Raggedy Ann, Sir Trumpus and the River of Light (with Helen Reddy)
Almost a year ago we had a baby in my family. My first grandchild Amelia was born in February. One of the first things I determined to do when I knew she was coming was to get her a Raggedy Ann. Lo and behold, a classic edition had just been issued for the doll’s 100th birthday.
No doubt you’re wondering how anyone can be going on about Raggedy Ann, of all things, in our current world. His Infamosity in the White House and all. The whole Planet clanging like a great bell with fear and pain. Where do we turn in these unparalleled days? How do we keep our balance? We must I believe ground ourselves in core values. But discerning those can be difficult in the continuous barrage of ever more outrageous news that comes in day after day. We’re living in a perfect storm. No wonder that prescient movie captured the imagination of millions. We need to keep steady on our feet. We need true speech--language that does not deceive, language that brings insight and further reflection. I suggest we also need rest, moments of respite from the fray. Those may be particularly hard to find these days. So I allow myself these little side trips from harsh reality. In fact, I positively cultivate them . . . .
My son had his own Raggedy Ann as a baby, a gift from his grandmother. One of his first sentences was spoken to her: “Do you have a liberry card?” He was less than two, and they were sitting face to face in his crib. It was a quiet, simple, matter of fact question, uttered just as I happened to peep in. Her answer was too soft for me to catch.
Raggie was an important person in his life for the first three years or so. Then she was lost somewhere along the way, on the gravely road of two divorces and a move to another state. We repair the past by living in the present, and when Amelia was in utero, Raggedy Ann returned to me with an aura of what I will call the Pure Time. The Buddhist “Pure Land” is described as a place “of beauty that surpasses all other realms . . . . inhabited by many gods, . . . adorned with wish-granting trees where rare birds come to rest.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pure_Land_Buddhism The time/space window of my son’s earliest years was such a place. However stressed we were, whatever destinies we were bearing down on, there was a river of light running through everything, pure and untrammeled. And so it has returned with Amelia, a wavelength we have tuned into once again. This baby lives five hundred miles away, but Raggie turns the dial, and we are There.
Of course, life is always crashing along on many frequencies at once. We’re in a brave new world since November 2016, and if it’s not to become the one Mr. Orwell envisioned, it will be because we keep our balance, speak truly, and recognize true speech when we hear it.
And that depends on staying awake, she whispered to me the other day. I was driving to work listening to NPR, some paragraphs of double-speak from Mr. Mike Flynn, the newly deposed “Security Advisor,” about how he had and had not talked with the Russians . . . . This Misadministration positively requires us to invent new language, lest we forget this is not business as usual. Or, perhaps it is business as usual taken to its ultimate extreme. There’s been nothing like it before in our history, and we have to wonder if there will there be anything resembling a functional democracy left in it’s wake.
A ship’s wake is the highway of a Greater Ship. Wake up, you are invited to a Wake! She speaks very softly, but I can hear her now. She interrupts me constantly. No, not “interrupts,” for that implies a certain rudeness. She is anything but rude. She speaks quietly and clearly, like a queen.
A paragraph ago I was going to say, “How, you ask, can I talk about my new granddaughter and sir trumpus in the same short piece of prose?” Moot. Trumpus, Strumpus. Trump the Stump.. She speeds things up, cuts right to the chase. There are knives in her basket of words, double-edged ones. But there is no violence in her fiber. My ancestry is 8000 years old. We’re made of strong stuff. Hand-made, many of us, from scraps not considered fit for the arhistopocracy. . . . The strongest dog has the broadest genome.
She’s talking about the matriarchies. She’s talking about the American Ideal, which belongs not just to us but to the whole world. I’m stunned by how easily she retrieves antiquated concepts, blows the dust off of forgotten gems. She’s talking about core values, moral fiber.
As fate would have it, it was on the day of the Women’s March in Washington, the day after the inaugural flagration, that my Amelia met her Raggedy Ann. When she found Raggie, strategically placed in the living room, she snatched her close and let out two high yelps, unlike anything I heard her say before or after. From then on, Raggie tumbled about in the middle of things, always at hand. “On the day of the Women’s March,” ran my euphoric headline, “Amelia, age eleven months, meets Iconic American Woman.” As men and women marched by the hundreds of thousands all over the world, Amelia trudged joyfully back and forth across our living room pushing her walker, a bright four-wheeler full of lights and sounds that kept announcing, “Let’s Walk!” All that weekend our house was full of the River of Light. Sitting at the breakfast table, she spontaneously began to clap her hands and chuckle—then a pause, gazing as if some exotic bird had crossed her vision. Then, more peels of baby laughter.
I would say that babies know something we don’t—if that statement weren’t so Old Paradigm. In fact, they know what we are starting to remember in critical mass: Hope springs eternal. Thanks to Mr. T.Rump and the cacophony he generates, we’re awake. The River of Light is there for us. We are all now challenged to stand up and put things in order. There’s no more business-as-usual. Do not normalize the devil, she says. The only IZE one applies to the devil are the two in your head. Recognize.
All this, with no college education and a head full of cotton.
I’m 101 years old you know. I’ve got a heart in my chest. Helen is Reddy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwMOC5i2eRk A billion hearts purring at the Ready. They’ve no idea the Tiger they’ve got by the tail.
As you can see, I can barely keep up with her. Clearly it’s a New Day, Sisters and Brothers. Let’s Walk!