If you wrote a post for this month’s check-in, I invite you to join the One Word party, share in Comments below, or reflect on your own–whatever works.
I’m just glad you’re here!
I usually love writing these monthly updates. I love hearing what everyone’s up to with their word. I love thinking back on how my own prompt played out; how the month ended versus where it began. Some months are transformative for me. Others, quietly reflective. Some, just fun! And there’s an occasional dud, naturally.
This time around? I wanted to skip out altogether.
I won’t. But I did think about it.
Because holy cow. This prompt was, simply put, crappy timing. (Or maybe perfect timing, and I just wasn’t up to the task?)
“In such ugly times, the only protest is beauty.”
—singer + songwriter Phil Ochs
See, I was stepping into some thoughtful waters in June–responding to this Phil Ochs quote my minister used a few times in May, the quote that captured and didn’t let me go. (Here’s how I’d planned to navigate June.)
It was a big bite to take, though: Moving has required, literally and figuratively, most of my time + energy. I did do some journaling and a little reading this month; and as I’d suspected, beauty as protest is really interesting to me. (Suffragettes. Civil Rights Movement. Resistance in South Korea. Political statements in Puerto Rico.) (I want to learn more about it all.)
None of that, though…the historical or global framework…is where I am right now.
Presently, I’m stuck on the ‘ugly times’ of here + now. Along with millions of American women–and plenty of good men–I’m struggling with the fact that this is my country??
I’ve struggled since late 2016. (While millions, I recognize, have struggled the past few hundred years.) I’ve wrestled with hanging a flag. With saying the Pledge of Allegiance. With the lyrics to patriotic songs. Songs that once moved me to tears still move me to tears–for different reasons these days.
This land is your land; this land is my land… This land is made for you and me.
Yesterday, as we’ve done almost every last Sunday in June, we went to Chautauqua Institution to hear the United States Army Field Band and Soldier’s Chorus–a tradition I carried over with my kids from my own childhood.
They perform a fantastic mix of music from Broadway, opera, barber shop, marches + patriotic pieces. The enlisted musicians are serious yet playful; expressive and interactive. Their role is ‘Musical Ambassadors of the Army,’ and they couldn’t do it any better. (For real! They won a Grammy last year.) We recognize several of the musicians from year to year and have watched the same commander (conductor) for as long as I can remember now.
While the performance never feels like a political experience, it always feels like a patriotic one. The musicians are uniformed; it’s an Army band, after all. And if you take patriotic by the books, that means having or expressing devotion to and vigorous support for one’s country.
A hard place to go right now.
But Colonel Jim Keene, commander of the band, he lit a match in the dark yesterday. I wasn’t sure how his story would go when he started–and I could tell that Linc, sitting next to me, was braced for discomfort, as well.
The band + chorus were performing at Independence National Historic Park in Philadelphia on Friday evening, just hours after the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Colonel Keene remarked that helicopters were flying above, and he chuckled, because they don’t usually get that much attention!
But he grew serious very quickly and said the helicopters were present because thousands of people had gathered outside city hall. The Colonel spoke–I heard solidarity in his tone, and Linc did, too, he told me afterward–to the band’s purpose, to what they represent.
One of those things? Upholding our right to [peaceful] protest.
And there it was. A glimpse–a glimpse–of beauty as protest in these ugly times.
In the music of a military band, the message from a Colonel in the US Army.
A place, to be honest, I never would have thought to look.
There’s no tidy way to wrap this up. Engaging has just been…a challenge lately. So I’ll simply say thanks for plugging along with me, and I look forward to popping into your neck of the woods to hear how you’re doing these days.