On Sunday evening, my girls came home from their neighborhood adventures with another stray chicken–the second in as many weeks. My daughter, Beatrix, stroked the dense black and white feathers and announced, “We’re calling this one Pepper.” Just then our neighbor returned from an emergency trip to see his dying father, and as his family drove their car slowly into their driveway, all chaos broke loose. The street suddenly exploded with a loose chicken, children, dogs, and one cat, all tearing madly after each other.
I felt half-amused, half-sorry for our grieving neighbors as they returned to the melee of activity, but later, thinking back on how the street turned out to gather around them as they unpacked the car (one neighbor brought a pitcher of G&Ts), I concluded that it wasn’t an altogether bad way to come home. From quiet sorrow into the chaos of life: animals and children, neighbors clicking their plastic cups together, murmuring, “I’m sorry about your dad. . .” and “We’ve got dinner if you want to come over.”
This past week brought more bad news: a new round of terrorist attacks in London and another step back from hard-won cooperation needed to sustain the earth. This morning as I drove my daughter to school, these mighty fractures, combined with my own personal griefs, descended like a great weight. I felt tears well up as I listened to the radio–of all things, that pop song by Charlie Pluth that goes, “Superman ain’t got nothing on me. Come on, I’m only one call away.”
Swift self-analysis followed: Sentimental drivel — making me weepy– WHY?
I admit to having a penchant for superhero movies. This past weekend, when Wonder Woman charged across the front line to free a village, I was sprinting with her, wrist deflectors up, every righteous muscle tensed. And this morning as I thought of the hurting people in this world and in my life, I wanted to pull out my sword. Come on, I’m only one call away.
But even the superhero movies these days–at least the good ones–are marked by this complexity: even with superhuman powers, you can’t save the world. Most of the time, you can’t even save the people closest to you. We are weighted; we want superheroes. But as the iconic Flaming Lips song Waiting for Superman says, what we carry is “just too heavy for Superman to lift.”
Superheros have always been part of human mythology. When we slam up against our own limitations, we often scan the sky, looking for salvation. But it is our hands that must shape this world for good, our feet that must trod the forgotten places.
“And while I don’t expect you to save the world,” poet and true wonder-woman Nikki Giovanni once said, “I do think it’s not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary.” Love, share, engage. These are the superhero tasks of our lives.
Here’s what I can do this week: throw open my door and join the chaos, chase a chicken and say “I’m sorry,” despite the fact that those words just don’t seem like enough. I can stand alongside, tell the truth to the people in my life, actively love my neighbor. And when the time is right, I can march. I’m no Wonder Woman–but I am full of wonder, and the light inside compels me to pursue peace and healing. This is our shared, daily, unspectacular work, done one moment at a time, each holy hour.
Here’s to cultivating wonder,
P.S. I hope you won’t miss Lindsay’s reflections on Friday’s blog –I always look forward to capping a busy week that way! And please note–if you’d like blog posts delivered to your mailbox as well, you can hit the “follow” button for weekly deliveries.
P.P.S. Check Facebook and Instagram this week for something REALLY LOVELY. We’re thrilled to be able to send some EHH to your actual, old-school mailboxes–handwritten, addressed just to you. And thank you again for being part of this community!o