You may have noticed my absence these two weeks. Last week, I planned to skip because I had family in town. This week, my heart has been elsewhere.
My heart has been in Gaza. My heart has been with the Palestinians. My heart has been on the streets with the Poor People’s Campaign. My heart has been with my brothers and sisters of color in this country. My heart has been with grieving families and raging souls. I have been broken open and falling in love every other hour. I have been awash in stories of injustice and violence. And, I have been surrounded by spiritual warriors who let their hearts bleed, who support one another with the fiercest kind of love, who work in brilliant ways, and who refuse to be silent. I have been inspired by the young, by the old, by the amazing power of our Ancestors, of the Great Mother as they rise through us. I have felt that awe-some feeling that comes at the end of a day where your full potential, all your purpose, all of your cells were engaged in what makes life meaningful. I have felt connected to all beings, all creatures, to the core of the Earth. And I have wailed into Her as She held me, saying over and over again “help us, help us, help us”.
I have fled from flattened places, where life is sucked dry by the refusal to feel, to experience, to speak, and from people who hide in their small lives, who turn away, refusing to look truth in the eye. I have spat at language that it is veiled in niceties and religiosity. Language that it is manipulative, causing confusion even to clear seeing eyes like my own. Language that serves to make the powerless believe in their powerlessness. I have left all of that behind, for once and for all, my alliance is with the Truth.
This Monday, in front of the Michigan State Capital in Lansing, I joined nearly 30 other faith leaders showing support for this new and old movement, the Poor People’s Campaign, all of us wearing our robes. I had misgivings about my own stol. I had acquired a complicated relationship with it. It came to represent for me how passivity and privilege can be spiritualized. But I wore it never the less. And on this day, I reclaimed what it meant to wear the symbols of all spiritual traditions around my neck.
On this day, leaders of all faiths showered spiritual warriors with prayers. Members of the Poor People’s Campaign risking arrest to stand for the rights of the oppressed everywhere, under a government unlike one we have never seen in this country, stood as a group in front of the capital. All others present encircled them, placing our hands on their arms and shoulders, eyes closed. As prayers were spoken by Imams, Priests, and Rabbis, we sang Amen in every language, in every color, in every heart. THIS, I thought to myself, is what prayer was made for. THIS is why we pray.
May we be protected in our deep, soulful action to defend the vulnerable, to defend our loved ones, our fellow beings, our planet, the things that are precious to us, the things that are real. May we be the best possible warriors of love and may we always know we have each other. May a web of interconnection bring our energy together so we may call on a force larger than ourselves. May we allow our lives and our hearts to be broken open so that we know we are alive and we hear our guidance. May God, Goddess, Mother Earth, the Universe support this work. Aho.
This, my friends, is a moment in history. It is a turning point. We have only two ways to go. It is up to us and history will hold you and me accountable. This is a moment where our children will ask, where were you? What did you do? They will ask why we failed, or Goddess-willing, they will ask how we were so brave, so wild, and so transformative.
The only people who thought we fixed things in the Civil Rights Movement are white people. People of color, the poor, the vulnerable have been wondering where we have been. We are too late. Far too late. But we are here now. I will use my privilege to be a mouthpiece. I will speak for the voiceless. I hope you will join me. And if you are looking for a way to show up, look no further, the Poor People’s Campaign is ready for you.
A message to my fellow spiritual warriors of the Poor People’s Campaign (adapted from a previously posted poem).
Let us know our power
Let us shout from the rooftops
And never stop
Let us scream the truth into the eyes of the complacent
And say everything without hesitation
Then let us say nothing, nothing at all, as we sit in awe
And drink in the world
Let us not, not for a minute, wait for anyone
To give us permission
May we laugh at their fear
And beat down the doors of our hearts
And live, alive, never releasing our hold on what’s real
May we know we were free
No longer believing in their chains
May we take each step as if riding on the hands of the Universe
May we walk alone, and together,
May we know the sound of our own voices
And listen like our lives depend on it
Now is the time to know we are powerful. To know we are free.
Together we reclaim the land.
We reclaim the streets.
We reclaim our communities.
We are the souls with beating, pounding hearts from just beneath the surface of the earth
And we are rising.
We are loud. We are angry. We are heartbroken. We are wise. We are alive.
We will gather, take each other’s hands, and walk straight into the storm.
See us, drawing ourselves up from the ground, wings spread.
Ready to fly.
Our voices are the instrument. Our bodies are the tools. Our hearts are the guides.
Goddess, God, Universe, Mother Earth, hear us.
Today is the day.
May we walk on together.
From the Author