For Each Child That’s Born

A collective poem from The Sandbox Revolution: Raising Kids for a Just World.

For each child that’s born
Earth waits with her gift and wounds;
The creatures smile and weep;
The waters and winds rush and grow still.

A monarch unfolds its wings,
A beak breaks through its shell,
A tadpole finds legs,
And a million larva take flight.

For each child that’s born,
The Balance shifts to make room
and matter, time and light bend around
The squalling cries.

For each child that’s born,
An ancestor lives.
May this child ancestor be welcomed
as a previous, sacred being
By all of creation-
As a partner and friend.
May their landing be gentle
and our protection and love be fierce.

May this child be a joyful wake-up call to each of us
To live with gusto and stillness,
With righteous anger and creative action,
With tenderness and compassion.
May we say that your birth breathes life in each of us.

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Seeds Are Our Lifeline to Future Generations

Image Credit: Meredith Stern, “Save Seeds,” July 2011, Linoleum Block Print, 12 in. x 12 in.

By Edith Woodley. Originally published in Geez 61: Seeds are Sacred.

We look to the seeds to sustain our future.

Eloheh Indigenous Center for Earth Justice and Eloheh Farm & Seeds is a learning centre, farm, and community that includes a seed bank and a seed store. My husband, Randy, and I consider ourselves to be co-sustainers of the land and of the seeds. We understand seeds as our lifeline to the future generations. Seeds are not an object, but they are precious relatives to be enjoyed. Each seed is beautiful, unique, and life-giving. When I hold the seeds in my hand, I talk to them as if they were my own children. I want the best from them, so I treat them with love and respect, and in return, they give us their best. If we don’t attend the seeds properly, we are simply cutting ourselves off from Mother Earth and our future as co-sustainers of the Earth.

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Birds-Eye View

Flick Cc Bruce Bodjack

By Joyce Hollyday

This sermon was offered at Charlemont Federated Church in Charlemont, Massachusetts, on June 20, 2021. The focus scriptures are 1 Kings 17:1-16 and Matthew 6:25-34.

As a young girl, I loved this Gospel passage from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. It made me think of the bright purple violets that carpeted the field near my home every spring—and the pretty flowers known as Queen Anne’s lace, which looked like miniature doilies popping up here and there among them. It conjured images of meadow larks and wood thrushes, which were free to spend all day just singing, and redtailed hawks soaring lazily in the sky. God took care of them. And—if I was good and didn’t make any trouble—God would take care of me, too. I would have all the food and clothing I needed—and everything I wanted.

            This was easy to believe, sitting in the First United Methodist Church on Chocolate Avenue in Hershey, Pennsylvania—just a couple blocks from the chocolate factory that made our town rich and renowned, and not far from the amusement park, vintage theater, and golf courses that drew tourists from all over the world.

But then—when I was 13—Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. In wonder and horror, I watched the images that exploded on our black-and-white TV in the aftermath. People in Harrisburg—just 12 miles away—were setting fires and breaking windows and destroying their neighborhoods. In ominous, fear-laced whispers, people in my neighborhood, and in my church, warned that soon they would be coming to tear down our park and tear up our golf courses. When the adults around me used the phrase “race riot,” I thought they were referring to people racing to get out of the way of the coming mayhem.

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I pledge allegiance…

by Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

Oh say can you see by the dawns early light,
the dew left as gift upon the spider’s glistening web?

And at twilight’s last gleaming,
care not for stars and stripes,
but walk slowly waiting for the racoon to rise from slumber
and the great horned owl to begin his search.

Pledge not your allegiance to the flag,
but lie down in the grass and
whisper your unwavering allegiance
to the grasshopper and morel
who share the same rainfall
and will one day be mixed in
with the soil of our bodies
offering land to rest upon for future generations
of maples and earwigs and children.

Where is the liberty and justice
for the imprisoned?
for those sleeping below underpasses?
for those wandering heat waves and wading through floods?
for those living in the bombed out rubble?
for the vanishing insects and songbirds?

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Building a Tomb

Image credit: Compost artists Mindful Waste, Lilly Lawrence, Yehuda Arye Potaznik, Jerry Ingeman, Em Jacoby, and LiAnn Grahm.

