Sunday, March 25, 2018

Reflections on the March for Our Lives 2018

Yesterday, I attended the March for Our Lives here in Portland. My emotions were all over the map, as they have been for the past month and a half.

I feel inspired by the power and strength of the young people who have taken something awful and transformed it into action. I feel a kind of shame that we adults could not do this for them after Sandy Hook, which feels like just yesterday but was really six years ago. I feel proud that the people of our country are remembering what it means to care about something. I feel heartbroken that we would need to march about this thing. I feel enraged at the notion that school, my second home as a teacher, is being twisted and transformed by the threat to bring in guns as some insane way to keep us safe.

I feel enraged and sick to my stomach when people refer to schools as a "soft target" that needs to be "hardened." I know that in this context "soft" is code for "weak" and "hard" is code for "strong" and I reject that conflation as perversely misguided. The place where our children go to learn and grow, the place where we nurture them and nourish their young minds and hearts, should be soft, gentle, welcoming. I reject a world where kindness and openness are "weak," where strength only comes from a weapon, and where safety is only found in fear. We are all "soft targets" against a gun. The laws need to harden, not the schools, not our hearts.

In the aftermath of the 2016 Election, I wrote a poem for the nation's young people, for my students and former students. After marching yesterday, I came upon that poem in some of my papers. And I rejoiced. I know they didn't read it - my blog doesn't get that many hits - but they have lived it and I want to dance for them.  So, in honor of the incredible, inspiring young people who made yesterday happen, who have mobilized power from horror, here it is again:

Election 2016

“Tend my sheep,” the master said.
They called him teacher too.
Are you sheep, dear ones?
In times like these, you should be
fierce and strong, pack at your back,
teeth bared and ready to attack.

Rage in the temples if you must, dear ones
for we have let you down.
There is a time to every purpose
and this is no time
for sheep. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

"We are all one question..." An Excerpt from MADNESS, RACK AND HONEY by Mary Ruefle

"We are all one question, and the best answer seems to be love - a connection between things. This arcane bit of knowledge is respoken every day into the ears of readers of great books, and also appears to perpetually slip under a carpet, utterly forgotten. In one sense, reading is a great waste of time. In another sense, it is a great extension of time, a way for one person to live a thousand and one lives in a single life span, to watch the great impersonal universe at work again and again, to watch the great personal psyche spar with it, to suffer affliction and weakness and injury, to die and watch those you love die, until the very dizziness of it all becomes a source of compassion for ourselves, and for the language which we alone created, without which the letter that slipped under the door could never have been written, or, once in a thousand lives - is that too much to ask? - retrieved, and read. Did I mention supreme joy? That is why I read: I want everything to be okay. That's why I read when I was a lonely kid and that's why I read now that I'm a scared adult. It's a sincere desire, but a sincere desire always complicates things - the universe has a peculiar reaction to our sincere desires. Still, I believe the planet on the table, even when wounded and imperfect, fragmented and deprived is worthy of being called whole. Our minds and the universe - what else is there? ... In our marginal existence, what else is there but this voice within us, this great weirdness we are always leaning forward to listen to?"

- from "Someone Reading a Book," in MADNESS, RACK AND HONEY, by Mary Ruefle

Sunday, January 29, 2017


I cannot fathom how anyone who believes in the Christ of the New Testament cannot see that they must resist the actions of the new administration. God calls us to welcome those in need. How can we turn our backs on refugees?

Matthew 25:31-40
31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:32 And  before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them  one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

34 Then  shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my  Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the  world:

35 For I was an hungry, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: 36 Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see  you hungry, and fed you? or thirsty, and gave you drink?38 When did we see you a stranger, and took you  in? or naked, and clothed you?39 Or when did we see you sick, or in prison, and came to you?

40 And  the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you,  Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,  you have done it unto me.