The Soil of Change

Thursday, September 20, 2018


{I snapped this photo in the Bloedell Reserve on Bainbridge Island--across the water from Seattle}

I often get overwhelmed with the state of affairs in our world today. Everything that’s broken seems impossibly beyond our ability to fix. The poverty, corruption, racism, refugee crisis, gun violence, political climate. It is more than I can process or understand. Am I the only one who sometimes feels utterly helpless in my ability to create a better world for my children? I can’t read the news or look too closely at what is really going on in some areas because I feel the pain too deeply and I lose my ability to function.

Yes, I vote. I try to make good choices. I pay my taxes, occasionally say my prayers. I donate to good causes, I try to stay educated and informed on current issues. But I’m a mom with young kids. My life is chaotic, busy, messy, and at times, very unfocused. What can I really do to help heal the world?

I think the answer to this huge question is Small. I can start small. We all need to think smaller. When we think smaller, magic happens. We will only see the change above ground if the soil beneath is rich and deep.

The soil is our families and our communities.

I’ve recently started a part-time job as a librarian at the Park City Library on Park Ave in Old Town. Of all the things in life I dreamed of becoming, being a librarian was not one of them. In fact, it’s the furthest thing I can think of from what I thought I always wanted to be: a Broadway star. However, I’ve discovered that the soil is extremely fertile on the library grounds and its kept me planted and nourished.

Take, for example, the young man with slurred speech and a limp in his walk who entered the library a few days ago asking for help to print a document. I knew nothing about him, but from the outside, we were different as night and day: literally. Dark skin, tall, dressed in athleisure attire, struggling to walk (Meanwhile, I dance full out to George Michael in the back room when I’m checking in books).

As we stood at the printer and I assisted him with the process, his cell phone rang and I happened to glance over and see that the screen said, “MOM”. Now, I had no ill feelings whatsoever toward this patron, but when I saw the word “MOM” on his phone screen, I softened inside on a deeper level. This beautiful man is someone’s son! He has a mom who loves him and is calling to check up on him…I better do my best to take care of him while he’s here at the library. I started a conversation with him and we enjoyed chatting for a minute or two. We exchanged smile after smile and several ‘Thank you’s” and You’re Welcome’s.

Exchanges like these happen everyday at the library, but for some reason this experience really hit me.

Or what about yesterday when I got to participate in our book club for adults with disabilities? We went around the circle giving updates on our lives, including how Maddi’s favorite stuffed animal , Rudolph is doing. We slowly took turns reading Chapter 1 of “Treasure Island” , letting each person pronounce the words however they wanted, then discussed the history and impact of this literary adventure we were undertaking.

We have the East Coaster who recently moved to a nice neighborhood in Park City, daughter is attending Private School, and they’d like a library card. Sure thing! While they fill out the paper work we find out all sorts of things we have in common and I suggest a restaurant for dinner and welcome them to town.  

The highschool students who use our study rooms, who are cramming for their chemistry exam. Chemistry! Wow, I never took chemistry. Oh, it’s because you want to go to med school? How wonderful. You’ll do great! Here, I have an extra granola bar if you need it.

A nanny in town watching a crying toddler while the family skis? Why yes, I can help you figure out which bus to take to get back to your hotel so this little guy can take a nap. You’re from Los Angeles? That’s so great. I used to live there. That’s where I met my husband. You’re from Jamaica? One of my best friend’s I performed with in college is from Jamaica. It was so great to meet you, too. Looks like your bus is pulling up.

Bob with the long white beard, turns in a book and tells me with a wink in his eye, “If you’re a liberal, you won’t like this book, but I loved it.” That’s ok, Bob. You and your wife are so sweet. I like you regardless of your political beliefs.

This is the magic. This is the fertile soil of change I’m talking about.  It’s the magic of staying within sight and sound of each other as a community.

I’ll never write or pass a bill, be a lobbyist or politician. Heck, even if I were, my hands would be tied in so many different knots I’d hardly be able to create the changes I want.

Here’s the thing: We argue those with opposing view points on social media. We avoid topics with our families over the holidays because there are certain touchy subjects. (Gun control- ahem) We get so upset, angry even, when we focus on our differing beliefs. But I have truly found that it is difficult to hate someone up close.

I certainly don’t have all the answers. But my heart tells me that this is the answer. At least for me.  New York City or Park City. Nowhere Tennessee, Tulsa, Oklahoma or Tallahassee, Florida—we must nourish the community soil in our churches, libraries, CLUBS, sports teams, schools, and families.

No challenge before us is more important — and more potentially life-giving — than that we come to see and know our fellow citizens, our neighbors, who have become strangers. The more we care for one another, the greater and more vibrant our blossom and our harvest.

I may be small. My acts may be small, but they can affect great change. So next time you get overwhelmed with the gigantic problems facing our nation and our world, remember to keep it small. Think of me, all 5’1” of me. Think of these words, the grown man with his mom still checking in on him, and decide to go out into the community and till a little dirt.

No comments

Powered by Blogger.