Of Peas and Peace
Yesterday, I joined a peace rally in support of the Ukrainian people, sponsored by a local interfaith group, and over a hundred people gathered outside a local church. We can now meet outdoors without masks and it felt powerfully connecting to be able to see and hear each other in person again. Many hugs were exchanged and some tears were shed as we looked deeply into others’ eyes. After a bit of prayer we walked to a nearby park, fitfully chanting and singing as we ambled along. All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance. Where Have All The Flowers Gone. We Shall Overcome. Not many people joined in, partly because it was largely an aging crowd, many of whom needed all their breath just to walk.
There were a few younger families there, some with toddlers in tow and babies in strollers, but the majority were my peers, in their 60s and 70s and 80s. It occurred to many of us that we’ve been singing these songs most of our lives, at rallies and protests all across the country. As is now usual, there were far more women than men. In my admittedly imperfect memory, the rallies of my youth were usually run by guys, directing the flow of events and yelling through megaphones. Back when, most women played subsidiary roles even in social justice organizations. I remember making coffee, running off copies of posters and manifestos, making and carrying signs, but I don’t recall ever being invited or permitted to speak at a rally.
A New Day And A New Way
These days, the social justice rallies I’ve attended often feature student activists, male and female and anywhere in between. I suspect the reason so few younger people were present yesterday is because by and large, younger activists are not connected through churches but through social justice groups. It was a good reminder that if we want to engage other generations in our activities, we need to reach out to them directly. Young people rarely use FaceBook, don’t often make phone calls, and emails aren’t usually answered briskly, but they all text!
It’s refreshing to see young women in particular stepping up and speaking out. The trend has influenced my generation as well, and our local social justice groups are mainly organized by women, who do most of the heavy lifting for and at all events, yet share any spotlight generously with others, knowing that the more voices heard, the stronger the message. Over the past few years, more people of all ages have been moved to get involved with equity movements and activities, big and small, local and national, a very hopeful sign for the future. Humanity is changing, though painfully slowly. We shall overcome, someday.
Peas And Peace
After the rally, I spent a few happy hours puttering in my nearby community garden patch. The deep freezes burned some of the elderly kales but the few remaining arugulas are still delicious and tender, as are the Italian dandelion greens and broccoli side shoots. I pulled the kales that were turning into leaning towers, harvesting the handsome top growth, each fresh leaf partnered with a crisp little sprout. The deep leafy mulch I heaped on last autumn protected the winter-planted garlic and walking onion from several rounds of freezing weather and sturdy green shoots are poking up. Thanks to a year of care and feeding, the once-starved soil is now loose and loamy, smelling fresh and earthy.
This week, our local lilacs leapt into bud, showing a generous mouse ear’s worth of green, with tiny, burgeoning blossoms already emerging as well. Given that guidance, I finally tucked my lovely pea starts into the rich, welcoming soil, giving each a battered but still useful wire cage to clamber up. The cages were reclaimed from the trash by a neighboring gardener who kindly lent them to me in turn. I like using tools with history, knowing other hands have used them for many tasks, and mine now have a place in their story too. After all that, I slowly stood and stretched my creaky back, feeling pleasantly weary, while a little flock of towhees warbled and chirped in a nearby apple tree. The softly tinted sunset formed a rosy backdrop for a big robin perched on a high branch, singing his heart song to a calm, peaceful world. Onward, right?