when i purchased my new-to-me car, folks knew that this decision and outlay of cash was a big deal – even bigger than heated seats. and in their kindness and excitement for me, i heard “isn’t it great?” and “aren’t you so excited?” Yes. i appreciate the chevy’s reliability and comfort. and uniform paint job. i am excited to trust this car with cross-country trips rather than wonder if the sweet vibe was going to call another audible on my travels … in the hot evening and wide space between towns. and now i am wondering if my responses to kind share-my-joy friends with “it’s just a conveyance; it won’t cure cancer/hatred/willful ignorance” was more crass-sounding shorthand for what i really meant. which was, “thank you.”

i am glad for this conveyance. it brings groceries home, a dog to the vet and friends to Harry’s. it brings us home.

and after the researching, planning and purchasing – in the conversations with friends – i keep thinking about how we – as people – are more important conveyances.

we. humans.

we have the capacity to bring groceries home. care about the dog enough to take it to the vet. build community with friends who want to invest time with us. have a home to go to.

we are conveyances.

we carry our pasts our joy and others with us.
we transport our ideas to others.
we do the hard work of moving in a community
a place
with precious cargo inside: love, hopes, dreams, ideas, laughter, tears, joy, family, and the work of life.

we pile our people
sometimes the same people
and sometimes a parade of people
into our lives and experiences
as we “figure out what life is really for” and travel on.

we convey our words
and then our truest beliefs about ourselves
and others
our collective value … their collective value
our singular value
in ourselves and the message ekes out
from here to there.

we fill our lives so full with stuff
and noise
and comparisons

and bitterness
and fear
and hate
and grief
and something eventually gives.

like it did this weekend
nearby in Kansas City
El Paso
Gilroy, California
Dayton, Ohio

and all hell breaks loose.

where love and kindness might have grown
patience even
grew something that became rage
and someone’s sister
father mother neighbor
cute guy from class
had to pay.

and the shootings are not even at the top of the news cycle.
we’ve grown inured to violence
division and schism
and feeling under the thumb of something/someone we can only bear under.

it’s this conveying of helplessness
be it economy
a desert where love could have grown in a family
or opportunity
that causes some to open fire
and others to open their hearts and time.

so this idea to “go forth and set the world on fire” is not as much a battle cry to me, but a call for light in darkness.
we have enough darkness
enough suspicion
enough hate
enough worry
enough loneliness

and it is costing us.
this is a bill that our “alligator mouths” cannot pay.
we will pay in people.

what are we conveying to others
to our children and their children?

do we have any right to weep if we are constantly drawing battle lines between us and them?

do we have any compassion left
when we’re done consuming
to convey love and community to someone else?
to the guy who chucks his empties all over the communal trash bin and never in them?

to the man who looks like danger because he is homeless
or to the woman – all spiffy and so terribly empty of all but loneliness that she is cruel
or to the coworker who conveys so little during the day that all must make up for them and work harder?

do we have anything left worth conveying?
anything worth conveying
that will last when we are long gone and our stuff is no longer memory?

i woke to news and rewoke to it again an hour ago.
20 people dead here
9 dead people there
dead mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunties, uncles, neighbors, teachers …
dead from sea to shining sea.

and what can we do.

If it is true that no one has permission to stand aside, what can we do?

what in us can we convey to heal
a fractured land? a land so fractured that we no longer see our enemies as human
to repair the breach with the person who sits next to us in the pew
or address the schism in a village, state or nation?

darkness only furthers itself and destroys.
and in the absence of darkness, light must be.

can we convey light? make space for it?
are we so far gone into us versus them that we can no longer see the humanity in one another?

are we conveying only self-righteousness
and worse … hate?

i know kind and thoughtful people.
one comes to mind especially today. he says hello and tells people when he sees them doing something good – mostly strangers.

he understands how isolation feels
so he has given to lift others
provided places for people he does not know –
and many who would be at odds with him and one another –
to catch their breaths.

he is one of the helpers who mr. rogers referred to.

he doesn’t run (i think to anything) to the battle
but he gets there
and with love
and a willingness to be vulnerable enough
to see people
he loves them.

it’s uncanny to watch him love.
people often don’t know what to say.
and i have watched him change the world in small ways.
sincere ways.
without an agenda except to widen the space where light is
to drive back the darkness.

so we can convey life and wonder and community and civility a bit further into being.

today … so many days we carry the weight of grief and fear.
like today.

can we instead carry one ounce less of us v. them
and one more ounce of compassion
life to share?

can we convey something more than hate, guns and revenge?

that is the work. that is where the discomfort can heal.

wonder and adventure friends.
and today, a fresh grief.

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