I’m not someone who usually sleeps in on the weekends.
Most Saturdays I’m up and out of the house in time to get to the Cary Downtown Farmers Market by the time it opens at 8:00 AM (insiders know the best stuff sells out quickly). I’ll often be there for a couple of hours, shopping and socializing and enjoying the community-building nature of farmers markets. Or I’ll stop by the local bakeries for some bread or some other treat, or pick up some vinegar or oil at Peak Olive Oil Company next door to the market, or stop at a grocery store on my way home to pick up whatever ingredients I need for what I want to make that aren’t sold at the farmers market. So while my Saturday mornings are enjoyable, they start early.
Most Sundays, I’m also out the door of my house by around 9:00, usually dressed professionally, in order to attend the services at my spiritual center. I’m often helping to lead the service rather than just attending, so I need to get there early to help set up or prepare for the day. I always get a lot of spiritual nourishment from that, plus I love hanging out with my friends there.
But you know, everyone needs a break now and then. So on Sunday, July 3, since I didn’t have any specific responsibilities for the service that day, I decided to stay and watch the service online from home. It would make my morning a little more leisurely, a little easier.
I try to do a meditation walk in the early mornings when I can, so I decided to do that. But instead of my usual walk in the neighborhood or along the nearby greenway, I thought it has been a long time since I’d gotten some bagels and this might be the perfect morning for that. If you read yesterday’s post, I’ve been focused lately on some wonderful Farmers Market breakfast featuring the fruits of the season. But I’m also lucky enough to live next to a shopping center with a wonderful New York Deli and Bagel shop that makes delicious fresh authentic NYC bagels every morning. Figuring that would be a nice 4th of July weekend treat for my son, who was still asleep, off I went.
As I walked to the bagel place, I really tried to remain focused on how great my life is and how lucky I am. I’m glad to live in the great state of North Carolina in the great country we celebrate this weekend. As I walked along the road to the shopping center, I saw these beautiful wild berries shown above growing along the side walk. North Carolina has a great growing climate, producing not only all the wonderful fruits and vegetables I get at the farmers market, but also trees and flowers and bushes and thick, vibrant grasses. My path to the shopping center was shaded by high trees and decorated with tiny wild flowers and other growth. I thought how lucky I was that even a short walk to a shopping center was so attractive.
I thought about the water it takes to have a verdant path like this and how much I usually take water for granted. Water not only nurtures Nature, whether wild or cultivated, but is readily available to me, both for cleansing and for consuming, cold from my refrigerator door, and even with ice if I want it. I admitted to myself that I don’t like to think about the fact that about 1 in 3 people in the world, some 2 billion people, don’t have access to clean water and/or healthy santitation. In fact, statistics say that 1 in 5 deaths every day come from contaminated water or illnesses derived from unsafe sanitation, and many of those deaths are children under 5. How could I take water for granted like I do when so many suffer without it? I resolved to be more grateful for my daily water use.
I thought about our beautiful new house and how grateful I was for it. I’m particularly grateful for whatever previous owner planted a garden that surprises us every week with some new burst of color replacing the flowers that have died in the previous week. Gardening is not one of my gifts, so I’m so appreciative of whoever nurtured that garden so we could enjoy our little changing mosaic of Nature.
I thought about my body, the house of my spirit and soul. I’m grateful it works as well as it does, allowing me to run this little errand without the need for a car. Appreciating the body was the focus of our services in June, so I’ve been trying to love and appreciate and take care of my body even more.
I thought about it being July 4th weekend, our national celebration. I know that there are days that I read the news and see the political divisions and the ongoing evidences of injustice and inequity and it makes me cry. But then sometimes something happens…Republican senators voting for a gun control bill, or a young Republican aide speaking up when her bosses are stonewalling a Congressional investigation, seeming more interested in protecting themselves than in protecting our democratic processes…and that makes me cry too. But those tears of tears of pride in our country and of hope for our future. I remind myself that even when things seem bad, our country has perservered and survived through worse. Yes, there is a lot wrong with our country right now. But despite everything, are more people more free, treated more equally, allowed more opportunities, than people were 246 years ago when the Declaration of Independence that we celebrate this weekend was first announced? Yes, I believe we are. So that is a reminder to me of the value of patience and perspective.
It brought to mind one of my favorite quotes commonly attributed to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., although the original concept came from a Transcendental theologian named Theodore Parker in the early 1850s. Here is Dr. King’s passage that contains his twist on that idea, which the quote usually used highlighted with bold print:
When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows.
Let us realize that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. Let us realize that William Cullen Bryant is right: “Truth, crushed to earth, will rise again.” Let us go out realizing that the Bible is right: “Be not deceived. God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” This is our hope for the future, and with this faith we will be able to sing in some not too distant tomorrow, with a cosmic past tense, “We have overcome! We have overcome! Deep in my heart, I did believe we would overcome.”
“Where Do We Go From Here” speech, delivered August 16, 1967 to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Atlanta.
So we’re not there yet, but I choose to believe Theodore Parker, to believe Dr. King, that we are inexorably heading in the right direction, no matter how dark things may seem sometimes. I choose to put my attention on whatever sparks of light I can, because that is how they will grow and drive out the darkness.
In the meantime, however, some times it is enough to simply have a leisurely but reflective Sunday morning, a beautiful walk, and a fresh, chewy whole-grain bagel straight from the oven, accompanied with lovely fresh water. I can be grateful and uplifted by that, and renew my commitment to keeping the faith that the promise of America will some day be fulfilled.
Happy 4th of July everyone!