A few days ago,
while visiting my son in Los Angeles,
we stopped at an In-n-Out Burger.
It was Saturday night after Christmas,
in downtown Glendale. We were on our way
to one of the 18 movie theaters
around the corner at the Glendale Galleria.
Everything a glitter,
red and blue lights aglow on jumping water fountains,
musicians playing on the people-filled street;
a giant tree, decorated in gold lights and red spheres,
was taller than some of the buildings.
This In-n-Out was three or four times bigger
than most hamburger joints. My son stood in line
to place our order while
I scouted for a place to sit.
I spotted an empty table for two,
which was almost connected
to another table for two. At it,
an older gentleman and a younger man
looked up from their fries,
smiled, and nodded, gesturing towards
the table next to them. It was available.
The two men spoke Chinese to each other,
to us.
Familes of four and five
crowded into small booths. Friends
gathered closely at small tables.
I realized that out of the ten tables
in the small section where we were sitting,
in the midst of these many cultures,
there were three Caucasians: my son, me
and a gentleman down the way a bit.
And I realized how thrilling this was to me.
So many languages,
skin colors, happy people happily sitting side-by-side.
Perhaps they live in neighborhoods with other people
from their cultures; perhaps the cultures mix
in the residential neighborhoods too. But here we were
all together
being hospitable to one another. It was compelling,
gladdening…
my heart quieted.

 

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This morning on the farm,
I spotted the shy, Downy Woodpecker. Normally, I see
glimpses.
But since I’ve been home,
it has spent a lot of each day
right out in the open
on the big old Hackberry tree—
near the rowdy Red-Winged Blackbirds,
(who eat from ground and feeder)
the non-plussed Meadowlarks,
(who eat from the ground)
the busy Chickadees,
(who eat from feeders and,
being the smallest,
are provided a caged feeder
that the big birds can’t enter)
the multitude of Sparrows,
(who eat from ground and feeder)
three Cardinal couples,
(who eat mostly from the ground; sometimes at a feeder)
determined Goldfinches
(who eat from feeders)
an inhospitable Red-Bellied Woodpecker
(who eats from feeder, ground and tree)
and a nervous Squirrel, who mostly eats off the ground.
They all drink
from the same bowls.
When I saw the Downy,
I was thrilled:
my heart leaped.
And I wondered why…
Why does seeing diversity
thrill?

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Maybe because nature demands diversity.
Diversity is natural.
Indeed, separation seems unnatural,
and it seems to dull us. Diversity enlivens,
thrills—
wherever you can find it:
in the international makeup of Los Angeles,
at the bird feeders on the Oklahoma prairie…
Wherever you can
welcome,
celebrate,
honor,
encourage,
create it.