Each of us has a choice
by Abigail Rockwell, New York, New York

People continually ask what would my grandfather Norman Rockwell possibly be painting today — the world is such a mess, going downhill, etc., etc.

He’d be painting what he did for over 60 years as he grew up with and in America, a country he truly loved and believed in. I see moments every day that are Norman Rockwell moments… an older Jewish man helping a young black man tie his tie on the subway… a girl walking down a country lane sees a turtle heading for the middle of the road and she gently takes it and moves him to the other side without even thinking about it… a small young toddler in a pink jacket looking up at the towering portrait of Michelle Obama with awe, mouth dropped open, the possibilities for her own future shifting in her bright eyes.

That goodness of heart and spirit is all around us, in fact it’s getting stronger in the midst of all the divisiveness, anger and chaos. The healing of this nation will come from its small towns, remembering that we are neighbors and fellow travelers first — we may not have the same views but we have the choice, the gift, to be there for each other and perhaps make the passage through these challenging times easier through that bond of community and shared purpose. These aren’t just pipe dreams — my grandfather held his highest vision even through his darkest hours… a vision of the distant but still vibrating promise of this nation that we are still birthing. Birth is never easy. But the rewards can’t be measured.

Each of us has a choice — what do I want to contribute to this world? Do I want to piggyback on all the anger from all sides because anger is an easy trickster: it’s a tool for change, but many are wearing it as their identity because it gives them a sense of purpose and belonging… of mission. But think what all that passion could accomplish if it was directed in a different pattern, a more benevolent pattern of common ground, friendship, community and bonds of inherent kinship because we are all on this earth at this pivotal time together.

So, fellow traveler, do you need a cup of sugar? Do you need support with your troubled daughter or your dog who went missing? Do you need some good manure for your vegetable garden?

The choice is with each and every one of us in each moment that we remain on this planet until we are called home. The next moment isn’t promised, so what do we want to BE in this moment right now? What impression do we want to leave behind?

I am with you in your celebrations, your difficulties, your grimmest moments when you feel totally alone, your small triumphs, your seeming failure, your exhaustion, your exultation… that is what Norman Rockwell left with us, he shared a myriad of those contrasting moments with us all… he reflected our universal heart of understanding and our need to belong.

What we have in common outweighs our differences. That was his essential message.

I bless you in your anger, pain, confusion, your tipsiness, your joy, your quiet, your progress, your flights of fancy, the frustration and the mourning… it’s all leading you to your new morning. Just keep walking forward toward that rising sunlight… or is it starlight? You got this. We got this.

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