‘Round the Bend … Almost.

What happened to January & what comes next?

Greetings Beloved Rascal Siblings  …  it’s been awhile.

In the second verse of his poem, “The Mad Farmer’s Manifesto: The First Amendment”, the American farmer poet Wendell Berry says … To be sane in a mad time is bad for the brain, worse for the heart. The world is a holy vision, had we clarity to see it. 

And in her poem, “Jerusalem”, the Palestinian-American poet Naomi Shihab Nye, says … I’m not interested in who suffered the most.  I’m interested in people getting over it.  She goes on to say later … There’s a place in my brain where hate won’t grow.   And finally … It’s late but everything comes next.

Is that true?  Is it everything that lies just ‘round the bend? And what might “everything” look like if we had the clarity to see it?  What might it look like if, in my brain and yours too, there’s a place where hate won’t grow?  I want that, but I’m not there yet.

For years (decades actually) my mantra has been Trust the Process. Don’t leave five minutes before the miracle happens. But for most of January I struggled, and try as I might, I couldn’t get the world to look like a holy vision, no matter how I tilted my head or squinted my eyes. We, here in this country, beleaguered by nationwide storms that dropped temperatures way down into the minuses and left thousands of homes without light and heat sometimes for weeks, got a tiny taste of what it’s been like in Ukraine for the past two years and tasted also maybe just a smidgeon of how it must be in Gaza, except of course, for the unimaginable horror that comes with thousands of already dead children and looming starvation.  Like our planetary climate crisis, this devastation is human-caused, and yet, how can that be?  Trying to stay sane and in love with a world gone mad is definitely hard …  bad for the brain and worse for the heart.

But then came words from Anwar Jayosi, the Palestinian CEO of FATAN, a non-profit that funds small entrepreneurial endeavors around the world. Two simple statements that rang true for me and cut away a tiny slice of that place in my brain where hate still lives.  He said …  Fear makes us brutal to each other …  And … We are the victims of the victims who suffered the Holocaust.

And those were the words that brought me back to the Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who instilled in me long ago the idea that Love in Action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.

Shortly after that I came upon an essay titled “Speaking Up for Palestinian Children”, from the Quaker peace worker Steve Chase, who was part of a delegation visiting Gaza and the Ramallah Friends School. He quotes a Palestinian village priest who said: “It doesn’t matter if your name is Moshe, Mohammed, or Matthew, all are precious in the sight of God and all deserve to live in peace, love, and justice”.  He also cited an imam from Ramallah who said: “Most Palestinians don’t mind having Jews as neighbors. We only object to them being our masters.”  And just as a side note. The three young Palestinian college students shot in Burlington, Vermont Thanksgiving weekend were graduates of the Ramallah Friends School.  Peace. Salaam, Shalom indeed!

This past Sunday, February 4th, it was my privilege to serve as the worship associate for my Unitarian Universalist Fellowship’s morning service, which was focused on the suffering in Gaza and what that means to us as a faith community.  I read “Jerusalem” and “For the Unknown Enemy” by William Stafford.  And the minister delivered a moving and powerful sermon in which she provided, not only a historic backdrop to the current madness, but made the boldest and most heartfelt statement I have ever heard from her. She said in effect:  Those of you who know me know that I’m not the kind of minister who tells people what to do … but there is only one right thing to be done here.  The fighting must cease. The killing must stop … Now!  It will take a lot of pressure, but we as Americans have the power to make that happen.

I will remember this as our Reverend Tracy’s “Love in Action” sermon.  (you can watch the service here if you’d like.) And if you’d like to add your harsh and dreadful voice, here’s a link to helpful resources and samples of letters to the powers that be.  Yesterday nearly 100 of these letters to congress, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and the President himself, signed by members of our congregation on the spot, were dropped in the mail.  We as Americans have the power to make this happen.

And then we closed our time together with this song, and I came home refreshed and renewed and more ready than I’ve been in a long time for the everything that is coming next …  just around the bend.

Peace, Salaam, Shalom & Blessings on Us All Everywhere until we meet again.


Published by Sulima Malzin

This 'Aging Rascal & Occasional Writer' invites you to embrace the world through her open window of poetry, art, activism, music, and humor.

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I love the song at the end, Sulima!

Yes, this has become my “go to” sound when I start feeling shaky and discombobulated.

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