Be the Voice of Change

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Musings on the International Day of Peace and the first weeks of school:

Here I am teaching in-person for the first time in a year and a half. It seems funny to even use the words “in-person”; I mean, how else do you teach?

But now many of us understand words Ike virtual learning, zoom calls, and home office from firsthand experience. This past year and half we learned the value of hunkering down and staying home to “be safe” and the sheer joy of being able to gather together with friends and family. We found peace and made peace and offered peace where none was given.

We saw conflict, felt tension, and recoiled from verbal combat every time we opened a social media app.

But just like teaching, living in peace with one another is less about relaying information or our point of view and more about building relationships. It’s less about building fences and more about building bridges.

So with these thoughts in mind, I taught the students the song “With Just One Small Voice” this week, and we talked about what it means to use your voice together with others to speak out for or against something. I asked the students what things they would speak out about if given the chance.

A fifth grader said he would speak out against homelessness, another said they would raise awareness about hunger, a third grader said she would want to use her voice to encourage others to clean up the environment, and a second grader raised her hand and shared her heart for the plight of Haitian immigrants so passionately and articulately, I thought I had been transported to middle school.

These are the future peacemakers and bridge builders of our world. These are the thinkers and change makers.

And I get to work with them every day.

I will bind myself willingly to this kind of work–to peacemaking and restoration and love because I believe this is what will ultimately change the world. Respect, cooperation, listening with empathy, being willing to change your mind: these are the heart of hope for our future.

And so with this fullness of hope in my heart, I pray that peace finds its way to you wherever you are and in whatever you do.

We are what the world is becoming, so with one small but collective voice let’s sing so our voice is heard.

#bethechange #peacemakersunite #tryalittlekindnessinstead

NaPoWriMo 2016 Day Twenty

 Today’s prompt was to think of a single thing or person (a house, your grandmother, etc), and then write a poem that consists of kenning-like descriptions of that thing or person. For example, you might call a cat a mouse-stalker, quiet-walker, bird-warner, purr-former, etc. I decided to write about my beautiful children. 🙂
a mother-song

in this i sing a truth-song to myself–
of baby-bearing
and nurture-days consumed
by little people and big wonders.

first came the truth-seeker,
my great-protector(still)
a gallant wise-heart.

the side-kick entered
with light-bearing joy,
an angel-boy.

then the fairest-of-them-all,
a God-gift of pink delight within
the package of a generous-heart.

these three and this earth-dweller
thought her soul complete.

but dare i utter my life-journey
of joyous blessing,
and forget to tell
of hardship unspeakable?
my care-wretched life lie
dashed and defeated, until

heaven sent little-wonder,
a joy-bucket of life-zest.
my little warrior-prince.

the truth song of my heart
finds melody in these four
and also in the three heaven-dwellers
who passed over earth and shot
straight to the arms of God.

when my mind and soul are sea-weary,
the melodies of the hearts-of-my-heart
carry me home.

NaPoWriMo 2016 Day Two

#NaPoWriMo 2016 Day Two
 (Photo credit: Tracy Kaye Photography. Paintings by Syrian refugee children)

Through a God guided set of circumstances and connections, Tracy and I are privileged to be able to interview four Syrian families tomorrow for a video we are putting together. In our discussions about the project, Evan has asked many questions. Always, I try to answer as honestly as I can without going into unnecessary detail. In his own astute way, Little Wonder has absorbed the innuendo and essence of the refugee crisis.

I know this because during our evening prayers tonight, tears came to his eyes and he looked at me with a sense of urgency and earnestness: “I want to pray the best prayer ever, Mama,” he cried.

Then, with tears streaming down his cheeks he began, “Dear God, I just pray for the Syrians tonight for the families who have had people die and even children die, and God please please please help the good team win over the bad teams who have hurt and killed people. And keep the Syrians safe God. And help them be able to fight back against the bad teams. Amen.”

Up until Evan’s prayer, I had struggled with the writing prompt for NaPoWriMo today. I was supposed to write a poem that takes the form of a family portrait, and I was searching for what angle and voice to give to the poem. I think in the process of writing, I started and stopped it at least ten times.

After Evan’s prayer I realized why. Evan is so tender hearted and fully embracing of all people. He doesn’t see lines of division. Instead, he sees us as all connected. He sees us as one big family.

The poem wrote itself after that realization. Here it is…

family portait

we are family.

affiliation by consanguinity is only one definition of family.

family is an affinity by kinship however people choose to form that unit.

and seeing family love in action alwaysalwaysalways changes the face of the world for the better.

so often, we look at other families and perceive the differences even as we distance ourselves because of those differences.

when we get close–really, really close–the lines of difference become blurred, and we no longer see eye color and skin color and race and religion.

instead we weep with those in pain and rejoice with those in celebration.

we are family after all.

we are connected to one another in ways large and small, by blood, yes, but even more so by the kindred spirit of God who flows through our veins.

we are family.

like all families, we hunger for love, we long for acceptance, we desire respect, and we wish our stories to be told to future generations.

we are family.

all we need to do is open our hearts and listen to our common, beating heart.