Monday, June 29, 2020

The Divine Feminine, An Online Exhibition

Deborah Taylor, "I Stood There Once, On the Green Grass, 
Scattering Flowers"
Oil, 6" x 6"
Inspired by the Mary Oliver Poem "Flares"
in Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver

From the Online Exhibition The Divine Feminine


A new online exhibition, "The Divine Feminine",  officially launching July 1, now graces the Website of my parish, St. Michael's Episcopal Church (Arlington, Va.), where I lead our Arts & Faith ministry. Although my original plans were to present the show's more than 30 paintings on the walls in September, factors beyond our control — the ongoing closure of the parish because of the novel coronavirus — necessitated a rethinking and reimagining of the artwork's and related ephemera's display. As you will see, the paintings by four local artists — Elisabeth Hudgins, Linda Maldonado, Elise Ritter, and Deborah Taylor — have migrated beautifully to the Website.

The exhibition, which is accompanied by the Introduction to the artists' concept for the show, includes sections for the Artists' Statements, Inspirations, Artwork, and Biographical Information. Also included is a list of prices for each work. All the works are for sale.

Above is an image on a work by Deborah Taylor, all of whose paintings were inspired by Mary Oliver poems. Below is an image of work by each of the other participating artists. 

Please enjoy "The Divine Feminine" and let us know in the comment section for this post what you think of it.

Elisabeth Hudgins, "Cradle"

Inspired by Elisabeth Hudgins' Stone Cairns

 Linda Maldonado, "Sacred Waters, Holy Ground"
Acrylic and Collage

Inspired by Christina Rossetti Quotation

Elise Ritter, "Blue Madonnas"
Acrylics and Inks

Inspired by Terry Tempest Williams Quotation


The sources of the artists' inspirations are documented in the Artists' Inspirations section of the exhibition. 

The inaugural online exhibition "Artists and Poets Respond to the Pandemic" remains available to view on the St. Michael's Website.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Thought for the Day

Justice is built through the actions of many people
doing small things to refine and improve society. Justice
is built through the deeds of many people influencing
the attitudes of society. . . When enough of us are showing
that we care about feeding the hungry, the nation will rise
to the challenge of feeding the hungry. . . When enough 
of us refuse to allow people to sleep on the streets, live in
cardboard boxes, be mistreated by public officials or want
for proper medical care, then these injustices will begin
to go away and we will be on the way to building a moral
and just society, a moral and just world. . . .
~ Rabbi Michael Weisser

Quoted from Kathryn Watterson, Not by the Sword (Bison Books, 2012), pages 154-155

Rabbi Michael Weisser, Rabbi and Spiritual Leader, Free Synagogue of Flushing (2008 to Present), New York; Winner, Pax Christi National Peacemaker Award, 2012 (Weisser is known for befriending and converting to Judaism a Ku Klux Klan leader in Lincoln, Nebraska. The story of how that happened is told in Not by the Sword.)

Monday, June 22, 2020

Musings in a Time of Crisis XXX

Some things that haven't been stopped by COVID-19:
wars, domestic violence, famine, pestilence, displacement—
our will to live.
Sudanese-American Slam Poet
UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador

. . . forced displacement nowadays is not only vastly
more widespread but is simply no longer a short-term
and temporary phenomenon. . . We need a fundamentally
new and more accepting attitude towards all who flee,
coupled with a much more determined drive to unlock
conflicts that go on for years and that are at the
root of such immense suffering.
~ Felippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees*


One percent of humanity — one of every 97 people — is displaced.* Fewer and fewer are able to return home. In the midst of the pandemic, in countries or territories with acute food insecurity, in overcrowded, insanitary camps, subjects of violence and hate, refugees are among the world's most vulnerable people.

How often do you think of them?

And if you do think of them, do you wonder how they have hope?


This past Friday (July 19), I had the privilege of seeing, thanks to One Journey Festival and NoVA Friends of Refugees, an exclusive online screening of Refugee, a haunting 23-minute film by director-writer Brandt Andersen, who has made his own visits to refugee camps and championed a number of humanitarian initiatives. Earlier that day, the film, short-listed for an Oscar, had its premiere at UNHCR, the United Nations agency tasked with protecting the rights of and providing emergency support to refugees.

