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Blue Sky

A Glimpse of the America We Could Be: Everyday Magic, Day 1,102

On the eve of July 4th, I saw what our deeply-divided and pitifully-polarized country could be in a Minneapolis city park. Above, around, and below Minnehaha Falls at twilight, a deep sense of peace, belonging, care, and a touch of whimsy reigned while the 53-foot falls surged over a ledge down a stream strewn with stones and edged with human and animals. Many of us weren't locals -- some from out of state like me, and some from Somalia, Mexico, India, and Laos -- but we were one people, united in the beauty of this place and what we made of it together.

Minnehaha Falls

Maybe it was all the negative ions in the air, but everyone I saw met my eyes, smiled, some pointing at the power of the falls, others kvetching alongside me about the many stairs back up after climbing down for a better view.

I saw a small Tamil (from India) boy ask a young Hmong woman if he could pet her lionhead dwarf rabbit, then bend gingerly to touch the top of the bunny's head.

A Sikh man followed his giggling family under an archway toward the ice cream stand.

A half dozen young men talking Spanish nodded at me as they passed by, joking with each other and passing around a joint.

An older white man told a younger mixed race man he should live his life, not the life others deemed appropriate for him.

I helped a Muslim woman walked carefully down the steps so as not to anger her obviously-hurting hip, then she sat on the rocks with her friends, laughing at the rushing water. A middle-aged white couple with matching American flag t-shirts laughed with them.

Some of the crowd cheering on the fishing heron

Downstream from the falls, a bunch of us sat on one side, cheering a blue heron on the other side each time he caught a fish. We rolled our eyes and yelled out encouraging words when he dropped some of those fish. "You can do it!" someone called out to him. "Yes, you can," someone else said as he dipped his quick beak back into the stream.

A young white lesbian and/or non-binary couple dangled their feet in the cold water while petting their brindle-colored dog and talking about the next event for their art collective.

Near the falls, a half dozen woman in burqas -- some with just their hair covered and one with only her eyes uncovered -- looked down into the falls, then backed away quickly, gasping at the depth, then catching their collective fear in laughter.

Ken feeding a leaf to the lionhead dwarf rabbit

An older while man led his Filipino wife carefully down the trail to where they could sit together on a bench. She patted his knee, then smiled out at two Latino children, holding hands as they stepped from rock to rock in the shallow part of the stream.

A Black family, trying to get themselves and a statue of Gunnar Wennerberg into a selfie, was delighted when I offered to take their photo. The husband, wife, and two teenage daughters, smiled in unison behind the statue of this Swedish poet, composer, and politician.

Like many of you, I've alternated between despair, fear, trepidation, and hopelessness about our country's leadership and the upcoming election."The people in my galaxy are terrified, heartbroken, and exhausted, scrambling in their minds to figure this thing out,"Anne Lamott recently shared on social media in the aftermath of the recent presidential debate. She then reminded us of what the wise writer and activist Molly Ivins would have said: “'Sweetpea? Let’s have this conversation in a week or two'.”

While we're waiting to see how things shake down and what conversations to have, for the short and long terms, I keep reminding myself headlines and sound bites are a slim slice of the real news of the world and too often gloss over many layers of reality. Yet the reality of what we can be, and indeed, what we are at moments, is all around.

Our son Daniel, back in Lawrence, Kansas the same evening we were at the falls, attended what was to be a drone light show. While waiting out technical difficulties, Daniel said the crowd was preoccupied with lifting itself up: doing the wave together many times, chanting "drones now," people saying all they could to make each other laugh and enjoy their time together beyond the drone show that didn't happen. "I was so proud to be part of this community," he told us.

While at Minnehaha Falls, I realized I had no idea how the people around me would vote or if they would vote at all, what their politics were, and also, what enormous hardships they carried now or from time to time (as we all do). Yet whoever we are, wherever we live or travel, we can more often than not glimpse how we might live with greater grace, tenderness, attention, and even joy that transcends what keeps us apart. I share these many examples because it's in the specifics that we so often find how to do this.

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2 comentários

Nancy Hubble
Nancy Hubble
06 de jul.

You lift us up!


Susan Kraus
Susan Kraus
06 de jul.

Just a note that I really enjoyed your observations and reflections in this post. Steve and Harriet were over last night watching the interview and just talking,. It has been a few months for me of grieving -- and the grief gets mixed up with a dear friend who died June 2nd --- and my country that is seriously ill with disease that has been contagious and toxic. So, thank you. Carry on!!!!!!!!

Blue Sky
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