Yesterday a visiting friend requested a tour of the garden.
That’s kind of funny when you realize that there’s nothing much to see yet this year, at least to the casual observer.
The buds on the grape vines are still almost invisible. The fledgling greens in the raised beds are still to small to peer over the edges.
The asparagus is still working its way toward actual production.
I ate the dandelion leaves for dinner.
The plant that joined us as a gift from a friend, which I know as an Egyptian walking onion is, frankly, the only really assertive sign of edible life.
I know, though, that there’s some volunteer cilantro and parsley off in one corner.
There’s one small-ish rose amidst a huge hedge of bushes.
And, in a sure sign of spring, there are fiddleheads, standing there bravely on a day that’s still more than a bit chilly.
Standing for what will be but isn’t quite yet.
They remind me of the students standing up across America today. Walking out of class for 17 minutes in symbolic memory of the victims of the school shooting at Marjory Stonemason Douglas high school in Florida, one month ago today.
Standing up for effective gun safety regulation in the nation where far too many of them will not live to become adults.
Standing up in the nation where taking a stand, where speaking out, feels increasingly dangerous.
I’ve spent much of today praying and wondering what else I could do to help.
The first thing that I thought of was the fact that I can vote. And I do.
I can also speak out. Even though somebody, somewhere will read this and decide they don’t want to hang out here anymore.
The third thing that I remembered is, perhaps, even more important.
I can be one of those five people and help others to learn to do that as well.
If you’re a more recent friend in this conversation you may be wondering exactly which five people.
Years and years ago I listened to a brilliant psychologist named H. Stephen Glenn explain to an auditorium full of people who cared about kids that if a teenaged child has five adults who will listen to them, take them seriously, and not shame or blame them for their questions, that child is practically immune from ever attempting suicide.
I decided, then and there, that I wanted to be one of those five people.
It seemed like a pretty big job back then.
It seems even bigger now, especially since I have granddaughters growing up in this world.
And, while this is certainly a matter of perspective, the world feels even more complicated than it did back then.
I suspect, if he was still with us in this world, Steve would agree that having those five people is also a good start toward minimizing bullying and aggression in children who mostly just want to matter.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that all their behavior is acceptable.
It just means that the child and the behavior are separate and we can love the one while not tolerating the other.
And so, we listen to our kids. Take them seriously. Remind ourselves, as many times as it takes, that questioning everything is how they learn.
We model, and reinforce, kindness and confidence.
Some of us didn’t get enough of that ourselves and we may be wondering what it feels like and how to do that with others. You can read more about it in my book, Grandmothers Are In Charge Of Hope.
And you can ponder the words of songwriter, Jim Morgan, who climbed up a mountain in North Carolina with a bunch of us one week and taught us a song called Alright By Me.
The chorus, imagined in the voice of God, goes like this:
Ooo, child don’t you walk away telling me its nothing at all when I can see those tears swimming in your eyes, sayin’ your self-confidence has had a great fall. It’s just natural to want to hide when you’re feelin’ that you just don’t belong. Why don’t you crawl up here and sit by my side ’cause when you’re sad I want to sing you this song. ‘Cause you’re alright, you’re alright, you’re alright, you’re just as fine as you can be. And you can stay right here as long as you like ’cause you’re alright by me.
Maybe Jim knew Steve, too!
Now you know them both. And maybe you’ll join all those brave kids, their parents and teachers, the fiddleheads, and me, standing up for what will be but isn’t quite yet.
It’s time to call together circles of those who will speak.