Winter in July


Gazing at the cottonwood branches above my head, laden with airy bits of seed. Hundreds in each ball, awaiting their release from the tree. Falling to the ground, staining the car, attaching with sticky might to the red plastic adirondacks. Twice a season, winter in July, the male and female trees release their genetic material all over the high altitude ranch lands.

Such a messy business, cotton caught in the cobwebs, revealing my lack of maintenance. Millions of spores in the yard alone, one-point-six acres. Little seedlings from a year, or two, or three ago. Why are there not millions of fragile baby trees?

Cotton balls waft, riding the tide of the light breeze. Few are lucky, released into the damp, fertile soil. The majority, not so much, alighting rooftop, deck, river, animal backs. Some stamped down, swept off, vacuumed even.

Seeds as words, ideas – flying, floating, plummeting. Thoughts, phrases…inconveniently interfering in those awake/asleep moments. Some words sit, burrow, nestle. Some fleet out of thought-space like a rocket. Get outta there! Some sit and attach to other words, form ideas, maybe get spoken, become parts of sentences and confessions and admission to a trusted friend. Some bury, re-attach to a memory, link up with shame, multiply in darkness.

I want to be awake, I want to learn, to see. I want to see a sprout, an idea take on life. I want to be privy to seeds of change, floating and landing upon fertile soil. I want to discern these seeds, what they mean, their purpose for me or another. How does this one line up with my heart, my mind, my desire? What are the loaves and fishes I can bring to the table, that God can miraculously multiply?

Not every cause is mine to own, or feel. Many I respect, hearts bursting for the need, the people, the children, the oppressed. I will “like” and “share” and advocate.  And I must have understanding when others don’t share mine. However, Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere (Martin Luther King Jr.), so one’s specific call to justice naturally unfurls itself into that of another. We truly are of like mind when we are looking to lighten the loads of others, with the privilege that we ourselves own. Any action toward justice, toward seeking to understand another human, to alleviating the struggle, is an action toward all justice. Toward love.

I want to recognize the burning of humility. I want to move forward, if the call is still present, the motivation cleansed, drawing out greater purpose. But I also want to discern where my pride, my hubris has taken on a life of its own, where new gains may cause more harm than good. I want to see where I need to step out of the way, to see it’s not my fight, to take a step back and behind to push others to the forefront. Often my work is to plant a seed…and leave it. Other times my work is to nurture the growth, this tender shoot…and leave it. Some of us get to be a part of the dream from beginning to full fruition. This is neither wrong nor right. Our job is to pay attention, surrender, and trust.

May I choose to see the offering I can contribute. May I choose to see yours. May I honor yours, while also honoring mine, without fear of comparison or denigration of worth. May we realize we are on the same team, using our talents for the good of another, for the good of this world we’ve been entrusted, for love to grow and be displayed. May we do this without fear of judgment, or fear of imperfect motivations. May we move forward regardless, choosing to honor the divine in each and every being, making earnest and honest mistakes.

What is our thing? What seed is growing in us, ready to be released, to fly, to soar? What do we do with the privilege we have, where we are? What seeds linger upon the soil of my world? What are the things that set my soul on fire? Make me run faster and talk louder? That send me angrily to the pool? What are the stories that cause me to weep in the middle of the afternoon? What wakes me in the night, or far too early in the morning..filling journal entries, and blog posts? What about you? What makes your hands sweat and your heart quicken? What pisses you off?

I choose to believe — the more I learn, the more I know, the less I have to fear. So many of our biases, our stereotypes, our unwillingness to engage with different…is due to fear. I am afraid of displaying my ignorance though the questions I pose. I am afraid of displaying my innate racism, my prejudice, whatever, so I am tempted to choose safe. I challenge me, I challenge you…add people to your life who are different. Add people to your life who live on the margins. Add people to your life that must overcome obstacles daily, obstacles that would never cross our minds.

Each time we counter our fear, our assumptions with knowledge and truth and love we eliminate the hold of that power – the power of hate, ignorance, of chosen blindness.