“You are your best thing.” This line Toni Morrison used in her book Beloved is a gentle reminder to you, to me. I am my best thing. I am. That’s all.
Like many, I have been reading and rereading all the bell hooks books I have in my possession. I have been struck with how urgent her work is for those desperate for word work that awakens us all to our possibilities. bell hooks was a prolific writer. As I looked through her writings, I gathered she knew writing was supposed to do something. You don’t pen these many diverse thoughts if you don’t expect the words to do something. That’s the urgency I felt just looking at book after book. She knew writing was supposed to do something. Not things that keep you powerless or inarticulate or unable to assert your agency. To her and from what I have read these past days, writing is supposed to be something meaningful. Writing is supposed to be courageous that all I can say to you this morning is that you should keep writing. Your words matter.
Keep it because writing is supposed to reveal. Illuminate. Challenge. Or simple stir up. Writing is not supposed to traumatize. Exploit. Oppress. Or simply cause suffering. Rather writing is supposed to testify. Best witness. Feel. Or simply engage. Writing is not supposed to shame. Violate. Humiliate. Or simply frighten. Rather writing is supposed to nurture. Heal. Uplift. Or simply affirm. Writing is not supposed to dehumanize, distort, deny, or simply destroy. Writing is supposed love. Celebrate. Remember. Or simply awaken. Writing is not supposed to silence. Dominate. Punish. Or simply exile. Rather writing is supposed to resist. Critique. Demand. Or simply voice. Writing is not supposed to threaten. Marginalize. Alienate. Or simply colonize. Rather writing is supposed to value. Imagine. Desire. Or simply create. Writing is not supposed to abandon. Diminish. Ridicule. Or simply ignore. Writing is supposed to liberate. Burn. Renew. Or simply free. Writing is not supposed to erase. Deprive. Annihilate. Or simply be racisit. Writing is supposed to be radical. Sustain. Open. Or simply transform. However you choose to write, I hope you use it to reveal, illuminate, challenge, stir up, testify, bear witness, feel, engage, nurture, heal, uplift, affirm, love, celebrate, remember, awaken, resist, critique, demand, voice, value, imagine, desire, create, liberate, burn, renew, free, be radical, sustain, open and transform.
I took my time to write this. Good people are remembered as a blessing. So I wanted to take my time to remember your blessings. For you have indeed blessed us all bell. Your blessings give life like a fountain of water. So I knew I had to take my time to write this. I knew I had to do right by you who loved words. And your words are like pure silver destined to shine brightly now that you are gone so taking my time to write this was crucial to me. You are crucial to me. I got the kids ready for bed early. By 7pm they were headed for sleep. I wanted to feel your warmth once again and none of my children as much as I love them will get in the way. At least not today. Once in bed, I headed for that quiet place I reserve for thinking. Not the kind that flows with whatever situation I find myself in, but the kind destined to move me to higher glory. For you, I am prepared to rise higher. So I took my time to write this. Got some food to nourish my soul. They call it African salad. I call it love. It always hit the right spot. I made myself a bowl, with some catfish. An unusual combination but perfect for writing these thoughts I have for such a sterling and unsual woman. There were no wine. I wanted to feel everything I wrote for myself first. And only lemon yogurt would do. The Noosa brand. The perfect combination for cleansing that I would need to write these thoughts down for you. For you were my everything. You were more than the brightest moon on a clear dark night. Even the night has nothing on your brilliance. If God came down from heaven today, he would truly announce that you are his daughter, the one he is truly pleased with. We mere mortals were not fit to tie your shoe lace. With words you stirred trouble. You showed us the transformative power of words. And how by themselves are manifestation of divine spirit. With words you forced us to write so we too could see ourselves. I see. I see myself. I have been doing so with everything I write here because of you. So I wanted to take my time to see you again.
I began writing vespers this week. The death toll from the pandemic was overwhelming. Majority have died this year too in a time of vaccine. So the only thing left to do at the time was pray. Hence the birth of develing into what I will be calling vesper. The first one was okay. It reflected how I felt about the deaths from the pandemic. Today’s own is for a woman who has touched my soul in way that I really can’t fully convey. I dreamt that we would meet one day. I dreamt often of what we would discuss together too. Waking up to the news of her death has left a big hole in my mind that the only thing left to do is pray for an eternal rest. bell hooks lived a life many of us can only dream to live. She lived it radically in her own terms and along the margins that made sense to her spirit. She was my spiritual mother in my quest to keep what matters to me on this blog. So many of my prior posts were inspired by her writing. I can never really do justice to her influence hence why I choose to pray. Keep Vesper or an evening prayer for the sterling spirit of bell hooks. May she sleep well and may her family know that she did her part to the fullest in this thing called life. I’m sure they are aware of this but I just want them know that because of her, I learnt to see. And that is a legacy worth keeping. May this evening prayer I write, give them peace as well.
If you ever forget how to see, I pray you look. I pray you look for spaces that touch you in unimagined ways. I pray these spaces whether you create them or not, are in harmony with the beauty and peace your spirit desires. There is safety in numbers. Find your safety. Find numbers too in harmony with your spirit so you remain open to seeing love. Not the kind that is hard to define but the one focused on choosing love. I pray your spirit chooses love in whatever space you find yourself in. I pray this love will help you learn to see. To become a being who simply sees. And when you do, I pray you see art in the intimate spaces of your life. See it as life giving. See it as love giving. Light-giving too. I pray art becomes life and love and light for you because you learnt to see. For what you see, in these spaces, everything you see is crucial for the struggle. Not to escape our plight but rather for its spiritual ecstasy. The type that lets us see light in all things. Know light too for yourself and in see it in all living beings. I pray you come alive to the resurrecting power of light. The intensity of light. The fullness of well-light light, the wholeness of life is transformative. I pray you see for yourself this transformative power of light. Though tears are falling down these evening, I pray you still let your light shine through the tears. Other needs to see you shine so they flourish. Everyone needs to be touched by you. So touch them.
Then, I pray you find the power to be self-determining. I also pray you let nothing cloud your understanding. Cloud your commitment to act, to love, to light a world longing for your spirit. Let nothing stop you from stirring up your spirit for trouble too. Good trouble. The kind that doesn’t harden hearts. For every single close proximity to you is for our survival. So I pray you survive trouble. In winter, it’s not uncommon to see up to 12 Wrens roosting together for warmth. They learn to embrace their suffering together. I pray you find your dozen Wren. May they help you endure whatever sufferings you encounter. May they also help you awaken to your blessings. For you are blessed. You were blessed. I pray these blessings live on forever as we keep all that we learnt from you. I pray you also let it flow like rivers on days when you need warmth. Days like today. The world needs warmth now. But heaven needed it more. Rest in Power bell hooks, till we meet again.
Words call us, we go. A blurry thought, uncertain notes, hopelessly we stroll until meaning becomes clear, becomes us. Today we sat patiently trying to wait for words to come. It took a while. Children were crying. Hearts were weary but souls were full from a reunion a pandemic almost denied. We waited for the words to come, to express how we felt for we where thankful, full of thanks for a day that kept giving, spilling into another day that continues to give. Then the word ‘serious’ leapt across our mind. We questioned its intent, waited even for the discontent. ‘Serious’ what are we supposed to do with you. Then we remembered, being together is a serious matter. Being with family even in the middle of a pandemic is serious. The terrible stories we could have told are blunted because we did together seriously. So as we settle in, as we bask in the glory of yesterday, the majesty of today, and the hope for tomorrow, we know that together will always remain serious for us. Thanksgiving with people like us is a serious matter and we intend to keep it so.
We become light by choosing it. Whether or not we are surrounded by darkness or not, whether or not others share or are indifferent to our light, whether we are open or closed to the idea of becoming light, all the possibilities and hurdles light entails becomes ours when we choose this path. It can be a gloomy path too. One where your light is bound to fall, on spaces that leave behind scars, no matter how hard you try to place it above stars.
I have been reading the memoir of Lucille Clifton, with an introduction by Tracy Smith where she described Lucille’s namesake Lucifer. Did you know he was once described as God’s bringer of light. Even the devil brought light, and fell along the way. Even this once bright morning star, he who was determined to climb up to heaven, determined to place his throne above the highest stars, determined to climb to the top of the clouds, determined to even be like the Almighty, was also brought down to the world of the dead, brought down and became known as the devil himself.
Which made me realize that there is light. There is light for the living, for the dead, and even the devil. There is light for anyone who chooses it if only our hearts are open, our minds receptive, as our light shake and tremble the earth. With rays that burrow deeply into our souls, twitching our body as it quivers in space, light can become yours. Generations by Lucille Clifton is teaching me this. I now know in my soul, see in my goals. how light is creeping in, invading all my spaces, evading all my phases, many once laced in a futile dread, many now faced the sweetest grace. I was once lost, but now I know my light. I arch my back as I contemplate it’s infinity. I also watch as it conspires to keep me from falling, keep me from reaching heaven. And though the devil succeeds, with every fall I take, I still know my light, and my light knows me.
Light and grace are my inspiration as we round up this year. Light because 2021 has been a year of darkness. A year of death. A year of sorrow. A year of pain. I experienced this kind of pain in 2020. But it burrowed more deeply into my marrow in 2021. I am choosing to break free. Grace because, every experience so far has been an enigma on its own, a hidden path on a road full of curves. And grace always leads back home, back to my purpose, back to myself, back to my light. This light within, seeks to begin, a path, a journey, that refuses to be hidden, hence why I keep this today.
