News

A poetic response to violence on the North Side of Minneapolis

From my porch, on my predominantly Black, poor, and urban block I watch.

I watch the wonderment of the wind giving birth to movement yet remaining unseen.
From my porch, on my predominantly Black, poor, and urban block I watch.

I watch the wonderment of the wind giving birth to movement yet remaining unseen.

I watch the lightheartedness of birds busily creating home structures with twigs and finding perfect perching places yet being completely liberated from worry and fear about tomorrow.

I watch the silent strength of trees standing sentinel over our lives yet never intruding nor being preoccupied with what we think of their presence.

I watch and I muse, “Can God use nature to teach us to mourn? Cause we need to mourn. We must mourn.”

We must mourn because on Friday of last week Frank Haynes, age 21, and Raliegh J. Robinson, age 68, were gunned down while innocently dinning in a neighborhood restaurant. They weren’t together. They just shared the wrong space at the wrong time. Both were Black men murdered by a Black man.

We must weep because less than a week before, another Black man was shot to death by yet another Black man.

We must cry out because days before that, a different Black man was bludgeoned to death by a different Black man.

We must mourn because all of this tragedy was quarantined in my predominantly Black, poor, and urban neighborhood and it happens in every major city wherever there is a bevy of forgotten and despairing Black young men. In our urban woods they are hunted and slaughtered by other Black young men whom themselves become lost to us for a hunting season…sometimes forever.

I watch and I muse, “Can God use nature to teach us to mourn? We need to mourn. We must mourn.”

As an act of perpetual yet ineffectual mourning, some of us in the, “hood,” have learned to anesthetize the acute ache and suffer the unspokenness of silence. We often over-drink, over-eat, over-drug and under-care to hide the hole in the soul of our community. This vacuum is empty, soiled, and like the earth, deep. And although the pain is so intense, so unrelenting, we don’t know how to mourn- really mourn-for others-for ourselves-for sustained periods of time, over time, so that heaven might hear, respond and impregnate the earth with our deliverance.

Maybe God can use the unfathomable wisdom at work in the lives of the wind, birds, and trees to teach us to mourn so that the unbroken flow of our salty tears might water the earth under our collective feet.

Maybe our rain of sorrow can feed the soil producing a flowering of hopefulness, beauty and unbounded new life.

Maybe then it will be springtime in our community, our city, and from nature we will have learned to mourn and as a result to reap a great and precious bounty.

March 14, 2005
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