I still receive letters and e-mails, many times a week, asking if the writer may use And the People Stayed Home for this, that, the other thing or one more other thing. I deeply appreciate when people write to ask, and I try to be kind, even when the suggestions feel exploitative or as though my name may be used inappropriately–and I have to craft another polite, but firm refusal–but I’m me and human, and there are days I curse out loud because I really want to get on with where I am now and do not want to read about “the poem” one more time. I love the artistic collaborations I’ve been asked to partner with; I’m thrilled with the children’s book; I do not want to sell pharmaceuticals, or t-shirts.
Last night, a woman named Fiona wrote and asked if she could use it for a project that was not for profit…I wrote back, “Thank you; please share your plans and I will respond as soon as I’m able.” Dramatic sigh, and off to bed with a great fullness of self.
Early this morning, I scanned my mail and saw this:
“Thank you for your response! I live in a small close neighborhood in Minneapolis not far from the area where George Floyd was murdered. It is also an area with a lot of Healthcare workers at the University of Minnesota. The reason my parents came to this country in the first place was for my father to study medicine at the U. I have purchased a few hundred luminarias and blue LED candles to distribute to my neighbors to put out in front of their houses on Christmas Eve to honor the Healthcare workers and all those who have sacrificed during the pandemic and I wanted to include a note for my neighbors with the instructions. I thought your poem would be lovely to include with the note but didn’t want to do so without your permission, especially as I cannot control what happens to that note after I drop it off at their homes.
Thank you again for your consideration, it is really a lovely work. And if you do not say yes, I completely understand. Thanks again.”
Well. I cried. I shared it with Phillip, and we both had a moment or ten. Is this not perfect and amazing? What an incredible honor and perfect use of the words I wrote. How humbling.
The continual invitation to someone like myself, who can meet life cranky, ungrateful, and resistant, is that I am–over and over–gobsmacked/Godsmacked by people who meet life always looking for ways to soften its hard edges and love it back to health. They are my teachers and I am still learning.
The glow you see on my face today is the gift of a Godsmack/Lovesmack from Fiona’s huge heart.
I know the word God is weighty and, sadly, resisted by many who have been cruelly and ignorantly harmed by others’ misuse of its healing power. I prefer the word Love. If we can agree that whatever is sacred, holy, divine, transcendent, and our source might be called Love, then I hope we can also agree that it can only be translated into the world through us, and if that can happen, then we can see that we live and move and have our being on an Earth, in a universe, that loves us back, always.
And if we can wake up to that truth, we’ll work to change how we treat each other and the Earth. We are always in relationship with Love and either participating or refusing participation in the actions relationship demands; chiefly, the propagation and creation of more Love through the use of our gifts in the world for the benefit of all.
With gratitude for Fiona and all the Lovesmackers in our lives: Let us look for the Lovesmacks we may offer and receive; we’ve never needed them more. Go forth, and be Lovesmacked, and make it reciprocal.
(Fiona also offered this link, reminding me that our firefighters also need love: don’t used candles; use LED lights in the luminarias. https://quickcandles.com/products/eastland-white-luminary-bags-richland-led-tealight-candles-set-of-144)
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