How To B/e/l/o/n/g Be Alone Written and read by Pádraig Ó Tuama
It all begins with knowing nothing lasts forever, so you might as well start packing now.
In the meantime, practice being alive.
There will be a party where you’ll feel like nobody’s paying you attention. And there will be a party where attention’s all you’ll get. What you need to do is to remember to talk to yourself between these parties.
And, again, there will be a day, — a decade — where you won’t fit in with your body even though you’re in the only body you’re in.
You need to control your habit of forgetting to breathe.
Remember when you were younger and you practiced kissing on your arm? You were on to something then. Sometimes harm knows its own healing Comfort knows its own intelligence. Kindness too. It needs no reason.
There is a you telling you another story of you. Listen to her.
Where do you feel anxiety in your body? The chest? The fist? The dream before waking? The head that feels like it’s at the top of the swing or the clutch of gut like falling & falling & falling and falling It knows something: you’re dying. Try to stay alive.
For now, touch yourself. I’m serious.
Touch your self. Take your hand and place your hand some place upon your body. And listen to the community of madness that you are. You are such an interesting conversation.
You belong here.
‘In truth, the purpose of any relationship is that love itself be served, in the lives of all concerned.’ -Marianne Williamson
The generous heart does not collapse into the easy things, but rises up in adversity. – Mirabai Starr [Glosa a lo Divino, John of the Cross]
‘The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.’ -Kahlil Gibran
Respite from the tilt toward darkness our planet collectively shares.
Our spiritual compass.
‘It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.’ -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
[My thesis.-dayle ❀]
From poet Pádraig Ó Tuama:
“Friends, there are many things that crowd your attention. And many things deserve your attention. May you find the space to pay attention to what is important, to feel the feel of feelings, and to find ways to respond with action, care, justice, kindness, time, and whatever else is needed. Beir bua.” [Bring Victory]
Sharing a beautiful curation from journalist and author Dan Rather and his writing partner Elliot Kirschner. They title their compilation, ‘Smile for Saturday’ featured on their ‘Steady’ published on the Substack platform. Subscriptions are open. -dayle
Music has a way of speaking to us, across genres, across performers, and across the years. It is a conversation that builds from what was said before and evolves over time. All these thoughts flooded forth when we discovered a video of the brilliant musician Jon Batiste performing his version of the Beatles song “Blackbird.”
The occasion for the 2016 performance was the 52nd anniversary of the Beatles’ television debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and Batiste was appearing on the very same stage as they had. As many of you likely know, the Ed Sullivan Theater is now home to “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” where Batiste serves as musical director.
Batiste plays “Blackbird” on the piano, whereas the song’s co-writer Paul McCartney (John Lennon shared the writing credit) played his version on the guitar. The musical style also differs, and so does the delivery of the lyrics. But there is a kinship of evocative musicality linking this version to McCartney’s that brought a big smile to our faces. Batiste’s Juilliard-honed abilities as performer and arranger are on full display. So, too, is the genius of the original.
At a time when we are fractured, this song made us feel whole. At a time when we are unmoored, this feels rooted. At a time when we see far too many acts of hate, this feels like a tribute of love.
Left in awe of this performance, we decided to dig a little more into the history of “Blackbird.” And things got even more interesting. It turns out the lineage of the song goes back well before the 1968 White Album on which it first appeared — as in centuries back. “Blackbird” was inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach — more specifically, his famous “Bourrée in E minor.” We will let Sir Paul himself tell you the story.
Bach’s piece was originally written for the lute but has since become a staple for classical guitar. If you are still with us and want to continue this musical journey, here is a performance of the piece on its original instrument.
Through our research we became a bit obsessed with Batiste, his story, and his music. We encourage you to listen to more from this remarkable talent.
‘Innocent bystander.’ Thomas Merton: I am no longer smiling … for I do not think the question of our innocence can be a matter for jesting, and I am no longer certain that it is honorable to stand by as the helpless witness to a cataclysm, with no other hope than to die innocently and by accident, as a nonparticipant. ♀︎
One of the goals that is emphasized in our culture is finding answers—solving problems, answering questions, removing doubt. We want to know who, what, when, where, and why—and we want to know now. When we listen, we are trained to listen for the answers. . . .
Reflective listening distinguishes a response from an answer. It is a practice to get to know your inner voice, and it takes time and patience.
“Not knowing what to do is the work for you now.” -Francesca
Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows
‘What a world you’ve got inside you.’
A new translation of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet has been released in a world in which his voice and vision feel as resonant as ever before. In ten letters to a young person in 1903, Rilke touched on the enduring dramas of creating our lives — prophetic musings about solitude and relationship, humanity and the natural world, even gender and human wholeness. And what a joy it is to delve into Rilke’s voice, freshly rendered, with the translators. Krista, Anita and Joanna have communed with Rainer Maria Rilke across time and space and their conversation is infused with friendship as much as ideas.
