First giving honor to God from whom all blessings flow, and then to our ancestors on whose shoulders we stand, for if they had not been, we would not be. These words, shared by Mama Frances Jarnegan on countless occasions, continue to empower me and give me strength and courage to “come in my own way” as was often the direction in church when being invited to speak. So, I begin “in my own way” with an excerpt from the ending of a poem I penned…
would that i had peace–to write a poem–about a flower, a yellow rose bending into sound of saturday morning’s sun. i’d love to write a poem about a flower, to have the luxury to lyrically illustrate the vibrancy of its scent–dance in the depth of its glory, but a tortuous thicket locks me in perpetual garner-floyd-hold.
love. possibility. hope. blessing. healing. loss. grief. trauma. fires. fired. perseverance. exhaustion. murder. singing. crying. unprotected. masks. distrust. care. talent. vision. eviction. emergency. love. loss. generous. reckless. reckoning. empathetic. blessing. hope. possibility. grief. trauma. possibility. hope. blessing. flood. inequity. hurricane. oppression. depression. tornado. injustice. blessing. birth. death. fear. despair. preparation. protection. healing. blessing. hope. possibility. love.
We have lived through a lot. The key word is lived. My being able to write this and your being able to read it, bear witness to the fact that we lived. We lived differently…bravely…in community…without community… in fear… in loss… in love. Yet, we live.
In 2020 Deaconess Foundation also lived differently. We transitioned to remote and virtual work. We launched the $2.2 million Equitable Relief and Recovery Fund, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. We worked with many of you to respond to the needs of our region, putting children at the center and working toward establishing a reality where “the allocation of power and distribution of resources, benefits, opportunities, and burdens are not predictable by, nor predicated on race”. And we wished Reverend Doctor Starsky Wilson, our transformative leader a fond farewell. Yes, we lived and with God’s grace, we will continue to do so.
So, in this season of prayer and reflection, may the spirit of endurance keep us steadfast on our journey, and in our fight for justice, economic justice, racial justice, identity justice, environmental justice, differently abled justice, health justice…justice…always and in all ways.
May we continue our work for our babies, our children, our youth, for if they are well, we are well. May they be able to live and breathe in a way that frees and inspires them to write poems about flowers.
Wishing you a healthy, inspired, and love-laden 2021!
Peace, blessings and hope,