Time is short, we must learn to do what is important Today.
So many gifts are imparted to us on the backs and breaths and hearts of those who came before us, who loved us, and allowed us to love them in return. Now, Today, Yesterday, This Moment – all of these are the perfect time to commune, remember, honor, exhalt.
It is easy to believe the world has gone haywire. It is easy to believe that the United States has forgotten its name, that the word “United” has meaning, but it has. But its meaning is delivered only in action… Its meaning is delivered only when and if we make it so.
It is easy to forget what is necessary. It is easy to hide one’s head and look the other way. It is easy to believe we are helpless.
Perhaps we need to end our love affair with Easy.
Perhaps we need to reacquaint ourselves with something else. Something stronger. With greater grace. With deeper fortitude and determination. We need to excavate the long lost Hard Work, of Sacrifice.
Our grandparents, and/or great grandparents, understood the trans-formative power of Sacrifice. Through their sacrifice, they endured, changed the world, and turned our country into a story of great success. Easy was not in their vernacular. Easy should be eradicated from ours. We can, we must, decide to strive hard, work hard, give hard, believe hard, embrace hard, sacrifice hard, encourage hard, commit hard. We stand at the edge of a tipping point and a decision is required, a commitment is required, from each and every and all of us.
We must learn to dig deep Hard, and never let go.
In the hearts and homes and peoples of today, Sacrifice as a word, Sacrifice as an action, is virtually obliterated. It is a relic, a ghost of ancient lore. Consumerism, the empty-booming- heartbeat of our once great nation, has rendered us obtuse. It has blinded our vision and led us to believe that we can, should, must, have it all…whatever we want, when we want it, however we want it, no matter what..no matter the cost (and I do not mean monetary).
Sacrifice is the bloodline. Sacrifice is the arrow. Sacrifice is the end of the rainbow. Sacrifice is the gold.
Sacrifice means you take others into consideration. Sacrifice means you are committed to never giving up. Sacrifice means you work hard today for the glory of tomorrow. Sacrifice means you strive. Sacrifice means you believe in the day to come. Sacrifice means you are unafraid of blood, sweat, and tears. Sacrifice stands on faith, which stands on priority, which stands on determination, which stands on self-respect, which stands on the blood, sweat, and tears of those who came before you, who believed in you, who sacrificed for you, who gave to you, so that you may give in return. Sacrifice considers the many rather than the few. Sacrifice means there are times when you must put others before you. Sacrifice understands the essence of time, the span of time, and that anything and everything done today, will have affect on the tomorrow of every tomorrows. Sacrifice understands the hand reaching back, to the hand that pulls forward. Sacrifice understands that when one falls, we all fall. Sacrifice means you will do everything that you can to never let that happen.
In my family’s bloodline runs the hard and fast and indomitable blood and spirit of many amazing, gut-giving, and deeply sacrificing ordinary people…here, today, I will write of one.
Alice was, and remains, my maternal grandmother…despite the fact that she is dead. Alice believed in only one word, Yes. Alice spoke sing-song, with a dear Norwegian accent until she no longer spoke at all. Alice moved away from the farm and into the city at 16, to live with strangers, to work, to send her earnings home, to feed her siblings, to keep the farm. Alice took care of whoever needed taking care of. I don’t know who took care of Alice…God perhaps. Or life itself. Alice fed the Homeless who rode the rails into St. Paul, along the mighty Mississippi, just below the bluffs, just to see Alice. The bluffs belonged to Alice, Alice belonged to everyone. The men would sit on her back stoop, eat hot bread straight from the oven and from the heart, of Alice. Alice wrapped everyone tight against, and inside, her generous bountiful breast. Alice was not beautiful, she was handsome. Alice was the most beautiful of all.
Alice is my grandmother. I love her more today than ever before – though not as much as tomorrow, or the day to come after that. Alice was released to the soil more than 20 years ago – and yet her spirit sings, and rises, and comforts, and leads. Here is a small gift, for her.
Make room for the trees, Alice says, high past the sky. It touches down as bird song, the spill of rain. Wind.
Wonder I, if you would recognize, Alice the sounds of evening here, so far from your once there. Space, where silence tumbled tumbles less and less, and more and more boomerangs sound – under stone, inside wood, against dull star skies.
As it is, remains crickets, and once the sound of owl, on a late evening stroll up the hill. Rivers, not of water, but rolling cars sound outside the door, and booming moons, round and bold silent, as witnessed long before.
Punctured heavens of diamond light your eyes must have absorbed – out there, then back, in the tall grass beside the barn and naked land.
Naked. I wish to find that now, here, Alice – in this blink that carries me, the way it once carried you, blinks ago on prairie hill, in farmland weight, rich with loamy soil.
To mind’s eye, comes a field rising gentle as feather down, the gold sway hushing, hushing, catching endless, still.
…Or fire, licking clouds, deep in dome of sky, cleansing, cleansing, re-igniting the call for seedlings, saplings, will.
…Or meadow, stretching, stretching, alight with bloom and water song, tall trees that kiss the graces of what may come and yet to come.
Make room!, cries out the endless, unending, endurance of time. Make room! I am coming I am coming I am coming