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We Can Be Better

We had a fake spring a few days ago. People in shorts, in pastel sweaters, smiles, hello’s to strangers.

I love, adore, worship spring. When spring comes I text my California brothers and friends “SPRING FEVER!!!!!”!! Send them videos of bare chested men at the Cubs opener, girls somersaulting, frogs coming out of the mud. My brothers know the fever - we grew up in Minnesota. And now they have 365 days of sunny and 75 degrees. What a loss.

Characteristically, winter came back like grease spit from frying bacon. But, because of the fake spring, we can spit back with optimism, a smile.

The question is, is it right to smile now?

Every day, videos and photos of Ukraine being pummeled. Can you be happy when someone else is getting bombed?

Enter Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who will not give up. He makes our hearts soar. He makes people believe that Ukraine will win this war. He even makes them believe that the victory is in the fight, and maybe the fight only. His people stand in front of tanks. He is not leaving town.

Zelenskyy makes me, 5,169 miles away , want to be better. Be a better citizen, fight for democracy, not give up on any dream. Be a better - much better - person with conviction.

Enter Lent. My Lent observing friends and I give up stuff. I made the monumental mistake of giving up sweets this year. I am in Day 7 and it is not going well. But Lent is about more than fasting from cupcakes: it’s about almsgiving and benevolence and prayer. Mostly, I choose what I do during Lent in the hopes that these things will make me a better person. The belief is that we can do better; trying our best to go into spring. We are optimistic.

Zelenskyy is the definition of optimism.

David Brooks wrote in the Times that it has been a week of conviction. A week of restored faith in people, of democracy. There is an old saying he quotes “we suffer our way to wisdom.”

I have learned this year that optimism is like a foreign language - you must practice it every day to get any good at it. It is NOT in our DNA. But rather in our day to day.

And whether we turn to God, or hope, or the tired but steady eyes of Zelenskyy - we will find a way into the spring, into the better.

Let wisdom come. Let freedom ring.

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