This morning my room smells like rain. The air is cool coming in the open window, and I’ve traded Pandora for the tree frog songs coming from the pasture and the Red-Winged Black bird singing in the lilac bush. There’s a red squirrel running laps around the big maple tree. The grey squirrels, so common in the city, are rarely seen in the country. Instead we have the red ones, twice and big and half as tame as their city relatives.
I’ve watched a pair of wild turkeys march around the property several times the last few weeks. Coyotes frequent the field behind the bedroom, taunting my dog to a game of survival-of-the-fittest. A doe was enjoying the fresh green grass in the waterway nearest the house at sunset one evening this week, and I’m eyeing their favorite pasture area for my first sighting of fawns. Saturday when Jazz and I went for our walk, she startled a coon from his fishing in the creek, and he clamored up a tree and seated himself in the crook of a branch, then unabashedly gawked at us, his little masked face leaning side to side to observe Jazz’s every move. The blue herons have been busy doing whatever it is blue herons do in the spring, and Jazz will not have these giant-winged creatures invading our air space, so she takes off barking like a literal mad dog every time they fly over. We spotted a pair of mallard ducks paddling upstream in our creek a few nights ago, and I’m hoping some ducklings are in their/our near future.
Meanwhile, this morning flags fly half mast across the country of Ethiopia, as the villages of Gambella reel from a brutal massacre of more than 200 people, and mothers and fathers left alive weep for over 100 children abducted by the vicious raiders. In Ecuador there is already smoke curling from cemeteries as families began the process of burning the bodies of hundreds upon hundreds killed in an earthquake. In Libya there are bodies washing up onto beaches, the friends and relatives of which were rescued from the sea and taken to prisons, where they now may be sharing a room with50 others, sharing a toilet with 200. They are one of countless thousands exchanging one hellish experience for another because, in the words of a refugee, “everyone under the sun wants a prosperous life”. Desperate for freedom, they are dying for peace. Sierra Leonean farmers are planting their crops, watching the seeds in their grain room dwindle without a reserve since last harvest they spent their days in their houses, hiding from the Ebola ravaging their nation, while their crops were left to rot in the fields. In Ellensburg, WA, the city where my sister lives, a family is sitting with news that their son/daughter and spouse are missing, with all evidence pointing towards murder. Those are just the headlines.
Across our property a thousand leaves are unfolding on waving branches, and purple wild violets make the ground look like fancy carpet. Across our world a thousand thousand voices cry out for mercy. For some fully unknown reason, I’m here in a quiet room listening to raindrops and a scolding robin, while much of the world groans in pain.
There is no need for distanced pity. No need for attempted explanations or weak platitudes. No place for heroic notions or savior complexes. The Lord knows we are all just as broken as the next. We in our sprawling properties or safe suburbias aren’t the blessed and special ones of the world, though we’re endlessly tempted to think so. This is simply a call to make space. To weep with those who weep this morning. If there is an action in front of you, however small it may seem, take it. If there is a gift you can share, whatever it may be, share it. Because whatever we have is simply that; an unearned gift that’s been given to us. I don’t have a list of ways to donate or make a difference today. I just have the words of the refugees from the video above ringing in my ears, and I want to stop and sit with the ache of it: “We are human.”
You are heard.
Your suffering is felt.
You are not forgotten.
Your name is known.
Your tears, your sweat, your blood, see? We’re not that different.
We are family.
We are human.