Loving Day, June 12, 1967, is the day the U.S. Supreme Court struck down remaining state antimiscegenation laws all over the country.These were the laws that prevented mixed “race” couples from marrying.The case was Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S.1 (1967).
Before that case many states had repealed those statutes anyhow, states like Iowa, where I grew up and Lowell and I met in graduate school, and Illinois, where we were married before the Supreme Court decision.
But I always keep Loving Day on my calendar, year after year, to remember what the Court did for couples like us. Everyone may not realize this, but “race” is a deliberately constructed concept. It’s a “classification system” like any other, made to separate people, the way an appliance store separates washers from dryers from kitchen stoves. Or overalls from jeans from men’s dress slacks.
Like the appliances and apparel separations, this one also had commercial uses and probably purposes: to classify humans so that some groups could be commercially exploited for the benefit of another. There was nothing benign about it, though it often has tried to masquerade as benign and sometimes even claimed to be for the benefit of the exploited.
Some of the attitudes this oppressive classification system has created have been changed. Many still linger. But there is literally no substance to them other than what we tell ourselves about them. Genetically we are all one family. We’re overdue to recognize that.
I’ve read about the dark night of the soul, but never really thought I’d experienced it, and I began to wonder if it was the same for everybody. Is it dark? Is a soul aware of itself being dark?
Or can it be more like a listless spiritual life–a sense of being separated from God and not really caring, not being interested in doing the things that cause a soul to draw closer to God.
That seems to be where I am right now; having been a passionate believer for so much of my life–many decades–now I simply feel indifferent. Part of it may be connected to my heart surgeries. During the first one I never lost a wonderful sense of being in God’s presence–intense and gentle at the same time, peaceful and relaxed, assured of being God’s beloved child.
This recent surgery put me in a far different place; a lot more physical discomfort, a lot of memory loss, pressure to get up and move around to promote healing that only made me feel lousy. And I wasn’t even able to pray.
I am still not–my prayers feel remote, disconnected, powerless. I am enough of a believe to continue to think 1) God hears; 2) God understands; 3) God will make some kind of growth come out of all this spiritual blah.
It seems that every year I live I discover new things about being alive. Actually I could say every day, but only once a week is my discovery either significant enough to remember, or one that hasn’t occurred to me before.
One recurring discovery is how much I love trees. I love winter trees because you can see the different structures of various species at different ages. One of my favorite trees is this one, with the great pods. I’m not sure what this one is; maybe Lowell knows, since
we took this photo somewhere on Oahu.
I know what this tree is, though, and it’s probably my favorite: the banyan in the park across from what used to be Lincoln School in Honolulu where Lowell went to grade school.
We have trees in our Montana yard now; two Spring Snow Crabs which are all done blooming for this year, a Fat Albert spruce which is not very fat, a cherry which so far has produced maybe five cherries) but more to come I’m sure, one whose name I have forgotten, and my prize elm tree. I understand that elms are not common in most of Montana, but this one was bred to do well in this climate, though I worry about the trees that used to do well here, since we don’t seem to be having the kind of winters we used to have.
I’ve read studies suggesting that older people do better when they’re in neighborhoods with trees, and I believe it. There are big trees not too far from here, but none close by. But ours are growing and our neighbors have some that are growing too. It’s a joy to watch them grow and develop year after year.
Let’s hear it for the beauty, shade, and general health offered by having trees nearby as among the best of friends. As Joyce Kilmer wrote:
I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree….
|A poem lovely as a tree.|