This is a picture of a mountain laurel bloom. I took it in Texas last summer. Sadly, these plants don’t have a fragrance. But they do grow to be hardy and beautiful, despite intense heat, hungry deer, occasional brutal freezes, and frequent droughts. Perhaps the Talmud is right when it says, “Behind every blade of grass is an angel whispering, ‘Grow.’” Grass angels must work overtime on mountain laurels.
Actually, I’ve been thinking about growth a lot this week. First and foremost, one of my dearest friends in the world really needs growth right now. My friend had a bone marrow transplant, and the transplanted cells need to grow. I’m sending lots of “Grow, grow!” thoughts to the USA. It’s a pretty basic message, but it still counts as thinking in my book.
But that’s not the only thinking about growth I’ve been doing. With the demonstrations against systemic racism in the USA continuing across the globe, I have to do something. Mark and I have donated some money and probably will give some more. And I have used up my lifetime allocation of “angry” Facebook reaction icons in the last couple of weeks. But I know that I also need to grow in my understanding of the issue of racism, my unconscious assumption that whiteness is the norm for the world and the best that it has to offer.
To that end, Mark and I are participating in an online class offered by our church in Texas. The book we’re studying is called Me and White Supremacy, and it’s by Layla Saad. The book is intended for use over 28 days. Short daily readings on topics such as white fragility and white privilege are followed by questions you’re supposed to reflect on in a journal. So far I’m through Day 5, and, wow, this is an uncomfortable experience. I keep remembering things I did or said or failed to do or say that make me cringe. And that doesn’t count the things that others have done or said (or not done or said) around me.
Here’s an example of what Saad is talking about. Just yesterday, a member of Mark’s family posted something awful. I blocked the source of the post and snoozed the person who made the post, but I didn’t say anything to the family member in question. Mark, bless him, was more direct. He sent this person a message explaining why he was unfriending them. So I exhibited white silence the day after I read and responded to the book’s passage on white silence. God must heave heavy sighs over me. (I also admit to puzzling one sleepy morning over a different friend’s Facebook post about supporting BLM. Why did my friend feel called to voice support for the Bureau of Land Management? But I blame this lapse on the fact that I hadn’t had coffee yet.)
All I can say is, I am ready to grow in this area. I’m actually a person who craves growth. Learning new information all the time was one of my favorite things about being a lawyer. Mark and I have settled in Spain in order to learn a new language, experience a new culture, and travel to new places. I just need a grass angel. I need to be equipped to grow in my understanding of systemic racism and my complicity in it. And I’m hoping that, like the mountain laurel, I can produce some blooms that will make the world a better place.