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 in fact, on the radio program Under the Learning Tree, a wonderful morning show on WBAI in
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.
 WBAI (99.5 FM) Radio Station, Under the Learning Tree,