It’s the only thing I do “religiously” any more. On the weekends, I arise early to sit on my porch, meditate and watch the sunrise. The only hustle and bustle are the crickets and cicada that endlessly communicate all around me. In the distance, I hear the rumble of a train that doesn’t bother to blow it’s whistle this time of day. Occasionally, an almost silent vehicle passes on main street, but otherwise there is just stillness. I watch the visible planet flicker in the moonlight — it is most likely Venus or Jupiter, but it doesn’t really matter which one it is. I just enjoy it until an invisible cloud covers it.
The approaching fall weather causes me to draw up under the quilt that my mother made me long ago. It’s a comfort to me and reminder of her and the things she does for others. I close my eyes and just breathe in the sounds and smells and anticipation of the dawning of a new day. That is until a piercing sound breaks through the darkness and causes me to come to full attention. It’s the unmistakable howl of the coyote.
I once tried to fish all night at a nearby creek. I heard about doing this from my grandpa and my uncle who did it all the time. The howl of the coyote is what sent me home with a resolute, “Nope! I’m not staying out there to be eaten by something.” It’s the same thing I felt this morning. It’s the rush of adrenaline and the fear of the unknown that causes us to do unusual things. It’s a similar feeling that I get when I hear an usual sound toward the back of house, only to realize seconds later that it is just Laura letting the dog out for his morning constitution.
Experts tell us that this the eerie howl of the coyote is nothing more than communication between groups of the canines. It could be a lone hunter, trying to regroup with the others, or a pack member warning others of his territory. But, when various howls and responses break out from different directions, my only initial thought is that some horror movie is coming to life and I’m about to be surrounded by ravenous beasts. It goes without saying that coyotes are not predators, and even if they were, it would be a one-in-a-million to choose me of all people to eat.
But people hunt them anyway unnecessarily primarily because of this irrational fear that I felt.
This past week, I learned that I might get to connect with a couple of friends in Tulsa, OK next month. This past year I learned about probably the worst massacre of black Americans in history. It happened in what is known as Black Wall Street in 1921. It originated from an accusation that a white elevator operator was assaulted a black teenage boy searching for his assigned bathroom. In 1921, all it took was an accusation from another person to send the boy to jail. When a black man had an altercation with the sheriff over the boy’s arrest, eventually “all hell broke lose,” and the rest is history. 35 square blocks in and around Black Wall Street were leveled and many died — it was never the same again.
Remember it all started with a howl that seemed unusual. In this case, it is now assumed that the black teenager may have tripped and grabbed the arm of elevator operator. Some have hypothesized that the two were more intimate. So, it could have been many things that happened, but she refused to press charges and most would agree now that it was a great tragedy that started with the fear of the unknown.
I don’t know what it is like to be hated for the color of my skin. Now that I know a few more black people personally, I often see something deep in their eyes that is very patient, but also very sad. Their eyes seem to ask, “Why? Why do you hate me for what I cannot change?” I cannot explain why I was once so frightened by the howl of the coyote or the imaginations I had about black people. It may be the same fear that sends us to war and battles over religious beliefs. It may be what most incites us to do the most irrational things — the fear of the unknown.
I don’t believe that everything has a simple answer; but I can sometimes put two-and-two together. If my irrational and sometimes unnecessary behavior is because of things I don’t fully understand, a simple first step might be to learn more about it. Instead of listening to ill-informed messengers that fan the flames of my ignorance, maybe I could at least do some reading and talk to people that genuinely understand the situation.
Next month, when I go to Tulsa, I’m hoping I have the opportunity to meet one of my closest friends that I know electronically. His name is Derrick Day, and he is one of the most intuitive people I know. He has been one of the most clear voices to me in my discovery of systemic racism and understanding of what it is like to be black in America. He and I are going to talk face-to-face and I hope to visit Black Wall Street. I most likely will cry, but I want to sit down there, just like I do on my porch, and find something to look at like the planet in the sky.
I just want to be there with all the souls and spirits that left their bodies on that day. I want to think again about my ignorance and my irrational fears. I want to learn to trust other people and trust myself to move forward in progress toward a better world. I believe others will join me and, even if they don’t, I want to celebrate my progress on the journey toward unity and love and acceptance!
The local coyotes just stated howling again. To me, this time they sound like babies just learning to howl. But, I’m not going to go down that road and put everything on the youth like some did in Tulsa 100 years ago. I’m going take adult responsibility to learn and grow and use my “voice” for the greater good.
Be where you are, be who you are,