No Two Sides to Racism

Here are some things I have been writing, to try to pull out some threads of sense from the past day and from the sheer willful ignorance of the president of the United States in a time of crisis:

When I think of what happened in Charlottesville over the weekend, I keep getting images of the old photos I have studied of the morning after Kristallnacht. I remember some of my first impressions after reading that bit of history, of the sense of violation, of a government goading the worst of its citizenry to acts of violence which cowed and frightened the rest. I remember walking through modern-day Landau with an elder friend who remembered the broken windows first-hand.

Am I being too alarmist and shrill to say that I think Charlottesville was our Kristallnacht? The step over the line that should wake us up and spur us into action lest we allow fear to numb us and paralyze us into letting the evil wash over our consciousness and put us to sleep.

Stay woke. Stay unsettled and angry, if it helps to keep the energy going. Stay aware of every little thing. Speak truth. Don’t allow yourself to be silenced by the fear and confusion and misguided rage of others.

Here’s the web. I cast my line to you, and you, and you. I feel your presence. I sense your intention and your determination. I will help to hold the lines with you. We have our work to do.

Thanks for listening.
―Beth Weaver-Kreider
***

Let’s get this straight. Let’s make it clear:
There are no two sides to racism.
There are no two sides to racism.
There are no two sides to racism.

Repeat after me, Mr. President:
There are no two sides to racism.

Condemn all the violence, if you must,
but those who fight Nazis
are not the same as Nazis,
no matter what your Stephens say.

There are angry protesters,
and then there are terrorists
who bring their twisted ideology
to the streets, and if you must insist
that they are just the same,
then I say your bigotry is showing.

There are no two sides to racism.
―Beth Weaver-Kreider


“Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.”
―Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism
*
We must always take sides.
—Elie Wiesel
*
“Leave safety behind. Put your body on the line. Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind–even if your voice shakes. When you least expect it, someone may actually listen to what you have to say. Well-aimed slingshots can topple giants.”
―Maggie Kuhn
*
First they came for Transpeople and I spoke up–
Because God does NOT make mistakes!
They came for the African Americans and I spoke up—
Because I am my sisters’ and my brothers’ keeper.
And then they came for the women and I spoke up—
Because women hold up half the sky.
And then they came for the immigrants and I spoke up—
Because I remember the ideals of our democracy.
And then they came for the Muslims and I spoke up—
Because they are my cousins and we are one human family.
And then they came for the Native Americans and Mother Earth and I spoke up—
Because the blood-soaked land cries and the mountains weep.
They keep coming.
We keep rising up.
Because we Jews know the cost of silence.
We remember where we come from.
And we will link arms, because when you come for our neighbors, you come for us—
and THAT just won’t stand.
―Rabbi Michael Latz, MN 8.13.2017
*
Toko-pa Turner:
“What is wild in us are the ways in which we meet something freshly and not by rote. Wild is to be full-body alive in response to the conversation life is having with us; the caress of the wind which cools your skin after the sun has penetrated it with warmth. The shadow cast by a soaring bird above. The unmediated glance, surprised by beauty.

“When this conversation goes quiet from inattention, as it does for us all, know that it takes little to encourage it again. It is simply to remember that life isn’t only happening to us, but we are happening to life!”
*
“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.” Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” ―Fred Rogers
*
“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” ―Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum
*
Parker Palmer said this:
“Since suffering as well as joy comes with being human, I urge you to remember this: Violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering.”
*
“Go out into the world today and love the people you meet. Let your presence light new light in the hearts of people.” ―Mother Teresa


