The Heart of a Common Good

Our church gave out a list of morning prayers for each day of the final 30 days leading up to the national election. It’s not political, rather designed to help us “ask God for courage and wisdom, and thanking God for love and joy.” It’s more than a little ironic that today’s prayer is “for our own work for the common good.” This afternoon we have a big meeting in Haines to determine if the community should vote on the controversial harbor expansion project. It’s a long story. I have dear friends for it and against it. I just won an election to the Borough Assembly and now am in a leadership role. The vote is something my friend and editor at the Chilkat Valley News Tom Morphet and I both ran for election on. (He won, too.) Here is a story about Tom in today’s Alaska Dispatch.

The Nov. 1 prayer reminds all of us  “to do the work you give us to do, in truth and beauty for the common good.”

Of course the danger is thinking I know what God wants me to do, or that I ever can know that for sure.(And that with much bigger fish to fry The Holy One even has my concerns on the spiritual radar.) When I said as much to my husband over coffee, he said that I think too much. “You aren’t the only one making this decision, there are lots of people who feel the same way.” Then he smiled, and reminded me, unwittingly, to focus on the joy all around us. We are after all, both here and well. 

I’m finishing Lawrence Willard’s obituary today, and in writing it I have met with and spoken to people I like a lot who disagree with me on this harbor issue—and all have been kind to me, and I them. That’s heartening. It also bodes well for the country following next week’s election. 

On Saturday, the Willard family held a luncheon in Klukwan because, as one of Lawrence’s daughters said, they wanted to be surrounded by people who care about them, and who cared about Lawrence. He was 75, and had a heart attack watching a Seahawks game at his winter home in Arizona, but it was a shock. His wife Shannon said they'd been having a great time in the sunshine and he was fit and fine. He sure looked and acted at least 10 years younger, and was always so nice—his smile especially is unforgettable.

At the luncheon, as is tradition, Tlingit elders from the Eagle and Raven clans spoke. Ed Warren and Smitty Katzeek took their turns offering a bit of wisdom. Ed, an Eagle, began by thanking us for coming.  He said, “In our culture being a member of a community means everything.” Then he said, “Human hearts have a spirit when we come together.”

Smitty, a Raven leader, said seeing us all in Klukwan, “Makes my heart light.” Then he sighed, “What to do?” 

He answered that question:  “We live in a wonderful world. We don’t realize it until something like this happens and we gather together. Teach your children self-respect, and respect for other people. Know who your people are. You all make me feel good. Seeing you now makes me truly feel good.”

I’m thinking about how right he is, and especially the way I admire the courage of these two old men to speak so comfortably about matters of heart, community, and respect. I know that is key to doing anything for the common good.

Speaking of which, here are the meetings today (Tuesday) in Haines:

3:00 in assembly chambers, the harbor vote resolution.
5:00 in assembly chambers, the heliski map committee
6:30 in the library the first, Lutak Dock repair planning meeting
6:30 at the school, the school board.
And tomorrow there is an assembly committee of the whole meeting in assembly chambers at 6:00 to discuss the budget process and the harbor bids.
Thursday, the heliski map committee meets at 5:00 in assembly chambers and the  planning commission has a coast zone plan workshop at 6:30.


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