I am trying to paint.
I am trying so hard to paint.
I primed my canvas. Set up the easel. Adjusted the lighting just so and found just the right inspiration in that red maple that’s been busy scattering it’s leaves all over my patio, and also a good part of my yard.
I want to paint.
I am trying so hard to paint.
But I can’t. Not just now.
Because there’s something tugging at my mind. Or maybe my heart.
Or maybe both.
A question. One that I can’t really believe I’m asking, ’cause it’s about a reality that’s just hard to believe.
But it is reality. Our reality.
So here’s my question – why is it that we humans who are closer-than-close biologically can’t seem to even speak well to each other anymore, across aisles and ideologies and opinions that differ?
And yes, where indeed has civility gone?
And neighborliness and kindness too, for that matter?
Oh and most desperately this – when was it that we decided that love was the thing that we would sacrifice on the altar of being “right”?
Or left for that matter.
It’s so strange to see the world that Love Herself created turning itself into a place that turns its back on love.
And this is why I cannot paint.
Why indeed can anyone paint, or sing, or play music or make cherry pies, or roll out homemade pasta or make stained-glass windows, for that matter, when the world is just turning itself upside down and inside out and people don’t even talk – won’t even talk – to their friends and their fathers and their brothers and their aunts because they’ve got different opinions?
Why indeed can anyone go on making coffee and making love and making macramé as if those things even matter when what matters most is being mostly being ignored?
I don’t mean to be all gloomy, but seriously? Have you listened to the public discourse lately? Private, too? Can no one among us bridge the divide that’s hell-bent on dividing us?
And we are becoming this, you know.
We’re becoming this and although I’m not so sure we know just why we are, I think it’s fair to say that we all do know that we are.
I don’t know all of the answers, God knows that I don’t. Despite the fact that I’ve repeatedly (and quite earnestly) asked Him to give them to me.
All I really know is that I really do want to care for the outcast and the widow and the orphan, and I really do want to love the stranger and the foreigner in a foreign land. Most of us really do.
But I also want to love the person sitting right there in my very own midst, across the aisle and across the room. Friend and father and brother and aunt and yes even anyone who sees things differently maybe, but who still deserves to be seen. Loved. Listened to and spoken to with civility and neighborliness and kindness.
Loved by me the same way that they’re loved by Love.
The thing is, there’s not a lot of time. None of us has a lot of time really. What is the span of a man’s (or woman’s) life? Not that long.
And not to be too frank, but we’re sort of wasting daylight here.
Wasting opportunities to listen and to hear and to find common ground.
There must be common ground, even if we have to dig deep to find it.
But we’re wasting minutes and months and years turning our backs on what really matters.
Because you know – of course you know – that love is the only thing that will really conquer division. But love is a verb that’s just really hard to live sometimes.
Still someone has to listen first. Someone has to reach across the aisle first. Someone has to dig first.
Be civil first. Neighborly first. Kind first.
Someone has to love first.
We haven’t got all day here, you know. We’ve only got this snippet of time to be alive and do what we can.
Time is short. And frankly, there are pies to be baked and sheets of pasta to be rolled.
There are stained glass windows to be stained, and coffee and macramé and love to be made.
Music needs to be sung and honest? I’ve got a painting that is needing to be painted and a red maple out there that’s not gonna wait forever for me to inhale its inspiration and breathe it out onto the canvas.
So maybe the thing we all just need to do is listen more and be kind more and maybe be more neighborly.
Maybe we all just need to love more,
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