The conversation between both of these writers is one that starts in the artistry of their work and includes questions about the imagination, and power, and about what constitutes liberative transformation. And the scope of history they focus on is wide: “These threats we live subject to… are the grotesque and perverse ends to which a nation founded in shame has gone in order to avoid atoning for its crimes.”
The conversation between both of these writers is one that starts in the artistry of their work and includes questions about the imagination, and power, and about what constitutes liberative transformation. And the scope of history they focus on is wide: “These threats we live subject to… are the grotesque and perverse ends to which a nation founded in shame has gone in order to avoid atoning for its crimes.” -Pádraig Ó Tuama
It wasn’t until I saw an episode from The Watchmen that I learned of the 1921 Tulsa Massacre. A dysfunctional childhood took me to 16 schools in nine years, and not one teacher, not one, taught this history. -dayle
For events in Tulsa, Oklahoma beginning on May 31st follow the link for more information and to join virtually.
The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission will leverage the rich history surrounding the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre by facilitating actions, activities, and events that commemorate and educate all citizens.
“Join us for the official unveiling of Greenwood Rising: The Black Wall Street History Center at 11:29 a.m.”
Jun 2, 2021
Stacey Abrams Announced as Keynote Speaker for Nationally Televised Commemoration
“Local Tulsa company, ONE Gas, invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in historic Greenwood District through the ONE Gas Foundation. This donation will create a long-lasting generational impact in the Tulsa community, and we could not be more grateful.”
The Tulsa Tribune inflamed the massacre and then wrote a scathing editorial in the days that followed. -dayle
Black Wall Street 100 and the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre
‘On May 25th, The Community Library in Ketchum, Idaho and the Idaho Humanities Council welcomed Hannibal B. Johnson, author of “Black Wall Street 100: An American City Grapples With Its Historical Racial Trauma,” for a virtual conversation about the history and continuing implications of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Johnson was in conversation with David Pettyjohn, executive director of the Idaho Humanities Council, and Jenny Emery Davidson, executive director of The Community Library. The discussion can be viewed at the link.’ [1:05:00]
“Black Wall Street 100: An American City Grapples with its Historical Racial Trauma, endorsed by the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission and the 400 Years of African American History Commission, furthers the educational mission of both bodies. The book offers updates on developments in Tulsa generally and in Tulsa’s Greenwood District specifically since the publication of Hannibal B. Johnson’s, Black Wall Street: From Riot to Renaissance in Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District.
Black Wall Street 100 is a window into what distinguishes the Tulsa of today from the Tulsa of a century ago. Before peering through that porthole, we must first reflect on Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District in all its splendor and squalor, from the prodigious entrepreneurial spirit that pervaded it to the carnage that characterized the 1921 massacre to the post-massacre rebound and rebuilding that raised the District to new heights to the mid-twentieth-century decline that proved to be a second near-fatal blow to the current recalibration and rebranding of a resurgent, but differently configured, community.
Tulsa’s trajectory may be instructive for other communities similarly seeking to address their own histories of racial trauma. Conversely, Tulsa may benefit from learning more about the paths taken by other communities. Through sharing and synergy, we stand a better chance of doing the work necessary to spur healing and move farther toward the reconciliation of which we so often speak.” [Amazon]
🤎 I love this image, especially because not only does he embody hate, I am reminded hate is born of fear and fragmentation, threading in and out of our existence on this plane. Somehow, we, this country, allowed him to be celebrated after decades of his darkness…his evil energy. May he always be a reminder for what we don’t want to be and stay diligent against these dark forces. May he be dissolved, and fade from our public platforms and consciousness. May those who supported him be awakened to his destructive energies and dark heart. May their eyes be opened. And may they want to unite with all of us to be one people, to know what is true, justified, equal…for all beings…especially the oppressed and marginalized. Let us, together, be reminded of what it means to reside in the heart of democracy and fix what has been broken since this country was born.
And then, may we heal.
From Joe Biden, the 46th President of the United States:
“For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight. I’ve lost a couple of times myself. But now, let’s give each other a chance. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again. And to make progress we have to stop treating our opponents as enemies.”
Alluding to scripture, he added: “This is the time to heal in America.”
From the Vice-President Elect, Kamala Harris, the first woman, a woman of color, Black and Southern Asian woman, to be elected to this office.
“Protecting our democracy takes struggle. It takes sacrifice. But there is joy in it. And there is progress. Because we, the people, have the power to build a better future.”
