Gifts from the Earth and “A Brave and Startling Truth”

Today’s poem is a little lengthy, but it is worth the read. “A Brave and Startling Truth” was written by one of America’s favorite sages, Maya Angelou (1928-2014). She wrote the poem to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations (1995), but when I saw an excerpt of the poem used in an Earth Day activity, I thought why not share the whole poem today.

After reading the poem, be sure to go to Earth Stanzas and write your own Earth Day poem. The activity comes complete with prompts and model poems.

A Brave and Startling Truth
Maya Angelou

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn and scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.


About the images: I had a bit of Photoshop fun with today’s images. Each photo subject is a gift from the earth. I will eventually share the original images. Until then, do you have any idea what they are? No? Well, I’m pretty sure you can [generally] guess this one:

All Wrapped Up in Joy

I woke up this morning with all the “things to do” on my mind and all the uninvited annoyances that entered my sphere days earlier nagging my heart. Before jumping out of bed in a frenzied rush–15 minutes later than I’d intended and an hour later than I should have–I paused and convinced myself to spend my usual first moments of the day in meditation.

I thought about my blogging friend Rev Russ’s query in his post “It’s All Hard”: Is life hard or have we become wimps [not exactly his words]?

I mused for a moment about just how difficult it can be to navigate all the “stuff” that comes our way from day to day, just how hard it is to push past the everyday slights and disappointments, how hard it is to [always?] act and speak with prudence, how hard it is to accept [not tolerate] difficult people, how hard it is to forgive repeat offenders, how hard it is to love ourselves, flaws and all.

The thought of it all made rising from bed a bit challenging, so I asked God, “How can I face the day when I wake up bone-tired? Weary?”

He immediately answered with three doses of His Word, so I wrote them in my journal and determined to let them direct my day.

When things were said or done that had the potential to unsettle me–A person whose desires rest on You, You preserve in perfect peace because [she] trusts in You (Isaiah 26:3).

When a sense of my very present vulnerabilities threatened to overthrow me–My grace is enough for you, for My power is brought to perfection in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). 

When I felt like the tasks were unmanageable, too much, impossible–I can do all things through Him who gives me power (Philippians 4:13). 

Despite the disappointments, the distractions, the conflicting personalities, the tedious work, the “must get done” list, my step was a little lighter today; my mind at ease; my spirit unencumbered.

As I wrote the last scripture in my journal this morning and click-closed the pen, God whispered one more word into my heart–The joy of the Adonai is [my] strength (Nehemiah 8:10). The peace, the grace, the power–all wrapped up in His joy.


Forgive me for the wordy #WordlessWednesday. The image above is an edit of a fallen hyacinth flower. I visited my family in New Orleans last weekend, and the gorgeous and über aromatic hyacinth plant stole the show in my mother’s garden.

All scripture from the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB).

Creative Gathering: Art in Abundance

Back in September I participated in a 30 Days of Art challenge. I wrote a post about it, of course. Well, guess what! Sheila D, the challenge organizer, compiled most of the participants’ art [blogs] onto one Pinterest board.

It is inspiring to see so much art in one place. It’s like visiting a huge art gallery–the type where there’s so much to explore that you have to break up your tour into multiple visits–except you do it from a comfy chair in your home or at a coffeeshop.

If you have a moment–I mean, a few hours–go take a stroll through the gallery.  If you don’t have the time, bookmark the board and visit the various sites at your leisure.

Just in case you missed all the links, here’s the board: Creative Art Gathering. 🙂

Have a happy week!

Textures | #WordlessWednesday

Little moments can have a feeling and a texture that is very real.  –Ralph Fiennes

Sometimes, life gets so frenzied that I take rest and moments where and when I can. This is how I managed to capture the photos above.

While waiting for the grants officer at “my” university to finish with a client a couple of weeks ago, I took a few cleansing breaths. As I exhaled, I suddenly noticed the many colors and textures in her office suite. I wanted to touch everything. Instead, I let my eyes and phone [camera] do the work while my spirit eased into rest. [Click an image for a closer look].

Written on My Heart | #WordlessWednesday

Losing a loved one does not just make us
painfully aware of their mortality, but our own,
which comes with a great sense of responsibility–

to carry on living our lives a little more
mindfully, purposefully, and wholeheartedly,
now that they cannot

(I miss you and I will always love you) –-Emina Gaspar-Vrana

Today my sister Lori would have celebrated her 56th birthday. In the photo above are the last Christmas gifts she gave me–a brooch representing [us] six sisters joined by hip and heart and a beautiful sister-heart. She gave them to me last January–weeks after her diagnosis–when we made a special trip to New Orleans so she and I could have a sister heart to heart that I didn’t want to have by phone. While I struggle with the cruel reality of two sisters gone, I walk in the knowledge that not even death can remove the imprint of my sisters from my heart.

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart) –e.e. cummings

So Many Stories | #WordlessWednesday

One of the things I love about New York City is that the city is constantly moving. I can stand in–or walk through–the same location for hours and watch hundreds of stories unfold. I’m convinced NYC never runs out of stories–and that the story is rarely what it seems.

