It used to be baseball and apple pie. Today one might say it’s an iPhone (loaded with the coolest apps) and a flat screen t.v. with take-out. But then it really depends on which cultural clique you belong to, doesn’t it? A hipster and a gangsta won’t have the same ideals, will they?
But there’s more at play here.
It started out as a desire for something better. A belief that anything would be better than the current state of persecution/poverty/suppression drove people to cut their losses and begin again. A New World meant new hope. Leave family. Cut your losses. Sever your roots. Start over. No attachments.
But if this new life doesn’t live up to one’s expectations, then maybe there’s something else because this life is too hard. Maybe the West with its Gold will make life better. Risk it all. Do it or die trying. If it looks untouched, it’s now mine. Let’s lay tracks. Mark it as our own.
Miracle of all miracles, some do “make it.” Some live into their dreams and seem to have it all, from a new life, to gold, to apple pie . . . all the way to the flat screen t.v. Yet, how many do we know who have the appearance and stuff and have peace of mind and spirit? Do you think it was easy for them if they do “have it all”?
What happens to a plant once you sever its roots? What happens when you take something that wasn’t yours to take? What happens when we live our lives without regard to the consequences seven generations from now?
I struggle now with trying to understand how to balance our consumption/desire/pride/greed/fear with balance/peace/full emptiness/love. Our amazing capacity to be connected with everyone everywhere provides opportunities unimaginable 500 years ago — even 200 years ago. At the same time, we have capacity to destroy unimaginable numbers — not only people but ecosystems.
At the retreat I was at this past weekend, we were blessed with the presence of Joanna Seibert and Kate Moorehead. (I highly recommend them both!) During one of Kate’s sessions, she asked us to think of and then sketch the plant that represented our spiritual life. I am drawn to trees, so I drew a tree. Not just any tree.
We have a cherry tree in our backyard that has a massive root system. From these roots other trees grow. One of these trees we have let grow because the larger original tree will not live forever. I used this image.
In my picture I had a “God” tree with many roots. Like the cherry tree, a smaller tree grew from one of the roots. This smaller tree is me. I have my own roots now and put forth my own branches, but there is a source from which I’ve come. Even if that source isn’t always visible or tangible, it’s alive within me. My roots are the gifts I receive from the source and that which feed me. My branches are the gifts I share by being myself; the fruits I bear are the gifts I give outwardly to others.
What would it be like if the American Dreams became dreams of wholeness? What if they weren’t based upon escape from reality, indulgence in richness, attaining that which only a few will attain?
Every one of us has a source. Every one of us has gifts, whether they are from our innocence or our wounds or both. But we have to care for ourselves and for those around us. Love your neighbor as yourself. What more do we need to do? We need to choose. We need to choose to share that last crumb of apple pie with someone else. We need to let the visiting team’s fan have the seat beside us. We need to care for our land, keeping in mind of the consequences generations from now, like the back of the Seventh Generation label says (and I read when doing the dishes).
Fortunately, our roots with God are not solely tangible, and though we might cut them to seek a better way (because, of course, we know what we need/want most), the Love of God remains intact. We are entitled. We are entitled to Love, end therein lies a richness everyone can attain.
My American Dream? Love and Peace. Now, I have a capitalistic wish-list that I think would be good for my family and me and that I could probably compare to yours. I’ll trust, though, that I have what I need to do the best I can to manifest love and peace here and now. Thanks be to God!