It is the first time the crows did not come in the morning. Under the red sun and yellow skies. In the forty years I have been here it was the first morning I did not hear their loud impatience.
The air did not smell of the smoke of the northern wildfires but of an acrid dusty taste, not quite plastic burning or electrical. Not really ozone either for I’ve smelled that before once but I can’t remember when or where. It just did not smell of wood smoke.
This too shall pass is what we know. It is always what we know. All things pass. Eventually. A lesson that can only really be learned over a long period of time. The youth do not know this yet. They know only the moment informed by that treacherous beginning. Their beginnings so much more terrible than we older ones know.
We didn’t wish it to be this way but it is the way it became. They were never children. They were the recipients of our fears in an increasingly hostile predatory world. We did what we did out of love and protection but it was ill-informed by traditions thrown by the wayside in our own youthful rebellion.
We gave them all our fears and nothing to hold on to—no sense of God or morality or responsibility or hope or predictability. They were responsible then only to our fears made their own. Taught to them. Encouraged. Schooled. We would change the world for the better but all we did was tell them what was wrong. We left them the greatest burden of actually fixing it and they are broken now themselves.
Before they even begin.
I sometimes want to take these children of the world who are hurting, raging, shattered and bring them to a warm safe place where the scent of lavender crouches in the corners and the feel of solid ground beneath bare feet holds them strongly.
I want to tell them to be still and not listen to the noise of this world that has betrayed them. Not to listen to the people who would draw them into anger and hate. Not to act in rage and indignation. To fight “for” something rather than “against.” To draw together in their pain and find their way to each other without dividing lines created not by them but by those who would profit from their fight. To stop the judgment that is not theirs to give.
I want them sadly to remember a hope they have not been given to remember. They only received the lesson plan and not the lesson. Broken before they begin but begin they must. And so, in our waning years we want to help them but who are we to help? We do not live their lives. We can only remember hope and courage. That is what we have to give. We sent them to war without it. These broken children. Mostly we have to give them the courage to hope. Hope is not for cowards.
We sent them to war with some of the most psychopathic enemies we have ever seen in history with only their passionate vulnerability. And now, in the tradition of the oppressed learning only to oppress, will we see a world they will flee to full of all those fears transformed into conformity, slavery and control? They will mostly know or see no other way. How could they? It is we who need to be enraged at what we failed to do. But then, how could we have known, walking as we did in the light that we had?
But not me. I never had children. I have my crows.
Sylvia Shawcross lives in Canada. Visit her substack.
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