A Shimmer of Hope?
I am certainly way too cool and cynical to watch anything about Royalty, never mind a wedding. However, I do remember sitting on my friend’s bed years ago and watching Diana’s funeral, surprised and slightly embarrassed by my abundant yet silent tears. Perhaps the disparaging elements of my disposition hold too much weight over me. Perhaps I really am and always will be that Flower Child, peace signs a’flashing.
In 1967 I drove Big Grey, my first car, an inheritance from my soon-to-be brother-in-law, from West Long Branch, New Jersey, where I was a sophomore in college, to Washington, D.C., to participate in the peace march protesting the Vietnam War. My first of many demonstrations, I remember painting poor Big Grey with fluorescent peace signs and flowers for his southern odyssey down the Turnpike. Hunkered down and squashed against the curb with my pseudo-friend and super-crush, Diane, we adorned Noble Grey, a 1958 four-door-Plymouth, fin-to-fin wider than any sideways refrigerator, with day-glow paint. Not accustomed the open road, Grey gulped down quarts of oil at every rest stop between West Long Branch and D.C., terrifying me as his engine light flashed psychedelically on the dashboard. I attempted to feign cool. Although I was probably there more for proximity to pot-and-Marlboro-chain-smoking Diane (her faux blond hair reminded me of Mary Travers) than the peace movement, I believed.
I believed that we could make a difference.
I always believed we would make a difference.
That belief, that hope led me to the Peace Corps, and it led me to Malcolm X Shabazz High School in Newark where I taught for 18 years; it led me to an ashram and, in a sense, it leads me through my day, this day, today, the day in which we sit.
I always believed.
And yet walking right alongside that deeply instilled hope (was it my early Girl Scout Camp training that leaned me toward the light of connection and goodness?), my inner cynic was born, a defensive shield against caring too much about life. I learned to never let anybody know how much you cared, how much you believed. Then you are vulnerable. Then they can hurt you. Then there is something to lose.
Decades passed, as these two elements co-existed within me, trading places of prominence situationally throughout the years.
Fast-forward to the 2016 presidential election.
Let’s just keep moving on, shall we?
Fast-forward through these last post-election seventeen months.
Keep moving, please.
The Royal wedding.
There was no way I would watch. No way. Ultra-rich white aristocracy? Who cares?
And I didn’t watch. Until later that night, sprawled on the sofa like any good citizen, flicking my way through channels, looking for a decent-enough movie, there it was; a recap of the wedding. I looked at Ras; she looked at me. A silent nod of agreement passed between us.
And I wept.
I wept Diana-like silent tears, that I tried to suck in, unnoticed.
And my internal flower child reveled in the diversity, the aristocracy spiced with Everybody Else, the people of color so blessing with energy, the celebration. My cynic, nowhere to be found, hunkered, pissed in the corner, waiting for her turn at the microphone in my brain.
As I lay on that couch, I considered:
What’s that I’m feeling?
What is that tingle?
It’s familiar yet not.
Ginger ale shooting through my bloodstream?
I don’t think so.
a shimmer of hope?
YES. A shimmer of hope did flutter through me.
Perhaps, just perhaps, it’s going to be okay. Perhaps Europe can lead the way, can align and establish sanity, equity, equality, decency, courtesy, sanity. Oops, I repeated sanity. And I will repeat it again, sanity, thrice beckoned.
A world where everybody’s voice is welcomed.
A world where the color of your skin is the contribution, is the gift.
A world where the long arc of justice does prevail.
My cynic has been quietly mumbling since that day, but I choose today to deny her access to the keyboard.
Today I choose to say—perhaps, just perhaps, it is going to be okay.
Perhaps hope, that crafty and sneaky little fella, filled with audacity and spunk and sacred silence, lives in each of our hearts.
And here is a gift to each of our hearts, Stand By Me, from the Royal Wedding, as sung by the Kingdom Choir of South London. If you didn’t hear it yet, please, do listen. If you heard it, relax again into its arms.
So friends, what’s your relationship to hope? Where do you feel it in your body? What do you do to stoke it? For what do you hope? Please send on your responses, now, then, and always. I am firstname.lastname@example.org.