A Message for Peace

I threw out my words today.

I was going to write some fun ideas for the “less-than-12-days-before-Christmas” panic-stricken individuals who vowed to “Keep it Simple” – who boycotted the Black Friday of Consumerism, resisted the lure of Cyber Monday (but maybe supported the Small Business Saturday caught in the middle), and who are now, ironically, complicating their lives by trying to make that perfect homemade gift that says, “I love you” – or maybe just, “I care”  – or at this point, “I don’t care anymore – just take this, and if you are my friend, act like you like it,” and we aren’t mentioning any names here.

2013 Barbolian Calendar cover - raspberry smiles
Front page of 2013 Barbolian Fields calendar

Ok – Truth be told – I would love it if you would buy my stuff and, in the process, feel good about supporting a hobby farmer / small business / modern homesteader (or whatever the heck it is I am). The calendars turned out pretty cool, even if they do include some advertising from the printer; the Zazzle stuff is both useful and fun (all photos and drawings by yours truly). I get a kickback if you take a link from my site and buy a book – the gift of knowledge is, after all, priceless.

I would also love it if you supported your local craftsperson and/or farmer or other small business owner who works so hard to keep afloat. Everyone wins with a gift certificate to a local store or CSA.

Of course, when we romanticize the Good Ol’ Days when people were more appreciative of simple, wholesome things, we have to remember that the reason an orange in a stocking hung by the chimney with care was a big deal was because it was the time of the Great Depression.

But hey – even in today’s lousy economy, you could still pick a handful of rosemary, put together a basket of goodies from the kitchen, make a wreath with sticks and stones, or create a coupon like the ones my kids used to give me: “Good for Free Carwashes for the Rest of Your Life” (where ARE those coupons, anyway? They mysteriously disappeared!)

But then I turned on the TV, and the joviality ended. Understand, I have been turning off the TV since before the election, because it was bringing so much negativity into my life. But I cannot forever live in a bubble, even if that is a pretty apt description of my garden paradise where I frequently escape. I can shut out the political arguing and posturing, the latest on the centuries-old conflicts in the Middle East, the annoying metaphor of a “fiscal cliff” that makes it sound like we are about to go over Niagara Falls in a whiskey barrel … and maybe we are….in which case, let me find you a recipe that uses corn mash as a key ingredient to soften the ride…

For when I turned on the TV and heard of the massacre of children in Connecticut, I, like so many others, sat in dumbfounded bewilderment, knowing I could not write what I started to say. No matter where you live, these ARE OUR CHILDREN.

Sadly, they are not alone. Innocent children live in fear all over the world. Others die of hunger and treatable disease. I cringe at the words, “senseless killing.” When is killing NOT senseless?

STOP – for just a moment here.

QUESTION. How did we, the human race, as an “intelligent” species, stray so far off the path of nurturing and healing?

We are at the darkest time of year, and the world does seem very dark indeed. It should be a time of rest and rejuvenation; a time of comfort and joy; a time when our inner spark brightens to cast a light around us.

“What do you want for Christmas?” … this focus on stuff – a shift from the act of giving to measuring the value of the thing that is given, how the numbers add up in our economy, and how we define prosperity and the associated level of happiness.

Why is it that we feel we Need the latest flashy widget – a thing quite possibly made with labor that cannot sustain the people who make it, with materials that pollute our waters, and that results in something that gives transitory pleasure and then ends in a landfill?

Rose Hip in Winter

How can it be that even human life seems dispensable?

Have we forgotten how enjoyable it is to hold a cup of soup in both hands and inhale the aroma of steamed fresh vegetables? To watch a bird, perched on a branch, chirping with the morning sun? To see a flower that still blooms on the verge of winter? To help those in need – or to give the gift of our time – a smile – a hug? To hold a small child in our arms and assure them the world is a safe place full of love?

Is it the end of the world on that magical number, 12-21-12 – or is it the Solstice, a new beginning, a turning toward the sun?

Reflections in a dewdropOn this eve of entering Winter, at the edge of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or the holiday of hearts that has no formal name at all – can we not go back to that “simple” way of living that takes a closer look at what we really need? A way that values appreciation for what we have, that takes pride in the things we make with our own hands, that stands in awe at the complexity and beauty of nature? A way of profound gratitude toward life itself – it is such a miracle that we even exist! A way in which love for the creatures of this earth and for our fellow man is an extension of our being – where the way we live is a way of respect: respect for the earth and for all living things, including our fellow man.

I may have strayed a bit from the theme of this blog, which is essentially about gardening, but also much about life. The garden can be a spiritual place – one that you hold in your heart.

Each of us must be a light in the darkness. As we close this year and open anew, we must bring the light of hope and compassion.

Green Man in WinterIn Joni Mitchell’s words,

We are stardust.
Billion-year-old carbon
We are golden…
Caught in the devil’s bargain
And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden…

~Joni Mitchell, “Woodstock”

My Christmas Wish:

Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward All.

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