When I was nine years old my father had a horseback riding accident, broke his back and almost died. He never fully recovered. Flashes of disparate memories are all I have left from that time. The beautiful gold cat pin my grandmother gave me with an emerald belly, ruby eyes and when I lost it years later, I felt a deep inexplicable sorrow that lasted for decades. It wasn’t until many, many years later that I realized I associated that pin with my father’s accident.
The visits to the hospital and the sickly, antiseptic smell, the sound of the rubber soled shoes the nurses wore as they approached his room, the sound of his labored breathing, the bright California sunlight in the parking lot of the Stanford Hospital, and the sense that nothing would ever be the same, these are the things I remember now when I think back to that time.
Nothing would ever be the same.
And it wasn’t.
In that moment when I learned of his accident, when I understood how serious it was, when I heard the words, “He might not make it” and “if he does, he’ll be paralyzed for the rest of his life” and all the other pronouncements made, then reevaluated and revised, and the realization that these doctors, whom I had believed knew everything, perhaps knew very little when it came to predicting my father’s future.
Much, much later, as an adult, I would again be reminded of how little people, even highly regarded people, actually know. These very people we are taught to admire, respect and believe are not always as they would like us to believe. After all they, like all of us, are human, fallible, imperfect and often far more complex than the stories we like to read and hear about. But most people want desperately to believe that things are simpler than they often are.
Yesterday, here in the United States people expressed shock and horror as we watched scenes of our capitol under attack. It was a gruesome reminder of how things that have been percolating for a long time can suddenly shift, how anger and resentment can propel people to behave in awful ways, how acts of violence are justified, how one side blames the other and then the other side retaliates and on and on it goes.
It’s easy to say we need to be kind to one another, but so much harder to put into practice.
A friend of mine, James Cone, someone I admired tremendously and who spent every Thanksgiving with us for many years until he died, once described to me what it was like growing up during the Jim Crow era in the deep south. He told me how he would watch his father leave the house each morning and each morning he would wonder whether this was going to be the last time he saw him. At the time I said, I can’t know what that must have been like, but I can try to imagine. I loved that man. He was a beautiful soul. I asked him once, while we discussed the rampant racism that continues to rip through this country, “How do we change this?” James said, “Love. The answer is always love. It has to be.”
What would James have said had he been here to watch our capitol come under attack? What would he have said as he watched all those people wandering around the Capitol building, knowing that had their skin color not been white, a very different scene would have played out? I can’t know for sure, but I will repeat what he once told me, not so many years ago.
“Love. The answer is always love. It has to be.”
Well said Ariane. No matter what our political stand is, this was unacceptable behavior! I am ashamed for our country, the country I love. There is no excuse for what happened yesterday. May God help us move forward and racism and hatred come to an end. 1 Chronicles 7:14 is the answer, “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land”.
Well said, Ariane and Ann Quandree. Our country needs healing, not more division. We are all Americans, no matter our political affiliations, the color of our skin, our religious beliefs, where our ancestors came from, or anything else that makes us different from one another. We need to unite as Americans and celebrate what a beautiful melting pot nation we are. It’s what makes us unique! Just like the gorgeous embroidered pieces we love – they use a wide variety of stitches, threads, and colors. It’s the variety that makes it beautiful!! A piece created with only one type of thread in a single color with one embroidery stitch doesn’t excite us as much. Same with our country – it’s the differences that make our nation great. Love is the needle to stitch us together as Americans who can celebrate our differences.