Film Poster

Dramatically relating the story of a pediatric surgeon who flees Syria with her young child, the film stars Yasmine Al Massri as the brilliant doctor "Amira" and Massa Daoud as her daughter "Rasha." It is riveting, profoundly moving, and hopeful, and reflects the very real circumstances of the world's forcibly dislocated refugee population, which numbers nearly 80 million, more than half of whom are under age 18.

Here's the film's trailer:

A discussion with Syrian American actor Jay Abdo, who plays "Papa Homsi," Amira's father in the film, followed the screening. Abdo, a celebrity in the Middle East, related his own difficulties in getting out of Syria after running afoul of the regime during Arab Spring, and of his struggles to create a life in America with his wife Fadia Afashe, a visual artist, writer, and human rights lawyer who also found herself in trouble with the government of Bashar al-Assad. (See The Guardian and Middle East Eye articles below.) Several things Abdo said echo the remarks of a forcibly displaced Iraqi family I know well: no refugee willingly leaves his or her country, and there is always hope of returning.

The COVID-19 crisis and other events have largely pushed off our front news pages the dangers to and maltreatment of refugees. It's so important that we not forget them, that we try to understand the conditions that brought them to our own country until the current administration began shutting them out, and that we be witness to their efforts to survive and to give back, which they do many times over in the communities where they are resettled.

If you have a chance to see Refugee, take it. It's a film you cannot forget easily.

Frankie Taggart, "Syrian star turned pizza boy dreaming of Hollywood ending," Middle East Eye, January 3, 2017

Fadia Afashe, "For One Syrian Refugee, the Research Strikes Close to Home," RAND Blog, December 22, 2018

Virginia Isaad, "Syrian Artist Paints the Revolution," Los Angeles Magazine, November 29, 2012

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Thought for the Day

Commemoration renders life human: forgetfulness makes it
inhuman. We know of course about the grace of forgetting.
But even when remembrance carries grief and shame, it fills the
future with perspectives. [. . .] The degree of accountability 
regarding yesterday is the measure of a stable tomorrow.
~ Eberhard Bethge

Quoted in Laura M. Fabrycky, Chapter 8, "Befriending Bonhoeffer," in Keys to Bonhoeffer's Haus: Exploring the World and Wisdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Fortress Press, 2020), page 237 (The quote is from Bethge's Friendship and Resistance: Essays on Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Eerdmans, 1995), page 105.)

Laura M. Fabrycky, Writer and Poet; Diplomat's Spouse (While her husband was stationed in Berlin, Fabrycky became a volunteer guide at the Bonhoeffer-Haus. Currently, she and her family live in Brussels, Belgium. Her book is a memoir.)

Eberhard Bethge (1909-2000), Writer, Biographer, German Protestant Theologian; Student and Close Friend of Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Thursday, June 18, 2020

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life

Sue Turayhi, Step to the Golden Life, 2019
Photography, Acrylic, and Liquid Acrylic
16" x 20"

© Sue Turayhi


I am pleased to introduce in June's Artist Watch column at the international online arts magazine Escape Into Life work from Sue Turayhi's series "Walking With My Shadows".

Originally from Iraq, Sue holds a degree in industrial design and is a fully licensed interior designer. She has exhibited her paintings, which in the series presented today combine photography with acrylics, in solo as well as group exhibitions throughout Illinois, where she currently makes her home.

For today's Artist Watch, Sue shares images of 10 works from her series, her Artist Statement, a brief biography, and social media sites.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Musings in a Time of Crisis XXIX

No nation rose so white and fair,
or fell so pure of crimes.
~ Philip Stanhope Worsley

But as you landed, a piece of you fell off, broke away
And inside, nothing but air.