This note to myself, is an attempt to awaken up the light within, reclaim it’s power with grace, reclaim its ability to help me heal, to help me listen as its essence tills my being. In doing so, my heart is open and my mind is receptive to people and places that bring light, people and places full of grace. Today, I am receptive wholeheartedly to the work of Renike (you can find her on instragram at iamrenike). She is light personified. An amazing grace, which breaks through like light everything time I see her work. Today, I am choosing light, choosing grace through the gifts of Renike. I call this “She is light.” I also called it “She is grace.” Honestly. She is both. And as you start your week, may you choose to keep this light, this grace, always.
She is light. A graceful light forever radiating. Forever rising. Forever inviting. Forever flowing. Forever glowing. Forever twinkling. Forever blinking. Forever gleaming. Forever beaming. Forever brighting. Forever igniting. Forever flaring. Forever glaring. Forever blazing. Forever dazzling. Forever revealing. Forever sparkling. Forever flaming. Forever shimmering. Forever kindling. Forever illuminating. Forever glistening. Forever lighting. Forever shining. This light, she chooses by design.
She will not be silenced. Not be muted. Not be hushed. Not be restrained. Not be reserved. Not be speechless. Not be voiceless. Not be noiseless. Not be motionless. Not be wordless. Not be soundless. She will not be unspoken. Not be unseen. Not be unknown. Not be unvoiced. Not be quiet. Not be calm. When her grace abounds in stride.
She is enough. Her beauty, enough. Her curves, enough. Her arch, enough. Her depths, enough. Her roots, enough. Her stride, enough. Her gaze, enough. Her twirl, enough. Her strength, enough. Her, dreams, enough. Her hope, enough. Her joy, enough. Her light, enough. Her grace, enough.
She carries energy. Carries fire. Carries trials. Carries desires. Carries histories. Carries victories. Carries struggles. Carries hurdles. Carries nations. Carries notations. Carries elevations. Carries narrations. Carries earth. Carries sun. Carries moon. Carries stars. Carries mountains. Carries hills. Carries valleys. Carries depths. Carries darkness. Carries wilderness. Carries night. Carries light. Carries power. Carries flowers. Carries water. Carries streams. Carries rivers. Carries floods. Carries buds. Carries blood. Carries tears. Carries air. Carries heir. Carries sons. Carries daughters. Carries rain. Carries pain. Carries life. Carries grace, so amazing and by design.
She is wild and free. In peace or chaos. In fear or bravery. In struggles or survival. In darkness or light. She is grace.
She dwells in her being. Dwells in her essence. Dwells in her presence. Dwells in her existence. She dwells in her soul. Dwells in her whole. Dwells in her sole. Dwells in her stroll. She dwells in her reality. Dwells in her mentality. Dwells in her mortality. Dwells in her morality. She dwells in her fire. Dwells in her sapphires. Dwells in her desires. Dwells in her wildfire. She dwells in her zen. Dwells in her pen. Dwells in her men. Dwells in their amen. She dwells in her substance. Dwells in her abundance. Dwells in her resistance. Dwells in her persistence. She dwells in her true life. Dwells in her high life. Dwells in her light life. Dwells in her grace life.
She can and will get through anything. Get through fire things. Get through burning things. Get through flying things. Get through stolen things. Get through controlling things. Get through aggressive things. Get through violent things. Get through dark things. Get through flaming things. Get through golden things. Get through rising things. Get through powerful things. Get through breakable things. Get through strong things. Get through rough things. Get through everything. Get through nothing. Get through somethings. Get through hateful things. Get through pleasurable things. Get through earthly things. Get through healthy things. Get through birthings. Get through life things. Get through light things. Get through grace things.
She is taking back her power. Taking back it’s freedom. Taking back her story. Taking back her glory. She is taking back her girl. Taking back her swirls. Taking back her twirls. Taking back her pearls. She is taking back her body. Taking back all she embodies. Taking it back for somebody. Taking back for everybody. She is taking back her presence. Taking back her essence. Taking back her all her luminescence. Taking back her omnipresence. She is taking back her sins. Taking back her skin. Taking back her kin. Taking back their wins. She is taking back her enigma. Taking back her mystery. Taking back her ambiguity. Taking back her paradox. She is taking back their disruptions. Taking back any repetitions. Taking back any omissions. Taking back their violent reactions. She is taking back her life. Taking back her light. Taking back it’s depth. Taking back it’s aura. Taking back it’s power. Now, she is power. Her blackness, divine. Her arch, sublime. Her strength, sunshine. Her grace by design.
