and fear in the residents of this small city by touting approval of civilian militia groups or extremist patriots.  do not start fires so that you can take credit for putting them out.  we do not need your arson.

do not come. we have been through enough this past week.  we are trying to pick up the pieces from violence and injustice and unrest so that we might move into the winds of change, so that we might listen and, with all good intention, step forward into a place of unity, of healing.

do not come.  politicizing death and destruction and vengeance and ratcheted ferocity have no place on the streets of a community that wants more than that.  we the people desire a more perfect union and domestic tranquility and it is becoming clear that unity is not your ultimate goal and that domestic turbulence and divisiveness are your weapons of choice.

do not come.  for our city needs level wisdom, calm compassion, fair and candid conversation, truth, not your screaming vitriol, your punting self-agenda, your endorsement of hatred, your lies.

do not come.  for your intentions are not with hope in your heart.

and without you, in the heart of kenosha, there is the glimmer of hope.

do not come.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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please figure it out. [k.s. friday]

figure it out

i, like so many others, want to scream “FIGURE IT OUT!”

in a nation crumbling under leadership pushing division and counting on a so-called “patriotic” movement of the populace to want to climb aboard its sick agenda-ridden wagon, i want to look people in the eye and ask them to please figure it out.

figure out that you are being accosted with aggressive propaganda, with misinformation, with bigotry and false pretenses of protectionism.  in our country, this means you are being intravenously fed with distorted falsehoods, warped promises, extreme nationalism in a round-globe-world where this country is simply one of almost 200.

figure out that this disinformation is feeding into the frenzy.  in our town, this means that a 17 year old boy from just over the state line strapped on his AR-whatever, got in the car, reportedly had his mother drive him (holding his automatic-people-killer) to our town where he played cowboy vigilante and took the lives of two people during protests for social injustice.  this frenzy is dishing out the sickening sweet saccharin of cultish followers in a time of fragile unrest.

figure out that the hate-speech of people is wooing joiners, that words like “be sure to arm yourself and your family and know how to use them” cannot lead to any good thing.  in my life, this means people i love disenfranchising themselves from me, detaching and choosing the popular-group lure of strangers, rabidly spewing the hostile talk of animosity.

figure out that you live in a country that is supposed to be dedicated to unity and democracy and that you are being courted to blindly align yourself with a singular individual who has demonstrated all that is opposite to the very ideals, the core of goodness, this country touts.  in our world today, figure out what lies are and who is being upheld in the telling of them.

figure out that there is much to fix.  this system – our country –  is working as systems work – i have learned that they protect to the death the way they are set up and the profoundly, inexcusably unjust way that this country has been set up is glaringly obvious.  figure out that fixing it starts in your heart.

figure out that your children and your children’s children will be growing up in this place and choose what you want to leave behind for them.  is it a place of peace, of equality, of truth, of health, of gently holding this fragile earth, of clean air and clean water and fertile land, of hope and justice and liberty for all?

figure out that life is sacred and that it is lost in a moment.  figure out what truly means anything to you.  figure out the bottom line.  figure out that love is truly the answer, the place to begin.  figure out that those you love count and, for heaven’s sake, let them know.  and then look out, to others standing beyond those you already love, and love them too.

please figure it out.  we are in a death spiral.

 

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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FIGURE IT OUT from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood


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we hold our heads. [d.r. thursday]

morsel

our go-bags are packed.  the dog crate is in the car and the cat crate is in the sitting room, ready.  important papers are in a tote bag and the backpack awaits our laptops and all the related power cords.  one more bag sits open for a few clothes and toiletries.

i feel unhinged.

i wrote to my children that it is unbelievable and real at the same time.  this is true.  we have no idea what dusk will bring, what the dark hours of the night will be like in our downtown, in our neighborhood, a city wracked in pain and fraught with the tension of social injustice gone exponential.

we sit.  holding our heads.

we drove through downtown today for the first time.  it was the first time since sunday that we had even been out, beyond taking a short walk in the neighborhood.  we went to the grocery store where they had humongous stacks of water bottles near the door, ready for protesters, first responders, law enforcement, anyone thirsty in near 100 degree feels-like temperatures.  we picked up a few things and headed home, taking a slight sidetrip through our very-nearby downtown.

it was stunning.  heartbreaking.  it made me cry.

we had seen pictures of the downtown all boarded up, but we had not been there yet.  we did not ambulance chase nor were we there to help board up or bring food or water in the last few days.  we, paralyzed and from our home, wrote about this experience, wrote about the surreal feelings we had listening to the sounds of inequality, the smoky smells of injustice, the taste of fearful adrenaline all must feel in the situations that have brought us here.

and so we hold our heads in our hands.  we weep for the families of every person victimized by violence.  we stand in the muck of a society that has perpetuated this unfair treatment, that has made excuses for it, that has steeped itself in hatred and bigotry.

and we fear what is to come when the sun sets.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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density and un-candles. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

dense

we hike past these cattails.  and, because i have a vivid imagination, gazing into their thick darkness, i wonder what would happen if i suddenly had to run and forge my way through these dense reeds in order to be safe.  david claims that my imagination is usually on overdrive; i retort, “doesn’t everyone think about this stuff?”  he replies, “no, they don’t.”  i shrug.  for me, these cattails make me think; they make me ponder.  they inspire me to make a plan.  i am convinced:  it would be better to run and find a less dense area of vegetation and then i might be able to find my way through to the other side, to safety.  i keep watch for these less dense spots as we hike.  just in case.