I captured the photo above several years ago as I walked through or near Union Square [I think]. Though we are naturally drawn to story of the couple in the foreground, the more interesting stories take place beyond them.

What words–or stories–do you have for today’s photo?

Private Parking | #WordlessWednesday


I’m linking up with The Sky Girl and Natasha Musing for #WordlessWednesday, which provides an opportunity to share photos without words. In response to the confusion I noted in last week’s #WordlessWednesday, Natasha explained why “Wordless Wednesday” is often wordy. She explained that participants like to share the back story, but it’s not necessary. And since it isn’t, I’ll let you choose the words. 😉

Adventure Time: Tag! I’m It!

I’ve been tagged in A Guy Called Bloke and K9 Doodlepip!‘s “3.2.1. Quote Me!” challenge. It involves quotations, so I can’t resist. Here are the rules:

  • Thank the person who tagged you (Thank you, Darren of The Arty Plant Man!)
  • Post two (2) quotes for the dedicated “Topic of the Day”
  • Select three (3) bloggers to take part in ‘3.2.1 Quote Me!’

Today’s Topic (from a week ago): ADVENTURE

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open. –Jawaharlal Nehru

When my son was much younger, he loved going on “adventures.” Everything was an adventure–walks in the neighborhood, playing in the park, road trips, a trip to the grocery store, nap time. When we were headed “nowhere,” he created adventures for us, complete with a filled backpack, a map he’d drawn, binoculars for spying, a compass, and of course, canteens filled with water.

His approach to life illustrated so clearly that every moment offers adventure and that we don’t have to go out and find adventure. Sometimes we have to create our own wherever we are and with the means available to us.

I’m not always as adventurous as he is, but perhaps that’s because parenting is about as much adventure as I can handle most days.

Parenting is by far my boldest and most daring adventure. –Brene Brown

My nominees are:

Note: Although adventure is the topic for today, there is no specific deadline for it. You can address it whenever you wish.  In fact, feel free to use the topic “adventure” or the latest topic, “chic.”

Have fun!

Fear Is in the Air: Eyes, Art, and Winning

A couple of months ago, I “won” a couple of postcards from artist and writer Eva Newermann. She’d posted a challenge for readers to find three “strange” things about the eyes of Ewa Lowe, the main character of her SciFi thriller, Fear Is in the Air. I spotted them immediately, but was travelling at the time and WiFi was sketchy. Eva was kind and declared me a “winner” anyway!

Can you see what’s “different” or strange about the eyes?

While you think about that, here are the two oversize (5.5 x 8.25) postcards Eva sent to me:

“Gunvor Bengtson” aka “Ewa Lowe” by Eva Newermann

This is a painting of one of Eva’s friends. She had an interesting experience while painting this one. “Her [friend’s] face appeared through her body.” Eva plans to use the image on the cover of her new Ewa Lowe book, Ewa 51, which comes out next year.

“Winter in Scandinavia” by Eva Newermann

The winter landscape is from a cabin Eva used to have in Norway.  Peaceful. Isn’t it?

Did you see the “three things” about the eyes? You can check your answers here: Ewa Lowe’s Eye Challenge.

Even though the “eyes challenge” is closed, you can be a winner too! For a few days each month Fear Is in the Air is available free with iBooks on Mac or iOS devices. And here’s a bonus win! The Universe a Work of Art is also free. Eva wrote the children’s educational book with her daughter Line Newermann, a Norwegian drone photographer. It was inspired by Eva’s father who made the “night sky magic for her as a child [so] she seeks to do the same for other children through her paintings.” If you don’t have a Mac or iOS device (gasp!) you can still purchase them on Amazon.

They’re on my weekend reading list, but I skimmed both books earlier today–the artwork is fabulous!

Be sure to check out Eva’s website to see what Ewa is up to and to see more illustrations. Then, go and download the books!

Have a great week!

The Sunflower Challenge

“Sunflower Week” ends with a challenge. After reading The Sunflower Myth blog post, Ralshella, one of my former students, challenged me to rewrite the story.

Challenge accepted!

Of course, I can’t let Shelibelle off the hook, so I’m challenging her to pick up her pen and rewrite the story.

And I’m challenging you, my blog friends, to rewrite the story too.

Create a myth that explains the origin of the sunflower. You can revise or work against the Ancient Greek myth of Clytie related in the Sunflower Myth post. Or you can create an entirely new myth.

Since this is a creative work, you are pretty much free to express as you wish. There are three rules:

  1. Refrain from using profanity or sexually suggestive themes (My kiddo often reads my blog posts).
  2. Avoid the woman victim-villain-abused characterizations we typically find in such stories.
  3. Present your own original work.

I will post my own sunflower story next week. If you have a blog, come back here a week from today and post a link to your myth in the comments of that post. If you don’t have a blog, but would still like to participate, post your story in the comments. 🌻🌻🌻

I’m looking forward to your stories!

Shine on!