Gratitudes, Musings, Uncategorized

Belonging at the Table


I’m pretty sure it was the bread that made me weep. The cup was on the table, but there was no bread. (Truth be told, I was already in tears by that time, from the moment of the offertory song:
“She’s got the whole word in her hands.”)

“Today’s bread comes from all around the world,” they said. But where was the bread? It was not the lack of bread that made me weep, but the bringing of it. As they spoke of pita, and the Syrian people who have been caught between warring fronts for seven years, a mother brought her children and pita to the tables, children who have relatives in Lebanon, Syria’s neighbor and a country healing from its own civil war.

Then while a mother and her child brought tortillas, the bread of her homeland Honduras, to place upon the tables, they reverently recalled to us those from Central America who have suffered, whose children have been torn from parents’ arms when they come to our borders seeking safety.

And then while a father from Indonesia brought his son with steamed Indonesian bread for the tables, they spoke of the tsunami and devastation.

They reminded us of Puerto Rico and of hurricanes and of how it feels not to be believed when you tell your terrible stories, and a grandmother and her small one came forward with a baked loaf like we eat in the United States.

I thought perhaps I couldn’t take Communion today, I who want nothing to do with so many who call themselves followers of Jesus. I thought perhaps I shouldn’t. Perhaps the anger would keep me away from the table. Until the table was filled with bread and tears. Until grief stepped in to the place of anger, and I, too, felt like I belonged at the table.


Gratitude List:
1. Gingerbread Cookies. At our school auction, we auction off gingerbread cookies. The cookies represent students in our system, and people bid on them to donate money to increase our ability to offer financial aid for students. They were some of the highest priced items at last night’s auction. I am blown away by people’s generosity.
2. The Book of the Unnamed Midwife. Not sure why I am finding a post-apocalyptic feminist novel quite so comforting in these times, but I am really caught up in listening to it.
3. Rage and tenderness. Kindness and anger.
4. Rituals that bring healing as well as marking it. “She’s got the whole world in her hands.”
5. Fall weather. All two hours of it today. Really. I know it’s coming.

May we walk in Beauty!

Fictions, Gratitudes, Musings

The Secret Ways of Hi’Story

wolf

Gratitude List:
1. Help with the tale
2. Feeling better every day
3. Getting work done
4. Crusty bread, toasted and buttered
5. Hot chocolate

May we walk in Beauty!

*****
These stories are becoming something of a family project. I read a few at a time to the children, and then they ask what will happen next, and what bits of the story I will reveal next. Or they make suggestions about how to unpack something in the next bit of story. I don’t quite know where all this is going. Perhaps if they come together into some sort of form, I will edit and revise them and try to publish them some day, but for now, it’s a pleasant thread to follow.

I think I will continue to spell it “hi’story,” to emphasize the story piece of it. Because Chinngis Djin tried to erase the Wolf Queens, the era of the Wolf Queens has become legend, and Story is a crucial part of keeping them alive.

While I have chosen to separate my story from the real Samarkand by changing its name a little, and placing it in something of a fantasy realm, I found the story of the sack of the city by Genghis Khan in 1220 to be rather compelling, and so I have kept him in the parallel. Several sources call him the Blue Wolf, and in one source, he is spelled Chinngis Khan.  At this point in the process, I do not intend to do the careful research necessary to make this an academically accurate historical/cultural novel. I just want to follow the thread of this hi’story, and see where it takes me.

The Secret Ways of Hi’Story

The hi’story of Zammarqand seemed to begin with the coming of Chinngis Djin, the Blue Wolf of the North. In the year 1220, the Blue Wolf and his hordes had ridden down the steppes like a mighty wind, conquering the villages and cities in their path, setting up fierce and brutal warriors to control the lands they overthrew. In the city of Zammarqand and it surrounding villages, the subjugation included an overthrow of hi’story. The great library was burned, the temples torn down, and the sacred groves were uprooted and laid waste. The Wolf Mother shrines that lined the inner walls of the city were simply plastered over, along with the dozens of small shops that were built right into the city walls.

The Wolf-Queen, daughter in a line of a thousand queens before her, was deposed and slain publicly in the market square, her children dragged off as slaves with Chinngis Djin’s southward-surging army, never to be seen in Zammarqand again. The peaceful rule of the mothers was ended, and a new day of military might and harsh rule began.

In the days of Leeta the Storymaker, three hundred years after the coming of the Blue Wolf, the governance of the city had settled into a patriarchal rhythm that had a great deal less surface brutality than it had in the first century following the coming of the Blue Wolf, though its deep reality was one of repression of the city’s daughters, and a near-complete erasure of the city’s hi’story prior to the coming of Chinngis Djin.

But hi’story has a way of making itself found. Images of the tender-eyed Wolf Mother proliferated in secret places in the city, for those who had the eyes to see. Grandmothers faithfully remembered the fairy tales and stories, passing them on to daughters and granddaughters. Young women would dream dreams of a great and watchful She-wolf sitting in the gateway to the city. Travelers would come upon wild groves of trees growing in near-perfect circles. And in the city, in houses that were built right up against the city walls, occasionally a plaster wall would give way, and a little room would open up, a small chamber holding a statue of a nursing wolf or a bust of the Wolf Mother.

When she was eight, in her sleeping room at the back of the little shop of Bilhah the Baker, Bilhah’s daughter Leeta one day discovered a crack in the wall. She had been ill for three days, and boredom was beginning to grow greater than the illness that kept her to her room. The child began to pick at the crack. Her mother, pulling a large tray of mooncakes from the ovens, heard a rumble and a crash. Racing back to her daughter’s room, she discovered Leeta unhurt, but covered in plaster dust, standing awed in the entrance to a newly opened chamber into the city wall behind the house.

The walls of the chamber were lined with shelves and each shelf was filled with scrolls, perfectly preserved through the centuries. The plastered walls that had been intended to erase the city’s hi’Story had instead preserved it perfectly for distant generations.  A plaque on one wall read “ElSheba Hi’Storian.”

Gormlek the Mourner had taught his daughter and then his granddaughter to read, a minimally revolutionary act in a city where only boys attended school, and the education of girls was frowned on or scoffed at.  Leeta and her mother wasted no time in reading and cataloging their new treasures.

Gratitudes, Poems

Let Your Poem Out to Breathe

IMG_2158
Artist at work.

Today we will do the revision,
the re-make, the whole re-creation.
Today, we bleed.
Read it, and read it again.
Does it say what it means to?
Then get out your scalpel,
excise and re-shape,
find the new form hidden
beneath the words.
Let your poem out to breathe.

Gratitude List:
1. Bruce’s spinach and feta scones
2. I got my copy of Valerie Baer’s Baking With Whole Grains
3. Pot luck
4. Revising.  The poem, the plan, the purpose, even.
5. Getting Ready for Spoken Word Play.  Memorizing.  Seeing Daina and Marie again.  Feeling the shape of the poems on the stage.

May we walk in Beauty!