Our Urgent Duty (Vol. 4, No. 1)

Here are a few things I’m sharing this month:

1. Question I’m living with:

2. Quote I’m considering:

  • “Francis, rather than feel impotent and useless, you must come to terms with the fact that as a human being you are infinitely powerful, and take responsibility for this tremendous power. Even our smallest actions have potential for great change, positively or negatively, and the way in which we all conduct ourselves within the world means something. You are anything but impotent, you are, in fact, exquisitely and frighteningly dynamic, as are we all, and with all respect you have an obligation to stand up and take responsibility for that potential. It is your most ordinary and urgent duty.” – Nick Cave (writing back to Francis as part of his The Red Hand Files)

3. Poem I’m pondering:

Excerpt from “song at midnight” by Lucille Clifton

won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

4. Someone inspiring:

  • Ms. Pat. She was my neighbor. She lived across the street. And, throughout the summer months, whenever my wildflowers needed some pruning, I’d dive into the recycling can, grab one of Kyra’s empty Kombucha bottles, fill it with cut flowers and set them on her front porch. But I had to be sneaky. Because Clara (Ms. Pat’s 14-year-old maybe 17-year-old puppy dog) would sometimes catch me. And, if Clara caught me, then Ms. Pat would catch me. And, if Ms. Pat caught me then she’d try to keep me. You see, Ms. Pat was a talker. And, on those occasions when she did catch me, I’d have to plead with her “Girl, I’ve got to get going.” With that, she’d reluctantly release me and I’d wave goodbye saying “I’ll see you on the porch.” And, later that night or some other night, while Kyra and I were sitting on our front porch in the dark enjoying the moon and stars and Ms. Pat was on her porch doing the same, I’d shoot her a text, watch her phone light up and wait for her laugh to carry across the street. We were out of town when Ms. Pat fell. We didn’t get to say goodbye. And, I am going to miss this incredibly joyful human being and the everyday, ordinary things we shared together. But I will forever be inspired by the story her son shared at her memorial service this week. It was back in the 70’s, the James River had miraculously frozen over and Ms. Pat and the whole family were ice-skating. Ms. Pat fell down and broke her arm. And, instead bringing this once in a lifetime family adventure to a premature end, she simply tucked her arm inside of her coat and held it close. The family did not learn about the full extent of her injury until later that night when they all got back to Richmond. Now, that’s a mamma bear move! Always putting others first. She was a true and glorious matriarch.

5. The blog’s still on hold as I write my Rewild School book; however here’s an except:

  • “Moment after successive moment, for the full duration of our trip, I was suspended in liminality. I was no longer the teacher I was but not fully formed into the teacher I could (and would) become. I was at the edge of the unknown. What was yet to be. Possibility. I was standing at a threshold. And, surveying the sill, the header and the rest of the frame, I had a choice: cling to the teacher I was, the teacher I thought I was, the teacher I thought I was supposed to be or let go and see what becomes of me.”

Thanks so much. And, have a great day! – shawn