Gratitude List:
1. Bree Newsome. My heart has turned to her so often in the past days. Her act of loving defiance―climbing a flag pole to remove the Confederate flag from the SC statehouse remains an inspiration for me. She was joyful, determined, prayerful. She woke up the nation, I think. Suddenly people were shaking off their sleep, blinking their eyes, and noticing how emblems of slavery in our public tax-funded spaces might be a bad idea.
2. Mitch Landrieu. If you haven’t yet, give yourself the gift of listening to his powerful speech about why New Orleans is removing its Confederate statues. He is articulate, wise, compassionate. Brilliant speechmaking.
3. All of us, together. We will stand against the powers of hatred.
4. Anchors. When I am getting myself into high dudgeon, I sometimes stop and breathe and think about the wise and calm and loving people I know, and I cast my webs their way, and hold onto their anchors so I don’t float away on my tides of emotion or burn myself up in my rages. I am blessed in family and friends who help me not to lose sight of the Center. You are probably one of these people.
5. Cats. Yes, another of my obsessions lately, but it’s just such a delight to have furry people in the house. I can forgive the nightly 2 AM Thunder Rumpus through the house because they bring us so much joy.

May we walk in Beauty!

Advertisements

Same Waters, Different Waters


Last summer: Two friends in their fort.

“To love is to recognize yourself in another.” ~Eckhart Tolle
*
“You can never really go back to the same waters. Not only are you no longer the same, but neither are the waters you left. The current has changed. The elements of nature have affected the stream. When you return, although it appears the same, it really is a different river and you are a different person. Therefore, you cannot cross the same river twice.”
– Alice Walker
*
Silent Friend
by Rainer Maria Rilke

Silent friend of many distances, feel
how your breath enlarges all of space.
Let your presence ring out like a bell
into the night. What feeds upon your face

grows mighty from the nourishment thus offered.
Move through transformation, out and in.
What is the deepest loss that you have suffered?
If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine.

In this immeasurable darkness, be the power
that rounds your senses in their magic ring,
the sense of their mysterious encounter.

And if the earthly no longer knows your name,
whisper to the silent earth: I’m flowing.
To the flashing water say: I am.
*
TreeSong
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

The ancient ones know.
They will tell you the way.
Stand quietly before them.
Let their stillness enter you.
Listen for their songs of mystery.
*
“Who will tell us who we are
when the voices of the trees are silenced?
Who will give us direction
when the sentinels of the forest
can no longer tell us the way?”
Beth Weaver-Kreider

*
Gratitude WingTanka
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Impossible things
that actually exist,
like the hummingbird.
how she hovers, how she hums,
how she flies like a whisper.
*
The Real Work
by Wendell Berry

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
*
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” ~Rachel Carson


Gratitude List:
1. Here is a marvel: I made him inside me, but this boy knows so much more than I do. The Chromebook just kicked itself off the wi-fi (or something). He tinkered with something on his iPad for a few minutes, and suddenly everything worked again. It’s such a marvel to see them grow and develop like this. I knew that they would learn their way ahead of me, but I had no idea it would be happening this early, or this incomprehensibly.
2. Creating spaces
3. Bridges, pathways, doorways, webs
4. Defining my own terms
5. Homemade rice pudding

May we walk in Beauty!

Webs


Here’s a filtered photo of our little deer trail into the woods.


There are times in my life when I have thought I could almost tangibly feel myself on the web of prayer and well-wishes. In the past two days since the bus accident the sent over a dozen kids from my school into the hospital, I feel like I could reach out and touch that web. We’re so grateful for the fact that so many of them have been released from the hospital. If all went well today, all the high schoolers will be out by now.

We’re still worried about the “little guy,” as our principal refers to him in community prayers. The news reports are that he is stable, but still critical. And my heart is with the bus driver, who loves his kids.


Gratitude List:
1. Two of my students who were in the bus accident were back in classes today, subdued but all in one piece.  Several more performed in the band and orchestra concert tonight. I am so grateful for their safety.
2. The web. Thanks to so many people who prayed, who wrote notes, who held us all in the light.
3. That concert tonight! Orchestra, concert bands, jazz bands. These teachers draw such good music out of their students. Such incredibly talented folks.
4. Meadows filled with buttercups.
5. That hawk that sits in the top of a locust tree on Burgs Lane to catch the morning sun.

May we walk in Beauty!

