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  • Writer's pictureMj Pettengill

When Courage Falls Through the Cracks

Roots, Mj Pettengill
Roots, Mj Pettengill




noun: resiliency; plural noun: resiliencies

1. the capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

"the remarkable resilience of so many institutions"

2. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.

"nylon is excellent in wearability and resilience." (Oxford Languages)


I am courageous. There are many layers of that. My parents would have told you I was brave to a fault. Like my character Samuel, I climbed up high, nestled into the heart of the tree to view the whole wide world. Only I experienced something else.

On my eighth birthday, one such tree adventure led to a summer in traction. That was super-hero, childlike stuff with severe consequences. It was not the last of the broken arms, but we aren't discussing childhood perils now. That is part of our healthy growth and development. We want curious, energetic children who strike out to explore the world as long as it's safe. We are in uncharted territory.

I raised and homeschooled my family (when it was fairly uncommon) on our farm on a mountaintop deep in the woods. In addition to our rigorous academics and the arts, we were afforded unending learning opportunities in the wild.

As with anything, there are risks. We did not hide and avoid activities that required basic precautions. We paid attention and learned to operate to the fullest extent of our abilities.

My children are grown, well-traveled, and brimming with boldness. However, as time marches on, I gravitate more towards following and knowing my roots. I honor new experiences and adventures. I am not willing to take such risks as I did previously. This is the natural order of things.

Here we are, in a world of extremes, living in unprecedented times. Listing what has unfolded over the past three years will not serve a purpose. We all have our unique lens through which we view world events. We are urged to choose sides.

There is information coming in at an alarming rate. It is up to us to decide what we take in and what we cast aside. It is up to us to choose where we get data and what we do with it. I don't need to point out examples of great distress in our midst; if you are somewhat vertical, you know what I'm talking about. You probably know what side of the fence you're on. But maybe you don't. Perhaps you are sitting on the fence, which has become so laser-sharp that simply being there is risky. Maybe you are a sovereign being where barriers do not exist other than to keep the fox from the henhouse. The possibilities are endless.

The fence is wobbly, about to collapse. Then you will land where you end up or find your place during the fall. The tragic divide, fear-driven action, and present circumstances are unsettling. Families and friends have and continue to fall apart. Do you think this is the meaning of our existence? Or is there something that we have lost? There is no need to list all we have faced and continue to face from our chosen sides. We are here now. Much of our environment is at high risk of ongoing destruction. There is no debate; from where I am, you only need to step outside and listen. Or drive in any direction to see what once was, tire tracks in frozen mud in new fields raw with the fresh scent of the death of old forests. It is not unique to us; it is us. Trees have lost their standing. It's the way of the future. Fires, floods, sickness, overreaching policies, fear, the environment... it's all there. When your courage is waning, and others do not see it as you do, it is time to call upon resilience.

Resilience, Dandelion, CC0
Resilience, Dandelion, CC0

When you pass by the dandelion that grows in the sidewalk crack: Is this you?

Do you give thanks for its endurance and survival?

Do you give it no thought at all? Do you pick it? (Note: never use medicinal plants from such places.) Do you spray it with weed killer? (Perhaps you don't understand the plants' therapeutic benefits or the colossal harm from chemical toxins?) It is never too late to rethink the dandelions.

My courage ebbs and flows but mostly remains intact. I find myself seeking it more often, whereas I never used to. It was always right there, easily accessible. I am grateful to find it when I need it, but I have been asking a lot of it. It may be due to my concern for others. To be here on the planet now means that most have seen suffering. We border on the outer edges when it is not directly related to us. Be there for others, but even more notably, be there for yourself. Know when to do so.

Trust your eyes, ears, and intuition.

For self-preservation, take a break from anything and everything when necessary. If it has diminished, check the soundness of your faith. Hope has no place here now, for it is a dream possibly out of your grasp. You are hoping for it to manifest. Whereas faith means you believe in what it is that you desire. You trust it. All of this leads to the importance of resilience. Without it, fear and hopelessness will take the lead. I didn't think of that word until recently when troubling and conflicting events escalated. I think about my courage. I applaud myself for a lifetime of bravery, but there is something else that will be incredibly beneficial. It is resilience. That has come to the forefront. The light will triumph. Remember who you are.


Again, I share the lyrics and link to a pertinent vintage song by Sandy Denney.


Quiet Joys of Brotherhood by Sandy Denney I can't believe that it's so cold

As gentle tides go rolling by,

Along the salt sea strand

The colours blend and roll as one

Together in the sand.

And often do the winds entwine

Do send their distant call,

The quiet joys of brotherhood,

And love is lord of all.

The oak and weed together rise,

Along the common ground.

The mare and stallion light and dark

Have thunder in their sound.

The rainbow sign, the blended flower

Still have my heart in thrall.

The quiet joys of brotherhood,

And love is lord of all.

But man has come to plough the tide,

The oak lies on the ground.

I hear their tires in the fields,

They drive the stallion down.

The roses bleed both light and dark,

The winds do seldom call.

The running sands recall the time

When love was lord of all.


Barbara Sinclair
Barbara Sinclair
Feb 25, 2023

Ah, yes, MJ. Beautifully said. I ebb and flow with the taking in of information and then I go into retreat mode. I've always done this, but the past three years, well, it's a whole different ballgame now. There's hope in that Dandelion, isn't there? And the Yarrow... Thanks for sharing your thoughts. xo

Mj Pettengill
Mj Pettengill
Feb 25, 2023
Replying to

It is certainly a whole different ballgame. We are flooded with new information daily. And there is hope in that Dandelion and always with Yarrow--Queen of the fields. ❤️ Thank you.

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