Carlsbad Flower Fields March 2022
I am blessed to live in San Diego County where the glories of Spring live eternal.
Sure, like everywhere else in the world, COVID disrupted the mood here for a bit and for a time, I wasn’t sure our Spring would ever be the same.
Yet, Spring is finally here in the county and it’s back to our regularly scheduled programming of never ending blue skies, daytime highs consistently hovering in the 70’s, backyard gardens filled with the buds of new life, birds happily singing in the trees above the drone of the bees below.
Schools and parks are once again filled with the sounds of cheers and laughter; Concert venues, theaters and festivals in full swing. The Gaslamp District is hopping, church bells are ringing, the Padres are playing and thousands of colorful umbrellas dot the beaches like exclamation points on the fact that nothing, not even the still circulating remnants of COVID, can keep Spring from unfolding in all of its’ radiant glory in my town!
Yes, San Diego is blooming again and it is a good feeling.
And yet, I feel guilty, sad, uncertain, mixed up, destroyed inside by the news and images I see coming out of Ukraine.
For Ukrainians, it is a different kind of Spring.
One in which blue skies and bodies are black with the soot of exploding bombs.
One in which strangers huddle together on the cold cement for warmth, not at a park or concert, but in a subway turned underground shelter, under the only blanket that one of them had time to grab before their homes were destroyed, as a little girl’s angelic voice rises above their fear, telling them to “Let it Go.”
One in which the shade trees lining the once peaceful streets of Kyiv, where birds nests and blossoms only a few weeks before heralded the coming of Spring, lay like naked soldiers, charred canopies, forever dormant.
Even in black and white, there is no covering up the reality of what has happened to the Ukrainian people, the images are startling.
Regular folks. Mothers and fathers, the elderly, infants, pregnant women, kids with cancer, school teachers, doctors, nurses, all just trying to live their lives, do their jobs, get well, make their way to safety, systematically exterminated in groups and one by one, their negotiated safe passage destroyed by Russia, no care or concern they are not soldiers, no respect for human life, none at all.
What kind of a monster does this?
I recall learning about the Holocaust as a child, learning about WWII, about Hitler and his plan to exterminate the Jewish people to create a master race, ultimately the Nazi’s killed 6 million Jews and 5 million non-Jews. I really couldn’t comprehend the magnitude of that at the time, but I remember hearing these words from my teacher, “I am teaching you children about this evil because this must never happen again, never again!”
It’s hard to look at the images from Ukraine, the ravages of war on it’s people, it’s cities and towns. The bewilderment on the faces of soldiers on both sides, the millions of Ukrainians walking barefoot for miles, their past lives limited to a shopping bag, hoping for a crust of bread and a drink of water in a neighboring country where they do not know a soul, the dead bodies, both Ukrainian and Russian, piled on top of each other like cargo and wonder what happened to “never again?”
I wonder about the Ukrainian people and what they think when the buzz of bombs over their heads sound like a thousand angry bees, whom do they believe, trust?
Do they cry out, “Why God, have you abandoned me?”
Or do they know that it isn’t God who abandoned them, stole their Spring from them, but the result of the actions of a madman emboldened.
But emboldened how? The devil is in the details folks and I think the devil has been tempting Eve with the apple for years. Using social media and certain politicians, entertainers, business executives, and even church leaders, around the globe to facilitate divide. Setting up spin factories to pushing propaganda, fake news, lies, to turn us against each other, to focus our attention on what separates us, so that he can do his dirty work elsewhere. We’ve been so busy fighting and blaming each other over that apple that we left a big gaping, real world hole for the devil to get through.
Thank heaven for President Zelenskyy, who isn’t concerned about throwing our ignorant, Kim and Kanye, obsessed booties under the bus and instead is offering up practical solutions for how we can work together to weed God’s garden and rid the world of this pest once and for all. In my humble opinion, if Zelenskyy was a Marvel Superhero, he’d be the “God of Spring” for sure.
Practically speaking tho, beyond Ukraine, this Spring has been a wake up call for me. A reality check that my “never again” world needs my help, my attention.
I need to pay more attention to the darkness that has enveloped a part of the world I thought little about before the war broke out, to understand where freedom is in jeopardy around the globe and who the players are.
I need to seek out more opportunities here in San Diego County to be a light in my own community, to find ways to use my gifts to build a bridge where there is a divide, bringing people together in peace.
I need to continue to spread kindness and positivity through my platform, to demonstrate that it is truly possible to have civil discourse, to agree to disagree, to love others like Jesus loves me, while bringing attention to issues that are of importance to me.
I need to be brave and speak up in the face of tyranny, not just when it’s easy, but everywhere I see it, so that the mustard seeds of hate and divide have no chance to germinate on my watch.
Most importantly, I need to continue to bloom and grow in honor of those who no longer can, by tuning out the nonsense and planting my roots firmly in soil that is productive and worthy of my time and talents, worthy of all of those who have stood for and died in the name of freedom.
For if I don’t do these things, then I fear that the images of Ukrainian children on a train to nowhere in particular, their palms pressed against the glass in farewell to the only life they have ever known, will one day seem as normal to me, to the world, as the blue sky, as normal as the birds singing in the trees and the bees buzzing in the garden and the collective “we” will just accept all of it as Spring and forget all about “never again.”
I can’t let that happen to Spring. But for now, I will walk among the flowers here in my community, smile brightly and think. Think about it all.
It is a different kind of Spring for all of us. What will you do?