Someone got to the Heron in the night before I could check it out yesterday—one of the People Who Deal with Death. I wasn’t quite able to bring myself to go get a close look. Perhaps after a while, I’ll go check if there are feathers left which I can photograph. Meanwhile, I will imagine the rich milk of a fox mother nourishing a nestle of kits, who dream at night that they are gliding on great blue wings above the fields and streams of the hollow.
Everything returns. Everything feeds the next thing. Everything is nourished by that which came before. May we be food for the next cycle. May our words, our actions, our fierce determination, our resilience, our abiding joy, our activism and our contemplation be nourishment for those who come after us.
It is International Women’s Day. Let’s remember, as we celebrate the women whose lives and stories have fed us, that we must feed the coming generations of women their rights.
Gratitude List: 1. The courageous activist women who have struggled with their whole beings for equal rights. May we continue their struggle. 2. The quiet women who continued to work and nurture and do what needed to be done behind the scenes. May we be steady and reliable, too. 3. The contemplatives and poets, women who inspired us to be better, more evolved humans. May our words sing, and our meditations deepen. 4. The resilient women, who took their own stories of struggle and pain, and turned them into fierce walking boots, firm ground for striding, protective clothing for the long journey. May we, too, be resilient. 5. The women who are coming behind us. May they reach with hope and determination and calm and fierce resilience toward their own empowered futures, their own empowered nows. May we be a strong foundation upon which they may stand and reach upward.
Who are the Womyn who inspire you?
Some of the ones on my list include the Nobel Peace Prize winners below, along with:
Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin
My mother: Ruth Weaver
My sisters: Valerie Weaver-Zercher and Anne Kaufman Weaver
My college friends: Kris, Nancy, Gloria, Anne Marie, and Juji
My nieces: Lara and Keri
The young women who teach me in my classroom each day
You, and You, and You: teachers and wise womyn, thinkers and activists, poets and preachers, raging and tender and hopeful and standing on the edge of despair, young ones and elders
Quotations by Peace Prize winners for International Women’s Day:
“If he [the Talib] comes, what would you do Malala? …If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there will be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others…with cruelty…you must fight others but through peace, through dialogue and through education…then I’ll tell him [the Talib] how important education is and that I even want education for your children as well… that’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want.” —Malala Yousufzai, In a Daily Show interview
“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” —Malala Yousufzai
“Don’t wait for a Gandhi, don’t wait for a King, don’t wait for a Mandela. You are your own Mandela, you are your own Gandhi, you are your own King.” —Leymah Gbowee
“The world is upside down, it’s going to take a lot of hands to turn it right side up.” —Leymah Gbowee
“You cannot enslave a mind that knows itself. That values itself. That understands itself.” —Wangari Maathai
“Until you dig a hole, you plant a tree, you water it and make it survive, you haven’t done a thing. You are just talking.” —Wangari Maathai
“It’s not just about hope and ideas. It’s about action.” —Shirin Ebadi
“I maintain that nothing useful and lasting can emerge from violence.” —Shirin Ebadi
“Human rights is a universal standard. It is a component of every religion and every civilization.’ —Shirin Ebadi
“If you can’t eliminate injustice, at least tell everyone about it.” —Shirin Ebadi
“What I treasure most in life is being able to dream. During my most difficult moments and complex situations I have been able to dream of a more beautiful future.” —Rigoberta Menchu
“We have learned that change cannot come through war. War is not a feasible tool to use in fighting against the oppression we face. War has caused more problems. We cannot embrace that path.” —Rigoberta Menchu
“To be a light to others you will need a good dose of the spiritual life. Because as my mother used to say, if you are in a good place, then you can help others; but if you’re not well, then go look for somebody who is in a good place who can help you.” —Rigoberta Menchu
“Peace cannot exist without justice, justice cannot exist without fairness, fairness cannot exist without development, development cannot exist without democracy, democracy cannot exist without respect for the identity and worth of cultures and peoples.” —Rigoberta Menchu
International Women’s Day, celebrated around the world since 1911, to honor the work that women do. This year’s theme is a pledge for parity, with the core belief that empowering women will lead to greater sustainability on the planet.
Gratitude List: 1. Berta Cáceres, a Honduran environmentalist and human rights worker, 2015 winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize, who rallied the indigenous Lenca people to oust the builders of the Agua Zarca Dam, a project which would have cut off water for the Lenca and made it impossible for them to continue living sustainably on the land. She was assassinated last week in her home.
2. Harriet Tubman, whose story amazes and inspires me, challenges and informs me. If all you know about her is that she rescued people out of slavery, you owe it to yourself to find out more about her, about her many roles during the war, and how she continued to work for human rights and dignity until she died.
3. Wangari Mathaai, the Kenyan college professor and founder of the Green Belt Movement, first woman in East Africa with a doctorate degree, and 2004 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, who saved Karura Forest, who planted trees, who worked for the rights of women. (Karura Forest is again threatened with development, and the Green Belt Movement is working to save it yet again.)
4. Jane Goodall, who, though she is in her early 80s, continues to travel around the world to speak on behalf of sustainability, earth care, and animal rights.
5. All you women in my life who have mentored me and modeled for me how to live sustainably, how to regulate and care for my own energy, how to stand up and speak out, how to do the work. Friends and family, women older than me, my peers, and young women, too–my nieces and my students–who show me every day what it means to make a hopeful difference in the world.
May we walk with wisdom, with courage, and with strength. May we make the world a better place.
Tonight, a new set of Shaman Words. A Magic Spell. A Prayer. An Incantation for Healing.
I will say that I breathe and mean that I am praying.
I will say the drums are throbbing in the night
and mean that your heart beats
to the rhythm of the earth’s heart,
strong and measured,
strong and measured,
strong and measured.
I will say sparks rise from fire
and mean my thoughts fly to you.
I will say the River flows to sea
and mean your blood flows
through its royal chambers
in the manner it is meant to.
I will say the hunting lionesses
gather on the plains
and mean that the women
are fierce in their prayers for you,
that the mothers
are wild in their magics
to see you whole again. Gratitude List: 1. The good words of Conrad Moore. Sometimes the best words are the ones that unsettle, that cause a little discomfort, that admit to anger, that shake us from our complacency, to wake us up, and break our status quo. Jesus called the spirit the Comforter. Sometimes the people need a Discomforting Spirit to bring renewal.
2. Watching live theater with the boys. I am the House Manager for the plays–in charge of the ushering. I took the boys with me to different shows of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat this weekend and they helped usher and then watched the show. Nothing cuter than watching a five-year-old absorbed in a musical, eyes wide, clapping at the end of each song.
3. Thaw. Warmth.
4. It’s International Women’s Day–I am grateful for Jane Goodall and Wangari Maathai and Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth and Mary Oliver and Joy Harjo and Malala Yousufzai and Leymah Gbowee and the suffragettes and the herbalists and witches and midwives and mothers and sisters and daughters and word-weavers and artists and farmers and teachers who have gone before.
5. The heart.