Camping at my first church since I was in North Carolina.

Many miles today. Miles through bleak suburbs choked with strip malls, empty parking lots, bad traffic, bad shoulders, familiarity and despair. Miles through farmland; wide, open spaces; countless cows grazing the lush, green pastures that are everywhere speckled with flowers—purple, waxy-yellow, and chalky-white—like a million smiling faces, and, when the wind blows, a million waving hands like those from the friendly drivers who pass me opposite; the wire fences; copses of trees; the grey clouds bunched, bulging, heavy with rain that never falls, stretching on forever all day. Miles, though fewer, through the cityscape of Selma, her streets and buildings saturated in civil rights history; boarded up houses; nice, clean, proud houses with neat landscaped yards; empty buildings; broken windows; no doors; amicableness; amiableness; junk cars; the criss-cross of railroad tracks; the Edmund Pettus Bridge where the blood flowed one day like the river runs beneath it; marvelous architecture; and damn good ribs. I also saw a banner, on it the word HOPE. More and more large towns and small cities I see today are full of hope, and desire change. Call it “the people.” They are the hope. The people are the ones, the only ones, who have the capability to turn around a city’s fortunes, and they must turn it around, because if not, then what does this word, “hope” mean, what is it for, and what does it represent? It is like a false idol which one worships, makes offerings to on every first and third Sunday, and second and fourth Wednesday. It is a place where the people might get together to sprinkle water, light incense, and talk. Talk, talk, talk; and talk is just masturbation. There is a sprinkling of seed, sure, but no fertile ground for it to settle, fertilize and grow. It brings forth no fruit, bears no children. It merely feels pleasant for a short while. It is a drug. And an addictive one at that because it requires a minimum of effort and no commitment. It is a mouth that talks, yet has no voice.

Where there are people there is hope. But where there are people there is, too, complacency.

A bug shimmers under my light, wings and carapace glinting. It flies ever so lightly, so gently, into the mesh door of my tent — bounces away into the dark. God, what magic this world contains. Magic on the minutest scale. It is not necessary that there be large explosions and a shower of sparks, though that is fine too. There is magic right under our noses. The real magic is in the looking.


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