I think I am becoming an activist. I think I already am one, changed bit by bit.
The voices I am listening for are the voices of dissent.
The faces I am searching out are the ones unseen.
The stories I am longing to hear are those unspoken.
We are new here.
New to this land of trees and green.
New to sweatshirts and handwarmers.
New to farmers markets that close by October.
How do I find these voices and faces and stories?
The first thing we unpacked was this “Ebenezer”. An ebenezer is not a name for Scrooge, or a song by a British group. Literally, it means “stone of help”, from the story where Samuel set up a stone to remind Israel of a battle victory over the Philistines.
This Ebenezer is heavy; full of stones of remembering. The full size one lives at neighborhood Neighborhoodministries.org. The stones there tell the anguish and violence, hopes and dreams of the children in one distressed neighborhood in Phoenix. It is a place to stand, to be still, to hold space. It is often surrounded by laughter and running feet.
The stones of our Ebenezer were held one by one. They contain the prayers and love and hope and grief of the community we came from. The words were spoken to us, with eyes locked, at our goodbye.
We were deeply embedded there, in that neighborhood.
Here, in this new neighborhood, I look the same but often feel so very different.
And so this object went up first, on unpacking day, by the fireplace. (Another new thing to discover)! First, because I need to remember who I am and where I came from…
And tonight, as I listen to the wind rustle the leaves and feel the August coolness wafting through the open window, I remember…
I am held. I am loved. I am known….
in my listening, in my searching, in my longing.
And it is from this place my passion flows.
(this poem stirred me tonight, its heart cry quoted from memory by Rev. Dr. Paula Williams, a national trans advocate who shared her journey at Christ Church Portland). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q36x3x7jUSc&app=desktop
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.
(By Mary Oliver)