This past weekend was the Easter holiday for Christians. It is the recognition of Jesus’s death and resurrection, his act as the Son of God to cleanse humankind of their sins. Easter is also an occasion for families, such as mine, to gather.
Yesterday I joined siblings, cousins, in-laws, and more–at least three generations of family sharing a feast and the warmth with those with whom we are most familiar. Looking down, I noticed the youngest generation–around seven or eight youngsters hopping about like bunny rabbits. The oldest were now adept at the latest tech, the youngest were just learning the basics of spoken language.
I was struck by how we as people are just individual pieces of this great cycle of humanity, generation after generation relearning the same skills while advancing from where the previous one left off. At one moment I saw a toddler learning to say “thank you” and thought, “Man, every generation has to start over.” At another, I saw adolescents using smart phones and tablets seamlessly and thought, “I wonder how they’ll use and advance this tech to improve the world.”
At an Easter church service with my family yesterday morning, the pastor stressed the idea that the resurrection of Jesus is something to be acknowledged not just on Easter, but every week. “Recognize the resurrection each Sunday,” he said, for this is the act that defines (and allows the freedom of) being a Christian.
As humans, I believe we can do the same when examining our communities and societies. Each week (or day or moment), is an opportunity to aid others to rise up and one day carry the torch of progress a bit further.
All this ties into this past week in northern Minnesota:
On Tuesday I visited the Red Lake Indian Reservation with the goal of learning more about the struggles that persist in this community. I visited the high school, college, and a community resource center. I only got my feet wet. But in touching the waters, I learned of the severity of their social ills (drug abuse, poverty, etc.), the lifestyle of the community (art, fishing, spiritual beliefs), and ways they’re addressing the needs of their people (classes, support groups, and more). My hope is that I can take what I’ve learned about community improvement from other parts of the state and apply it in Red Lake. We’ll see. It’s early going.
On Wednesday I observed a stunning example of parenting–the most important undertaking for nurturing the next generation. Last summer, Megan and Bryant Comfort learned their new baby Jane had a condition called spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Their lives were changed forever, having to now care for their child with this ailment affecting all muscle use. Nine months later, and with the help of a breakthrough treatment, things are better than expected. But the path has been, and will continue to be, long and challenging. They welcomed me into their home to share on camera about their life. Stay tuned for this video.
Finally, on Thursday I did my part to pass the torch by speaking at Bemidji State University. Dr. Rucha Ambikar invited me to her Intro to World Cultures course. One of the course objectives: Address how and why cultures adapt. Well I wasn’t going to answer that question in an hour. But I did share about changes in Chinese religion and treatment of women over the years. And then I talked about Cuba’s resistance to an evermore fluid world of 2018. I think I got through to them, too. I only saw one student nodding off:)
Whether learning to talk, to use a smart phone, about Chinese history, or about how to find the power to improve oneself, it was a week exploring the ways we can (and can help others) grow. It’s life. And it’s a fitting recognition for spring and Easter.