We The People
For those who voted, again, for the current president, please answer, ‘Why’? What did he do for you? During a pandemic? Employment? Opportunity? Fairness? Equality? Or, is it deeper? Fear? Nationalism? Culture? Bias? Concerns over race? Majorities? Disinformation? Social media platforms?
May we heal. And unite. Not half of us…all of us. We. The. People.
W.E.B. Du Bois:
Strive for that greatness of spirit that measure life not by its disappointments, but by its possibilities.
My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.
The collective heart of humankind’s suffering.
The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another and all involved in one another.
Today, we celebrate our democracy, our common humanity, and a glass ceiling shattered once and for all.
With nearly 160 million votes cast, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have won a decisive victory. They received more than 75 million votes, a greater number than any ticket in history, with a remarkable breadth of support from across the nation.
And they shattered several glass ceilings—it will be a joy to watch Vice President-elect Kamala inspire generations of future leaders and active citizens!
Across the Collective, we have seen so many give so much over these past four years, using a range of tools to fight for justice, equality, and our democracy. I am thankful and full of admiration.
We now have the opportunity to work for the systemic solutions we know we need—solutions that can remake the calcified systems in our country, from immigration and education to race and reconciliation, criminal justice and climate. And it will require each of us to bring spirit of ingenuity and hard work to support and accelerate America’s rebuilding and renewal.
We will let out the breath we have been holding in for so long. As celebratory as we feel, we also know that much work lies ahead—the work of healing the wounds and repairing the breaches.
So, we will get to work, and usher in the America we know is possible.
With relief and gratitude,
Laurene, Emerson Collective
Empathy + Sympahty = Compassion
We are a progressive being.
There is nothing at a standstill in nature.
Only God is motionless for (S)He was, is and will be the same yesterday,
today and tomorrow,
and yet, is ever moving.
I will never understand how 70,000,000+ people could vote for him again. Never. Perhaps, maybe, hopefully, some will evolve to understand his destructive and immoral behaviors. He has shown us who he is for decades. Some of us (me) gave him no mind. And then, he was elected to serve. He did not serve. He lied. He divided. And he hated. Hate is born of fear. What was feared?
Perhaps, we have always been this divided, but the ugly part was given platform and verbalized. Democracy, we have learned, is not passive, but active. We can not simply turn out the vote every two, or four years.
We must edify and protect the marginalized and oppressed. The government serves us, we don’t serve it.
A true democracy is messy and necessary. And it requires ‘good trouble.’
Now, let’s work to balance the scales and bring Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock to the U.S. Senate in Georgia. The shadow president, Senator Mitch McConnell, will continue to strangle democracy and refuse to move policy forward if we do not achieve balance. Please donate or volunteer:
James Martin, SJ:
It is, and always has been, possible to speak respectfully about someone with whom you disagree. Here’s how: “Though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country.”
Krista Tippett, journalist and author:
What is the story of “us”? How do we learn it, how do we tell it, and how to shift it, across dehumanizing divides, in enduring ways?
Padraig O’ Tuama, poet:
In all the waiting of your week — for results from elections, for different news, for finality, for certitude — the work of the past is calling for attention. A new future will only be built on courageous moments, and those are happening now, and now and now. In the waiting, we are with you, considering history, paradise and conflict, considering how these patterns of time are inviting us to new actions.
What do you notice about how you behave in times of conflict? Do you tend toward avoidance? Or compromise? Or collaboration? Or competition? Or accommodation?
This poem describes a conflict between neighbors: a tree hangs over a fence. The owners love this tree; their neighbors don’t. Somebody responds directly, somebody else avoids, a chainsaw appears. Suddenly this conflict becomes a parable for all conflicts, illustrating how deep they can go and how often they cannot be resolved with a question about what to do.
‘…resist empire with truth and love, even if it kills you.’
-Pádraig Ó Tuama, poet, theologian and mediator.
Principles for a Pandemic
by Sister Joan chittister
“Rules are not necessarily sacred,” Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “principles are.”
One thing is clear: “Rules” are not getting us out of the largest pandemic in modern history.
We’re washing our hands and wearing our masks and staying indoors and counting the number of people in every group, but the numbers keep going up regardless.
At the same time, principles, if any, may be necessary but nobody talks about them much —despite the fact that it’s principles that guide our behavior or help us to evaluate what’s going on around us. Principles are the motivating force upon which everything we do is based.
The question is what kind of basic truths — principles — must drive us if we are to endure and survive the kind of despair that threatens a national moment like this one? Here we are at the touchdown point of a tornado called a pandemic. Everything about life before this has been wiped away. Worse, we have not a hint of what our world will look like in the future. Unless we define the principles we need to preserve, not only to get us through this moment but to prepare for all the great moments in times to come, this will all have been for nothing.
