Watermelon on a Dreary Day

It’s 1:25pm on January 20, 2017. The sky is mourning. I am typing from a Panera restaurant, which is bustling with activity as if tragedies never touched the lives of southeastern Pennsylvanians. I am enjoying the warmth of indoors, the soft fluorescent lights, and the company of a loved one, nestled in the comfort of my privilege.

I attended a conference this morning designed for social workers working with LGBTQIA-identifying persons, with particular emphasis on trans* awareness. Topics generated lots of discussion among those in attendance, challenging views of interaction and intervention with these populations and their families. Most of the audience appeared cisgender, white, and were of an older generation. Some questions were controversial, but intentions revealed an eagerness to embrace and broaden the compassion demanded by their professions.
This was a safe space, and these people wanted to learn how to best perform kindness.

As I began to read “Yoga Body,” one word in particular stuck out to me— ‘orthodoxy.’ It is a contested topic of yoga—how do you practice off of the mat? What yoga ideals should govern our lives?
This little word urges practitioners to ‘practice what you preach.’

I see a picture of fruit on the wall and cannot help but notice that the watermelon in it looks particularly worn. Watermelon is sweet, full of juice, and almost always makes me thinks of happy summer days. It juxtaposes with the large window a few feet away, revealing a grey day and water droplets clinging to low-hanging, leafless branches. Despite suffering bite mark-divots, its brightness perseveres. So as the efforts of those championing social justice, too, will continue to face challenges.

Like the well-intentioned social workers attending a conference on a potentially unfamiliar topic, we must learn how to suit-up for the changing climate, and open our ears, hearts, and minds to those who most need watermelon on a dreary day.

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