Recently, my son was in town. We sat on the back porch enjoying each other’s company when suddenly we found ourselves being interrupted by the sweet chirping of a bird. The sound was so lovely that we both stopped to listen. Soon after when we resumed our conversation the bird starting her chirping again, as if to tell us to stop talking, and listen to her.

We laughed at this, all the while aware, yet again, of how much I love my home here in River Forest. The surrounding natural beauty wraps me in a cocoon of peace, rebuffing the stark contrast of the chaos existing in the outside world.

Just today the New York Times’ front page had these bylines, and in truth, these could appear almost any day. I paraphrase: 500,000 people dead in Russian invasion of Ukraine; Trump and 18 of his advisors were indicted for upward of 91 possible criminal acts; 3 folks shot in Jacksonville store is considered a hate crime; Hundreds of tiny octopuses mysteriously discovered with their legs wrapped around each other at ocean’s bottom; Historians in Egypt suing the government for the destruction of architectural masterpieces being replaced by concrete housing structures.

The disturbing and often horrible occurrences in our world make me even that much more grateful for the refuge of my home and this village buffering me from the storm of mean-spiritedness and hateful acts.

The most heart-wrenching article I read lately relates to an issue that, with great effort and open-mindedness, is solvable. What is lacking for the solution, thus far, is merely the will to do so. Our nation has the capability of allowing immigrants — who are mostly seeking asylum here — to secure work and live in safety and peace.

Sadly, over the Trump years, the predominant mindset was to view migrants in negative ways, who will add nothing but problems to our country. Yes, our immigration system needs lots of improvement, and if we are to reform it, we need to begin with the generosity of spirit of our forefathers. The Statue of Liberty, with its “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” engraving, symbolizes welcoming the stranger.

Let us hope that we will find it in our hearts to offer the strangers to our land the same peace and security so many of us feel — the way I feel right here in River Forest.

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