No Mow May

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SHELBURNE – There are two sides to every story. When I walk out my front door, I am greeted by mud and mosquitoes. As I gaze out my office window, the new grass is decorated with dandelions, volunteer violets, and bees. I don’t make lawn decisions here, but I am hoping for a No Mow May.

April 30 is a day of remembrance for me, the anniversary of my lost child, Grace Gaia, thirty-four years ago. She showed up this year as a bouquet of tulips, poetry, and a paper posy, perfect early presents for Mother’s Day.

May Day can mean anything from a celebration of spring to a distress call. May is a time of graduations (endings) or commencements (beginnings), depending on your perspective. I was a senior at Skidmore College in 1972. Students actively protested the Vietnam War. Some classes and exams were canceled, but we came together for commencement. We demonstrated our distress then joined hands to celebrate.

Several years ago, my friend, Jack Kornfield, said, “It’s time to put down our signs and hold hands.” Radical love is my favorite form of protest.

Campus war protests are again dominating the national news. As I try to listen generously to all sides, I certainly hear some hate speech, but mostly I hear fear and pleas for peace on both sides. I don’t understand why so many people equate peace with hatred.

I recently saw a segment on the PBS NewsHour about the Jerusalem Youth Chorus (jerusalemyouthchorus.org/).    I watched through my tears of radical amazement, a term coined by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a Polish immigrant. It’s what I hear in Naomi Shihab Nye’s poetry, especially in her most famous poem, “Kindness.” Naomi is a Palestinian American whose family lost their home in Palestine to the Israelis in 1948. The poem begins, “Before you know what kindness really is/ you must lose things…”

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