Let Us Not Tire — Shawna Lemay

Shawna remains one of the writers / bloggers that I like to follow. I appreciate the kind of questions she asks and the kind of principles that she reaffirms.

In a recent post, Shawna writes of staying in learning, staying in awareness, and staying in participation — all in this time of social movement and claiming who we wish to be as a complex society with all of it’s beauty, and wrong-doings.

Shawna is referencing Ibram Kendi: “The actual foundation of racism is not ignorance and hate, but self-interest.” From the article on The Undefeated

“We have been taught that ignorance and hate lead to racist ideas, lead to racist policies,” Kendi said. “If the fundamental problem is ignorance and hate, then your solutions are going to be focused on education, and love and persuasion. But of course [Stamped from the Beginning] shows that the actual foundation of racism is not ignorance and hate, but self-interest, particularly economic and political and cultural.” Self-interest drives racist policies that benefit that self-interest. When the policies are challenged because they produce inequalities, racist ideas spring up to justify those policies. Hate flows freely from there.”

Shawna’s full post is here.

I appreciate the truth-telling that references something so far upstream. And the human reality of centuries of application from very inhuman principles.

There’s heavy lifting for all of us. I love Shawna’s encouragement to not tire.

On Change and Context II, “13th”

The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution states,

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

This Netflix Documentary, narrates rather nefarious adaptations of this amendment in practice — the reduction / abolition of slavery replaced by increased definition of criminality (that dressed slavery in another form). “Criminality” as support to a bereft economic system in the US South in particular, now that slaves were no longer legal.

Ripple. Ripple. Ripple.

The documentary pulls the story into 21st century, exposing further roots of race injustice. It insists on the heavy work of questioning morality then, and now.

Context matters. Including what is far, far upstream. Waking matters. In any day.

Thx Zoe McGinn for pointing me to this documentary, for which I encouraged her add to her materials, I Am Not Your Negro.

Pray For Peace (Thank you Shawna LeMay and Ellen Bass)

Spring has sprung where I live. Crocus have come and gone. Daffodils are plentiful. The first tulips have appeared. Grass is greening. Last year’s lettuce and kale are boldly returning. Trees are flowering, like this one in my front yard. These blossoms are abundant now — pinks and whites waking to the season.

I can find in me the dimension that is seeking waking. And synergy of beauty.

Every now and then I peek into Shawna LeMay’s site and blog, Transactions With Beauty. I quite love her writing. I quite love her thinking. I adore her photos — just noticeably good shots of flowers that move me instantly.

Recently Shawna posted a poem by Ellen Bass, Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. The poem is called, Pray For Peace. I love it’s breadth. I love it’s earthiness. I love it’s invitation to the simple and the involved.


Waking. Beauty. Prayers. Peace.


Pray for Peace

by Ellen Bass

Pray to whomever you kneel down to:
Jesus nailed to his wooden or plastic cross,
his suffering face bent to kiss you,
Buddha still under the bo tree in scorching heat,
Adonai, Allah. Raise your arms to Mary
that she may lay her palm on our brows,
to Shekhina, Queen of Heaven and Earth,
to Inanna in her stripped descent.

Then pray to the bus driver who takes you to work.
On the bus, pray for everyone riding that bus,
for everyone riding buses all over the world.
Drop some silver and pray.

Waiting in line for the movies, for the ATM,
for your latte and croissant, offer your plea.
Make your eating and drinking a supplication.
Make your slicing of carrots a holy act,
each translucent layer of the onion, a deeper prayer.

To Hawk or Wolf, or the Great Whale, pray.
Bow down to terriers and shepherds and Siamese cats.
Fields of artichokes and elegant strawberries.

Make the brushing of your hair
a prayer, every strand its own voice,
singing in the choir on your head.
As you wash your face, the water slipping
through your fingers, a prayer: Water,
softest thing on earth, gentleness
that wears away rock.

Making love, of course, is already prayer.
Skin, and open mouths worshipping that skin,
the fragile cases we are poured into.

If you’re hungry, pray. If you’re tired.
Pray to Gandhi and Dorothy Day.
Shakespeare. Sappho. Sojourner Truth.

When you walk to your car, to the mailbox,
to the video store, let each step
be a prayer that we all keep our legs,
that we do not blow off anyone else’s legs.
Or crush their skulls.
And if you are riding on a bicycle
or a skateboard, in a wheelchair, each revolution
of the wheels a prayer as the earth revolves:
less harm, less harm, less harm.

And as you work, typing with a new manicure,
a tiny palm tree painted on one pearlescent nail
or delivering soda or drawing good blood
into rubber-capped vials, writing on a blackboard
with yellow chalk, twirling pizzas–

With each breath in, take in the faith of those
who have believed when belief seemed foolish,
who persevered. With each breath out, cherish.

Pull weeds for peace, turn over in your sleep for peace,
feed the birds, each shiny seed
that spills onto the earth, another second of peace.
Wash your dishes, call your mother, drink wine.

Shovel leaves or snow or trash from your sidewalk.
Make a path. Fold a photo of a dead child
around your VISA card. Scoop your holy water
from the gutter. Gnaw your crust.
Mumble along like a crazy person, stumbling
your prayer through the streets.





Elderhood in Troubled Times — Stephen Jenkinson

It was my friend Roq that first introduced me to the work of Stephen Jenkinson and his Orphan Wisdom body of work. Jenkinson is a teacher, author, storyteller, spiritual activist, and farmer. He is founder of the Orphan Wisdom School, a teaching house and learning house for the skills of deep living and making human culture.

In a recent interview, Jenkinson speaks about Elderhood in Troubling Times:

  • the etymology of the word “catastrophe”;
  • the journey of descent into the mysteries of life;
  • the fundamental function of elderhood;
  • being awake as deep engagement;
  • assuming the responsibilities of the sixties generation;
  • the transient nature of leadership;
  • the challenge of elders;
  • the dilemma of mutual respect and responsibility;
  • the love that life has for us;
  • unconditional gratitude.

Yes, there is a lot in this interview (45 minutes).

What I love in it is that he invites a different story that requires waking from a standardized numbing that so many of us live in. Jenkinson insists on the truth telling that is beyond what mass media conveys and feeds us. It’s so easy to just give in to what is common misperception, because, well, it is so common. It’s so much easier to not go against the grain of common societal narrative. There are many days when I just want to roll over in bed and let go of the awakeness path.

And yet I don’t. Many of us don’t. Can’t, really. Can’t seem to numb away the impulse to wake. Instead, we wake for another day. We try to offer some good. We dare to change not just the todo’s of the day, but the stories that are behind those todo’s that redefine relevance and purpose.

I’m grateful for this Orphan Wisdom sharing, to encourage another day of courage and kindness in the remembering together.