Sharing Sisterhood Across the Globe

Sister to Sister is a place to renew for women of all cultures, faiths and races. Coretta Scott King said, "Women, if the soul of the Nation is to be saved, I believe we must become its soul." I would like to add "Earth" instead of "Nation." We need to widen the borders and challenge the world to become a better place. Join the conversation.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Finding the Answers -- Asking the Right Questions

“The opposite truth is not lies. The opposite of truth is ignorance, not knowing.”—P.K. McCary

Last night I stood on stage—again! I don’t do it enough to suit myself and I’ve done it more in the past few weeks than I have in the last two years. I’m so there when I’m telling a story, sharing a poem. I connect with my audience, my story. Connection and passion—rapture! These days I’m finding ways to connect and tell my stories. I did it earlier in the month, Wednesday night[1] in fact, on the radio program Under the Learning Tree, a wonderful morning show on WBAI in New York. I connected and I was whole.

Truth makes us whole, I’ve found. And I’m seeking truth—for myself, for my life. I can’t go back to where I was two months ago—or even two years ago when my Mother died—three years ago when my granddaughter died. First, neither would want me to, and secondly, when you start looking at the truth of your situation, you find out that it is what you don’t know that keeps you from being the person you were called to be. And in my case, understanding the truth of my existence has become critical. Why am I here? What am I called to do? How do I do it? Am I to do it alone? Who should go with me? So many questions and the answers—just out of reach.

Zora Neale Hurston said that “there are years that question and years that answer.” I like the thought of that because it is a powerful statement. The years that question come to us day by day. The answers do as well except they seem more elusive. Mostly because we aren’t asking the right questions and if we do, we’re not listening—really listening to the answers. Questions such as ‘How long will this suffering last?’ and my favorite, ‘Why me?’ are questions asked by most of us in times of turmoil and search. By the way, the answers to each are, ‘As long as you hold onto it,’ and ‘Why not you?’ But, I digress. When asking questions stemming from one’s pain, grief and/or sorrow, one must be responsible enough to ask the most important question which is: ‘What are the questions to be asked?’ After all, if we want to know the truth, we must seek guidance even in our asking.

In truth. That is the how of our questions. We must know that whatever question is being asked at the time, that we must do it in truth. Don’t be afraid to seek deeper into the reasons for the questions that we ask. Be truthful with yourself. If we can’t be honest in our search for answers, why we’re asking what we’re asking, then we won’t find the truth in the answers. If our questions come from shame or guilt, be honest. If they come from anger and frustration, be truthful about it. Because otherwise, the answers won’t be the truth of change and growth. Wisdom will escape us when we aren’t seeking truth, but easy answers don’t solve the problems (or really answer the question). Questions help us focus. The answers come when we’ve focused properly.

After my Mom died the question I asked myself was, ‘Was I a good daughter?’ I heard a simple answer. No. If I had stopped there I don’t think I could ever still the grief of losing her. I was not a good daughter. I was not a bad daughter either. See? I wasn’t asking the right question. I was her beloved daughter. I was a daughter who had the wisdom to choose her for my Mother. Yes, I believe we choose our parents. Anyway, the reason the question was asked in the first place was because I needed to alleviate the guilt I had. Had I done everything I could? Was I faithful in my care for her? Was she happy with me and what we accomplished? Did she resent me for not being perfect? Could I have done things differently? See the one question was marred by the fact that the simple question wasn’t simple and the simple answer only answered the question that hadn’t been properly formed. In fact, the answer was that I was a great daughter because she chose me, too. Loving her, her loving me, was perfect. She was a great Mom. And I know from her gift to me that night she died, that she had no regrets—either about me or her life. She brought me into this world. I watched her walk into eternity!

So, anyway, I’m on stage doing one of my favorite stories from my anthology, “Straight from the Rib.” I’m telling the story of Eve, bringer of knowledge, seeker of wisdom. We don’t ask the right questions when we discuss her. We are told that she did a bad thing! We can’t give her any sympathy because of what she wrought on mankind? Well, first, I like her. I identify with her. I read once that Eve represents our longing. I like that. It is nothing to fear. Longing for more, Longing for our path, Longing for our place. Yep. I like that. Over and over we’re asked to squelch that desire in us. We’re told that it leads to catastrophe. Hmmmm. Does it? Now, that’s a good question!

I long for a gathering of like minds—dedicated to justice and peace. I want to find the stories and I long for venues for telling these stories. I’m finding them. The Peace Hour radio show, blogs, short stories and the many other things I’m producing and will produce are out there. The stories come from the longings whispered in the night in dreams, in conversations with my sisters and brothers, in the heart of my deepest despair and my greatest joy. I ask for truth out of the place the questions come.

The questions I’m asking can be explored here and there, through the stories and connections, across this country. So, what are the questions? It doesn’t matter if the goal is truth. Questions come day by day. The answers? Also, day by day. As I search, I share, and as I gather, I share. The questions? Many, so many. I’m challenging myself to be ready for both—the questions and the answers.

So, what questions should we be asking? Simple. How can I be open to the question of truth? And that just means, how can I prepare for life and its answers? I'm working on it! I do have one piece of advice, however. Listen for truth in both questions and answers. Truth is powerful medicine.

[1] WBAI (99.5 FM) Radio Station, Under the Learning Tree, March 2, 2006 at 2 a.m. Check archives to hear the show.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Mourning A Great Lady ...

While celebrating a life well-lived.

