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Archive for the ‘Manifestation’ Category

To Celebrate Life, Love, Moms, Motherhood, & Valentine’s Day

Letter to My Mom, Mildred Blackmon McEwen

Give her roses while she can still enjoy them. ~ Earnest McEwen, Jr. (my father)

Dear Mama ~

It isn’t your birthday or Mother’s Day. Christmas is over. Epiphany, too. It’s the beginning of a glorious New Year… and I’m writing this letter to honor you. I want to thank you for the singular blessing you’ve poured and continue to pour into my life: you!

You are that blessing. Your life is a poem, a mighty spiritual, a testimony of gratitude, faith, and love. And this letter is a celebration of you.

Your road has been long; your journey has not been easy. Bigotry and prejudice fortified you, teaching you how to love even more deeply and how to see not just with your anatomical eyes, but also to see with the eyes of your heart. Greatest of all, you relied on God’s love and strength rather than your own. In this you gave me the gift of faith and unconditional love for myself and others.

You also gave me what my sister-friend and fellow poet Nikky Finney would say is the gift of being “a woman with keys.” A woman with keys moves in a particular way and she has a responsibility, an obligation to help others find theirs, help them move through their rooms, cross their thresholds, unlock their windows and doors on the journey to claim their promise.

I remember as a little girl, you gave me the precious gift of encouragement. When you said over and again, “Be all that God intended you to be—no matter what, come what may.” I now offer that gift back to my daughter, other family members, my students, clients, and friends.

I remember your humility and sacrifice. For many long years you and Daddy toiled and sacrificed so that my sisters and I could have a better life than the ones you’d known. I remember your and Dad’s Mississippi stories of struggle and strife, of Dad’s deep longing to go to college to better himself and improve our lot, of him working as a janitor at Ole Miss and there, by the grace of God, William Faulkner came into his life and paid for Dad to attend Alcorn A&M College, with no strings attached. I remember you working as a teacher and cook in the nursery school to help make ends meet, Dad’s working at low-paying jobs even with his college degree. I remember you both standing on your rock-solid values of hard work, gratitude, faith, love, and integrity.

I also remember the profound lessons you taught me—to lend others a helping hand, to be of service to others… your constant reminders to do something with my time, to make myself useful. Even if I was already occupied doing something! Today your words echo in my soul as the voice of legacy. Early on, you taught me, Doris, Annie, Debbie, and Vera that you make a living by what you choose as your work, and you make a life by what you do for others.

I remember when I asked what compelled you to go along with Daddy’s “impossible” dreams, you said, “I loved your father and I believed in him. More importantly, we had an abiding faith in Almighty God, and He never gave us more than we could handle, and His grace always saw us through.” Even when you didn’t have any idea of how our family would make it, your love and faith sustained you.

Thank you for giving me a legacy that values education, character, as well as loving, lifting up, and helping others with no strings attached. Thank you for painting on the canvas of eternity with your unshakable belief in the nobility of the human spirit, for painting with a palette imbued with the qualities of humility, faith, love, triumph, and the capacity to treat every human being with dignity and respect. Through you, I have a small glimpse of God’s magnificence, devotion, and triumph.

Because of you, I know—deep in my bones—a few things: if you want change, you must stir the waters and be willing to get out of the boat. If you want change, then you have to invest your heart and soul in the generations to come. I also know that each person must live the legacy that God has intended just for him or her, which means that you can’t hide your light under a bushel. You have to dare to wear your soul on the outside, and keep on keeping on—no matter what, and we have to pass it on by building sturdy bridges for others to cross.

Mother, thank you for being a diva in my life, for not merely talking about blessings… but for being the blessing, and for passing it on!

Love and honor, your daughter Gloria

Pass It On!

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Gratitude. God is awesome. As 2011 closes, I give thanks for the many blessings received & shared with you, my community of family and friends. In May, I celebrated with my daughter as she completed her MFA at Boston U. She now enjoys a wonderful position as head of a Boston College’s costume shop, and she continues to expand her portfolio  of exquisite designs. I’m blessed that she’ll be home for the holidays.

Joy. I continue to lean into my ministry in communities near and far, and at my home church and others that call. This summer, I was blessed to visit Ghana, a ministry of learning and teaching with 23 seniors and juniors from University of Washington. My latest book, Pass It On!, will be released next year. It’s my first book for children, and I look forward to writing more.

