By Marguerite Jill Dye
Watching presidents Macron and Trump at the Bastille Day celebration on the Champs Elysées in Paris took me back decades to standing on the wide boulevard’s sidewalk on the Fourteenth of July during studies and travels in Europe.
A little over two decades ago, my husband Duane and son Danny gaped, wide eyed, as French army, navy, paratroopers, and sailors marched past, succeeded by military motorcycles, jeeps, tanks, and planes racing over with exhaust streams in the French flag’s blue, white, and red. I held my hands over my ears to lessen loud “vrooms,” “bangs,” and “pops,” but it appeared to be the ultimate thrill for boys and men who excitedly took it in, noise and all. We returned that night for the fireworks display near the Tour Eiffel where a French policeman hoisted 9-year-old Danny on his shoulders to better behold the spectacle.
I could imagine Donald Trump must have been in his element, admiring the military display as French and American troops marched side by side to honor the 100th anniversary of our entry into World War I.
At the same time, so many critical issues are on the American plate in heaping portions. The Russians aren’t coming; they’re already here: manipulating our elections, cyber security, and leadership; the disastrous “health care” and Medicaid slashing-for-tax-cuts-for-billionaires plan that leaves over 20 million Americans without health care; cut backs, layoffs, and concerted efforts to deconstruct agencies like the EPA when it is most urgently needed.
Did you know that a trillion-ton iceberg the size of Delaware has just broken off in Antarctica, exposing vulnerable glacial ice which will raise sea levels four inches as it continues to shrink? Did you know that the permafrost is melting (compromising Norway’s global food bank seed vault) and exposing vast expanses of carbon that release heat-trapping gases of carbon dioxide and methane into our earth’s atmosphere? No wonder everyone freaked out when the president of the world’s major power refused to join other nations in supporting a strategy to address these problems and more through the G20 Summit, which our leader tried to turn into the Paris non-accord.
Eh alors! What is one to do to maintain some degree of sanity? I don’t have the answers, but I have a few ideas. When I was living under General Videla’s military dictatorship in Argentina, I realized how important having close family connections and a network of true friends is in maintaining one’s sanity (and safety). That experience helped me appreciate the powerful therapy of spending time with a child and seeing the world anew. Our grandson Silas, who has just turned two, loves everyone unconditionally; his smile lifts my spirits and gives me hope. His energy is boundless, his enthusiasm for new discoveries is contagious, and he goes out boldly in the world expecting the very best that can possibly appear and unfold. The world rallies to the cause to provide positive experiences which he embraces with pure delight and joie de vivre.
Spending time with Silas reminds me of our son Danny at that age, and at times I am transported back three decades. Children demonstrate how to live in the moment, and require that of us. Another benefit of Silas therapy (or being with any child) is taking a break from the relentless, negative news. Having a hiatus from the daily crisis in Washington, D.C., and being spared from the chaos and doom is such a relief that I hesitate to return to the grind, and remain in the presence of a child.
Spending time in nature renews the spirit and heals the soul. Most Vermonters and those attracted to this magnificent state are aware of our greatest resource and know that finding peace can be just outside our doors. My husband and I have discovered a wonderful combination: taking Silas for a hike in the mountains, a walk in the woods, or a visit to Saint Joseph’s Abbey, the Trappist Monastery on the Hill in Spencer, Mass. There, he runs about free as a bird and we absorb the peace and natural beauty of the place. Together I showed him how to hug a tree, then he approached each and every spruce and pine, touched its bark, and looked back at me expectantly. I said, “I love you tree!” then he continued contentedly to visit the next one. Silas, our little “man of the forest,” is already connecting to the natural world. It will be exciting to see the role the environment will play in his life.
Tapping into resources that renew faith in people, the world, and our Source is another way to maintain balance and uplift the spirit. I enjoy reading Eileen Caddy’s weekly wisdom, which comes to me by email. As the co-founder of the Findhorn Foundation in 1962, an intentional, spiritual community and ecovillage on Findhorn Bay in northern Scotland, Eileen’s weekly message teaches practical ways to apply spiritual values to everyday life. She is now gone, but her messages live on, encouraging us to listen, in stillness, to the “small, still voice within” to help calm the spirit and show the way.
Her community represents 40 nations, so one message seems especially relevant for world concerns: “Do Your Part to Help the Whole World Situation. Never hold a grudge against anyone or any nation, because … it is love … that makes the world go round, that makes life worth living, that brings peace, unity and harmony to all peoples, all nations, to the whole world. My Divine Love is like a tiny seed in the heart of every soul and when it is recognized and is tended and cared for it grows and grows until you can indeed take the whole world on your heart … and you begin to see the world and mankind as I see them, as perfect. Change your thinking … and you can then do your part to help the whole world situation, for your whole life and living will be a constant pinpointed prayer and My Divine Love will be reflected in you and become like that pinpoint of concentrated power shining through the magnifying glass.” (Eileen Caddy, Eileen’s Weekly Guidance, email@example.com)
May we maintain our personal balance, keep kindness in our hearts, and do what we can to share a positive, uplifting spirit in spite of the turmoil that surrounds us. By connecting with children, nature, and the Divine spirit within, we will be stronger and our lives more abundantly blessed.
Marguerite Jill Dye is an artist and writer who lives in Killington and Bradenton, Fla. She is the cut-paper illustrator of “Where is Sam?”