praise

credit - unknown

credit – unknown

In response to today’s WordPress Daily Post Challenge, I find myself once again (still?) feeling the need to speak out for reason, for truth, for reality. Because for months now I/we have been hammered by an altered reality that bears no resemblance to anything short of a future of utter devastation of all we know, trust, believe in, hold dear.

So many words vie for prominence. Many are now familiar for their endless repetition — though repetition alone can not make truth. What I want to make prominent are words of consequence, of conscience, of connection.

And so, in response to today’s prompt, I offer one of the most inspiring inaugural poems ever written. So many reminders of whence we came and how we might proceed together into the future. Too many favorite phrases to repeat. Just the poem in its entirety, which you can also hear in her own voice here.

Praise Song for the Day: A Poem for Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration 2008, by Elizabeth Alexander

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

finding words in hard times

credit - amazingphotography30

credit – amazingphotography30

I have been silenced. In response to the enormity of what has happened to this country. How the past several decades’ of political posturing, decline of civil discourse, disregard for truth has ultimately led to this period of utter unconsciousness on the part of so many. The causes run deep. The impact defies comprehension. And I, to borrow a phrase from a sister-writer, have turtled.

But turtling is not a healthy response. It is not what I feel, what I want to do or how I want to be. It feels more shameful to remain silent than to urge beauty and peace where I can, as small and insignificant as that urge may seem in the enormity of so much ugliness and despair.

Thankfully I have been snapped out of this especially dark doldrum by the wise words of two wonderful women writers I value:

“In a time of destruction, create something: a poem, a parade, a community, a school, a vow, a moral principle; one peaceful moment.”  Maxine Hong Kingston

“In a time lacking in truth and certainty and filled with anguish and despair, no woman should be shamefaced in attempting to give back to the world, through her work, a portion of its lost heart.” – Louise Borgan

And with that, I recalled the intensely powerful words of another beacon of consciousness, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, who post-2008 election (remember THAT one?!!!) penned the following inspirational and important words. I offer them here that you, too, may remember to stand on deck, and let our shining souls spark one another back into the light. Continue reading

partners

NG and PaulI love it when prompts – like today’s Photo Challenge – suggest something I already wanted to write about!

In addition to the obvious connection between one doting grandmama and her young grandson, I love this photo because it will always remind me of the stellar weekend we had together gardening. I should add, the wilting bouquet clutched in his hand was promptly offered his mother on her return from a late morning run.

He wandered around as I pulled weeds, trowel in hand and pushing it lightly into soil near where I was working. “Gargeh,” he declared. “Yes, we are gardening,” I replied.

We held this same conversation over the surprise squash plants,  the runaway raspberry shoots, the proliferation of plant matter sprouting in all the wrong places. And by the time I had filled a wheelbarrow with last year’s stalks, assorted trimmed branches and other garden miscellany, he was ready for a ride – high on the soft pile of green.  Down the hill we went to dump the contents beneath him while he watched.

And then the best part of all: our walk around the neighborhood with him facing me, back braced against the far end of the wheelbarrow, banging his fists in time to my gait and yelling “BOOM” every time we hit a small rock that jostled him on the blanket I had placed under him.

For at least two hours we played and explored together. Who could ask for any better partner in the garden?

grain – not!

BuckwheatTXT

credit – yurielkaim

I love the coincidences of these Dailiy Post one-word prompts. Just this very morning I made, for my friend-with-the-broken-wrist who is staying with me, some comfort food. Buckwheat pancakes. With my usual a-recipe-is-only-a-suggestion wantonness, adding banana and yogurt to approximate the suggested buttermilk; nutmeg because of the banana; and omitting the scant sugar, again because of banana.

While we were exclaiming over the tasty nuttiness and general comfy-feeling-makingness of these modest morning delights, we pondered – just what IS buckwheat, anyway?

Buckwheat, it turns out, is the seed of a plant called “fagopyrum esculentum.” It’s related to rhubarb, or all things (which might explain my apparently-innate fondness for it – my dad and I were the only takers of the abundant perennial patch behind my childhood home, doubtless a carryover from the war garden). Not wheat, not rye, not barley. Furthermore, despite the name, buckwheat is gluten-free. Still better, it is a high quality plant protein extremely rich in antioxidants, minerals, and soluble dietary fiber.

What’s not to love? And all this, NOT being a grain!!!

learning

Today’s Discover WP prompt is a most persuasive invitation to share an experience of learning that has stuck with us.

The year was 1984. Following a casual beach walk in deep February, I found myself the proud owner of a major fixer-upper village colonial house on a hill. The walk was when my friend offered to provide a downpayment if I would live in and improve the house. Sweat equity would be my contribution. After three years we would split the proceeds of its sale. Meanwhile, we would split major repairs. I would do everything but plumb, wire or roof. And believe me, that left QUITE a lot of room within out agreement to keep me busy.

I would return from work, strip to my work clothes and get to work. The demolition was fun – ripping off gold-stippled mirror tiles from the living room wall; ripping up indescribably grody green carpet the dog repeatedly mistook for grass; opening the wall between kitchen and dining room; removing three layers of utterly damaged ceiling; ripping off fake wallboard and trim over lovely, oversized windows to discover their hacked-off plinths (which I later found a mill to replicate). In short, a lot of removing and revealing that finally led to restoring and revitalizing. Continue reading