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Posts Tagged ‘William Faulkner’

As the golden days of autumn give way to auburn, rust, and brown,  we lean toward Thanksgiving, a season of deep gratitude.

Today and always I give thanks for my many blessings – family and friends, children’s laughter, angels and prayers that come into my life, bidden or unbidden, even my breath, which I so often take for granted… but which for some is an immense struggle.

Aunbance is Yours

Abundance is Yours

Many years ago, I wrote “Sanctuary,” one of my many poems of gratitude. I share it with you now as an offering of thanksgiving for a faithful, stout-hearted woman of God… my  mom, Mildred McEwen, and to two amazing men whose legacy of generosity and gratitude changed my life… my father, Earnest McEwen, Jr.,  and William Faulkner.

Who has been a blessing in your life? Have you expressed your gratitude?

SANCTUARY

for William Faulkner and my father, Earnest McEwen, Jr.*

Between the brush of angels’ wings

and furious hooves of hell, two mortal men

fell down. How you must have looked—

white shirt stained, khakis fatigued,

smelling of sweat and smoke,

hair at odds with itself and the world.

At the threshold among your restless dead

in echo and shadow of ancient oaks,

providing sanctuary, offering shade,

you had many worlds behind you,

few yet to be born: stories of insurgence,

scorn, decay—theme and variations

of a vanquished South.

Leaning against a jamb

of antebellum brass, you watched, waited,

raised weary arm and hand, saluted

the familiar stranger. Come. Enter. Sit. Sing.

You reached each other across the grate.

What you two must have known of heaven and hell.


* William Faulkner was my father’s benefactor, paying for him to attend college at a time when he had little

prospects of earning enough money to pay for it himself. This was Faulkner’s way of dismantling institutionalized racism long before desegregation was mandated in the South.

__________________________________

Harvest blessings.

Pass It On!

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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 destiny, their promise, their legacy.

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 cook in the nursery 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 you teaching me that we making a living by what we choose as our work or profession, and we make a life by what we do for others. For this and so much more, I thank you.

Love ~ Your Daughter, Gloria


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What do Maya Angelou, Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, and William Faulkner have in common?

Each of them took a stand for what they believed and changed history by doing so. Each stood up for their own or others’ rights during times when the society around them said, “No, you can’t do that.” They all dared to wear their soul on the outside.

Maya Angelou wrote the first in her series of books about her life–finding the beauty and majesty of her own voice as a woman, poet, and social artist; Lincoln stood against slavery and pulled together a team of unlikely rivals to maintain the integrity of the United States when it all the forces seemed to want to tear it apart. Nelson Mandela stood against apartheid in South Africa, spent almost 30 years in prison, and emerged to an instrument for a new social order. William Faulkner stood against racism in the American South and helped my father, Earnest McEwen, Jr., and other Blacks, get equal access to higher education.

When you find your passion and calling, you too can stand against those around you who tell you “no,” who may discourage you, who lack faith in you. You, too, can say “Yes, I Dared and I Did It!”

Who influenced you and helped you find your passion and calling? How are you using the power of your passion to stand for what you believe in and to be of service to others?

I’m collecting new stories about ordinary people who take a stand for what they believe. I’d love to hear from you. Please share one of your “Yes, I Dared and I Did It!” stories with me and forward this post to others so they can share one of their stories, too.

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