for the women of Sweet Honey in the Rock
In the sweet light of morning the other day, I stood in the garden in bare feet savoring the tart juice of a plum just fallen from the tree. The birds were busily flitting through the branches and knocking ripe plums to the ground, chattering like all get out. Suddenly my internal vision shifted and these birds and this plum tree took place in untold eons of Time and Space where generations of birds and trees evolved from the inborn urge to procreate and feed. I saw, in that moment, the germs of life emerging from sparks of desire to make a world, taking form through deep oceans emerging from comets and explosions of fire and the spinning of a planet preparing for the experiment of Life.
I could feel God’s longing to create something new, and It Was Good.
The vision shifted back to the here and now as I swallowed the plum skin, the birds still bickering above me. For a moment I held the Big Picture and that ordinary moment together, tasting the sweetness of plum juice, my tongue touching the pit as galaxies formed in Space.
But then a few days later I awoke from a nightmare of wicked guys in my kitchen stealing food I had just cooked for my children and tossing it into their own mouths. I fought them desperately, kicking and yelling as they beat me away from their food-filled hands. My own screaming woke me up. I was still thrashing as the nightmare faded, and all day long I had a stomach ache, my guts continuing to fight for my children’s supper – my children and all the hungry children in detention cells at the border, who are our children.
Yes, mine! And yours.
Forgive us, God, for we know not what we do.
Now, I must confess I do not believe in “a God” per se, but rather in the conscious spirit of Love in the Universe that is our birthright, because that energy is where we come from and what we are made of. To my way of thinking, there is nothing, nor was there ever anything in existence that is not God.
Hard to put into words – it’s more an intuitive knowing, a certainty on the skin that everything in the Universe is conscious and interconnected. My ways of understanding this are the subtle wake-ups of feeling that happen when I fall in love, or hear music or am dancing, my heart rising with gratitude for this gift of life in a world that seems to have tried out everything.
I mean, whoever could dream up flamingoes, or redwood trees, or even us humans, for that matter? It’s got to be some creative force with a sense of humor, don’t you think?
It’s alright with me to call it God.
I went to a concert by Sweet Honey In The Rock the other night, and got a good taste of that all-encompassing Spirit and how the horrors of our time and the intense beauty of our time go together, as this remarkable ensemble of strong and gifted Black women, who have been lifting my spirit for so many years with their music, sang their hearts out.
They sing it like it is, these women, they get down and they get angry, they pour out their passion and truth and you better be ready to respond with your own! It is music and prayer and being real and beautiful in the face of the mixed up glory and insanity of the world.
They are not ashamed to be strong and gorgeous and they do not mince words. They preach at full voice, loud and clear and what they preach is LOVE!
Let us say ‘Amen.’
How dare any bad guys come to steal the food we’ve prepared for our children – your children or mine?
NOOOOO! Y’all hear now??
I came home reassured that no matter what happens, we’re here making waves and music to beat the band, and won’t stop even when Judgment Day lets us know we’re gonna have to change, whoever we are, no matter how rich or what neighborhood we live in.
Nobody ever said it would be easy and anyhow, if it were too easy we’d probably be too lazy to pay attention.
As the Croatian cellist Stjepan Hauser who performs everything from Bach to hard Rock in huge arenas said in a recent interview, “The world needs every kind of music played with a big heart because it can make you a better human being. We want this music to go mainstream, for little kids and Grandpas and people of all ages – everywhere in the world. If it does, there will be peace – I promise.”
That, of course, is the hope.
Meanwhile, I’ve been reading about recurring cataclysms on the planet – yup, I read that sort of thing – and it seems our civilization is neither the first nor the last nor the only one to have inhabited this Earth. Periodically, disaster ensues and erases most of the evidence anyone was there before: floods, fires, asteroids, earthquakes. But they were there, it turns out.
Untold ages of highly developed cultures have existed here long before us, and Freddy Silva, who researches the evidences of these civilizations, concludes that humankind is way older than any of us realize, and has been far more advanced in the past than we are today. He says in his recent book, “The Hidden Lands,”
“… it is reassuring to know that the only constants in the universe are order and chaos, the higher the level of chaos, the greater the potential to jump to a higher level of order.”
I take comfort in that. If it’s all a big mess right now, it’s not a total disaster but rather an awkward transition towards a higher level of order. We’re in crouch position, ready to spring forward, and while the temptation to sink into the ground and take a nap may be great, I wouldn’t suggest we go there.
It’s time to take a deep breath, know we’re all in this together for better or worse, hold hands tight and get ready to jump! And be ingenious, and laugh a lot, and dance and swing your hips and fall in love with somebody, and cook up supper for one another and sing! Like Sweet Honey, here’s how to sing it:
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on! hold on!
The only thing that we did wrong
Was stay in the wilderness so long.
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on! hold on!
The only thing that we did right,
was the day that we began to fight, hold on! hold on!
Keep your eyes on the prize,
hold on…hold on… hold on!