My son’s last seventh grade science assignment for the school year was to keenly observe an area of our backyard over a four week period. He was to look beyond the grass and the weeds and the crisp brown leaves that never made it to the compost bin to see what is living in our backyard. This meant sitting still and turning over rocks. It meant patience and curiosity. It meant listening and learning and sometimes typing a long, descriptive summary of his questions about the plant’s outward appearance on Google.com. He was excited there’s an app that will zoom in on a plant and tell you it’s perfect and difficult to pronounce proper name along with it’s history, origin story, expected size range and how to treat them to get the absolute best results from the plant for your garden or yard. Yes, there’s always an app for that. This is a perfect experiment for a seventh grader who is still so full of curiousity and wonder, especially if it means getting dirty.
As I watched him watch the yard, I couldn’t help but think this is a good metaphor for where we find ourselves today. How many of us have keenly observed our own backyard to the microscopic extent that was asked of my seventh grader? How many of us have turned over rocks to find out what’s living underneath them? Checking our prejudices and stereotypes for what is the whole truth. It’s hard to do this kind of excavation because for so long it’s been in the background, happening to other people, and sometimes we think, but it happened so long ago. That wasn’t us.
It’s kind of like when I’m working my recovery and think about what I need to make amends for in my own life. When have I sugar coated or said, well, it wasn’t that bad? What have I forgotten or swept under the rug, away from prying eyes, making my home look nice and tidy? Yes, this is a period of excavation for our country and ourselves. A period to sit and listen without saying BUT or HOWEVER or interupting at all. Listen to what is being said. Listen and observe and (re)learn. And sometimes Google. There is not an app for this.