Summer Solstice 2018: Consider the Lilies

Posted on Jun 20, 2018 in Nature, News, Seasonal Messages

One rainy day a couple of weeks ago, I was standing at the corner of 100th Street and 102nd Avenue with the usual students, professionals (me included) and “people without place” waiting for the light to change. I had my big umbrella with me, the one I like to use for heavy rain because it will keep all of me, and everything for a few feet around, snug and dry for my long walk to work. As we waited, a young man playfully sidled up to me and popped his head alongside mine. “Hey, can I sneak under your umbrella for a minute? I hate getting wet.”

I could smell the alcohol on his breath. But he had a great smile and I smiled in return. Who likes getting wet? Then his friend asked, “Can I come too?”

The first thing out of my mouth? “Well, I can’t fit everyone under here!”

Isn’t that the reaction we’re seeing played out across the globe and close to home right now? The fear of scarcity. A very human reaction.

“Sure you can,” my new friend assured me. “Okay,” I said. “All right,” my feelings suddenly a strange mix of sheepishness and elation. We crossed the street that way, chatty, fast friends, the three of us under a common turtle’s back for a few precious moments.

German Sociologist Aladin El-Mafalaani points out that we live in one of the most conflicted times in human history and, paradoxically, in a time of unprecedented social progress. The flashpoint for this conflict is the migrant, whether the migrant from our own backyards or the one we see adrift on our television screens every night, because he/she represents the intersection of our society’s inner and outer struggle with openness. El-Mafalaani argues that before every major social change—the rise of democracy, civil rights, human rights, women’s rights, protections for ethnic and religious minorities or people with disabilities–there is pushback. “Conflict is energy.” Conflict gives rise to innovation. “Without conflict, there is no social progress.” It’s how we deal with it. Something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately: contemplation. And something very like I heard from one of the speakers at the first Women’s March here in January 2017, “Reach out to someone you strongly disagree with. Engage in a dialogue. Listen to their point of view.”

“Where are you headed this morning,” I asked my young friend? He hesitated for a minute, still smiling. “I think City Centre. Maybe I’ll get a cigarette. I don’t know. I like to wing it; that’s just how I am.”

I thought about the Eastern Orthodox tradition of holy fools. Often homeless, always poor, appearing insane and even intoxicated, deliberate “fools for God.” Maybe my young friends are a modern version of that joyously-in-your-face protest of the world or the product of a deep history of societal pain or both. Either way, like the wildflowers and the grass of the field all around us this time of the year that neither toil nor spin, yet are gloriously arrayed (Matthew 6:28), they call out to be noticed.


  1. jano Thibodeau
    June 20, 2018

    ~ a story of love love love in the rain under an umbrella ~ so full of life energy is your summer sharing ~ so grateful for the rain ~ so moved by the wildflowers and grass
    ” Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” Rumi
    ~ my life is very same old same old now, ~ conflicts? ~ morning is about drawing and coloring with colored pencils ~ making soups with herbs, thai peppers, quinoa, red lentils, carrots,

    • Audrey
      June 21, 2018

      Simplicity is beautiful.

  2. Annis
    June 21, 2018

    Just lovely Audrey… thank you for this. Xoxox

  3. Linda West
    June 21, 2018

    Thank you for taking a simple, everyday event to make us think about what’s happening in the world.

  4. Rev. Audrey Brooks
    June 21, 2018

    dear Audrey,

    I read this just after finding out that Trump signed and executive order saying that he would no longer separate immigrant families, and detain their children in detention facilities. The whole idea of punishing children and parents because of their wish to be free of abuse, and administering more abuse on them while claiming we are democratic societies is so painful my heart is breaking. We are all one people, one blood, one community. That there are those among us who use the suffering of others to grandstand and incite people to hate is beyond my understanding. We do, indeed, live in times that are uncontrollable by citizens with principles and compassion. Your umbrella experience and response indicate that there is no progress without conflict explains somewhat a reality that exists, but does not comfort my soul at this point. Your acceptance of difference says more to me about openness to changeand compassion, and in that I have comfort. Keep writing, Hugs, the other Audrey!

    • Audrey
      June 21, 2018

      Like you, the situation on the US-Mexico border has pained me greatly these past two weeks. Keep witnessing!

  5. Chery
    June 21, 2018

    Enjoyed your story and your thoughts. Thank you. Best to you.

  6. Pearl Gregor
    June 21, 2018

    Thanks for the memories! Audrey, your story touched deep.
    Winter, 2017, I am walking, late on a February evening in Victoria down Government Street. There are many late night folks out then. I had decided, upon coming that winter to Victoria, to greet the Christ in every person I saw and to mentally think, “We are all one.” or, “What part of me is homeless?”
    Suddenly, a young fellow dressed as a Samurai leaped in front of me brandishing his sword. Yelling wildly, he struck an excellent Warrior pose! I stopped and smiled foolishly at he and his buddy who had leaped with him.
    A tableau. Unmoving. Astonished, they asked and stated “We didn’t scare you!?”

    “Did you mean to?”
    “Well, actually, most people scream and throw their hands up! How come you didn’t?”
    I just smiled again. They moved to the side to let me pass, then from behind me I hear, “Geez, wonder what she’s taking?”

    What was I taking? The winter evening walks continued. I meet many interesting folks and had many conversations. Last winter, there were fewer late night folks about.

    Thanks again! Blessed summer!

    • Audrey
      June 21, 2018

      What a beautiful spiritual practice.