Tuesday, November 22, 2016

How's that Thanksgiving thingy working out for you?

Snow is falling outside. Inside, dogs are sleeping, loaves of sourdough bread are rising and the turkey, heritage Red Bourbon, is thawing in the refrigerator. The day after tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the USA. The Thanksgiving Address that comes to us from the Haudenosaunee [Iroquois] includes a section on The Waters.
"We give thanks to all the Waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms—waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water.
"Now our minds are one."

North Country water
North Country water
Photo by J. Harrington

The Smithsonian exhibit Water/Ways opened this past weekend at the Audubon Center of the North Woods in Sandstone. Many Minnesotans have close, caring relationships with water. Others see it as just another exploitable resource. I would be very thankful if we could find a way, as the Iroquois did, to bring our warring tribes into a peaceful confederation. Maybe we can each try on Thursday by remembering to start with gratitude that we can be together and be well fed. That's more than many in this world have, and more than some will ever have. When was the last time you compared your life to Franklin D. Roosevelt's Four Freedoms, to see how it stacks up? Do you have:
  1. Freedom of speech

  2. Freedom of worship

  3. Freedom from want

  4. Freedom from fear
Thanksgiving table
Thanksgiving table
Photo by J. Harrington

Since the last election, more and more of us seem to be suffering from a loss of freedom from fear and freedom of worship. Wasn't it the promise of attainment of each of these freedoms, for each of us, that made America great? Enjoyment of each of these freedoms by every one of us comes at no expense to any of us. We seem to have a penchant for forgetting that. Thursday would be a wonderful time to start remembering. What's it going to cost you to get along with that damned liberal or conservative relative who knows nothing and likes it that way? Recognizing our own relatives as human beings with whom we share this planet is a step in the direction of a broader recognition of the humanity of all "others." Try it. It might feel weird but it shouldn't hurt (too much). Water can serve to wash away differences as well as sins.

Caged Bird


By Maya Angelou


A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind   
and floats downstream   
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and   
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings   
with a fearful trill   
of things unknown   
but longed for still   
and his tune is heard   
on the distant hill   
for the caged bird   
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams   
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream   
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied   
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings   
with a fearful trill   
of things unknown   
but longed for still   
and his tune is heard   
on the distant hill   
for the caged bird   
sings of freedom.

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