Oh, Buffalo! Oh dear God.
Oh, Aaron and Andre and Celestine. Oh, Geraldine and Heyward and Kat. Oh, Margus and Pearly and Roberta and Ruth. And the multitude of their family and friends. Our hearts go out to you.
And oh, Payton, who by killing others in fear and hatred, has slashed through countless lives, while slashing his own soul clear to its core.
Because of Buffalo I have written two posts this week. They may seem light years apart but I believe that in order for us to survive here with any hope, the two worlds of these two posts have to inform each other; they have to be able to exist side by side and connect, somehow.
My other post this week is about the beautiful, strong, amusing--and fragile--flight of a fledgling chickadee. Is this appropriate? When grief and destruction raise their heads, I am tempted to either despair or jump into anger, anxiety and/or guilt, feeling I must do something.
But instead of trying to DO something immediately, perhaps going deeper in to the paradox of love and fragility, beauty and hatred that spells out our lives here on the planet may be the only way to do anything that actually will help in some way.
If I go deeper, ground myself in God's love, in strength and in humility, perhaps I can truly hear the small things I, personally, can do to help shift the balance from fear and hatred to love.
One of those things is to find ways to be kind to myself and to others. To simply love. That is what both this post and the fledgling post are about.
I first shared the lyrics for the song below in September of 2020, as racial pain and hatred moved through the nation. Though the story in the song is difficult, it ends with a courageous, and therefore hopeful, decision.
This song was written by a character in my (unpublished) young adult novel, Before, but it is not autobiographical, no more than any character or situation in most novels.
I Will Not Fan the Flames
As a child, small hatreds burned me,
whipped and churned and spurned me,
‘Til I turned inside, and learned to hide
from the rising tide of hatred.
All I wanted was some power,
so I wouldn’t have to cower
in fear of someone’s sour words
I took the power I could find,
thought I’d left the hate behind.
But from a crevice of my mind
it crept forward.
It was just a little flame,
it seemed so small and tame.
Surely nobody would blame me
if it grew.
I claimed it was a game
as I fanned that little flame;
a roaring dragon it became—
and then it flew.
As it flew it found a brother,
then another and another.
And nobody could smother
or control it.
It spewed fire and it sprawled,
bellowed hatred, then it crawled,
And to the horror of us all
it found the children.
Hatred came and ate the children,
the yearning eager children.
Oh! the crying, screaming children!
burned inside my soul.
As we dug each wretched grave,
my soul began to crave
a wider world
where none are slaves to hatred.
In pain I finally learned,
it’s up to me to turn.
With all of me I yearn
to see each soul as sacred.
So I will not fan the flames,
nor add to years of blame.
No more hatred flying.
No more children dying.
I will not fan the flames.
I will not fan the flames.
Until next time,
Photo credits (both from unSplash):
Woman weeping, Kingsley Osei Abrah
Two little ones, Nina Hill