I live and write on Lingít Aaní, and gratefully acknowledge the past, present and future caretakers of this beautiful place, the Jilkaat Kwaan and Jilkoot Kwaan.

I am determined to attend yoga at least once a week this winter — it is good for body and soul, plus, I have terrible balance and tip over when I do the tree pose on my bad leg side. (I know, I’m not supposed to call it bad, but it sometimes feels that way. There are some consequences from being run over by a truck, and honestly, that’s a pretty small one, in the grand scheme things.) Anyway, in yoga on Monday Mandy read Mary Oliver’s poem, “When I am Among Trees” and that great line about shining like they do with goodness:

“‘ It’s simple’, they say, ‘and ,you, too have come into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.'”

I have been repeating the part about going easy, being light, and shining. It is a challenge. I have been hating the haters. It’s keeping me up at night.

Breathe and repeat: Be easy, Be light, Shine.

I am still thinking about the people murdered because they were Jewish in Pittsburgh, and because they were black in Louisville, when I hear of how the killer had been yelling he hated Jews as Jewish medics staunched his wounds and saved his life.

Think about that for a long minute.

There’s that.

 But then I was in the grocery store yesterday when I flashed on how the son of another murder victim said “she was just going to the grocery store” and was shot for the color of her skin.  I was trying hard not to be crazy-mad all over again, when the check-out clerk, a young man who I don’t know very well but see there regularly, was interrupted while  bagging my purchases by an older customer who was a little confused– and who often is a tad confused–  this time about the price of cucumbers, or it may have been zucchinis. He was really nice to her, and spoke gently and slowly, and took the time to point her in the right direction, even though there was a line and he was in the middle of ringing me up (and I was late for a meeting.) She was so appreciative she smiled with a beautiful bright light and thanked him earnestly and walked toward the produce section. 

Breathe. Easy. Light. Shine.

“Thank you,” I said.

“For what?” He asked.

“For being so nice,” I said.

“This is Haines,” he said. “That’s why I live here.” He said he was raised by his grandparents, and they taught him to be polite, and that it’s just good manners to be nice. He said he didn’t understand the shooting deaths down south, hundreds this year he said,  and shook his head.

Before this week, I probably would not have thanked that young man in person. I may have told you about it, but not called him out like that and made him blush. ( I need to  ask him his name. I sound like such an old grandma. Maybe I know it and have forgotten.) 

Did you know that elders played a significant evolutionary role in safe communities? You know how after fifty-five or so we don’t sleep as well as we used to? Turns out that was good for the clan, or the tribe, or the village. Grandmas like me shouted the alarm when there was danger in the night. And don’t you think that now is a good time to be extra awake and pay attention, and call out to the lights  all around us when we see and hear them in the darkness– the kind gestures, the well chosen words, the  pleases and thank yous, and how can I help yous that shine us on the path to peace and justice and how we want to live with others in this world we share? Isn’t it the least we can do?