The screens we overlay before us can get thick with number. Screens of school (getting children through it), screens of marriage (getting life partners through it), screens of work (layered upon layer) with expectation for production and creativity and, work, seemingly the answer to survival. The thing about screens is that they are flimsy and they inevitably drop, one by one, they fall away - in answer to our call to survive. We're looking for Found Time, but in reality the falling away often reveals a crisis beyond proportion.

Found time. Illicits such a gorgeous soft landing. Found time to take pulse, to catch up, to read, to write. To sip slowly and to talk meaningfully. Or, Found time = now what?

Can you give yourself permission to not know? Can we hide here in the time we find, not just taking pulse but taking stock, and letting a day pass, surviving the passage, and just... breathing?
In my found time this afternoon, I reached out a little, to try and find myself. This is what was given back.

Praise Song for the Day
by Elizabeth Alexander

A Poem for Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other's
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what's on the other side.

I know there's something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

"Painting" by Maggie Taylor created with Adobe Photoshop

1 comment: