I woke up this morning with these lyrics in my head:
“Yes, a new world’s coming
The one we’ve had visions of
Coming in peace, coming in joy, coming in love.”
[Mama Cass' version is the one I first heard, but it is end of–– Nina Simone's that was in my head.]
This song takes me forward, floating on the hope returning anew yesterday. And, it takes me back to when I learned this song and many other social justice songs in Amy’s mother Greta’s group guitar class in high school. Songs which overlapped with the ones we learned in our Methodist Youth Group or while helping folks rebuild their homes in the Appalachia Service Project or when the youth took over the church service and made the congregation stand up, hold hands and sing “Pass It On.”
Songs connected not only by hope and joy and love but also community and sharing and lifting each other up and respect for each other and nature. Admittedly, we also learned songs of warning and sadness, such as “American Pie,” but underlying all of this was how my guitar was an instrument for bringing folks together. Similar in intent, if not scope, as the messages we heard last night from Kamala and Joe. [Chest opens, breath deepens, heart softens, soul reaches out . . .]
As an avoidance of election concerns, I began going through bookshelves, one of which holds inspirational, poetic, and spiritual books that have helped me along my way, including "Making the Most of Life" by Leroy Brownlow, which my paternal grandmother gave me when I graduated from college.
To me and most others in her small town, Grandma was an embodiment of universal love. Deeply committed to her faith, she gave generously of her heart and soul – to her first grade and Head Start and Sunday School students, to those in need.
She taught, by example, to give, without reserve. Perhaps not the most self-sustaining way of making it through the world, but to those on the receiving end, she was a good woman.
This book is peppered with Bible verses, but the section she highlighted for me was about aiming high and not giving up. And, seeking. She taught me about looking for the best in people, "even when they are not at their best." To think of others before myself. To give a helping hand up. To not say anything if you cannot say something positive or thoughtful or encouraging. And, when talking to a child, to sit or squat so that I could look them eye to eye.
I have not always lived up to her standards for decency and some of those standards take an extraordinary person, like her, to accomplish and, possibly, a different historical time. But, on this election eve as I consider leadership, I am drawn to her example and miss her love.
A place to decant my brain, to capture inspiration and share fresh insights. [Posts from 2015 onward]