I've been teaching Amy-Jill Levine's book, Jesus: The Misunderstood Jew to a group of about twenty-five Jewish, Christian and agnostic seniors through the Worcester Institute for Senior Education (WISE) at the Jewish Community Center in Worcester - a five-week class. Today I began the class with images of hatred that are popping up all around us, including the one shown above which was reported by The Episcopal News Service. I don't need to repeat them all but clearly there are some very deplorable behaviors emerging among some of those who supported the president-elect of this nation taking place at elementary schools, college campuses, houses of worship and elsewhere that intend to instill fear and perpetuate violence. This is not who we are, and I for one will not step aside. The conversation today seemed welcome: that room became a place where people could speak out of their own experience as we tried to uncover ways that we might create safe places like the room we were in where people of different faiths can learn and grow from each other. It matters.
Walter Brueggemann has rightly noted that the prophets are poets, and I find myself needing to turn to some of the great poets who say more with less. They cultivate imagination which I, for one, need more of right now: to imagine an alternative narrative than the one we seem to be writing. I'll find my voice again, but in the meantime there is W. H. Auden, among many others - who once wrote:
For the garden is the only place there is, butThat rings true for me. With Advent just around the corner, I do want to believe that (eventually) the desert shall rejoice and blossom as a rose.
you will not find it
Until you have looked for it everywhere
and found it nowhere that is not a desert.
What poetry is giving you hope these days?