This whole time, you were hollow.
~  "Hollow"
Bristol City Poet


No one will grieve the loss

of Edward Colston, knocked from
his perch in Bristol. Taking

him down, unharbored, is
how black brothers and sisters

remodel the thrust defiant fist
of Jesse Owens, replay Kaepernick

taking a knee. Everywhere,
from Washington, D.C., to L.A.,

from the tobacco fields
of Richmond to Deep South cities'

cobbled streets, the old monuments
fall with protested memories

of four hundred years of blood
spilled in the holds of slave ships,

among New World forced laborers,
in childrens' chartered colonies,

behind white masters' closed doors,
on police batons and bayonets, as

traded human flesh. Hungry consumers
of lives worked with whips tumble,

toppled in public squares, unclean
auction markets cease, are put aflame.

The balls and chains broken, marked
backs of cotton pickers, cooks,

domestics, sex workers, produce
pickers, car-wash attendants,

cleaning crews finally straighten,
unburdened by other men's histories

and towering high above the bannered
crosses alight in Jim Crow's ashes.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Musings in a Time of Crisis XXVIII


G eorge, your name incites fresh reckoning

E verywhere, on every thick tongue, on boulevards where brave

O pen mouths insist on shouting it

R oaring it in barricaded alleys, in the world's luminous languages set

G eorge! George, on so many lips your name blooms a revolution

E ach vowel and consonant flourishing with intention

F ragile, it broke, your breathing, lessening in that shattering time

L abored as 8 minutes 46 seconds edged you nearer home, before

O nly silence could follow that knee lifted from your neck, and

Y ou said, "Momma, Momma" no more and we, like you, lay

D own in the street, collectively exhaling your name

George Floyd, October 14, 1973 - May 25, 2020

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Thought for the Day

It is the burden of life to be many ages
without seeing the end of time.
~ Jim Harrison

Quoted from Jim Harrison, "Seven in the Woods" in Jim Harrison: The Essential Poems, Copper Canyon Press, 2019, page 213

Jim Harrison (1937-2016), American Poet, Novelist, Essayist

Jim Harrison Profiles at Academy of American Poets and Poetry Foundation

Monday, June 8, 2020

Musings in a Time of Crisis XXVII

A deep sense of love and belonging is
an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically,
cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love,
to be loved, and to belong. . . .
Research Professor, University of Houston; Storyteller; Author


Pandemic Acrostic

F ragile: a state of being; a self-description

A bsent: the person I love

solation: the fact of apartness or separation from; see "Absent"

T enderness: closeness; what I miss; see "Absent"

H eart: the part connected to -broken

FAITH: belief (current state: fragile and tenuous); something needed to hold on; what gives hope

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Thought for the Day

Love always means going beyond yourself to otherness.
It takes two. There has to be the lover and the beloved.
~ Fr. Richard Rohr

Quoted from Richard Rohr, "Love Alone Overcomes Fear: A Message from Richard Rohr about Covid-19", Center for Action and Contemplation, March 19, 2020

Richard Rohr, Franciscan Priest, Ecumenical Teacher, Author

Friday, June 5, 2020

Musings in a Time of Crisis XXVI

We who believe in freedom cannot rest.
We who believe in freedom cannot rest
until it comes.
~ "Ella's Song" by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon


My email has filled and refilled with messages from various publications, nonprofits, and other organizations and companies, all stating, in white type against black background, that  they stand with protesters to demand justice and are donating money, sometimes huge sums of money, to various race-related causes or foundations because #Black Lives Matter.

Although these actions can be regarded as good things to do, are they meaningful? Because I want to ask, What else? 

Where were you all before George Floyd's murder? African Americans have been suffering at our white hands for hundreds of years. We can trace our racism as far back as the first person chained in the lower hold of a boat and brought to America and enslaved and as recently as George Floyd's killing-by-cop.

In our modern and contemporary history, we who are not black have dishonored Black Americans' lives and deaths by remaining silent, and therefore complicit; by sending bigots to represent us in our local, state, and federal legislative bodies; by not allowing home-buying in our white neighborhoods; by denying the most basic health care and equal access to the opportunities and privileges we enjoy; by failing to give largely minority school districts the funds needed to educate, and relegating those who make it through the educational system to the most lowly of occupations; by joining facilities that restrict membership; by flying a Confederate flag in the yard or in the window of a pick-up truck; by dressing in blackface for a Halloween party; by refusing to drink from the same water fountain. . . this list is long and heartbreaking.

