Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A Season of Renewal

April 2 marked the start of the Cubs and Sox seasons. So what that both the north and south siders went down in flames? there are still 161 games to play; we still can hope.

That same night, we celebrated the beginning of Passover, a time of redemption, celebrating the time when we went out of the house of bondage and into freedom. Every year at our seder, my friends and I wonder what it means to be free, and what we need to do to become free. Every year, we feel the hopefulness of spring, the possibility of peace. In a time like this, with American soldiers dying or coming home maimed to find they have to fight for health care and for benefits, we need all the voices for peace we can muster, and we need stories that move us beyond ourselves.

I found one such story in the March 26 New Yorker. Barbara Hillary, a 75-year-old retired nurse, is trying to become the first African-American woman to reach the North Pole. She's training like mad for her expedition, which takes off in 2 weeks. "Hillary was a nurse for fifty-five years," the New Yorker reports. “I always had dreams of travel,” she said. “But much of travel, as I saw it, was so sheeplike, so John Doe.” In 1992, she decided to take her first trip abroad, alone. (Hillary has never married, and, along with “one, Mind your own business; two, Maintain a sense of humor; and three, Tell an individual to go to hell when it’s needed,” she credits her air of youthfulness to remaining single.) “I looked around for a place that was affordable in air travel yet somehow virginal in terms of stampedes of tourists,” she recalled. She considered Guyana. “When I called the consulate, the woman said, in a very curt manner, ‘Why are you coming to our country?’ And that was the worst thing she could have said. I was Guyana-bound!” Since then, Hillary has dogsledded in Minnesota and travelled to Manitoba to photograph polar bears. London, Paris? “You can go there when you’re propped up in a casket,” she said.

You can read the whole story if you want; it's very engaging. The story doesn't put in a pitch for money, but when I read it, and found the lady was $9,000 short--because the tour group upped the price on her--I wanted to help, so I tracked down the story's author, and found Hillary's address and sent her a check.If you want to help Hillary get to the North Pole, you can send a check to her at P.O. Box 920174, Arverne Station, New York, NY 11692.

Another story of amazing hope and courage is from a very young woman. Ava Lowery just turned 16; she runs a website called "Peace Takes Courage." This young woman from a tiny town in Alabama, who comes from deeply Christian roots, and is home-schooled, has been making extraordinary videos, and extraordinary waves, for over a year. If you visit her site, be sure to watch "WWJD" from her animation archive.

They make me feel hopeful, these two women, Barbara Hillary going to the North Pole, Ava Lowery speaking truth to power. They makes me feel change is possible, that anything is possible--even peace.

Sara Paretsky


Libby Hellmann said...

I just spent some time on Ava Lowery's website. It is poignant. Everyone should check it out. Thanks for bringing it to our attention, Sara.

Claire said...

What a great story!!