The sunrises have been extraordinary lately, unfortunately due to smoke that’s filtered our way from the west coast fires. Each new morning I see another bright orange sun, I think of the people who have lost their homes, family members, and healthy air to breathe. It was shocking to read in the news yesterday that the air quality in Portland was the worst in the world. Worse than cities in India where I visited last year that left me with a severe respiratory condition for some time. Life is already so stressful with the pandemic, social justice challenges, and economic issues. I can hardly imagine what it’s like to also lose one’s home and the beautiful land surrounding it. This seems to be a year of extreme reckoning with multiple layers of life on Planet Earth. As I’ve said before, it’s easy to let the heaviness take over my mental and emotional life. A couple reminders recently have brought me back to a more hopeful position.
Last Friday during morning check-in, a parent stopped me on the way to her car. She said, “In case someone hasn’t said this to you…thank you.” She went on to say how appreciative she is that we are open and providing the in-person service we are for families who really need it. She continued by telling me how hard it’s been for her friends in another state whose kids are still at home. That thank-you carried me through the day.
Then over the weekend I received a message from one of our Seed alums. She and her family moved to Oregon a few years back after some time living in Nebraska, the state where I grew up. This was her message:
“We’re driving through western Nebraska and listening to The Secret Garden book on tape, and I’m finding myself thinking of you. We’re fleeing the fires in Oregon, but otherwise, Theo would be starting kindergarten this week, which also turns my mind to my time at the Seed. I’m so grateful for all the formation you provided. From the gardens to the books to the sewing to the emphasis on building a just world where we could fix all the messes our cruelty and carelessness left— I’m getting choked up. Thank you so much for all the work you undertook in planting us–I’m endlessly thankful.”
Hearing these words of appreciate mean the world to me. They help me see ways I can continue to contribute to the well being of others, and offer positive thoughts to situations beyond my control. As I told the Seed grandparents in our first ever virtual meeting, I’m choosing to focus on gratitude for what we have, releasing grief and sadness for what we’ve had to give up. I am confident that what’s been lost will eventually be replaced by a world that will serve its inhabitants in more kind and just ways. I say thank you for the opportunity to serve, and will continue to do so as long as I am able.