I once had a vision in which I saw that much of life’s arc is fated. In the vision, a spirit pointed this out to me, then advised me that the one thing I had some control over was my response to what happened. Occasionally I remember this vision and my anxiety for the future drops away, as do regret and guilt. I remember, if only briefly, that the idea of control is largely an illusion that causes suffering. I am also reminded there may be small gaps between fated events, moments of grace in which healing may occur, and which the healer seeks for the benefit of self and others.
After a stormy couple of days the weather has turned sunny and tranquil. The garden has lapped up the rain and turned mid-summer lush. Our soils are sandy loam, and are subject to nutrient leaching, so we probably need to add some liquid compost.
We grilled veggies last night, some from the garden. As I was cooking, the goldfinches called from the trees and flitted about. The males hold their spring plumage into late summer or early fall, and their bright yellow and black presence is a welcome sight in the yard. I’m not sure what they are eating, as they prefer seed, but the raspberries and blackberries are in season and many grasses have gone to seed; the finches are clearly thriving.
After a late dinner we went to a friend’s memorial celebration. Our friend, a young artist, took her life earlier in the week. She was a vibrant, immensely creative person who had a diverse and passionate circle of friends who loved her dearly. She was deeply traumatized by life, and I am left wondering whether she found the uncertainties of our time, and the ravings of the intolerant, too much to bear. I also wonder whether she had fulfilled her tasks here, and has gone on to new tasks and adventures. I hope the grandmothers have greeted her warmly, shown her the pain her death caused others, and enfolded her in their love and warmth, healing the deep wounds and sorrow that she carried in this life.
Yesterday afternoon we attended a different type of celebration, a post-wedding gathering honoring the union of two young women we know. They were married in a quiet ceremony a few months ago, deciding to have a public celebration at a later date. A few days ago we received a Facebook post asking us to join them at the beach for a celebratory picnic, so late yesterday morning we headed up to the islands. The weather forecast was questionable, with storms likely mid-afternoon. Sure enough, and much earlier than predicted, no sooner than we had settled in to talk and eat than a rain shower, complete with a few rumbles of thunder, sent us seeking shelter.
The shower passed quickly and the party resumed; the beach was dramatically less peopled as the thunder shower had sent many picnickers and swimmers home. A few of the couple’s friends had come from quite a distance, one flying in from Colorado. There was great merriment as old acquaintances were renewed, and well-practiced game rivalries indulged. We even had a discussion about the current Pokemon rage, there being two Pokemon sites at the Park. Thankfully, the game/craze was explained to us, and given considerable nuance, by a group of interpreters, including a newly vetted political science professor.
The celebration was a no-alcohol, bring your own food affair, well suited to the needs and desires of a young couple with major student debt. Those attending represented a cross-section of education, income level, and age (the youngest being almost one), a fine diversity of people. We were by far the elders, as no parents came. I have known one of the women since she was ten; she is a very close friend of my daughter, and spent many warmly remembered days at our home. She’s now a theater artist and social worker, married to another social worker, and fully engaged in the adult world. It has been a pleasure to be a small part of her journey, and I find myself being very proud of her.
After a couple of hours we excused ourselves in order for the youngster lot to be free of any constraints our presence might confer, and headed further north to see an art exhibition. We hadn’t gone far when we noticed a garage sale sign, remembered that another friend was having a moving sale, and took a detour. Our friend was the director of the choir in which Jennie sings, and is moving, along with her husband, to Colorado. It was delightful to have one last chat with them, explore what remained of their sale, and leave with purchased items we actually need.
No sooner had we left their house than the storms arrived with great drama. (Thus the photo!) We later heard that everyone had fled the picnic safely, soon after we left. They had kept a close eye on the radar images on their smart phones throughout the afternoon, so had a bit of advanced warning. Clearly smart phones have brought change to all aspects of our lives, including picnicking.
Yesterday’s events touched much of the human life-span, from childhood to death, and made for a delicious stew, indeed. We found ourselves in contexts of rich diversity: economic, racial, cultural, educational, economic, and gender. We were reminded that each day holds potentially transformative moments and stories; each day is an opportunity to notice the sacred in the mundane, allows us to touch and be touched, and provides opportunities to practice empathy and kindness. I like to believe that in each day there are gaps in what is fated, opportunities for vision and profound healing. These are good and holy things.