the magic of the 1970s un-candles was based on density.  density parses out liquids which are different.  because oil is less dense than water, oil floats on top of water.  and so, you would fill the glass container with water and add a bit of oil on top.  a simple candle wick in a plastic wick shield would be placed atop this and it would float.  voila!  the un-candle.  a flickering light atop the water.

in the case of other uses of the word “dense”, i would revert back to maybe seventh grade.  “you’re dense!” one student would verbally accost another.  dense, back then, informally meant ignorant, vacuous, vapid, thickheaded, half-witted, moronic, gullible, daft.  most of these synonyms didn’t rapidly come to the forefront of the seventh-grade mind, so “dense” worked.  and it seemed kinder than “stupid”.  slightly.

as we approach every level of profound challenge in our world today, i am hoping for an un-candle approach.  i am hoping that the less-dense rise to the surface, that the less-dense light the way, that the less-dense path opens for us.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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the boulders. [two artists tuesday]

IMG_3933

8pm curfew and we can hear car horns and sirens blaring, smoke is in the air.

midnight and we hear gunshots, loud booms, sirens.

4:30am and the sirens continue.  a storm arrives; the thunder adds to other unidentifiable sounds and is unnerving.  we sit, awake.

early morning and the sun has risen to a stormy day.  smoke fills our house from buildings, structures, vehicles burning in downtown and uptown kenosha.  it is hard to breathe.  but we are very much alive.

the town is shoring up the lakefront.  the bedrock is crumbling.  every time a storm comes, particularly from the north or northeast, the erosion is profound and feet are lost along the shore.  enormous boulders are being brought in to nest next to the smaller granite boulders already in place, to protect lives and property.  the theory is that these granite boulders will buffet the shoreline against the raging winds, the elements, the squalls, and the resulting rocks flung westward when those aggressive storms come.

the tempest of social injustice is railing.  the coastline between white and black is hot and the fire of anger is raging.  jacob blake, an african american man, who is right between the ages of My Girl and My Boy, was shot seven times in the back by a police officer on sunday.  he is fighting for his life and the community is fighting to be heard.

what will tonight bring?

as the bedrock of this community crumbles we wonder what seawall will be built to protect all, to guard against inequity, to keep everyone safe from violence, to stop the injustice against black members of our community, our state, our country? what intelligent, articulate conversation will take place?  what questions will be asked; what wisdom will be proffered?  what compassion and generous action will be offered?  how will we buffet against the rocks of hatred and bigotry flung by aggressive hostility?  what will the boulders of change look like?

“the wise man built his house upon a rock, house upon a rock, house upon a rock.  the wise man built his house upon a rock and the rains came tumbling down. 

the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up and the house on the rock stood firm.

the foolish man built his house upon the sand, house upon the sand, house upon the sand.  the foolish man built his house upon the sand and the rains came tumbling down. 

the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up and the house on the sand went splat!”

we have some decisions to make.  as a community, a state, a country.  what will we do?  will it be sand?  again?  or will it be rock?

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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on fire. [d.r. thursday]

House On Fire

HOUSE ON FIRE

it is.  on fire.

this house – this country – is on fire.

there are some fires that water will simply not douse, that regular fire-mitigating won’t choke out.  this is one of those.

it rages with hotter heat and more tenacity.  it is impervious to deterrents.  its flames reach into the souls of those with souls and its ash, always ready to ignite, is never extinguished, never snuffed out, smoldering for more years than we can wrap our heads around.

its destruction has burned more deeply into lives than the magma-chasm of volcanos.

there aren’t enough words to quell the wrenching heartache of inequity – the fire has eaten through them all.

there is silence – staggering, heartbroken, earth-shattering silence – and we must hear it.

there aren’t enough excuses to explain it away – people have turned their backs on this smoldering fire, consensual participants in fanning the blaze, the oppression, the hatred.

there are reasons – a history of inequity that predates us and continues like an undercurrent, always there.

there aren’t enough condolences to offer those burned and scarred – empty thoughts and prayers are issued by people standing in bigot-hydrant vicinity, safely far enough away, not in the fray, not affected or effecting.

there are empty words of solicitousness, of sympathy – the pat on the head and the turn back to your-own-life.

there aren’t solutions ready at the fingertips – the listening, talking, desperately sincere efforts to understand, to have empathy, to stop and put on others’ shoes, the soles of which have been melted by the hot lava of this fire.  these are within our grasp; we must step out of complicit complacency.  we must acknowledge the chasm between lip service and true comprehension.  black lives matter.

there is an imperative – to take action, to make change.

in the middle of peaceful protestors being forcibly removed from the area near the white house with tear gas and rubber bullets, the president of this country haughtily walked across the street and stood before a church holding a bible.  it was an empty moment, devoid of positive or constructive meaning, spraying more firestarter onto a fire-lit-for-centuries.  an arsonist.  shameful.

“what else can happen?” we wonder?

each day we are stunned.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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