Moonflowers & Morning Glories

[First posted in April 2013 on]

There’s a moment in early spring on the farm in western North Carolina where I live when the redbud trees explode with bright lavender blossoms, and the dogwoods become cascades of white blooms, and the backdrop of mountains behind them glows with the lime green of new growth. It’s only a matter of days before the blossoms fall and the new leaves turn dark green, but the window of time when I glimpse that harmony of color always takes my breath away. I’m stunned every year all over again when I see nature doing what it always does.


This spring I’ve been drawn to ponder the truth that I’ve never heard a pine tree try to convince an oak to hang on to its leaves for the winter. To the best of my knowledge, no morning glory has ever engaged a moonflower in a conversation about the merits of being an early riser or the superiority of worshipping the sun god rather than the moon goddess. No head of lettuce, or vine of snow peas, or stalk of kale has chided a sprig of basil to learn to love the cold. And no Asian pear has dismissed its Bradford cousins as being “merely decorative.”

Whether they provide food, or shelter, or beauty, the plants never seem to question why they’re here. And as far as I know, they never long to be anywhere—or anything—else. They simply go about the business of being true to themselves and doing what they were created to do. Continue reading

Privacy Invasion

On Easter Sunday, during our sharing of joys and concerns at Circle of Mercy, a longtime member reminded us through her tears that her teenaged transgender nephew moved here to Asheville, North Carolina, from a Navy-centric city on the Virginia coast to be in a safer place. I had breathed a sigh of relief when we welcomed him a few years ago and facilitated connections with Youth OutRight, an empowered and empowering local LGBTQ community.

But on March 23, four days before Easter, some of his safety disappeared. That’s when our state’s Republican-dominated legislature pushed through House Bill 2, overruling a non-discrimination ordinance passed by the city of Charlotte and placing North Carolina in the epicenter of a national controversy.

all-gender bathroom sign

The bill is troubling in many respects, including the state’s exercise of authoritarian power. But perhaps its most heinous aspect—and certainly the one that has riveted the most attention on this piece of legislature widely known as “the bathroom bill”—is the requirement that transgender individuals use public bathroom facilities that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificates.

Democratic lawmakers walked off the Senate floor in a united display of opposition. Protests erupted across the state, in cities and rural communities, in front of the governor’s mansion and the state legislature. Citizens of Asheville, which passed an anti-discrimination ordinance long ago, vowed to ignore the state’s ruling and even beef up protective local laws in an act of public defiance. Continue reading