Can I tell you something, quiet,
because my voice is coming back from a very thin place,
like when I used to read books aloud all day at my children’s school
and could only croak raspy strings of words when the day was done.
But I want to croak it, even whispered,
that love is stronger than fear.
Because it’s September, and talk of terror fills the streams we sometimes have to wade
and it reminds me afresh what pierced my heart that day so many years ago
when the buildings came down,
and I don’t want to take it for granted,
this voice that is mine
and the brief breath of days we are given.
Yeah, it’s going quick, this life
and sometimes things get swept away unexpected, like a vapor,
and I don’t want to leave any of my love un-given.
For me, September raises her hands like the choir director I adored as a girl,
her fiery red hair wonderfully unkempt and long arms stretched out calling,
calling to each of our voices
as she tugged at the songs still sleeping inside us.
I now know why she pulled and stretched and wouldn’t accept the slumber we kept.
She knew she was standing on sacred ground
that something real was unearthed by the rising of our sound.
I want to live it out louder, the stuff I want left hanging in the air
if my body is suddenly torn away and my voice hushed,
to clear my throat and bellow out what my heart would grab on and fight, white knuckled,
to leave behind.
Weren’t they our voices that the terror came to silence?
To make our love grow cold?
So when we, even trembling, belt it out,
the song we carry inside,
we honor those who were taken, and those left behind.
“Sing out,” I can still hear her calling
and somewhere deep inside
I want to tilt back my head and bellow from my belly
that in every painful, vulnerable place
I will love life more,
pray and laugh and lift my voice more,
and take each breath I’m given
like it’s a golden ticket that I’ve won.
“Because hiding out, pretending, and armoring up against vulnerability are killing us:
killing our spirits, our hopes, our potential, our creativity, our ability to lead,
our love, our faith, and our joy.”
hey, I want to send a copy of my September Ripplesongs to the winner
of a giveaway this week; leave a comment and you’ll be in the drawing next Saturday!
Tears. And gratitude.
Your wild rough edges sing the most triumphant song of praise, of love, of joy…
thanks, friend…..I really love the way you help me see
the beauty in my own rough edges:)
A voice unheard is like a gift unwrapped. I would love to hear your voice singing out loud about your life song. You always do it so nicely with written words, I can only imagine hearing it with my ears.
Your poem is beautiful and I can’t see the rough edges at all.
So well said, Julia…..a gift unwrapped. I like that:)
Thanks for joining the conversation,
That September day leaves a lasting memory… The images are imprinted in mind as I watched them unfold after a colleague was on the phone to her husband when he saw the live news and announced it as he was talking to her. We could not believe it until we made our way to a room that had a television 🙁
Prior to that day September (to me as a Christian) was the month of harvest, Love and growth…
Thanks for sharing your memories….I think there is healing
in hearing each other’s stories.
Oh, I love the golden light in your shots. September can be such a beautiful month!
September light is achingly beautiful, isn’t it.
Thanks for coming by, Fi:)
This touches a place deep within my heart and soul…and voice. Jennifer, you are so beautiful and wonderful. I thank God for you in this world. Yes, love is stronger than fear. Thank you, thank you for this. Love you, k
thanks for your voice, Kathryn….I thank God for you and all that you are, too:)
I too, had just such a choir director. How that Saturday morning Choir School formed my faith and nourished my youthful soul. Singing with you, in praise for beauty and in courage to rail against the cruelty swarming large.
thanks, Lisa…..I love that:)
On that September day that you speak of, I went upstairs to tell our mom about the news. We had just moved her from the East Coast to Portland, OR and she was adjusting to a new place. This 87 year old woman sat up straight in bed and looked at me with tears welling in her eyes. The only thing she said, sobbing, was: “Man’s inhumanity to man.” It was the first of many times that I would know the deep reservoirs of feeling that dwelt within her. Your poem takes me back. What I find in your work is the rawness of heartache that—I believe—needs to live within any true poet. God knows our world is not all sweetness and light. The poet pulls no punches and that is why we need them. That is you Jennifer. Please don’t stop; please don’t just speak to us of light because in the darkness dwells the light. Life (and poetry) takes us right to the edge and—at times—into the darkness.
What a powerful recall, Susan…..thank you for sharing that potent memory.
And thank you for your encouragement. It means more to me than you can know.
Jennifer, your posts are so inspirational. You quote other people, but I always want to quote you! Thank you!
Thank you….that’s just about the most encouraging thing you could say!
Glad and grateful,
Truly a song to be sung and you do it so beautifully.
So much thanks, Susan…..I appreciate your company
and your words of wisdom. Thank you.
You are such a very good thing for us and all who reside in this crazy, beautiful world. Your words and thoughts, voice and images, the holy memories called up just about move me to tears each and every time and for all of this I thank you with my whole, loving, sometimes hurting, heart.
To be vulnerable allows us to heal and to heal each other. A difficult and uncomfortable place to be at times, and yet that is when I allow love in. I am learning that being myself – messy and imperfect – brings me joy where I once had sorrow. Keep sharing.
Yes and yes and yes…..thank you, Jema.
I love it when you join the conversation:)
Jennifer- such a touching post, it brings up vivid memories of that day in September. We mustn’t hide behind our vulnerability- I so agree with that quote. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for coming by and joining the conversation, Sue.
I so appreciate:)
Yes and yes and yes!
And this, my friend, is the way to honor those who perished in September — to sing out loud with love. You do that each and every day, fiercely, no matter how tenuous your world might be at any one moment. And that, my sweet Jennifer, is what we — or at least I — love most about you!
Oh what a powerful voice and song my dear friend…sing it, sing it, sing it we all must even if our voices are hoarse.