My son is 4 years old, and he brings me wildflowers every day. He calls them "early Mother's day presents". One day I asked him to bring a vase to put a daisy in. He brought me a canning jar from the porch, which had already been home to several caterpillars and other bugs this summer. Much too large for a single daisy. I put the daisy across the top and set it on my nightstand, a tribute to the stage this sweet boy is in, simple gifts brought to Mama's bed in a chubby fist, a vase much too big for the flower but not too big for the expression of love.
I feel just so about our nation. My vote is a drop in the bucket, an often childlike expression of simple love for the freedoms I'm allowed here. I feel a reverence for the country I've been raised in, freedom running deep as life blood down from generation to generation, something we couldn't earn with our blood, sweat and tears now but was passed on to us from a different time. The problems we face today are many: poverty, social issues such as the definition of marriage, life and death, integrity in politics and business, and immigration. But to think that our forefathers lived in a time without problems would be to romanticize the birth of our nation as a simpler time. Slavery, social hierarchy, widespread poverty, lack of access to the most basic of human needs such as clean water, food supply, health care and housing, women's rights, worker's rights, landowner's rights, and issues surrounding Native people have all been large issues of our nation's past that still bleed into our modern problems. No one had a clear solution for those problems then, just as we lack clarity as we face the issues of today.
What I do see, all around me, are expanding hearts and minds on both the right and left - bloggers, friends, neighbors; Christians and non-Christians - all voicing concerns, empathizing, seeing needs, and trying to address them in whatever way they can. I hope this is a time of revitalization of our country and a turning point in history that we will look back on as a victory in the future. I can feel the shifting sands under my feet and, as I do whenever change is afoot, I feel a little unsettled. I worry about what socialized medical care would mean for my family, because we support our family by working in health care. Yet we pay tens of thousands of dollars every year in medical bills ourselves, so who knows? I watch, and listen, and I hold my canning jar vase in my hands, silently. All I know is the solution I hold in my hands is probably not fitting for the bouquet.
This July 4th, I am just happy to be part of the masses lighting firecrackers, singing anthems, raising flags, smiling wide for freedom and history and shared experience and joy over this great nation.
I am God, your God. Every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle of a thousand hills. Call upon me in your day of trouble, and I will deliver you, and you will honor me. (from Psalm 50)