A couple of weeks ago I burned my hand on the oven. Moving too fast and not paying attention. It got pretty ugly at first but started healing almost immediately. As the days passed it was like watching a movie. The dead parts were swept up and compressed, a protective scab formed and around the edges, new skin began to grow. The new growth took over more and more of the wound and gradually took on the pores and wrinkles that make skin look like skin. It was amazing to watch the body repair itself, at high speed and without any help from me. It was humbling to realize that nature is way smarter and stronger than I am and highly motivated enough to produce new life right before my eyes.
The scraggly apple tree in my front yard burst into bloom last week, suddenly, like flicking a switch. Spring is here and there’s no going back. New growth is all around and the force for healing and growth is palpable. As people, we’re part of nature too, hard as we may try to separate ourselves from it. And sometimes I open my eyes and see growth and healing even in the human world. Even in the cynical world we share with newscasters and candidates. A friend was talking about the anti-war, back-to-the-land, anarchist collective good old days of his youth, asking, “Where’s that energy gone?” “It’s in Tunisia,” I said.
Sure, we live in a world where NPR thinks that reporting about televised political ads passes for discussion, where fear-driven violence makes the world as dangerous for a young person of color as it was a hundred years ago. But another state just revoked the death penalty, and half a dozen states (including mine) have moratoria on executions. And Vermont has universal health care. Sure we’re disappointed that it hasn’t happened for the rest of us already. But we expect too much of elected officials. None of the really big movements in America, Women’s Suffrage, the Civil Rights movement, the Labor movement, Abolition, were top-down decisions. None of them were created by Congress or a president. People created those movements, and not because anyone told them to, but because our urge for healing is greater than our fear.