You and Me and Rain on the Roof
The Season of Porch Sitting has Returned
It’s a wet and dreary Sunday as I write this, with the first thunder of the season. Not bold and booming thunder, but an occasional rumbling, as if the sky is crackling open to pour out the moisture. The dampness dims the low 60’s temperatures, but nevertheless, wearing a hoodie and wool socks, I carried my laptop to the porch. The windchimes, tormented by the winds of the past few days, hang silent. Birds are singing, peepers are peeping, and the percussion of raindrops sets the mood.
I realize how blessed I am, and remind myself that war wages in our world. I feel safe and protected from the wind and rain and war here on this porch, at this moment, comforted by the peeping and pattering.
I have been intrigued by the Renaissance (which began in the 14th century) since sixth grade when our classes covered the Renaissance period to the hilt - with costumes, plays, and a renaissance fair. The Renaissance was a period of "rebirth" in arts, science, and culture. The development of the printing press was perhaps the most important technical achievement. Renaissance thinkers saw the Middle Ages as a period of cultural decline. They sought to revitalize their culture by re-emphasizing classical texts and philosophies, which they expanded and re-interpreted, creating their own style of art, philosophy, and scientific inquiry.
The most prevalent societal change was the fall of feudalism and the rise of a capitalist market economy. Increased trade and the labor shortage caused by the Black Death (pandemic) gave rise to something of a middle class. Workers could demand wages and good living conditions, and so serfdom ended.
Does any of this sound familiar?
I was all set for a personal, local, perhaps even state and/or national renaissance, and then Putin invaded Ukraine.
Of course, theRenaissance happened over a period of time, not overnight. And there were plenty of power struggles and wars as well. Growth is painful and ugly. Power shifts and mindset changes are both embraced and resisted. Before the renaissance, European society was very rigid socially, religiously, and politically—not necessarily open to change. However, the essence of the Renaissance was a shift in worldview and perspective. This shift was caused by new ideas, views, and beliefs presented in the centuries before the start of the Renaissance.
Despite any evidence to the contrary, I do believe we are at the beginning of a renaissance. The new ideas and beliefs presented during the pandemic lit a small fire. It changed our perspectives, hearts, and minds. Our renaissance begins with us, with our communities, here at home. Without community development, there can be no other lasting development. For too long, our leaders (local and national) have focused on economic development with an old industrial mindset. During the pandemic, the workforce realized there could be more, that they could be more, that life could be more. We realized the industrial era societal norms no longer apply. We no longer want to live to work. We want to work to live.
We have to grasp this renaissance spirit. We have to stand up for each other and stand up for ourselves. So many Appalachians and West Virginians feel defeated, dismissed, and unimportant. But in a community, every one should matter. In an election year? Every vote counts. At some point, we have to realize that our community is our circus, and our leaders are our monkeys. (Lord, help us.)
Life can be more. Have faith; this is not all there is. Even in the rain, there is song and singing. We can be more and enjoy more, despite the shadows on the horizon. Our communities can grow and develop and enact lasting change. We can take a renaissance spark, shine it and share it.
Sometimes, a small spark can be more of a shocking sting. And that’s okay. Just because I have faith and am trying to choose kindness and love as often as possible, doesn’t mean I have to spread glitter and joy everywhere I go. That’s not a gift God gave me, and I have to work on my attitude almost constantly and tend to overreact.
And while I may brood quietly over some personal resentment, I have always been a sucker for the underdog. My Mother calls this my ability to “gravitate to the lowest common denominator,” in any given situation. (I suppose we’re both correct, depending on your perspective.) The problem is, when I witness any unacceptable or unkind behavior towards another, I get riled. Often, before I even realize it, I have reacted.
I cannot tell you how many times I have written letters to the local editor, especially since they hired their “county editor” (fancy name for county reporter who also has a column). I don’t actually SEND these letters, but the paper aggravates me often enough that I have to get my rant out of my system.
Last week’s newspaper hit a significant low. Low enough that I not only wrote out my rant, but I also sent it in. I also posted on Two-Lane Renaissance, so any cuts or edits would be noticeable if/when it prints. You can see the result of my “ranting wicked pen” here.
The Renaissance Online - Did you miss these?
Peace, Be Still - by Robin Holstein
Shining Light on the Sunshine Law - AKA The Open Governmental Meetings Act.
Behind the Scenes - We’re absolutely “winging it,” but there’s a method to the madness.
We will begin posting articles from ten years of Two-Lane Livin’ Magazine as we gain permission from the authors. TLL only asked for one-time rights from our columnists back then, and in our ten-year span, we worked with over 35 writers. So far, we will start re-presenting “Waste Not, Want Not” by Judy Wolfram, “Through the Seasons” by Randy Bodkins, “10,000 Days in the Woods” by Russ Richardson, “Zen Habits” by Leo Babauta, and “Knowing Nature,” by Bill Church. We’ll start with Issue 1, and work our way through to issue 123.
These posts from the archives will be mixed in with our new columnists and contributors as we grow. Make sure to bookmark twolanelivin.com, and help share the renaissance!
(If you are a former columnist reading this, will you respond to this email with your response to reprint permissions? If you are a writer interested in being a columnist, reply with your pitch.)
Thanks for reading and being a subscriber to Two-Lane Renaissance.