Courage and Generosity

Gratitude of Resistance Twenty-Two: 
The giving hearts of Lancaster people. This is my favorite thing about the Thanksgiving season in this place: The ExtraOrdinary Give. It’s true, we can be pretty divided about many things, but the Lancaster Community Foundation brings us together on the Friday before Thanksgiving for a massive celebration of giving. Nearly five hundred organizations signed up this year, and people from all over the county (and beyond–I’m a Yorker, after all) donate whatever they can afford to these hard-working organizations. This year Lancaster raised 10 million dollars from 23, 545 donors. What an amazing community-building experience. I am proud of my community. And grateful. So, so grateful.

May we all be generous.

I’m doing the Poem-A-Day Chapbook challenge again this year, but on the advice of a friend, I have not been publishing the poems on social media, except as comments on the Poetic Asides site–in the hopes of making the more marketable. This is one I likely will not try to publish because it’s so tied to the Harper Lee quotation, but I like it. Yesterday we read chapter 11 in To Kill a Mockingbird (which is about courage), and Brewer’s poetry prompt was to write a brave poem. It felt like a lovely bit of serendipity.

“Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It’s knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.” —Atticus Finch

Courage is
not a gun
not a word
that slices skin
not a look
that tears up
a soul
but a way to begin.

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!