The Rumor Mill


Some may remember Paul Simon’s hit song,  “50 Ways to Leave your Lover,” from the 70’s.  Well here is a list of ways to attempt to diminish a black woman in modern times, even during the stresses of  Covid.

First, you circulate a rumor and say that she is really a man, though you had not heard that one.  Until, the children that you are trying to teach how to count and read ask you if it’s true?  “Are you really a man?”  You think or you don’t think.  You just try to get through the day before you let that one seep in too deeply.  Whew!

Then while in the schools, with breaks being few and far between, your co-workers have a coordinated effort in place to block all toilets before you reach the door.  Perhaps they have also heard the rumor.  If you are lucky enough to get inside the washroom, there is an incessant, earth-shattering bamming on the door as if the Walls of Jericho are falling down.

If you still are not shaking with rage or seething, how about circulating the rumor that you are a prostitute. When you take a walk or go to the athletic club, old, crinkled, wrinkled men walk up to you grinning as if they are about to make a “pick-up.”  How offensive!

Still surviving and thriving?  How about the neighbors overhead stomp throughout the apartment for hours as they go from room to room over the past years?  If you complain, there is a dismissive tone because another rumor says that you are bi-polar.  Hadn’t heard that one either! But with that one being placed on your head, nothing you say really matters. It’s like , “Ugh-huh; ugh-huh.”

Headache, yet?  Well, lastly, when you run your bath water or turn on the shower, the woman upstairs’ non-working, live-in boyfriend, who is on the property illegally, hears you.  Oops!  He immediately rushes to the bathroom and starts his shower as if you are showering with him.  A vicarious thrill to him, you suppose.  But a most sickening thought indeed.

If this exhausts you, then imagine what it is like living it day in and day out; hour after hour.  All of these well-orchestrated attempts to degrade someone that they do not know. But you whisper like Maya Angelou, “And still I rise,” and you vow, this too shall pass.

Lynn M.
June 1, 2021

Overlooked!

I’m not a dime that you dropped on the sidewalk,
As you kept walking ’cause your pockets were overflowing.

But when lean times set in,
You came back around the block, remembering me.

You spotted me and thought, “Voila! There she blows.”
But when you bent down to pick me up, I didn’t budge.

I looked available, but now I am immersed into the pavement.
I am no longer a lost dime. I am an engraved star.

Cemented in place as you are forever reminded,
Of what you overlooked.

Lynn M.
May 30, 2021

Sustained!

Sometimes life can catapult us into a web of darkness.  We may find ourselves surrounded by a subculture that operates at a low, slow medium.  We may be shocked by its foreignness and unnatural feel..

Things are nebulous, cloudy and unclear because that is how forces of darkness do most of their work. They energize through confusion and naivety of its victims.  But we who are blessed, learn to navigate this different terrain.  We may begin to discover that we have been gaslighted , redlined, bamboozled or any other negative term that aligns with abusive behavior by those who see us as sport.

But like seeds buried deep down in the soil, our faith is down there working.  It makes us continue and remain as we cleave to some unknown strength from within. We are sustained by this Invisible Knowingness.

We are being tried and tested. The alchemy is in its process of still creating though we have no idea of what is going on.  Yet, on any given day, the bud of new life reveals itself.  We raise our heads and behold the light which has been there all the time, stationed right behind the dark clouds.

We have wrestled with error and  trickery but we make it to the top where the light awaits our recognition . We realize that we are quite exhausted and we may have loud, snoring nights because we have been through a real struggle.  We wash off the debris, the filth and the stench as we get rid of those pungent thoughts which no longer serve us.

As the adage goes, “Cream always rises to the top!”  The dark night of our souls have been transformed into the newness of light.  The sun-lit sky extends its open arms and we move towards it with a lighter, higher energy!

Lynn M.
May 23, 2021

 

Re-Opening!

We are all reopening now!
The pandemic made us stop, bow,

Our heads and pray to Him above,
To have mercy and send His love.

Beaconing rainbows did appear,
Signaling good omens are near.

Green light! Second chances to know
Whose in charge and Who loves us so.

Let us not forget as we go,
Forward. Walk gently and just know,

Kindness counts. Do practice it well.
For many were saved by the bell.

As we emerge from that cocoon,
Engage with Him and very soon!

Remember all that He has done,
Share your hope. Victory has won!

Lynn M.
May 16, 2021



Out of the Ashes!

Though the horrors of the pandemic were multiple, we now see blessings flowing forth.  Many of us are rethinking our lifestyles. Families have been forced to be in the same tight spaces for over a year now.  Many within  the family are really getting to know each other better or in some cases for the first time.

We have fallen back to basics as it was in the Leave it to Beaver days  Then, it was customary for families to sit down and actually eat together and discuss the events of the day.  We are slowly remembering what really matters in this life. There have been fewer schedules of driving and driving as parents drop their children off here and there for this and that club or activity.

 People have had enough time to even consider growing their own foods and planting seeds for personal gardens, according to one news story.  Families are eating healthier because they have been able to slow down and plan menus as they keep good diets in mind.

Also, due to sparse funds, more chefs have emerged as creative dishes have been prepared for the household.  There have been fewer grabs from the drive-through because all are now watching how those dollars are being spent on a daily basis.

People have been begun to rethink wardrobes because high fashion has been put on hold for those who have not been going into the offices.  There has been less need to impress.  And, with the wearing of masks, even the need for makeup and lipstick have come to a virtual halt unless people are putting on a face for Zoom meetings.

Several are also rethinking how they do work.  Now, many are looking at diverse ways to earn money while eliminating those long commutes which can be stressful.  That stress can roll over and affect all members of the household.  A calmer breadwinner makes a happier home!

