It causes me to grapple with my weaknesses. I'm possessive of this mountain. I prefer deer and bears to two legged creatures who leave trash behind and trample our baby pines. I'm horrible; I know.
Life is like that, I suppose. We're placed here with a bounty of strangers.
Strangers who have life experiences on which to draw that differ from our own.
At the beginning of this school year, the staff of my school district was given a presentation by a former gang member and drug dealer who is now a school administrator with a Ph.D. Among other very powerful and accurate demonstrations, he approached one of the teachers in very close proximity with an aggressive body posture and loudly said some of the things that we often hear parents say in our school district. It was familiar. We see it every day. (I work in what some might call "the 'hood." While personally very sheltered from it, I grew up in that sort of neighborhood too. Surprised? You might be.)
Suddenly, the behaviors of all of those kids and teenagers from my growing up years made sense-- the aggressive ones who scared me. And all of those parents who threaten me so often in meetings as they seek to advocate for their children and themselves -- the ones that we keep a sheriff's deputy close at hand for -- I get them now. Not completely, but better.
We're all coming from the same place, I suppose. We're all a little afraid, aren't we? Afraid of not being accepted? Afraid of being without? Afraid of not being loved? And so we reach for what we know and we use it to protect ourselves. The complicating factor is that we all know different experiences. We've all been taught different moral codes. And so we huddle together with the ones whose experiences and codes are most similar to our own and we build a wall around ourselves to protect us from those we don't understand. You know which ones I mean, - the threatening ones; the scary kids on the block -- the ones who are scary to us while we are being scary to them.
There is, at this moment, some sort of music I can't even identify blaring from off the deck of the vacation rental adjacent to our home. And there is yelling. They're having a great deal of fun, on their New Year's vacation in the forest, on my normally silent mountain. I'd be lying if I tried to deny that it's a bit disconcerting. Still, I'm sure they are seeking peace-- the same peace that our family came here in search of. Peace and safety from fear and loneliness. An escape from stress. An assurance of love.
And so, I'm going to put my shoes on and go for a stroll through the forest 6000 feet above the Pacific and pray that they find that peace and that their souls are nourished and healed while they visit our mountain. Maybe they'll think of praying for me; God knows I have a lot of growing to do.
Pax Christi dear ones,
May you be filled with the peace and safety of our Lord's love,