In late autumn here in the Northern Hemisphere when the wind picks up it is as if the forests themselves are trembling with impending cold. The mostly now yellow leaves colour the sky itself behind them a tinged ochre between branches. There is snow. Just a touch.
Just enough to wash out the ground like the bleeding of a watercolour painting in the wet. If you squint enough just before dusk you can feel yourself drifting into a painting, a Seurat perhaps or a Turner, the impressions of a place and time set apart from the everyday. Precious. Moody. Tender. A cool air tasting winter.
And on the trappings of the living earth, the people carry on. They go to work and shop and visit. They wear their heavier clothes and boots sometimes. It isn’t time for boots but still they do. They dragged them out of the back of the closet anyway. They don’t much care like they used to what others might think. They have enough to contend with. For prices in grocery stores are very high and mortgages are becoming unreasonable. The price of gas and heating and those endless taxes weigh like stones on their shoulders. They try not to think about it all too much.
It is too much.
And over there of course, the wars. Always the wars. But that is still over there and you can’t much care. But of course the people do. If it were only that but it never is. They march in huge clusters of humanity down grey streets with colourful flags and placards to protest. They want the killings to stop and yet it is only a short step before the groups begin turning on each other.
It is almost human nature to see this now: the tyranny of those who oppose tyranny. And the divides continue. And it was ever thus. But for now, it feels like solidarity. Except for those who are afraid. The Jewish synagogues today. The mosques tomorrow perhaps. The churches have already had their days of burning here. Yet now it is about another country’s war. The people do not see the pavement crumbling beneath their own feet as they march.
“Peace. Here. Now.” I say this frequently now. It is all I have in terms of an opinion.
If only we could all, wherever we are, stand here on this living earth and feel its tremendous patience. Even in the snow. Or in the sand. To stand alone and vow peace to our souls, to the fragile beatings of our heart in silence. To honour the future of children born or not yet born. To take the pain and fear and rage of war and place it into a china teacup painted with colourful flowers and set it waiting on a table for another day.
To stand and stay there in silence and in the quiet streets. Together then. No chanting nor crying nor raging nor violence. How sweet the hot tea will be then when we have become still. We will not drink the anger anymore. We do not accept your divides. We will not do this again. We will not feed your war machine. We will drink tea now together. We will mix it with honey or maple syrup perhaps. We have learned. Why have you not?
But of course I dream of tea parties and the world is a tempest but not in a teapot. It is a serious business when swathes of humanity take to the streets. They play a cacophonous noise to the elected who sometimes but not often will listen. What good did the weeks and weeks of tens of thousands on the boulevards of Paris do? Oh Paris…. Those old revolutionary cries that linger still creviced in the stone buildings and if you scratch at them perhaps with a pocket knife you might hear the old battle cries. Such passion does not disappear forever.
Did any of the elected hear the collective cry this time around? I don’t much think they did but perhaps I am wrong.
Eventually listening has to happen. If the anger grows. The listening that happens before or after the tumult. Always the vagaries of history will know which way it will go. We can never know because we are shoved one way or another and cannot see it anymore. Only the drones high in the sky can see it all. And they don’t tell. They show us pictures but not passion. We will know only when the passion is spent.
But of course we wait. Those of us with that luxury. We wait for winter and we watch the storms on far horizons. Spring always seems far away. But it always comes. In the meantime we set the china teacups out on a paisley tablecloth for the guests that might just come this way. And we put the kettle on.
Earworm for some reason:
“History says, don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope & history rhyme.
So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore Is reachable from here,”
The quote is from Seamus Heaney’s The Cure at Troy, after Robert Fitzgerald, a translator and interpreter of the Greek classics.
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