Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spring Break


Hard to believe that I have reached the halfway point of my first semester of college! No, I am not spending spring break partying.... haha..... though the idea of visiting sunny Florida to soak up some sun certainly sounds appealing, especially after Terry and I took Lily for a walk that included a cold headwind this afternoon. Even with the cold I found myself out today in a nearby wooded area hiking through trees, snapping pictures, and listening for God.

I wasn't disappointed.

As a little girl I spent lots of time in the wooded area behind our home. It was a safe haven, my own space, a magical place where I searched for the mysteries of life amongst the fallen tree branches and brown crunchy leaves. As I was attempting to traverse a small stream of water today, I remembered how I stood one day at the edge of that stream behind my childhood home and tried to muster up the courage to jump across, wondering, will I make it? For a while all I could picture in my head was what it would mean if I fell short- certainly it would hurt, I would no doubt get wet, and even worse, my pride would suffer... maybe keep me from ever trying again.

But I decided to jump anyway, just clearing the opposite side to my delight.

It was the start of many more jumps, risks. I must admit some of the falls I have taken meant some bad injuries, even kept me quiet for a while, but only to catch my breath, heal, and try again.

I intended to wear my favorite polka dot galoshes today, but forgot them, instead getting muddy my somewhat new sneakers that I purchased back in New Hampshire in December. Those sneakers were definitely not showing enough signs of wear (indicating a lack of exercise these last few weeks!) so christening them with mud seemed okay, an expected outcome when walking through winter woods.

College continues to introduce me to amazing people, recently a group of African American writers who used their artistry with words to expose oppression and fight for equality. If you are not familiar with these writers, I introduce them with pride, Americans who made a huge difference:

W.E.B.Dubois, founder of the NAACP, writer teacher, editor, scholar, activist. Extraordinary writer who said "I stand in utter shamelessness and say that whatever art I have for writing has been used always for propaganda for gaining the right of black folk to love and enjoy."This quote comes from his work "Criteria of Negro Art" written in 1926. Also a must read: "Of Our Spiritual Strivings."

Martin Luther King Jr., Baptist minister and leader of the civil rights movement. If you have never read King, please read "Letter from Birmingham Jail", which includes these two moving quotes: "I am in Birmingham because injustice is here."and "We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."

Anna Julia Cooper, African American woman writer in the 1890's. In her essay "Our Raison d'Etre" she states "And not many can more sensibly realize and more accurately tell the weight and the fret of "the long dull pain" than the open-eyed but hitherto voiceless Black Woman of America."

Alice Walker, novelist and poet, first African American woman to win the Pulitzer prize for "The Color Purple" in 1982. Her work "In Search of Our Mother's Gardens" beautifully shares the amazing ability her ancestors had to survive severe oppression and yet found ways to create in the midst of it. "How was the creativity of the black woman kept alive, year after year, century after century, when for most of the years black people have been in America, it was a punishable crime for a black person to read or write?"

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