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Posts Tagged ‘landscape’

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https://www.mass.gov/locations/blue-hills-reservation

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It may not have been the smartest move, to visit a favorite salt marsh when the windchill is below zero, but sometimes it’s about forward momentum, to keep moving, and that’s what we did this morning while the light was bright. We didn’t last long on the trail, but it was enough.

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One thing that was hard to capture was how everything, every grass, branch, dried leaf, was encased in ice and they glowed in the sun, but it was too cold (for me) to stand still and frame the “perfect” shot, and my partner in crime kept telling me “we only have so many reserves of heat.” He had a destination … to the end of a particularly popular viewing area. We made it there but it was the least protected of areas and the wind hit, and we had a moment of “Go team!” before the race/skate back to the car.

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And on that race/skate back to the car I saw something wonderful. Finches, cardinals, doves and other birds I can’t name, feeding at the station that had been set up. Under different circumstances, with different preparation, I could have planted my feet and photographed all of their color and variation. But given my numb fingers, I figured enough was enough and I looked forward to future opportunities.

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Not too far from my home there is a man. This is his book on the ground in his part-time residence by the Mystic River. I found the book while hiking and venturing into areas I normally don’t go. But it is winter and there are paths revealed I had not seen before. One of those paths led me to a little camp where lay the odds and ends you’d find in a home. Like books. I’d seen such places before around the region’s urban rivers. Temporary shelters. As winter approaches and the foliage thins the resident moves on from a now too visible place. But with spring’s return and with it the leaves on the trees, and the thick grasses that obscure paths from curious eyes, he resumes residence or someone else will take his place. This man, a bibliophile based on his pile of books, lives near me. Is that person my neighbor? And if I do consider him so, how does that affect how I treat him, how I regard him, what I might do for him even if we were never to exchange words? It is a weird question for a weird and complicated situation but we are living in the weirdest and most complicated of times.

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The concept of neighbors is on my mind because I read a Washington Post Q&A with Jerry Falwell Jr, President of Liberty University, and the son of the televangelist Reverend Jerry Falwell. He’s a major financial backer of Trump and from his pulpit of sorts he espouses conservative right-wing ideology. In the interview, Falwell states, “It’s such a distortion of the teachings of Jesus to say that what he taught us to do personally — to love our neighbors as ourselves, help the poor — can somehow be imputed on a nation. ”

When I read that comment (and actually the whole interview) to a friend expecting his blood to boil as much as mine, he said quite calmly, “You might ask him who is his neighbor? Is it the people next door to his house? The students who attend his school? Is Trump his neighbor? How about the children at the border? Does he even care who his neighbors are?”

Now people more well-versed than I in theology and biblical text and all that good stuff have commented quite widely on the web about Falwell’s words so I don’t need to go there and I can let my blood pressure drop but the concept of neighbors is sticking with me. How do we get to know people? How do we come to love them? I said love not like. There are plenty of people I love but don’t necessarily like. You see I’m assuming if we love someone we may treat them differently than if we were to hate someone or perhaps even worse yet to “not see” someone because they are a non-entity. They are invisible like the man in the woods.

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My mom comes to mind. She could be very good to her neighbors even the ones she didn’t like, and my mom didn’t like a whole lot of people. She was feisty that way. My dad helped neighbors all the time too but you could see the struggle on my mom’s face. Once she invited the elderly next door neighbor over for a plate of food and the gentleman sat in the living room and sat and sat and sat and … finally my mom left my dad in the room with him and sat on her bed resting her head in her hand. My younger brother and I kept peeking into the living room and finally we said to her, “Ma, when’s he going to leave?!” She shushed us right away. “You two be quiet. You know better than that. Be kind to your neighbors.” And then she sighed and put her head back in her hand. The man eventually left well-sated and with a smile on his face. My brother and I learned that we need to be kind to our neighbors but first we have to see them and recognize them as such. As our neighbors.

Who is your neighbor?

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