Verena’s words struck home like a dagger in the hearts of the others in the room. Verena is a Member of Parliament in South Africa, and she was sharing her personal story on the fourth day of a unique workshop entitled “Gender Equity and Reconciliation” for Members of Parliament and other South African leaders.
Please understand that ignoring thoughts does not mean trying to stop or suppress thoughts. Simply turn away from them. Some thoughts, however, keep showing up no matter where you turn. They seem to have a season pass for your attention. This is when I tell you: what you cannot ignore, simply observe.
There have been times when I’ve gotten so caught up with volunteering that I’ve neglected my family, and I’ve completely burned-out. This time, I vowed to proceed more consciously. What I ended up embarking on (and tweaking along the way) was a strategy for self-care that enabled me to successfully serve the safe house residents while avoiding volunteer burnout.
I was six years old when I fell in love with feeding people. I had only recently discovered that there were people in the world who didn’t have enough to eat—children who went to bed without dinner. It seemed to me that all of God’s children had the right to eat. Because my refrigerator was full, I couldn’t understand why any of the grown-ups allowed this to continue. How could anyone live with themselves in a world where kids are hungry?
In dreams it is the mountain toward which I swim. Always the mountain: massy, flat-topped, granite-bricked, iconic. Through streets, past preoccupied indifferent faces, across valleys and oceans—always, in these dreams, I am swimming home. And it is the mountain, a single glimpse of its ineluctable bulk, which reassures me I am close.
Her short, black hair curled into rivulets. They bounced when she moved her head or nodded. Her green eyeshadow highlighted her brown eyes. Her mascara curled her eyelashes up and out; these eyelashes left a whisper of black on her upper eyelids. Her mouth formed a flat line, neither a smile nor a frown. She sat sandwiched between the bookends of her grandparents, slouching in her chair with her hands folded in her lap.
Inside the gates, we are nearing the end of a long three-year journey. My husband and our 15-year old son have helped me gather and piece together the life and death of my second cousin, Richárd Engel de Jánosi, in order to properly remember and mourn him, as I was instructed to do three years ago by an archivist at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Israel.
At 5% of the world’s population, the 370 million Indigenous peoples around the world continue to face issues of violence and brutality, continuing assimilation policies, dispossession of land, forced removal and relocation, denial of land rights, impacts of large-scale development, abuses by military forces and a host of other trials.
As a poet and teacher of poetry to those in recovery, I wonder whether that “certain Slant of light” Dickinson describes in her poem might somehow be borne through poetry to those in recovery. Might such a light help the recovering individual make the hard choice of sobriety and somehow mediate between pain and deadness?
I thought I had a higher calling to support my community and to bless love wherever I found it. I could not rationalize saying that one couple’s love is worthy of God’s blessing because their genitals are different and another couple’s love is not worthy of God’s blessing because their genitals are the same.