Moving Through Time

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gratitude List:
1. Ancestors
2. Moving through time.  I keep working with this idea that Michelle talked about a couple weeks ago, about scarcity and abundance.  I have always thought of those ideas in terms of things, but she explored how we tend to live with a sense of scarcity about time as well.  This hit me hard.  It’s how I have been living a good part of my adult life.  I  learned to protect my time, and then I began to guard it, fiercely.  And it just slips away anyway, doesn’t it?  I am practicing moving through time without feeling like I have to hoard it.
3. The sense of smell: right now it’s coffee perking.
4. How things can feel messy and disjointed and out of place and still be okay anyway.
5.  The web.  Again.  The web that holds us all together.  How we cast these lines between us.  How they shine.

May we walk in Beauty!

Threads

DSCN8665

A spider’s web across the path spans the space from here to there:
the bridge across the River, the yarn I knot with my needles,
the trail of crumbs leading out of the woods, the pathway between us.

(Trying my hand at a Korean Sijo this morning.  http://www.ahapoetry.com/sijo.htm)

Gratitude List:
1. Thursday’s chapel speaker: mindful meditation.  Powerful.
2. Soba noodles and fall veggies stirred up in the cast iron wok.  That man is a mighty fine cook.
3. Bridges.  Webs.   Labyrinth pathways.  Strands of yarn being knitted or knotted or crocheted or woven. Narrative threads.
4. Quiet spaces.
5.  Sleep and coffee.

May we walk in Beauty!

Bowlful of Prayers

EWK 5 001

The stories converge.
The strands on this web meet,
connect, and twist outward again.

This is a bowl of stones, holding prayers:
a shining soul who just received a terrible diagnosis,
another bright spirit who is caring for a suffering loved one,
another, walking the confusing labyrinth of a broken relationship,
a quiet spirit grieving a loss that never seems to heal,
an eager heart aching with loneliness,
a disappointed one,
a tired one,
and you?

A stone for each of these I love,
and also, one for the bright cardinal
who comes with messages of hope,

one for the courage of the activist
climbing high and challenging oppression,

one for hope, one for love, one for tenderness,
one for patient remembering to give yourself time,
to cut yourself a break, to let yourself cry,
to remember your truest, greenest, most powerful self,

and one for the spider who brings all the stories
together in a web, binding us all into one.
One story.

Gratitude List:
1. Change
2. Stability
3. Prayers, stones, and feathers
4. Watchfulness
5. Root beer floats

May we walk in Beauty!

Rain and River

Today was bookended by two powerful stories about language, how it differentiates, how it connects.  This morning in chapel a colleague of mine spoke thoughtfully and reflectively about her own life story, about the Tower of Babel–how we build complicated structures of our lives, placing our hopes and expectations into them, and how we can be blindsided when they crumble.  Her stories were affirming of those who struggle, acknowledging the struggle, and offering the hope of transformation, not only of the pain, but of inner prejudices and stereotypes.

On the other end of the day, in Faculty Meeting, was a presentation on resilience, particularly for women (and others) who have been marginalized and excluded from leadership roles in the church and its institutions.  The framing story was Pentecost, another tale of people of many languages trying to communicate.

Language helps us to classify and analyze and differentiate.  It’s an intellectual tool.  It also helps us to connect and weave together and integrate.  It’s a psychological/heart tool.

Gratitude List:
1. The scent of the honey locust tree blossoms wafting through the window just as I am falling asleep.  Blessings on the bees.
2. Yesterday, Jon spotted a box turtle on the driveway, wandering off into the yard.  I was sort of afraid that thee’d become too rare to spot anymore, but there is at least one living on Goldfinch Farm.
3. Rain, rain, rain.  Slow and deliberate and steady.  Free of high wind and hail and flooding.
4. Chasing rainbows.  After supper we drove down to the Rt. 30 bridge to see the new girders that were just put in place last night above the highway by Wrightsville.  We have some engineers in the family who just couldn’t wait to see them.  As we reached the crest of the hill, we saw the rainbow, looking like one foot was in the hollow and another was at Sam Lewis Park, but the nearer foot kept shifting as we neared the park.
5. We parked by the River at the John Wright restaurant boat launch, and Ellis and I walked down to the water, standing between the two bridges in the rain.  I found a shining 2015 penny there on the threshold between the land and the water.
6. Language, the gossamer thread of words that we send between us like trees, our conversation the webs cast by a spider.