Light.  In this holy season, I pray for those who are without shelter, food, or a community of loved ones; I pray for those ravaged by war, trafficking, famine, dislocation, flood, sickness, and spiritual darkness. As well, I pray for our service men and women who have returned home from Iraq, specifically for their smooth re-entry with family and community. For some this can be a most difficult transition. I also pray for those who are still serving us at home and around the world, those who are unable to be home with their loved ones during this special time.

May God’s glorious grace, love, and mercy enfold and comfort you during this Holy Season and throughout the New Year.

One Heart ~ Love and Joy, Gloria

Pass It On!

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I’ve heard Wintley Phipps sing Amazing Grace many times, so much so that his astounding singing and insightful commentary have become inseparable. Wintley’s stirring offering of this spiritual is a classic, a marvelous gift of legacy living. Listen and be blessed.

Pass It On!

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Have you ever taken a step that leads you on a totally unexpected, but life-nourishing journey? Recently I took that step: a trip to Ghana as guest teacher with a group of young university students from the U.S.

Ghanain Girl in Kente Cloth

Our theme was race and identity. We posed a few questions: Who am I? Whose am I? What do I stand for? What grounds me? As we pondered the questions, doors unexpectedly opened not only for the students, but also for me. I found in myself a hunger that was deeper than expected, further hidden than I remembered. My hunger was for belonging, for community, for soul-satisfying nourishment.

In Ghana, I was profoundly reminded of how easy it is to slip into the script of a culture that focuses almost exclusively on the individual, a culture that has lost sight of the value of the collective, a culture where we distract ourselves with daily minutia that leaves us exhausted and depleted. When we buy into this script, it is easy to lose our deep regard for and connection to one another.. We lose our way and we can no longer flourish.

While in Ghana, together, we were reminded of the importance of consciousness, of finding our intentional community where we’re loved and honored simply because we’re human beings. It is here where we have a shared sense of community and a shared sense of values, history, and possibility for the future. We share a deep regard for creativity and the innate creative capacity of others, and we have a deep appreciation for all things cultural, social, and spiritual, for all that nourishes the collective. For when the collective is nourished, it flourishes, and the individuals within it also flourish.

As for the polarity that we create between the individual and the community… how will we work to remove this schism? We must attend to the human community – our relationships with family, friends, and even strangers. We must choose that which is life affirming and life giving. We did it in Ghana. I know we can do it at home.

Pass It On!

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One of the ways I keep my eyes on the future is by sharing stories and poetry, time-honored ways to impart wisdom and to teach what might otherwise take months or years.

Gloria Burgess Photo: Angel's Trumpet

Poet Theodore Roethke wisely reminds us that we all “learn by going where [we] have to go.” In this way, my stories and poems have helped me learn. As well, they have helped me grow by compelling me to work through the past–my struggles, joy, anger, triumphs, discouragement, pain… and glorious radiance.

When I share my stories and poems, I’m delighted to learn that they sometimes offer a much-needed bridge… a lifeline of sorts for others.

We never know who might need the light or warmth from our candle. We never know when a word or image we’ve chosen will awaken in someone something that allows him or her to claim and share their story.

It’s not our business to know.

Our business is to share our blessings, to share our beauty… the wonderful wealth of who we are. Our business is to wear our souls on the outside.

When we share our stories, we make ourselves known. We shine a light, making it OK for others to do the same. So many folks need the safety and comfort of that OK.

That’s how we heal the world. That’s how we create heaven right here on earth: a small step, a worthy action, a shared story, an OK zone.

One person, then another.

Day after day… and on it will go.

Mighty blessings!

Pass It On!

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The power of one encounter can change your life. You never know when that moment will happen.

It’s not your business to know. Your business is to simply live your life with intention, gratitude, and an attitude of service… to be a blessing to others along the way. In this video I share one woman’s remarkable story, an encounter that changed not just one life but many lives.

Pass It On!

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Developing a sense of hopefulness helps us to maintain a positive focus on the future.

Hopefulness has many facets. The three most important are these: a sense of purpose, a devotion to service, and a sense of faith.

Today’s focus: faith.

Faith means a positive focus on a belief, trust, and power outside of yourself.

Our culture tells us that: Seeing is believing. The truth is: Believing is seeing.

Faith offers us the ability and power to be future focused—the ability to trust and keep our eyes on the prize… even when others can’t “see” what we see. Dr. King reminds us that “faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” Indeed, faith is about building the bridge, even as we walk across it.

What is the rhythm of faith in your life? What must you let go of, so that you can be faithful to what is calling you–now?

Pass It On!

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