Tuesday, January 5, 2010
there is a storm brewing over the mountains. although it is dark outside, i can almost feel the sky turning purple. on my way home from work tonight i passed a group of homeless people huddled together warming their hands over a small fire. i know some of this group from their frequent visits to my center and so i stopped to say hello. i reminded them about the various shelters and wished them goodnight. it is a daily struggle to not want to have some easy remedy to this issue of homelessness in the winter. i can feel the snow coming on and i know they are out in it. i walked away with that internal "why is this" battle raging. as i opened my car door they began to sing. it was just a little humming and then someone sang out in a smoker's raspy voice the lyrics to swing low sweet chariot.
it stopped me dead in my tracks. this song is so simple and yet means so much. this spiritual references the bible, but moreover the afro-diasporic slave community's struggle for freedom. the chariot signifying the underground railroad. although it is a wildly different time and place and set of circumstances, the music left me thinking about what the people who are living on the streets need empowerment within. what is their chariot? how do they gain access to making their communities healthy? how in the dead of winter do they find their freedom?
there are no easy answers. all i can say is that somewhere between our initial hello and the end of the song i found some piece of strength in each of them. the simple act of expressing and making music with others in the midst of such mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical discomfort speaks to resiliency. it provided a moment for quiet mind space. it gives me hope.
good night day, good night moon, hello pillow...