Praise Song for the New Year

Praise Song for the Day                                                             

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

 praise song for walking forward in that light.

                                                     by Elizabeth Alexander

Great Questions

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Great questions spring from the mouths of babes. . .

One afternoon, way back when I was a young mother, I was busy putting groceries away and thinking about making dinner when my 7 year old daughter, Sara, burst into the kitchen with a burning question, “Hey Mom! What I want to know is, how come God doesn’t talk to me the way he talked to Noah?”  I knew it was a burning question because of her wide stance and the way she had her hands on her hips. I found out later that her teacher had just read Noah's Ark to the class in school that day.

My first response was internal, ‘Damn, he never talks to me the way he talked to Noah, either!’ Then I managed to slow down and stop bustling around in the kitchen. We had a talk about the Bible's booming voice of God and I started to articulate for her, and for myself, the many ways that God "speaks" to us.  Sara’s question has reverberated in my life for years. I’m so grateful that she asked it and that I stopped long enough to listen. For the life of me I can’t remember what I cooked for dinner that night.

Initially, Sara’s question roused me to examine the masculine voice of God that so often prevails my western Judeo-Christian lineage. Her question was what prodded me into discovering the feminine face of God. It led me to wondering, ‘How is it that we just Know? What senses inform me? How accurate is my interpretation of what I intuit? How can I tell? How could I have missed that? From where do I feel enough certainty to act?’ Since that day you could say I’ve been on a quest to “listen” (active mode) and to “hear” (receptive mode) more, better.

Eventually it led me to my interest in leadership.  In graduate school and subsequent trainings I specialized in the nature of creativity, innovation and emergence and the multifaceted aspects of what constitutes authority. Now the focus has evolved into seeing how Noah’s brilliant response to massive flooding is a story about a leader who innovated because he had a glimpse of the highest future and he managed to act on it. All of this lofty business translates directly into practical application in my daily coaching and facilitation practice. Yes! Now almost thirty years later, I can trace all that back to my little girl’s great question. And I'm still, always, honing my listening skills.

Great questions. They show up in our lives in the darnedest places, when we least expect them. The trick is to recognize them and to open to letting them reverberate and inform us.  Tracing the reverberation can reveal the narrative of your life and give you a strong glimpse of what is calling you forward.

What is calling you forward?

What might you need to let go of to move toward that calling?

What action will it require?

What joy will it bring?

When questions like these start to burn in you, contact me.  I can help you cross into the next chapter of your adventure.