Birmingham, Alabama, is digging out from the Great Blizzard of '93. The snow, above my knees for two days, has nearly disappeared. Traffic has begun to move noisily on the freeway near our house; trains again roar up and down the tracks across the street. By spring, when you read this, the blizzard will be a good story to tell sometimes among friends. Now it's a bit more immediate.
I took the four snowed-in days as involuntary retreat, isolated by the heavy white drifts covering roads and sidewalks. My neighbor brought me chili and I gave her toilet paper; we checked on friends by phone. Once the power came on I spent hours listening to old records and knitting a sweater for my little nephew. Like most retreats, this one provided time and silence for intense reflection: The interior substance was other than the quiet exterior structure.
I still live with the Gulf war. Whenever there's silent time, I realize that. Desert Slaughter is a current reality. The time since the "end" of the war has been one of deep doubt, even of despair, of testing and temptation. God knows the war was horrible enough; the ongoing unnoticed suffering is horrible still. The duplicity of the U.S. government, the gullibility of the public, the neat sidestepping of our best efforts at unified organizing, our own breakdowns under pressure--these are all elements of the war and its aftermath, all cause for concern.