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A Chair at the Table

So this is it. Welcome to the Show..

December 10th. International Human Rights Day. 67 years - 67 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 67 years of staying courses and sounding calls. December 10th is also the last of the 16 Days of Activism: more concentrated celebration, honoring and planning, Congrats to all those who’ve gone Orange - and who’ve gone before.

Which brings us forward. Which brings us to MEANS…

photo credit: Meredith Nevard

Book had been at the day-care center for three years now. Since he was three. He was now six. Book had been there a while. And on this afternoon, while playing in the city school playground - between studying grass-leaf veins, and dizzying circle spins, Book was pulled away for an unexpected aside. A break from daydreams and the self.

“Book this is J-”

photo credit: Meredith Nevard

The teachers were introducing him to the smallest little girl. Cindy-Lou-Who type small. But this one didn’t hold a red ornament. She clutched a small stuffed bear. This was the tiniest Korean girl.

He did notice her otherness, but not as a divide. Instead as connection. Young to older. Girl to boy. East to West. These are the seeds that grow to memories. Child stuff. Episodes we all have. Pre-judgement. Pre-pain. Pre-divide. Just texture and color and memory. They were too young to screw it up. They were too young to dismiss the New.

“Book, today is J-’s first day with us and we want you to show her around the playground. Can you do that for us? Just take her around and show her everything. Take her all around.”

photo credit: Meredith Nevard

Book normally hated when they talked all loud and sing-songy, but today, the tall one’s weren’t a bother. After all, they were giving him an assignment. They were supplying intrigue and introduction, Kids love that adventure shit. “Can you do that for us? You two go on now. Have fun.” Book was in.

And with the biggest most open eyes, J- stepped to his side, and, without warning, as if to startle, she reached up and took Book by the hand.

photo credit: Meredith Nevard

Oh my! What is this? What to do? He didn’t have brothers or sisters, so any notion of proximity was not...well, proximal. But he def wanted to do right. And this so intrigued. He felt her hand in his. He was taking this very seriously now. His fingers tightened a bit. Book, J-, and a ratty stuffed bear. This A-Team set out together…

Life is beyond moments, of course. It exists past day-care and well past school. Book went on to do regular boy and man things. He played all the sports and on all the teams. He passed the tests and cheated on a few. He went to the parties, shook all the hands, told all the lies, schemed all the schemes. He moved on to Big City things. Creative Class things. Entitlement things. He did careers, networks, air-kisses, b-cards, and brunch. He talked that talk. He played that Game.

And he pushed that wagon until he could push it no more. Until he was done.

And after a time - after some time away, Book woke, and he thought maybe he’d just listen for a while. Listen to those who didn't have all the access and answers and attention. He thought he'd listen to the living voices, no longer to the wind. And he thought after lending ear, maybe he would lend some time and effort. Some service. He'd offer it to them.

photo credit: Meredith Nevard

And he found others, too. Fighters. Healers. Survivors. Tellers. Friends. He found the world in all it's sentient richness. He found his way Home.

On some nights. Book would lie awake and wonder why the new? Why the journey back? In those moments - in that stillness - he would remember J- and the ratty bear. Quiet trust on a summer afternoon. Book would remember her. He’d wonder if she remembered too.

MEANS moving on...

photo credit: Meredith Nevard

Photographer Meredith Nevard is an artist & humanitarian, working with communities in Uganda, Honduras and Guatemala. This month, she sets out for Vietnam to document the efforts of the Grace Family

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