I know I’m very late to the game, but I finished the final season of “Schitt’s Creek” this week. And honestly, David? I cried.

One of the many points of praise for the show is the way it portrays the love story between David and Patrick. Unlike the portrayal of most same-sex relationships — love triumphing over obstacles, love weathering the storms of opposition — David and Patrick’s was simply about… falling in love. 

The show’s creators admit that they imagined a kind of perfect world in the town of Schitt’s Creek that made this sort of love story possible — a “hate-free” zone where there weren’t major plot points devoted to suspicion or disgust or polarization over two men loving each other. They admit that such a world is more aspirational than reality. It’s the world we might, one day, find we can achieve.

I’m also reading Braiding Sweetgrass right now, the essays of Robin Wall Kimmerer, a botanist who weaves together her knowledge of the science of plants with her reflections on her Anishinaabe ancestry. In a beautiful piece about the differences between a “gift economy” and a capitalist one, she has this stunning line: “We can choose.”

She reminds us that, after all, these are both simply stories we tell about how things work. Once, the dominant story was the one of gift. Now, it’s the story that portrays everything as a commodity to be bought and sold. “One of these stories opens the way to living in gratitude and amazement at the richness and generosity of the world. One of these stories asks us to bestow our own gifts in kind, to celebrate our kinship with the world. We can choose. If all the world is a commodity, how poor we grow. When all the world is a gift in motion, how wealthy we become.”

“We can choose,” she said. 

And, we do choose. Every day, in small and big ways, we get to choose the stories that we will tell, that we will hear, that we will live. We may not be able to choose the stories that influence policy in the church or the capitol, but we can choose the stories that form our hearts, our vision, and our actions. We can choose the stories that awaken within us awe and gratitude, kinship and grace. 

David and Patrick’s love story — funny, quirky, and beautiful — moved me in that way that Robin Wall Kimmerer describes, moved me closer to “gratitude and amazement at the richness and generosity of the world.” It helped me to see past the struggle story, beyond the inspiration that comes through oppression and hardship and dehumanization. It reminded me that, at the end, we are not aiming just to overcome; eventually, our aim is to flourish.

So “Schitt’s Creek” was a little holy place on Netflix for me. I mean, mostly it just made me laugh. (I *dare* you to watch Moira sing “Oh Danny Boy” and keep a straight face.) But I’m grateful that it also widened my lens. It helped me remember again the power of the story that I get to choose, every day. The one that chooses flourishing, spaciousness, gratitude, and love. 

Photo by Gaspar Uhas on Unsplash

Kate Kooyman

Rev. Kate Kooyman is a minister of the Reformed Church in America who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

11 Comments

  • Dana VanderLugt says:

    Yes, Kate, yes!

  • Karen Weaver says:

    Thank you. Joy

  • Tom Eggebeen says:

    Thank you … I have yet to see one single episode – I’m some kind of social nincompoop , I guess – Ha. And your essay is the second thing I’ve read in the last few days to note “Braiding Sweetgrass.” All the best …

  • Doug Kindschi says:

    You refer to Robin Wall Kimmerer description of it moving her closer to “gratitude and amazement at the richness and generosity of the world.” Can this also move us closer to the amazement at the generosity and love of God for us all?
    Thank you for sharing. I’ll have to watch the series.

  • Arika Theule-VanDam says:

    Yes, yes, and YES. Thanks, Kate. Needed this today. (And now I might need to go rewatch a few episodes because it’s been awhile, and I miss David and Moira, and maybe something as simple as folding in the cheese [or not, if you’re not sure how…] can stoke gratitude and scatter seeds of goodness. Lots of life lessons in Schitt$ Creek!)

  • Donna Stelpstra says:

    This is beautiful! I’ve never watched Shitt’s Creek but I know many people who love it. And…it’s Canadian! I do love Braiding Sweetgrass. So profound in so many ways. Thank you for reminding us how we can flourish.

  • RLG says:

    Thanks, Kate, for your uptake on Schitt’s Creek. Few people know the history of the founding family(the Schitt family) of Schitt”s Creek. This may not contribute to your take on the program, and this might not be that helpful, but it is amusing.

    Jack is the son of Awe Schitt and O. Schitt. Awe Schitt, the fertilizer magnate, married O. Schitt, the owner of Needeep N. Schitt Inc. They had one son, Jack. In turn Jack Schitt married Noe Schitt, the deeply religious couple produced 6 children: Holie Schitt, Fulla Schitt, Giva Schitt, Bull Schitt, and the twins: Deap Schitt and Dip Schitt. Against her parents’ objections, Deap Schitt married Dumb Schitt, a high school drop out.

    However, after being married 15 years, Jack and Noe Schitt divorced. Noe Schitt later remarried Ted Sherlock and, because her kids were living with them, she wanted to keep her previous name.

    She was then known as Noe Schitt-Sherlock. Meanwhile, Dip Schitt married Loda Schitt and they produced a son of nervous disposition, Chicken Schitt. Two other of the 6 children, Fulla Schitt and Giva Schitt, Were inseparable throughout childhood and subsequently married the Happens brothers in a dual ceremony.

    The wedding announcement in the newspaper announced the Schitt-Happens wedding. The Schitt-Happens children were Dawg, Byrd, and Hoarse. Bull Schitt, the prodigal son, left home to tour the world. He recently returned from Italy with his new Italian bride, Pisa Schitt.

    So now when someone says, “you don’t know Jack Schitt,” you can correct them. Does this have anything to do with the presidential campaign that we are in the midst of?

  • Matt Ackerman says:

    A hearty amen to this, and to both Schitt’$ Creek and Braiding Sweetgrass. Yes, we can choose the stories we allow to shape our hearts and actions. More than that, we can choose story, itself, as a valid way of knowing about and speaking of God’s world. In “People of Corn, People of Light” Kimmerer talks about how “the very facts of the world are a poem” which scientists too often convey in “a language that excludes readers.” She adds, “science can give us knowing, but caring comes from someplace else” (apologies to my Dad, a scientist). And, of course there’s a lot of caring out there right now that’s completely divorced from any scientific knowing – that extreme is just as bad.

    Without going down an epistemological rabbit hole, the knowing that happens through the stories we hear and tell is at the very core of who we are. It’s cliché now to talk about story as a lens for understanding scripture and God’s relationship with God’s people, but for good reason. We are story-driven people. One last Kimmerer quote, riffing on the idea that our specific gifts represent our responsibilities to the world: “We may not have wings or leaves, but we humans do have words. Language is our gift and our responsibility.”

  • Susan says:

    Thank you RLG

  • Travis West says:

    This is gold, Kate. Thank you for this post. I’ve been enamored with Braiding Sweetgrass ever since the summer, and assigned it in my Sabbath class this week. We read The Gift of Strawberries last week! And People of Corn, People of Light, from another comment, this week. So, so good. And I haven’t seen Schitt’s Creek before but it’s been on my list for a while. Gonna have to take the plunge one of these days.

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