August 9, 2022
Some years back, my daughter authored a “good news” blog which, I believe, was called “Silver Linings.” She spent hours culling different news sources in search of something positive, and, inevitably, she would indeed find an uplifting story and post it. Her purpose was to remind her readers that good things do happen and good people do exist. Unfortunately, she had few eager followers and fewer “likes,” so she closed the blog, which says much about how we humans prefer to spend our attention. Her experience reminds me of Don Henley’s song, Dirty Laundry, and the oft reported notion that bad news “sells.”
Yes, dirty laundry and bad news attract us, if today’s headlines and social media posts are any indication. Both can become addictive which is why, I believe, so many of our great spiritual leaders urged us to seek silence and solitude in order to find solid grounding, balance, and a new vision, just as they did. Isn’t there a part of us that craves the Light? That wants the noise that the sky is falling, and we are falling with it, to cease? A part of us that seeks a reason to hope? Yes. That part of us might be called our “soul” or our “heart” or our “True Self.” And the good news is that good news does still exist.
Maia Mikhaluk is a Ukrainian citizen who lives in Kyiv. Since the Russian invasion back in February of this year, she has posted daily on Facebook about what is going on in her beloved country. If you use Facebook, you can find her there and follow her personal accounts. They are not always for the faint of heart, and there are days when I honestly cannot digest the cruelty of what her people are experiencing. Many other days, she posts about the good things that are happening, the light that shines and that keeps the Ukrainians going. Maia writes, “As much as it hurts to be a witness to the worst that humanity is capable of, we do get to also see a rise in courage, sacrificial generosity, kindness, care, and love.” If courage, generosity, kindness, care, and love can exist in the deepest voids of war-torn Ukraine, surely they can exist where we live. Surely, such acts are around us, if we have eyes to see, and are within us, if we have the courage to witness.
A couple weeks back, Maia described a sacrificial kindness. She and some fellow church members packed food baskets to distribute to those in villages that had been ransacked by Russian soldiers. In one such village, as Maia’s team was leaving, a woman named Anna rushed up to the truck with a pail of freshly picked cherries, giving away her cherries not out of abundance but out of gratitude. One of the team members accepted the cherries and made cherry pirozhki, fruit-filled buns, which she then took to the church the next Sunday. Those who had shared food with Anna and others like her now shared the gift that Anna had given, without ever knowing each other. Again, as Maia writes, “That’s how we survive this war—by not allowing our hearts to be consumed by hatred for the enemy, but rather filling our hearts with concern and kindness towards each other. This is how the light overcomes darkness.”
A pail of cherries. A plate of pirozhki. Intertwined lives. A light shining in the darkness. The philosopher George Santayana (1863-1952) wrote, “The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, confused, deluded forever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms . . . ” We each have a choice as to what we attend to, how we respond, and how we ground our souls, hearts, and True Selves. We each have an opportunity, a calling, to share the Light, no matter how inconsequential it may seem.
With love and light ~ Rosemary
Pail of Cherries
Across the world,
war uncurls as one country eats another
like a snake swallowing its own tail
like a serpent trailing itself through a saffron
and indigo garden, devouring anything
everything in sight with
Across the world,
in ruined villages and gutted towns,
men and women stumble to their gardens
in futile search
of what they had planted–of what
they had dreamed.
They lift empty hands in prayer
for a world snarled in black storm,
inky palls, the uncertainty of gray.
Across the world,
where emptiness gnaws,
a stranger, a woman,
appears through the dust
that circles a hungry village, a pail of
bright cherries in her hands,
hands that have just gathered
this offering of bright red cherries
from bomb-singed branches, cherries
to be shared, bright cherries
in a pail, a spot of crimson, glowing
against the gray scorched
soil in a shadowed world
where, for a moment, the snake
pauses and blinks.
© Rosemary McMahan