The warmth of the weekend has given way to a definite chill. After a couple of days of rain and snow melt the rivers and lake are in flood. What, a few days ago, were fields, are now covered by water and for the second time in a decade we face potentially record lake flooding.
Yesterday Notre-Dame burned. In the afternoon clients brought the news along with their grief. We sat in disbelief, sadness filling the spaces around us. Other clients wanted to speak about the torture and killing of women, especially Native women throughout the Americas. As they spoke the grief deepened, accompanied by a rising rage.
For me there were echos of conversations with friends over the weekend. Saturday morning we were sitting with an elder in our favorite South Coast bakery.”Why aren’t people in the streets; why isn’t everyone in the streets?” she asked. Around us rose the sweet sound of women happily chatting in Portuguese. As often happens, one stopped by our table to apologize for the commotion and the Portuguese. As we always do, we laughed and made it clear that we were loving it, all of it. We had sought it out! No apology needed!
We arrived to a full house. The last time we had visited two young men had look at my crutches and insisted we take their table. This time the owners set up a folding table for us; we always feel welcome. Sadly, the owners are getting ready to retire after some forty years of service to their community. There are plans for an employee to take over and we hope that transpires.
In the bakery we were surrounded by immigrants and their descendants, good folk who care about others, including us, who work too hard, and who fear for their immigrant friends. We English speakers had entered their safe space, their shared community. We wanted them to know we recognized we were interlopers, and that we appreciated their generosity and hospitality.
It is a safe bet that we all shared a great deal, and if we had begun a conversation about women and children fleeing danger they would have stories to share. Any time the bakery TV shows scenes of families at the border the anger and sorrow in the room rise. It is set to a Portuguese news station but the coverage of the suffering at our southern border is unmistakable.
Now that spring has come we celebrate the returning warmth and the rebirth of the land, even as we remember the hardships that accompany persecution and slavery. As I write I am listening to a Palm Sunday concert from Europe, reminding me that Easter is imminent. Passover begins Friday evening and we are looking forward to joining family and friends for the seder at the synagogue. Again this year there will be tension in the room as we struggle to hold the story of the Exodus in all its complexity, the Biblical command that we support and comfort all who are in jeopardy and seek freedom, and the actions of those who espouse hatred in the name of religion.
Undoubtedly the room will be filled with laughter and good cheer, even as we acknowledge the heartbreak inherent in living in the world. We will accept the rising waters and the necessity of caring deeply and acting from our convictions. We will acknowledge the suffering of the many, remember that flooding replenishes the rich lands of the floodplain, and share the hope that after the deluge will come rebirth.