Greetings from Washington, DC,
This post is my biennial solstice message, sent to 5-600 friends all over the world
What’s been on my radar a lot these days is the recent passing of Nelson Mandela at age 95. As we all know, he was one of the truly great men of our time, arguably the most important force in the fall of Apartheid and the creation of a democratic South Africa. The part of his story that resonates the most for me is the fact that he completely changed his personality and approach to politics during his 27 years in prison. In a poem about the hard-labor lime quarry on the notorious Robben Island, I once speculated that “This may be where Mandela remade himself/through the acts of teaching and hauling limestone/from an angry fire-breathing radical/into a calm, Sphinx-like Zen-master of change.” Would that we all could, like Madiba (as he was called) find the inner strength to resist anger and retaliation and act with forgiveness and graciousness. Would that we knew how he learned how to do that.
With these thoughts swirling, the poems fell into place very quickly –
from (Poet Becoming) by South African poet Antjie Krog
when dusk implodes in our midst
silence feeds down from a freight of stars
poetry comes coming from a crackling
of languages, accents, memory, translations
From Poem by US poet Muriel Rukeyser
As the light darkened, as the lights of night brightened,
We would try to imagine them, try to find each other,
To construct peace, to make love, to reconcile
Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other,
Ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means
To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves. . .
From Dreams, by Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska
So what can they tell us, the writers of dreambooks. . .
if anything fits,
and for one reason only,
That in our dreamings,
in their shadowings and gleamings
in their multiplings, inconceiveablings
in their haphazardings and widescatterings
at times even a clear-cut meaning
may slip through
from The Last Vibrations by Timothy Donnelly
thought, leaves, houses; the last vibrations
faded to be remembered, in a place we would never
finish imagining: and it was there we began
For all of us, may the new year be filled with reaching beyond ourselves with silence, crackling of languages and constructions of peaceful reconciliations. And if we can let ourselves embrace stillness, maybe, just maybe, our dreamings of inconceiveablings might lead us to places that we are still imagining, places where we may begin. Again.
With warmest best wishes to you and your families for a restful holiday season.