May we walk in Beauty!

The Ferns will Unfurl in the Sunshine

P1010973
Soon, soon, soon…

Gratitudes:
1.  Another amazing music chapel/assembly this morning: from a 16th century Korean opera to a men’s quartet to a jazzy piece arranged by students.
2. Yesterday’s sunrise.  Enough to make the grumpiest time-change-denier sit up and take notice.
3. Milestones.  We took off the training wheels and that kid just took off on his bike like he’d always known how.
4. Being open to what comes.
5. Helping to hold the web.

May we walk in Beauty!

Spiders

I cast a line from me to you,
to you, to you.
Catch and weave,
catch and weave.

And I receive
the lines you cast my way.
Catch and weave,
catch and weave.

Until we have a bowl,
until we have a net, a nest,
a net of hearts for one we love
to rest in, to be held.

Spiders in the corners,
we watch and listen,
we hold the lines
and tell the story
as it unfolds.

Gratitude List:
1.  Net, web, nest
2.  Dyeing–watching the new color emerge
3.  The blue eye of cornflower
4.  The way my children enter literature.  I thought The Hobbit was perhaps too much for them, but they listen and ask questions.  Now they want to venture in to The Lord of the Rings, and who am I to tell them not to.  Here we go: A Long-Expected Party.
5.  The way Jon WK keeps me laughing.  Sometime I’ll tell you the pumpernickel story.

May we walk in Beauty!

Step Away from the Gates

Yesterday was perhaps a bit of a let-down day after the high of Luna Moth Day, full of barely maskable crabbiness and low-grade anxiety.  Sigh.  I suppose we can’t always live in the realm of the sublime.  The mundane has lessons aplenty.

Worn out by the anxieties and slog of the day, I lay back in the recliner for an evening catnap, and the first part of this just sort of fluttered into my head.

Don’t sit so close to the gates of Despair, sister.
I don’t need to to tell you how the gates open inward,
suddenly drawing the shuffling masses inside the yawning arches.
I don’t need to tell you how easy it is to be carried along in the wave,
or worse, trampled by feet of those who are eager
to prove their dark visions and those who cannot
relinquish their lifelong addiction to fear.
You know them too well, these shadows.
You’ve been in that land.

Roll up your mat, gather your books,
pick up your bucketful of bright yellow flowers,
and walk twenty paces east of the gateway
to the place where a sapling grows patiently
out of the moss-covered pavements.

From this spot you will hear the faint whisper
of breezes, from faraway places
where courage is dawning.

From this breathable vantage point,
you will hear the distant shushing
of waves on the beaches
where hope will awaken.

I know why you choose your perch,
there, on the doorstep.
I know why you watch them so carefully,
tending the crowd like a garden,
why you believe yourself safe,
you, with your books and your flowers.

I know, too, how you belong there,
in that waiting crowd of restless people,
how some days your flowers turn lifeless and ashen,
how the words in your volumes, on grayest of days,
run down the pages like ink-bled tears.

Pick up your mat, I say, now before the gates open.
Turn your back on that archway.
Follow the pathway of bright white pebbles
that I laid there myself one gray day.

 

Gratitude List:
1. The way words come together to make meaning
2. The holiness of the everyday
3. Tomato sandwiches
4. Cool summer morning breezes (“. . .blowing through the jasmine in my mind.”
5. This web that we belong to.  And I don’t just mean the www, though that one has its contribution.  Can you feel how the strands connect us, how the energy runs between us?

May we walk in Beauty!