nonviolence in action!

July 19, 2009

My friend, Cassie, went to the Episcopal General Convention last weekend. She told me this story (third hand, so this is basically the gist of it) and i LOVE how it shows the creativity, grace and beauty of nonviolence in action.

Apparently Gene Robinson, one of the first openly gay Episcopal bishops, spoke at the convention. Outside the hall protesters held up signs and chanted about the ‘immorality’ of homosexuality. Most people simply ignored them, but one woman decided to take on the protesters in a beautiful and graceful way: she asked the crowd to “sponsor a protester” with the money going to something like overturning Prop 8 or AIDS research.

She raised her voice and asked people to donate, make a pledge, whatever! And what could the protesters do? They could stay — but their presence was now being used to support a cause they had not intended. Or they could abandon their protest, and leave the convention-goers in peace. Such is the beauty of nonviolence — facing head on the hateful bigotry of the protesters and twirling, moving, restoring it, to make the world better.

By the end, the group gathered around the protesters began to sing “Jesus loves me” — those beautiful simple words lifting up the dignity of all people, and, i would assume, exposing the shame of the protester’s hatred.

Amen! Thank you Jesus for showing us this ‘third way’!!! Let’s sing a little “Jesus loves me” today! 🙂

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good times

June 24, 2009

Ever have one of those moments where you’re just ‘in it’ — like you’re in the vortex of all the good things life has to offer? The Indigo Girls have some lyrics in their song “all that we let in” — planets whirling, atoms splitting, and a sweater for your love you sit there knitting — i love that somehow the small act of knitting a sweater for someone is easily in league with the miracle of atomic process and the grandiousness of the universe.

Sunday nights i’ve been going to Tom & Larry’s for a potluck and planning the neighborhood float for the pride parade. We ate, had a short meeting, and got to work on our banners. I sat with my back to everyone, stitching up the edge of the banners on the sewing machine; most folks were behind me cutting out stencils, cracking jokes (lots of double entendre!); there was good music playing and i was singing along… I’m sure the glass or two of wine I’d had was a contributing factor as well, but I got this great sense of peace and happiness: I was with my cool new neighbors, we’d had good food (and people loved what I had brought), and we were working together on a project that I am really excited about and represents my values… it was so great… i just took it all in for a moment… imagined all those planets way up in the sky, and all the atoms doing their thing, right as we all sat on the back patio in the dwindling sunlight with our scissors and smiles…

new favorite poem

March 20, 2009

saw this last night in the bathroom of the rubber rose (totally recommended, by the way) and love it. I need this reminder, encouragement, hope, joy, mystery… you can actually get the poster (along with a few other totally rad ones) for $2+shipping at crimethinc.

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into the dank
submission
be on the watch
there are ways out
there is light somewhere
it may not be much light but
it beats the
darkness.
be on the watch
the gods will offer you
chances
know them, take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death
in life,
sometimes.
and the more often you
learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in
you.

-hank

another gratitude post

January 27, 2009

Monday and Tuesday this week I went to a hunger advocacy conference put on by one of our funders. Monday night they had a speaker –the director of the California Endowment — Robert somethingorother. His talk was great but one part at the beginning stood out to me: At the beginning of his talk he asked people to raise their hands if their parents had grown up in poverty, if their grandparents had, if their great grandparents had. i thought back to my dad working his full time job and coming home to work another parttime job or more; my mom going back to school when i was 11 or 12 and all the sacrifices it entailed; my mom’s stories about the parsonages they used to live in that were barely inhabitable and all that my grandmother had done to make them into a home; and my dad’s mom’s stories about about how when they were kids during the depression her dad would go hunting and they would eat whatever he could shoot (possum, squirrel, raccoon – which wasn’t her favorite); and my maternal great-grandmother who had to dig a path with her young sons through a blizzard to make room for the coal truck so they wouldn’t freeze to death in south (?) dakota…

I raised my hand every time… along with about 80% of the rest of the group.

the speaker talked about how our ancestors who had struggled through poverty had, at some point (at many points), made decisions to help our grandparents and our parents, and us to live a better life… and how all of that in so many direct and indirect ways had led us to our presence there that evening in a nice hotel with a delish free meal.
he talked about how making those changes was difficult — just like the issues that we are facing now — but because those choices were made, and that vital hard work was done, our lives were all the better for it.

i appreciated the way the speaker reminded us that our work, while difficult, is so important; whether we ever get to see the results or not, there will still be benefits beyond measure.

On a more personal level it also made me realize a little more fully that people I have never met have done more than i can imagine to ensure I could be where I am today — healthy, happy, smart, secure, etc. So much I will never be able to repay…

Except, I guess, I can pay it forward a little by doing what i can to live a life that honors all that hard work, all the difficult choices and all the doing without, without giving up hope…  I hope we can all live lives that show we don’t take any of that for granted…

the lanyard

November 15, 2008

Tiana likes it when i explain what i like about a poem that i foward so here it is: 
i like the irony of this one and how we all do this on some level:  the small ugly gifts we gave as children (and sometimes still give) expecting them to be received with all sorts of gratitude; soaking in our own largess…  and how totally short the gifts fall, but they are accepted with joy nonetheless.  It’s kinda funny.  How much do we owe people, and how much are we owed, which can never be repaid, but somehow it all works out…
and thinking about it that way gives one so much gratitude, ya know?  it’s my favorite thing: grace…

ps — thanks mom & dad! 🙂

 

The Lanyard
by billy collins

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly —
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift – not the worn truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.