Becoming a spiritual person is what raises us above the angst of life. We can lose anything, let anything go, begin again after whatever tornado shreds us if we only learn to live with one part of the human heart daily invested in the presence of the divine. In that sacred space within, we seek the strength it takes to respond rightly to the pressure of such pain. We are not pleading for magic from a vending machine God to save us from its inconvenience.
We take on the challenges of the community — the masks and distancing and overtime work that’s needed — as if they were our personal responsibility alone. We check on those who are frail, who need to know they’re not alone, who are seeking services. We allow no one to be out of contact. We volunteer where we’re needed.
The principles of the holy life are obvious: it begins with a sterling spirituality, an abounding love of community and an incessant sense of personal responsibility that makes the undoable, doable always.
Until finally, it depends on following leadership that glows with goodness and vision. It is the leadership that shows us all how to be more empathic, more aware of the needs of others, more present to the demands of it all. It is the living vision of moral leadership that sends us back into the wind as long as it rages. It brings us to a greatness no circumstances can exhaust, no storm can conquer.
From where I stand, it’s not about the rules. It’s about the heart. Then we can go on, and go on, and go on. For over 1,500 years. Same rule, same principles, same gratuitous generosity of life.
A woman wearing a protective mask due to the coronavirus pandemic prays inside the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Palm Sunday, April 5 in Turin, Italy. (CNS/Reuters/Massimo Pinca)
‘During these trying days of social distancing, self-isolating and quarantines, days rife with fear and anxiety, my colleagues and I thought you might like some company. So each day we will be introducing you to poets we have met over the years. The only contagion they will expose you to is a measure of joy, reflection and meditation brought on by “the best words in the best order.” Enjoy.’
Today we hear from Wendell Berry as he reads “A Poem on Hope.”
“A Poem on Hope”
It is hard to have hope. It is harder as you grow old,
For hope must not depend on feeling good
And there is the dream of loneliness at absolute midnight.
You also have withdrawn belief in the present reality
Of the future, which surely will surprise us,
…And hope is harder when it cannot come by prediction
Any more than by wishing. But stop dithering.
The young ask the old to hope. What will you tell them?
Tell them at least what you say to yourself.
Because we have not made our lives to fit
Our places, the forests are ruined, the fields eroded,
The streams polluted, the mountains overturned. Hope
Then to belong to your place by your own knowledge
Of what it is that no other place is, and by
Your caring for it as you care for no other place, this
Place that you belong to though it is not yours,
For it was from the beginning and will be to the end
Belong to your place by knowledge of the others who are
Your neighbors in it: the old man, sick and poor,
Who comes like a heron to fish in the creek,
And the fish in the creek, and the heron who manlike
Fishes for the fish in the creek, and the birds who sing
In the trees in the silence of the fisherman
And the heron, and the trees that keep the land
They stand upon as we too must keep it, or die.
This knowledge cannot be taken from you by power
Or by wealth. It will stop your ears to the powerful
when they ask for your faith, and to the wealthy
when they ask for your land and your work.
Answer with knowledge of the others who are here
And how to be here with them. By this knowledge
Make the sense you need to make. By it stand
In the dignity of good sense, whatever may follow.
Speak to your fellow humans as your place
Has taught you to speak, as it has spoken to you.
Speak its dialect as your old compatriots spoke it
Before they had heard a radio. Speak
Publicly what cannot be taught or learned in public.
Listen privately, silently to the voices that rise up
From the pages of books and from your own heart.
Be still and listen to the voices that belong
To the streambanks and the trees and the open fields.
There are songs and sayings that belong to this place,
By which it speaks for itself and no other.
Found your hope, then, on the ground under your feet.
Your hope of Heaven, let it rest on the ground
Underfoot. Be it lighted by the light that falls
Freely upon it after the darkness of the nights
And the darkness of our ignorance and madness.
Let it be lighted also by the light that is within you,
Which is the light of imagination. By it you see
The likeness of people in other places to yourself
In your place. It lights invariably the need for care
Toward other people, other creatures, in other places
As you would ask them for care toward your place and you.
No place at last is better than the world. The world
Is no better than its places. Its places at last
Are no better than their people while their people
Continue in them. When the people make
Dark the light within them, the world darkens.
Wendell Berry is a man of the land and one of America’s most influential writers, whose prolific career includes more than forty books of poetry, novels, short stories and essays. Watch Bill’s full conversation with Wendell Berry.
Wendell Berry, a quiet and humble man, has become an outspoken advocate for revolution. He urges immediate action as he mourns how America has turned its back on the land and rejected Jeffersonian principles of respect for the environment and sustainable agriculture. Berry warns, “People who own the world outright for profit will have to be stopped; by influence, by power, by us.” In a rare television interview, this visionary, author, and farmer discusses a sensible, but no-compromise plan to save the Earth.