Saturday, June 18, 2016
Nearly a week after the mass murder of forty-nine mostly queer, mostly brown people, and the critical injury of dozens more, I still feel numb. I need to go on parsing apart my dissociated reaction, but meanwhile, what cuts through my denial is seeing the faces of the men and women who went to Pulse wanting a night of ordinary, God-given human happiness, but whose precious and irreplaceable lives ended there.
Here’s what I’m not numb to: the spineless cowardice of the U.S. Congress in its endless deference to the gun lobby. In particular, the hypocrisy of Republicans who care more for the score of their morally shabby, backward-looking party than they do for the future of civil society and the viability of constitutional government. The desire of of xenophobes once again to lay blame on Muslims and on Islam, instead of acknowledging that the corrosive rage of deeply damaged men and contempt for sexual minorities run through American society like a cancer. And chief among them, the entitled, narcissistic buffoon who will almost certainly be named the Republican candidate for president. The refusal to acknowledge that virulent hatred and incitement to violence are in this country more often associated with right-wing Christian preachers like Baptist ministers Roger Jimenez in Sacramento, California and Steven Anderson in Tempe, Arizona, to mention only two.For years, we’ve been marching in Pride parades more in celebration than in protest or defiance. This year, walking with queer brothers and sisters will, for many, be once again an act of courage and witness. And in the assertion, "We are Orlando," a testimony that love is stronger than death.
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Peony, poppy, bearded iris, Siberian iris, poppy, peony, peony, lilac, bearded iris, lilac.
One of the daily gifts of the short bicycle commute to my office is watching other people’s gardens burst into flowers I can’t grow in my own. Amazingly, I get to live in a place where one tiny front garden borders on the next, and it’s easy to see them not as my garden, his garden, her garden, their garden, but as the garden--the “one great garden which/ is always here” so movingly celebrated in Thom Gunn’s elegy for his aunt, “Breaking Ground.” I find myself not caring much that I can’t grow myself what somebody else has grown for all of us. And glad for the things I grow for them. Gratitude for what I receive, beyond anything I might have asked or imagined, flows into generosity flows into gratitude. You can't garden in spaces like these without having at least some awareness that you're planting and weeding and watering for other people, just as they're planting and weeding and watering for you. After a while, the very distinction between giving and receiving starts to break down in this non-zero-sum game.
(Photos offered by Hoppergrass.)