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Posts Tagged ‘service’

speak the truth

If I hold a room the way the sparkling statue lady does tonight, book-touring her paleo-pedicure-CrossFit happy meal of neoliberal feminism, how will I use my voice?

I too could propitiate the gods of privilege. I might tug loose one rough thread of the story and call it struggle. Might forget to notice who inhabits the room. And the design of it. How thick the walls. Who cannot breach them.

Will I preen?

Or will I speak truth to power?

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unity papalini

The minister of my Unitarian congregation invited me to share the story of why I joined our church. The Sunday I’m scheduled to speak happens to coincide with a moment of extraordinary upheaval in the national Unitarian Universalist Association. A senior-level hiring decision unearthed patterns of white supremacy and bias that many people of my faith believed didn’t exist, not here, not among us. We see yet again that privileges, blinders, and oppressive structures exist everywhere — even within people of goodwill who speak of inclusion and equity. Even those of us whose deepest value is radical love.

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A boy is digging
his hands down under the surface
following one root
after another to a place
that gives. Finished here, he moves
further down the bed and I follow,
raking the mulch smooth. Except
every stroke combs free
what the boy missed, one green stem
after another gripping hard
to life. I squat and pull
a trowel from my muddy pocket
then cut through, feeling
for a soft joint, a pop. Shoots
thick as fingers, long as limbs.
Down there they go on, snake
through a warren of tunnels,
drawing towards each other
and together, to their source.

I stand again and spread soil
like paint. Another weed peeks through
and every single time
I have to choose.

Prudence counsels
us to seek and wrench loose
unwanted defects that spoil
the renewal we work so hard to
cultivate. But what says
the clay from which we are made?
It trades advice for example,
letting native rhizome tuck itself
for now under this thin skin of soil
and go on with its work
which will surely yield
a growth just as marvelous
if not
altogether smooth or even
evident
to those who favor
the tame.

Photo credit: William Marshall Brown’s Hoeing in the Fields

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