By Dwight Wilson
The origin of the root of this psalm is a riff off a quote by Turkish poet Ilhan Mimaroglu on Freddie Hubbard’s “Sing Me a Song of Songmai. That was 50 years ago and it has haunted me all these years. I immediately thought of couples I knew while growing up in Middletown, Ohio. Most hours of the day, mothers who were wiser and more responsible ruled the homes. However, should a man choose to come home, from being dogged by white supremacy in the outside world, most moms stepped aside to let him dominate. I knew men who left the house without saying where they were going and returned without saying where they had been. As well, I knew more than a few who had lovers and “outside children” elsewhere. IF I’M LYIN’ A FLYIN’.
Years later, I had a number of fabulously wealthy men who served as trustees on various boards where I was CEO. Many were Wall Street executives who have their own bios in Wikipedia and business management books. Over lunch at a posh club, one of them freely admitted his wife and those of many of his colleagues, “actually are the ones who raise the children.” On another occasion one said to me, “It’s in our DNA that men like us need more than one woman. Our ancestors were all polygamists. These were some of the men the “Me too” movement have targeted. IF I’M LYIN’ A FLYIN’.
Ironically, what finally led to me writing the psalm was re-reading this week August Wilson’s play “The Piano Lesson.” In the drama it’s not a romantic couple, but a brother and sister who, throughout the play, struggle because their sole inheritance is a piano with miniature carvings of ancestors. This piano was the cause of their father’s murder. The brother is hell-bent on selling it to buy the land of the recently deceased man who killed their father. The sister has the piano in her house and fully intends to keep it as her legacy. The tension is incredible. The resolution is…
May we understand the word “couple”
has no positive power of its own.
Too often “couples” exist because
one chooses to sacrifice uniqueness
to live in the shadow of the weak-minded.
Through You we gain the power to nurture
ourselves as well as our nearest partners.
Bless us with stabilized growth and in turn
we will not be planted in cement.
We will be evergreens of compassion
reaching in all the directions love offers,
moving with grace from strength to still more strength.
Dwight L. Wilson is a Quaker who has held many jobs: educator, administrator, religious leader. In each role, he worked to advance equality, opportunity and understanding. He continues this work in his carefully researched historical fiction series Esi Was My Mother, which follows the lives of an enslaved black family from 18th century Africa to the American Civil War. He strives to portray triumphant examples of black stories that will make history come alive for readers. He is also author of two short story collections, The Kidnapped and The Resistors as well as a memoir centered on caring for children, Whispering to Babies and two psalms books: Modern Psalms In Search of Peace and Justice and Modern Psalms of Solace and Resistance.