If you can do support this amazing artist here https://www.inprnt.com/canvas/iamrenike/
My daughter wrote a haiku about birdhouses, about how birds get food from inside them, and of course how birds eat the food. It was nestled towards the end of her book of poetry where anything was allowed. Roller skates made in rainbow colors. Birds and their birdhouse. Puppies playing. Even her name and all it stands for, at least to her. To go through life fixing your mind on others, birds, brothers, puppies is freedom to me. Sitting under a moonlit sky is freedom too. To go through life, under a moonlit sky, with others, my daughter, her brothers, is the ultimate freedom. Keep this freedom for you.
Nearly one in 5 youth have experienced some form of bullying. As a parent, listening as your child describes their own experience with it can make you feel angry, helpless to, as you try to navigate school policies and zero tolerance statements that seem great on paper.
Like most parents, my first instinct was to understand why people bully others, understand why they choose to hurt others in ways they have no right to do. I found myself doing so recently until I realized I was tapping into the master narrative of the bullying phenomenon. We all do, choosing narratives that forces us to surrender to the bully as if we are powerless in the situation.
Today, I say enough is enough. It is time to change the story and use this moment to teach everyone, my own children in particular to become brave. No use wasting anymore time on the bully. I’ll rather use this moment to teach how children can turn their inward light on in moments of darkness, in dark places too and through dark minds prepared to inflict pain. They can use these moments to become brave. For when being unkind reveals it’s real nature, crossing lines and spaces for their own self pleasure, that’s when to turn nurturing and protecting on. That’s when bravery truly needs to get up, stand up, and stir things up too. Bravery needs to equally fight to push darkness out. We are prepared to fight for light. The world needs more brave children, now more than ever. Children who know they are light and their power cannot be hidden. If I was to turn this into a teachable moment, like the image below, I would turn it from hate to love and begin like this:
What happens when you are bullied. It’s the day you become brave. Your eyes, your hair, your voice, your smile, even your looks may cause others to become mean. Yet, choose to be brave. Do you know that you don’t have to be mean? Choose to be kind. Do you know that you don’t have to say all the bad things they say to you? Choose instead to listen. Do you know that you don’t have to understand why? Choose to remember love. Do you know you have the power to turn this around? Choose to change the story. Rather that feeling sad, spread happiness. Rather that feeling angry, spread kindness. Even when they are mean to you, spread confidence. Even when they continue their behavior to you or anyone else, spread love. It’s a gift they probably never received from people that look like you. Until now. So choose to spread your light.
Be brave by standing up straight. Tilt your head up, and look them directly in the eye? Shout as loud as you can, ‘Enough?’ Then say ‘Don’t talk to me like that. I love myself and you should too.’ Turn around and walk away confidently. You are indeed loved. We can use this moment to teach about love, to spread it too, so the story change. What if nearly 1 in 5 youth have experienced some form of love, experienced being brave. That is a story worth telling, worth keeping too as we teach our children to become brave.
When you find your team, cherish them. Embrace them too with love. Not on days when things make sense, but on tough days when tensions are high and tempers are flaring.
I have found my team and I love every single way they thread my needle. I love how the pieces fit so neatly with my team, like a hem sewn together neatly. I have always wonder what it takes to use large yarns to knit a blanket or a sweater, so seamlessly that not a single fiber is out of place. That what happens when you find your team. Not a single moment with them is out of place.
We are working together on something so phenomenal, that you really have to wait to see it. These are also not days when things make sense. In fact nothing what we are working on together makes complete sense, but we are a team. We trust each other and lord knows that the end will be totally worth it. That’s what happens when you are with your team, your people.
Radha Agrawal in her book ‘Belong’ stated that once you find your people, when together you create a community that matters to you, you will live a more connected life. In fact she dedicated her book to courageous and generous souls who wake up every day to create and serve their communities, souls that actually enjoy the process and not only the destination. I am journey with such people in my team right now. She calls it belonging or a feeling of deep relatedness and acceptance, a feeling of “I would rather be here than anywhere else.” That’s what I feel after our teams meetings all the time.
Together, no dream is too small, no vision out of limit. In fact the bigger the dream the better. The world needs dreamers, people bold enough to take on the world and we are as bold as they come. Fierce and fearless to with our legacy building work that makes no sense right now and that’s okay. We are a team and together our seams all fit nicely together.
Find yourself a team and when you do, cherish them fully. I love all of you on team light, team leaders igniting generational healing and transformation. All of you are transformational and I thank you for coming along on this light journey. Together we are a keep worth fighting for. Keep a team you cherish.
I long to be word’s happiness in places, where happiness is instant. I long to feel word’s peace in places where peace is instant. I long to embrace word’s beauty in places were beauty is instant. I long to know word’s change in places where change is instant. Happiness, peace, beauty, change, all flow easily, when words are buried deeply in your soul.