By Justin Eisinga, published in Geez magazine’s Signs of Dawn

The stench of death is nearly impossible to contain when organic matter is left to decompose in the open air. If you live on or near a farm, this principle is one you encounter on a regular basis. But you do not need to be a farmer to understand that the scent of decomposition means something altogether wonderful is occurring. The smell of rotting food is a sign of life, indicating that intricate processes involving bacteria and fungi are at work. For people who compost, it is also an emblem of future food on the table – for the result of these processes contributes to the health of the soil in our gardens.

Compost, at its core, resembles a Shakespearean tragedy, as two lovers find themselves intertwined at their death. To generate healthy compost, two elements are required: carbon and nitrogen. We contribute these elements to our compost piles when we dump our green waste (in the form of food scraps and plants) and introduce it to our brown waste (dead leaves or straw). In their last days, the disintegration of these two types of matter introduces these foundational elements into the intricate dance of death and decay.

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The Dance with our DNA

Image credit: Angelica Frausto, “My Ancestors Hold Me”, 2020, digital, 13 in x 13 in.

By Naomi Ortiz, published in Geez magazine’s Signs of Dawn

As a mixed person with Indigenous, Latinx, and white heritage, I’ve become practised at acknowledging the historical complexities that live within my own body.

I came to doing ancestral work not because I had access to information through websites or even family stories, but because I felt responsibility to legacies that live on in my body. I am aware that violence got me here as much as love. Ancestral work is an invitation to the in-between.

Sitting on the side of the road at the edge of the desert, I look up into a mountain ridge full of Palo Verdes, Ocotillos, Jojoba bushes, and Saguaros. Intuitively, I know if I could see my ancestors and their numbers, they would stretch like this desert plant life as far as I could see.

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Transition News from Word and World

From Michael Boucher

When Word and World first began in 2001, the dream was to bring together the seminary, sanctuary, streets and soil in a traveling alternative seminary in order to fill a gap that so many had been noticing.  Word and World stood in the traditions of ‘church as movement’ and movement work as church and sought ways to the bring stories, practices and histories of liberation into deep and meaningful dialogue with our rich faith tradition.

Originally Word and World focused on creating week long (or multi-day) “schools” where participants would create a movement village and learning collaborative at various places across the United States to witness the local stories of struggle, faith and liberation as they were lived out in that context. 

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The Ditch

Combustion, by Marcia Foutch

By Marcia Foutch

I lived in Minneapolis for more than 30 years before I moved to Greensboro five years ago.  Our family home is at 32nd and Columbus which is 6 blocks from where George Floyd was killed. The majority of my family lives in the Minneapolis area (including the now infamous Brooklyn Center). At the beginning of the uprising that started last summer my son, who we call Bubby, asked me,” “Why do white people care about the murder of George Floyd? They’ve been killing us for more than 400 years – so what is so different about this one?”  I struggled trying to figure out an answer to his question. I thought about Grace Lee Boggs and her advice to look at “What time is it on the clock of the world?’.  And I thought of Reverend Nelson Johnson talking about the small streams of justice that flow into a mighty river that cannot be stopped.  And I thought of something that Deacon Bob Foxworth at Faith Community Church told me when I got to Greensboro a few years ago about what it takes to hold a man down in a ditch.  And after months of grappling with this question- this poem is my attempt to answer Bubby’s question.

What
Sparked this
Uprising? What is it
About the killing of
George Floyd that
Made White America care
About the killing of
This Black Mother’s son?

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Geez magazine: Call for Advent pieces

Embracing Darkness
Due June 1, 2021

Credit: Megan Suttman

This year, Geez will offer a second edition of our daily Advent reflection book. While we hope that the pieces are as wild and varied as our community, we also hope to narrow in on the theme of Embracing Darkness. We are looking for reflections, poetry, prayers, and whatever else you can think of that fits in 200 words.

What can the darkness teach us? What gifts or wisdom can only be accessed in the night? What would the moon have to say about the dance between dark and light? Which Biblical or movement ancestors do we turn to as models of embracing darkness? How do we build our courage to stay in the dark? How do we resist the problematic binary of light (good) and darkness (bad)? How does this season offer a spiritual invitation towards racial justice? How does darkness welcome us into the counter-cultural work of rest and slowing down? What does fear of the dark have to do with fear of death? How do we resist the flashing lights of capitalist, consumerist Christmas? How do we learn from seeds that germinate in the dark and creation that is formed in the womb?

As always for Geez, we will be looking for words that shift the structures of power, incite community, make us belly laugh, and illuminate beauty and imagination.

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