“Hope is a fragile thing, Peter continued, as fragile as a flower. Its fragility makes it easy to sneer at, by people who see life as a dark and difficult ordeal, people who get angry when something they can’t believe in themselves gives comfort to others. They prefer to crush the flower underfoot as if to say: See how weak this thing is, see how easily it can be destroyed. But, in truth, hope is one of the strongest things in the universe. Empires fall, civilizations vanish into dust, but hope always comes back, pushing up through the ashes, growing from seeds that are invisible and invincible.”-Michael Faber
Many of you know that I live in Minneapolis, MN. This is where the civil unrest began, with the homicide of George Floyd, in the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic. The central east-west corridor that services my neighborhood, is destroyed.
There are no grocery stores, no liquor stores, no pharmacies, no library, few banks, few post offices, and only one gas station, and few low-income apartments remain. But we persist. And I persist in this studio. My work is more important than ever. Yesterday I wrote this post on Facebook for all who follow me, worry about me, and love me.
This is my little garden of hope, valiantly growing in my parking lot: the only place with enough sun except, maybe, for the bus stop out front!
It was another quiet night. Scary National Guard troops in vehicles moving slowly by the studio. I have a visceral reaction to the presence of the National Guard, based on my experience of their lethality in the 1960s. But their work has been generally calm and measured. Still, it is still a frightening sight.
They are protecting the sacred memorial space at 38th and Chicago, where George died. People gather there around the clock, grieving with one another. The pain and anger take some into the zone far beyond hope, into such deep mourning and frustration over this senseless death that they cannot see a way out.
I choose hope. I am realistic, though. The systemic problems are hundreds of years deep and human nature much deeper. It is hard to trust one another and even harder to trust our institutions. The targeted destruction of the neighborhood services: food, pharmacy, low-income housing: has increased the distrust as peaceful protesters feel targeted by outrage over the damage they did not do. Many cannot yet choose hope.
But people, from within and without of Minneapolis are donating food, money, time to the cleanup. They chose hope.
Many neighborhoods are taking turns guarding the businesses that provide for their needs. They are choosing hope.
Solutions will come gradually. Most will not work, none will reach perfection. But we must still join together and work hopefully toward a more just society. Three steps forward and two steps back is still one step forward.
Hope is such a fragile thing, like spring peas and tiny carrots. Tiny, unlikely shoots of green life. It must be looked for and nurtured.
Today the birds celebrate the heavy rain, the millipedes scuttle about, glistening blackly in the morning sun. Mail is delivered. Trash is picked up. Buses, though not yet trains, run.
The memorial service for George Floyd is tomorrow.
But, for now, some of the extraordinary ordinary returns.
Yesterday I cooked. Today I will do laundry. And I will continue to create beauty in this studio. It is what I do. Hope and beauty. Extraordinary, ordinary, and fragile.