It’s been one of those mornings: I’ve got more to say than I’ve had to say in months as if I’ve encountered other human beings for the first time and can speak.
I spent the night dreaming of making meatloaf and mashed potatoes. I cook this meal perhaps once every year. And, I had a dream of waking from a dream and spitting up phlegm after refusing to accept what someone had said. Unrelated to my meatloaf and mashed potatoes, of course.
For me, the first speaks of nurturing myself with the unexpected, the solid good things that fill us. This is a meal that takes time and good ingredients: prepare myself with the finest no matter how simple the results. The second speaks of waking up and getting rid of the things that no longer serve me, and doing so immediately.
They seem to be in contention. Red meat, potatoes, butter, cream: sinus problems and extra fat. Having to clear my sinuses and body of such build up: I’ve over done it.
Where these dreams meet in one night: balance, equilibrium. Only I know when I have tipped the scales. Only I know what to do to return.
And so it was these two things with which I awoke to find Alexis Gumbs first Black Feminist meditation in my box. I met Alexis in person (after months of emails) a few weeks ago when we read together at Duke University’s Manic Caravan poetry reading series.
Without discussion, we had both arrived to honor the ancestors with our voices, poems, and very beings. We spoke briefly about this meditation and the other wonderful things she had planned for the summer. I left reconfirming that it was needed in the world. This moment. This time. In all the spaces we inhabit. In Love.
The 21-day meditation series falls over the June-July 2014 Mercury Retrograde. This is my treat to myself as Ariran Abegunde Arroyo Black Woman egungun priestess devotee to the orisas Osun and Oya.
I invite you to consider giving yourself a treat whether or not you are joining us for the June Mercury Retrograde, whatever your identity. There is much to learn from Black women across the planet, especially now.
Today’s meditation: “We are the one’s we’ve been waiting for” from June Jordan’s “Poem for South African Women”.
We are indeed. The meditation this morning was a great way for me to breathe in the Truth of what I am, what We are. As I transition into a new life after graduation I have been thinking of this. I cannot return to what I was before. That woman no longer exists. The woman who does exist is bigger, badder, more beautiful. She is older, more ancient. She knows a lot more about so much. She knows a lot less about everything. And, she has even more community than before to do the work she was born to do. In Love.
June Jordan’s poem in its fullness is as relevant and necessary today as ever. Recently, my sister asked me if I would be doing a meditation with the Arroyo community for the young girls who had been stolen in Nigeria. I told her I was thinking about it and would do something.
Secretly, I’ve been hoping and praying that the girls will be released before I have to engage with this aspect of spiritual work. I knew this to be the case when someone I didn’t know wrote me to remind me how this tragedy has opened up wounds about Black women being stolen that are so old we must go all the way back to slave ships.
And to Black women and girls being beaten and raped every place in the world. And women and girls – all women and girls – who are in danger every moment of their lives.
And… you fill in the thing that frightens you most about being a woman or girl, or someone who loves a woman or girl.
I need mediation to prepare for this particular meditation.
This morning, before I opened Alexis’ email, I was contemplating what and how to respond to Nigeria. Then I opened DailyGood to “What to Remember When Waking”. David Whyte, a favorite poet of mine, is quoted: “There is a small opening into the new day which closes the moment you begin your plans. What you can plan is too small for you to live.”
It brought me back to a conversation I had with a sister-friend about healers understanding that changing the world takes more than sitting around sending out energy. It means “praying with your feet”, hands, mouths, money. To take up spiritual action against social injustice is profound, disturbing, revolutionary, transformative. It is a commitment to use that energy to upturn mountains, to unwind the tornado until it is a gentle breeze.
It means dreaming about making meatloaf and mashed potatoes with kobe beef, homegrown potatoes, rosemary, thyme, and hand-churned butter when your refrigerator and bank account are empty and you don’t have a garden.
Some of us understand that the dream is the beginning of a powerful manifestation IF we don’t plan.
Another sister-friend often says to me: the ancestors and universe have better taste for my life than I do.
All of these conversations brought me back to the Bloomington, IN BringBackOurGirls event. I was asked to do the opening and closing prayer. But, when it was time to close, I couldn’t “pray”. I felt the need to call upon Ella Baker. “We who believe in freedom cannot rest!”
Yes. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
This morning’s meditation for me was not only about Truth and acknowledging personal power and Love. In the context of June Jordan’s poem, it was also about knowing how to use that power; how to join up forces for freedom and liberation with other women and spiritual beings fighting for these things. They are more than just ideas and notions.
I was moved to write this morning because June Jordan is not just any ancestor. I never met her. However, when she was dying, her friends in the poetry community reached out to many of us to send her words of encouragement. I answered that call. She was a Caribbean American woman like me. She died after illness, like my mother. As a young woman, her words fed me – to quote one of my students – when I didn’t know I was hungry.
So, to begin this meditation with June Jordan has brought me to contemplate on my rights, human rights. It has led me from meatloaf to slavery, Nigeria, and the work I must do – we must do – in the world for freedom. Every day. Every moment. This moment in time. Out of Love. For Love.
Balance. How do I balance the desire and need to mediate, pray, call on the ancestors and Spirit with the desire and need to take to the streets screaming and keening about Nigeria and all the wounds it opens up?
… We who believe in freedom…
…How can we rest?
May making meatloaf and mashed potatoes enter all our dreams until we learn how to make peace and love by tending to the details of what is really important to live fully, to nurture love and demand and live freedom and liberty as a community. For all.
Get Up! Stand Up!
Poem for South African Women (excerpt)
And who will join this standing up
and the ones who stood without sweet company
will sing and sing
back into the mountains and
even under the sea
we are the ones we have been waiting for