Coretta Scott King
April 27, 1927--January 31, 2006

Few can offer that they have dedicated their lives to peace and justice as can Coretta Scott King. While she was the wife of dynamic civil rights leader, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., she was accomplished in her own rights. She was a gifted musician and promoted education her entire life. Born into a segregated world, she made a difference to the world. Permanently etched in the hearts and minds of many was the quiet grace of a woman holding her child while at the funeral of her husband. However, there are still some of us who missed that Coretta was not a woman who walked in the shadow of her husband, but stood by his side, not only urging him to his greatness, but standing up to him when sometimes he failed.

The story that comes to mind is the day their house was bombed. It was the one time that Dr. King was said to have decided that there was a time that non-violence couldn't work. I hear it often on the Peace Hour, the question of 'What if someone attacked your family, your children? Would you not then meet violence with violence?' It was said on that night as Martin reached for a rifle to stand on his porch and declare that he would not tolerate attacks on his family, Coretta urged him to stand down! And he did.

Are you afraid? In today's world, we are being taught the lessons of fearing the other. We know that people will do evil to other in the name of religion, power, greed. And we can take up arms to meet them on the battlefield OR ...

Here is where I believe we, as women, can be at our best. We can stand up for justice. We can stand up for peace. We can stand up for democracy and freedom. BUT ... we must stand down on violence --- in all of its forms.

Violence: Classism
Violence: Poverty
Violence: Racism
Violence: Bad Educational Systems
Violence: Inequity of Health Care
Violence: Consumption of the Earth's resources without taking responsibility
Violence: Lack of Transparency
Violence: Hidden Agendas/Bad Intentions
Violence: Not listening/Not being heard
Violence: Not being willing to change

See. Violence comes in all forms. It is not just war with guns and ammo, but the war we have each day as we struggle to choose peace ... or not!

I met Coretta several times. She was always gracious and giving. She was also steadfast and incorruptible. She kept the sacred flame alive in her life, in her children's lives and in this country. Fairness, justice, honor ... key words that we should inscribe in our hearts today in honor of this great lady. We honor our heroes and sheroes by emulating the best they have offered to us. She now serves as one of the ancestors whose shoulders we continue to stand on. Ladies and gentlemen, it is the work of those gone before us that gives us the hope of all of our tomorrows.

For more information on Mrs. King's Life:

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Spirit Will Wake You Up ...

But try not to hit the snooze alarm. Believing in yourself is one of the greatest challenges. Today is the first day of 2006. I am going to be 53 this year and I'm excited about it. It is a number that holds fear from some--getting older, but that isn't happening with me. I know that this is my year. Why? I'm changing some things right off the bat. I charged into 2006, leaving my hindrances behind.

The last year was filled with what I believe to be hinderances. Guilt. Shame. Loneliness. Fear. Anger. Hurt. Sorrow. They didn't come upon me all at once. They didn't come all the time, but there were those moments of distress that paralyzed me--created inadequate functioning. I second-guessed myself. Often, I succumbed to the hurt and sorrow of family matters. I didn't pursue my dreams, feeling that I had to work for others--and deny myself. I didn't listen to spirit because I sometimes believed that God couldn't possibly want me to tell the stories I thought relevant. I needed to get a real job. And yet, my "job" was unfulfilling and I found myself telling stories at every chance I could. I didn't care if I got paid for it, I just wanted to tell these stories. And sometimes I did. The sad thing is sometimes I didn't.

This year I participated in an event called "Tellebration." It was storytelling at its finest and the truth is the Texas community of storytellers has a long way to go--but it has an incredible wealth of individuals who CAN tell a story. The day of the Tellabration event, I had one problem after another. Kinda the "bills and short change" scenario that I talk about in my Christmas poem (A Sister Christmas), plus the silly men and their war games is an issue that should be on the radar of every human being on the planet. We've got to change the way we do things and we've got to eradicate war more than ever before. It's a rich man's game with poor (wo) men casualties. But I digress. I almost didn't do Tellabration ... and even after I said yes, that night was filled with so much of my "stuff" that I thought I wouldn't be able to go on. Then I stood center stage ... in front of the lights and ...

Well, lets just say, I told a great story! I felt it course through my veins, implode through my pores and out of my mouth came pure entertainment (with a little bit editorializing that I'm famous for). But, I found my power and I shared it. And then I lost it again. I got busy with the fundamentals of life ... and wasn't able to catch it for a while, mostly because I didn't have a place to tell the stories. Then it hit me! Of course, I have a place to tell stories. I do it all the time. Emails. Yep! And my blogs which take into consideration the places where I put my energies--my work for building a culture of peace through non-violence. For women. For the children. For us all.

And then there is my radio show. The Peace Hour Radio Show on KPFT has been a show in the making for two years. The first show was January 7th (2004--4 days after my Mother's death): The Meaning of the Dream alongside a MLK program at St. Thomas Univerity. Ernest McMillan was my first guest and I caught it again. Not only do I tell the stories, I gather them and other people tell their stories. We have talked peace in all its forms. From education to healthcare, politics to religion (not forbidden discussions on the show), and peace within (with my friend Laura Holiday). We're doing it and hopefully when "The Peace Hour" becomes a regular show this year (hopefully by February 2006), we'll do more of it.

So, this ramble is that spirit is constantly offering us the opportunity to "wake up!" Wake up to new ideas. Wake up to your own creativity. Wake Up to Life! And Reason. And Answers. To Peace. I'm taking 2006 by storm. I'm cleaning out the cobwebs of my mind's hindrances and moving towards holding on to the empowering love of storytelling in all its forms. That's where I live. That's where I'm happiest. That's where I do the most good.

Peace to you and yours as you find your place. Wake Up! It's a new day. P.K.