And lastly, people have started to find more mindfulness activities.  Those newcomers to the spiritual life are learning to cleave to quiet, breathable spaces as they seek peace, calm and wholeness.  This pandemic has truly rocked the peoples of the world but as the Native Americans chant, “Out of ashes, peace will rise!”

Lynn M.

May 8, 2021

Clearly!

As we grow and evolve, oftentimes we are surprised at the results of our efforts.  New buds emerge and growth spurts push through our watered soil quite like the new, colorful dogwood trees with that have recently reappeared on our landscapes. 

Yes, we have become more cognizant of the importance of caring for ourselves as we eat healthier, sleep more deeply and cleave closer to our personal faiths.  The pandemic has brought us to our knees on so many levels and it has made us rethink some of our former choices. 

We realize that our help most certainly comes from above and from there alone.  It is the only real source of answers to our incessant prayers.  We stop looking to the left or to the right to ask our friends and peers which way we should go.  We can see that they do not have the solutions. Therefore, we are less inclined to listen to them spew out their half-baked ideas which can send us further down the rabbit holes of despair. 

We slowly remember to clearly think for ourselves and recall that most of the answers are buried deep within us.  But we must become still enough to listen.  Truly listen.  Just as we can hear the birds chirp or the mourning dove sing his songs of lament, we will once again hear the still, small voice whispering, “This is the way.  Walk ye in it!”  We will feel more assured as we trust our own inner instincts to lead us forward.  And quite like the late Prince Philip advised, we can then, “Get on with it!” 

Lynn M. 

May 1, 2021 

I’d Rather Be…!

Oh, who would you rather be?
One with things, but without glee?

Or, one with a heart of gold
Gelled in an undaunting mold?

Sufferers whose hearts are ripe,
Are immune to all of the hype.

Blind to the false claims of self,
Not functioning as an elf.

Yes, those cups of eternal love,
Raise you high like a small dove!

Lynn M.
April 18, 2021

The (Other) You: A Book Review

Joyce Carol Oates’ latest collection of short stories, The (Other) You is filled with ruminations about life’s journey. She ponders what life would be like if we had chosen other paths or made different choices. In fifteen short stories, she makes us think about our mortality as we look back over our years of living.

She has written stories that cause us to think deeply about the what-if’s as she takes us through snippets of her own journey as a literary writer. As she quibbles with a beloved spouse whose health is declining during a disappointing trip abroad, she has us thinking about the depth of enduring relationships. Yet, we are rudely awakened as we see that nothing lasts forever and she also notes how close friends and co-workers are aging and facing health challenges.

She visits her childhood home after many years and sees and hears about what happened to some her former classmates. Though she holds onto precious memories, the present conditions there do not mirror her past recollections. There are only fractures of what she experienced strewn here and there, once again reminding her that life is ever-moving and nothing stays the same.

In one story, a character wonders why her loved ones cannot see her, only to realize that she is no longer alive and they are mourning her accidental demise. Or, in other instances she experiments with speaking from several characters’ points of view though they are all involved in the same scenario.

Oates takes many risks, as she writes in a variety of genres and a couple of her stories even border on horror. She makes the valid point that we unconsciously dismiss the importance of others due to our own stereotypical beliefs. She labeled her writing best when she called it speculative fiction. She certainly makes us appreciate the gifts of our current paths which shaped us into who we are today because other choices would have molded us into becoming someone else!

Lynn M.

April 10, 2021

Inner Light!

The inner light does shine bright, 

We give with all our might. 

We share, for we are gifted, 

Helping others be lifted. 

Lighting lamps without a fuss, 

Hoping for those around us. 

Spotlighting the way ahead, 

Spiritually full!  And fed. 

Blessings more than we can count, 

Flowing from an endless fount! 

Lynn M.  / April 3, 2021 

A National Treasure!

Every now and then, we may meet a great mind that spurs us into action after one brief encounter.  Years ago, I heard Iyanla Vanzant speak to a large group of people and shortly after listening to her, I was so inspired that I booked a flight to Paris, alone.  She honed my senses,  heightened my confidence and I spontaneously took that risky trip abroad with limited funds.  I am here to assure you that I landed on my feet. 

Well, this year, after living in a writer’s hovel and in a turtle -like existence, I listened to a live conversation with the prolific Joyce Carol Oates through the Chicago Humanities Festival.  When I saw that she was giving this talk, I immediately purchased a ticket. For those on the academic side of literature, the name Joyce Carol Oates rings loud and clear. Her works are in multiple college literary anthologies.

Many in-depth readers took this opportunity to hear what she had to say to the Chicago audience.  Rebecca Makkai, an award-winning author and the interviewer for this event, asked well-researched questions which drew Joyce Carol Oates into an hour-long conversation.  It was an exchange that was steeped in a wealth of knowledge, reflection and storytelling which left all of us spellbound. 

An author of over fifty books, countless criticisms, articles and reviews, Joyce Carol Oates still teaches at Princeton University where she continually engages young minds.  After the virtual talk ended, I was inspired to write this short piece. I wanted to express my gratitude for seeing this woman whom I both admire and hold in high esteem.  Her works take risks, and she explores subjects that most writers would much rather avoid as though they do not exit.

 Normally after an experience like this, I would call my mother and we would talk for hours but that was not possible.  So, I wrote and wrote instead. Joyce Carol Oates mentioned that we often find our voices after losing ours parents. But even from afar, I know that my mother would bow her head in agreement with my appreciation for this literary event.  I close with a sigh and I think to myself, “What a gem and national treasure we have in Joyce Carol Oates! 

Lynn M.

March 27, 2021