Wednesday, October 09, 2013

In the present, simply

The acorns started falling early this year. The first ones dropped nearly a month ago. Now they fall in quick bursts and startle my dog, who looks up at every click of acorn to stone, to grass, to dirt.

Or on a careful grave, since we often stop a while in the morning amongst the comfortable graves of friends in the little graveyard to the north.

Champ is confused and alert as the acorn volleys hit. But he soon figures out that his person doesn’t need defending and the squirrels are too far up to catch. So he sprawls in the grass, ecstatic and silly, wriggling to scratch his back, crying out in yelps and moans to the ground and the sky and the trees and the birds. It’s a good day.

Sometimes I scoop up a few acorns and put them in my pockets, then into pots of dirt. I’m always hoping for trees, for sprouts, for continued and renewing life.

And life does thrust through.

My times in the graveyard with Champ are part of what keeps me centered and in the moment. At least for a moment.

Though, well, I’d be lying if I told you my thoughts didn’t sometimes stray to the past. I’ve walked there and sat there under the oaks and cedars for 40 years. There are memories, funny ones and sad ones. The stones leaning or standing or laying flat hold names of people I knew well, and of course of many who lived and loved and died long ago. They all remind me of a crowd of my beloved dead whose bodies are now dust, part of the sea, part of a hillside or mountain, or dissolving into earth in some far away corner.

But here my thoughts don’t spin forward. That’s a good thing in these days of obsessive what if, what will happen, what should I do.

It’s a sort of daily vacation amongst the dead.

Oh, soon enough I sap back into the present-dashing-to-future. To lists and practicalities. To anxieties, phone calls, the lure of the cyber world, a glut of information, stories, petitions.

As Champ and I walk south again we see other early morning walkers on the highway or hills. Some have carts, some carry bundles. There are heavy backpacks, bicycles, dogs. Some walk on hurting bare feet. Some are young and lovely and laughing.

The morning fog touches us all with a calm equality. I was just reading a UN report on migrants. In our world there are now over a billion people on the move, leaving the places they lived, hoping for a better future. A quarter of those cross national boundaries, but the rest shift within their countries, carrying what they can.  Vulnerable people. Hopeful people. Children, women, men. Just people. As I’ve sat in the graveyard, across the country UN experts have been debating human rights of migrant peoples.

In my town the migrants have been yelled out, beaten, threatened.

Acorns in hand I return with Champ to the daily, busy world. My migrant friends from Spain or the South Bronx or Portland or North Carolina may stop by for conversation, water, mail. Maybe an apple or two, a smile, a greeting from my dog.

Acorns take a long time to mature to big trees, but if you don’t plant them you won’t have those trees at all.

Compassion and kindness and understanding of the stranger, the migrant, the neighbor, the annoying person who pushes every button you have—that might take a long time as well. But if you don’t start (I remind myself) how will it happen?

Only bit by bit, in the present, simply. And here, while the sweet air is on us and the acorns are falling and we are so privileged to wake and walk. Let’s be here together. Let’s just start there.


Blogger Nick said...

Acorns have a hard time here; the pigs eat them. But walnuts thrive.

7:12 AM, November 03, 2013  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

Walnuts are great, Nick! I used to spend a lot of time reading in a big walnut tree in my grandmother's garden.

2:51 PM, November 09, 2013  

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