This is for the Children

“I’d rather have peace on earth than pieces of earth” – Martha, age 9

This past week, I have held with me the images of Gaza and I have found that there is very little that disturbs my soul more than war and the death of children. 

In the wake of Mother’s Day, and – although, perhaps a stretch – Easter, I have found myself leaning into that sacred tension of resurrection and crucifixion by intentionally practicing the naming of my own internal and external places in which I, too, need to be resurrected. And by naming those things in myself which need to die as well; and also by celebrating the beauty of new life and the persons whom have mothered me. 

As an adoptee, I have found that Mother’s Day is a particularly poignant time for me as I live into and hold both the deep grief and deep gratitude of being an adoptee. For me, both of these emotions are integral andinterconnected parts of my adoption journey. And, noticing and holding the interruptions in my own maternal ancestry allow me to intentionally reflect on the ways in which my own journey is a unique, yet direct, tangible result of a much larger historic framework regarding systems and institutions of power and privilege, ethnocentrism, hate and love.

As I reflected upon my own journey this Mother’s Day, I couldn’t help but connect my own story with the story of so many mothers and children that have been torn apart. To clarify, I am not suggesting that I can feel or even imagine the grief of those whom live in war-torn countries. I cannot. But, I think that we all can identify with feelings of fear and loneliness and sadness. Perhaps this is naïve to suggest, but I hope that because those feelings are universal, each one of us is able to at least empathize with those whom are mourning deep losses this Mother’s Day week.   

As the granddaughter of a person whom was enslaved and as the great granddaughter of my Cherokee Great Grandmother, I have found that when I allow myself to explore the pain and the grief of a mostly unknown biological lineage combined with the familial trauma of those persons while holding the known lineage of my own white, Mennonite, adoptive family, I hold both the stories of a people whom struggled and the stories of people that persevered.

I hold the stories of a people with strands of power and privilege and complacency and prejudice and racism and inequity and poverty and religion. My body is a direct ancestral path backwards to decades of racial trauma, and yet my body is also a resurrection story. Not every body is or can be.

I often remind myself that while I hold all of these tensions, it is not my duty to reconcile these stories. Indeed, I have found that holding these stories in juxtaposition with one another continues to highlight the journey before me by calling into being the need for sustainable relationship; racial justice and the ability to tell our stories.

This week, I wonder if it is possible for the world to listen to the stories coming from Gaza and Palestine and Israel and Myanmar and Malasia and Sudan and Mexico and from the Rohingya people. 

A friend sent me an email with the following excerpt in it:

We cannot heal it if we cannot feel it.

 As a person whom often feels everything deeply, I found myself again this Mother’s Day and ensuing Mother’s Day week holding my own personal tensions as well as holding onto global tensions.

As I reflected upon how bodies hold personal as well as ancestral trauma, I found myself reflecting upon the children of war-torn countries and the maternal ancestral lines newly interrupted.

As is the case for most of my reflection, I began to write a few poems. This collection, I have named: “For the Children.”

I.

(For Laila Anwar Al-Ghandour, an 8 month-old killed by tear gas on May 14, 2018 in Palestine)

You may tell me that this is rain.

That these men with their guns
Are lightening & thunder
& God Almighty.

Ministers and war dogs alike ordained with bullet shells & bombs.

Manifest destiny buoyed by a world

Handing out the

broken bodies of children like Jesus
Watching their blood
Flow like Holy Communion
& calling it sacred.

Here, take this piece of God

Here, take this body of Jesus
& share it with your neighbor
& call it sacrificial.

Call it

A Palestinian problem

Call it

A 3rd world crucifixion

Call it rain
In the middle of what is just another rainy season.

Anything to make you forget that blood has marked this ground

That children stare lifeless
That babies die from tear gas
Paid for
 By a nation of Christians
 calling it Shalom

II.

On the third day

There was no resurrection.

 Just

Unmarked shallow graves
Marked only by the stench
Of death
& gas

On the third day

There was no angel
To greet Mary
Because
Mary was shot
In the stomach
Clutching onto her
Lord as she prayed
For deliverance.

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