Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Black History Month

This weekend, American Shani Davis became the first African American to win an individual gold medal at a winter Olympics. Let me just say I found it quite appropriate that he made this history during Black History Month.

Which brings me to honoring other great African Americans. I look up a great deal to Black women. Nothing against men, of course, but the feminist in me is drawn to the strong women who work hard to overcome the "double bourden" of their race and gender. And not just to overcome it, but celebrate who they are as well.

Two of my favorite African American women in history are Ida B. Wells Barnett and Fannie Lou Hamer.

Wells-Barnett was banned from the South in the late 1800s when she used her journalist credentials to expose lynching. She later became a charter member of the NAACP, female suffragist, and American leader. My favorite Ida anecdote: When NAWSA and the National Woman's Party refused to let Black women march with them in the famous 1919 suffrage parade, Wells did something extremely brave. She and a few other Black suffragists stood at a bend in the road, where the parade could not continue without them. She stepped in the parade and marched with the others until the end.

Hamer, one of twenty children in a sharecropping family, was called a "latter-day female Ghandi." She first became involved in the Civil Rights movement through SNCC in voter registration after attempting to vote, in her 40s, for the first time. Her accomplishments are limitless, including food and clothing drives, running for senator, organizing projects to help poor, rural African Americans, and encouraging womens' involvement in Civil Rights. What I find most inspiring about Hamer is her drive, her desire to secure freedoms and respect at a later point in life, her sheer courage to defy her position.

My list goes on, but here's to also celebrating the people we don't know about, whose low-profile contributions to history are invaluable.

Friday, February 17, 2006

My Plans

"The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride." (Ecclesiastes 7:8)

Surrender my ideas
Of perfection,
Of time;
Take into account
Every factor
That makes things
And do not
Give in
To despair,
To failure;

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Channeling St Valentine

How did we get so far from restoring sight to the blind?

From the Catholic Forum

Priest in Rome, possibly a bishop. Physician. Imprisoned for giving aid to martyrs in prison, and while there converted the jailer by restoring sight to the jailer's daughter. While Valentine of Terni and Valentine of Rome sometimes have separate entries in martyrologies and biographies, most scholars believe they are the same person.

There are several theories about the origin of Valentine's Day celebrations. Some believe the Romans had a mid-February custom where boys drew girls' names in honor of the sex and fertility goddess, Februata Juno; pastors "baptised" this holiday, like some others, by substituting the names of saints such as Valentine to suppress the practice. Others maintain that the custom of sending Valentines on 14 February stems from the belief that birds begin to pair on that date. By 1477 the English associated lovers with the feast of Valentine because on that day "every bird chooses him a mate." The custom started of men and women writing love letters to their Valentine on this day. Other "romance" traditions have become attached to this feast, including pinning bay leaves to your pillow on Valentine's Eve so that you will see your future mate that night in your dreams.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

To Be, To Become

I am perpetually at odds with myself and the world. I don't often realize how small and big my life is, all at the same time. I am at once a 15 year old child and a 25 year old woman, that decade representing so much metamorphosis and yet none at all. The same things still try to hold me, to make me less able, to own me. Sometimes I am SuperWoman and can manage it all, and sometimes I can manage nothing. Don't leave everything to me, but don't leave nothing.

Try with mixed emotion to see who I am and help me believe it. I channel Aprhodite and Ungit to make me beautiful and brave, and fall into the Hope that has become my own. I am more than the banal qualifications given to Woman by her own sex and others, because my life emobodies the Image of the God who sees and knows and imparts. Do not roll your eyes at my desire to be more, to live the full life to which I am called. The ancient words and modern hearts all sing the same song of longing to be, to become. To feel, we must represent what we cannot hold.

Approaching the close of one chapter I race toward the end to see the fruits of my labor in a measurable end. How difficult it is to look back, to remember struggle and the hardest times that build up to now. How wonderful it is to beat against the current and end up in the safest and scariest place. So much fear and hope lie in the same moments. The same existential and eternal processes catch me up into the Story that is bigger than myself. Both scripted and improvisational turns in my journey lead me to be, to become, to believe.

And I, holding all these thoughts and feelings, take a deep breath. I dive headlong into all the beautiful and mundane things that make life come together into an abundant experience of You.