Perhaps our gravest sin is to have failed and continue to fail to see this minority population (and every other in the United States) as human beings every bit as worthy of and entitled to respect and kindness and opportunity and hope as we whites not just expect but demand for ourselves.

So, I want to ask those flooding my email: What else? Because symbolic or token gestures are not enough. They never were; they never will be.

Nor will donations of money make racism go away.


What is the first thing you think when you see an African American? What's the first feeling you experience? What's the story behind that kind of thinking or feeling? Who taught you to think or feel like that?

What does the word "justice" mean to you? "Freedom"? How do you define "fair treatment" and "equal opportunity"? Or are those just sound-good words for your public relations announcements?

What specific actions do you pledge to take when your white CEO commits an EEO violation? Or your HR director turns a cheek to managers' failure to meet diversity objectives? 

What are you going to do in the communities where you're based to ensure the history we teach our children includes the true stories of our crimes and African Americans' many accomplishments? Will you send your children to the same public schools that black children attend? 

Which of you in fact will "stand with" Black Americans and link arms and march the next time a black man out for a run is stalked, beaten up, or killed by white supremacists? What are you going to do to help ensure every Black American has the right to vote? Or prevent a political party from killing legislation to right our wrongs against? Or help rid this nation of food and housing insecurity? Are you going to stop supporting political campaigns that keep in office white men and women who take an oath to uphold our Constitution but are owned by lobbyists and do their bidding, no matter that bidding wrongly discriminates? 

Will you invite your African American neighbors to dinner, or allow your child to have a playdate with his or her black peers?

Whose story are you willing to listen to and defend if one is black and the other white?

Will you support and engage in a national, state, or local race-reconciliation initiative to acknowledge publicly our racism so that all of us, together and united, can begin to heal and transform our society and culture?

The list of questions is as long as our history of abuse and its denial.

If all you are going to do is make your donations and return to your "normal," you are and will remain part of the problem of racism in our country. Maintaining status quo is untenable.

Examine yourself and your own values and morals, especially if you profess to be Christian. Commit to the will to specific change by take specific actions; don't just open your purse and then expect someone else to correct the problem. 

Because we whites, all of us, are the problem, and it's time for meaningful conversation and meaningful action, and meaningful and tangible results. It's time we allowed those whom we have judged or abused or held back, whose rights we've sworn to uphold, and whose justice we are demanding in all those emails to judge and hold us accountable.  

Monday, June 1, 2020

Musings in a Time of Crisis XXIV

. . . with truth absent, hypocrisy and myth have flourished. . . .
Now hypocrisy can be exposed; myth dispelled.
~ Look, January 1956

. . . this town is a form of silence . . . .
~ Jake Adam York, "Tape Loop" in Abide

No lie can live forever.
~ Martin Luther King Jr.

. . . I can still sing we shall overcome. . . .
~ Martin Luther King Jr.


Beginning to End

It did not begin with George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery.

Breonna Taylor or Christian Cooper.

It did not begin with Philando Castile or Michael Brown.

It's not just Maurice Stallard and Vickie Lee Jones.

It's more than the Greensboro and Orangeburg Massacres.

It's in addition to the Catcher 'Race Riot' and Rosewood.

Tulsa and Ocoee. Bogalusa and Slocum.

Ludlow and Springfield.

Polk County and Colfax.

Opelousas. Camilla. Memphis in the 1800s.

It did not begin with Rodney King.

Nor with Medgar Evers.

Nor with four little schoolgirls in Birmingham.

It was not because of Emmett Till.

Willie Edwards Jr. or John Earl Reese.

John Lee or James Knox. Mack Charles Parker.

Bunk Richardson. Ell Persons.

All the persons unknown.

All the persons unnamed.

The ones we never helped.

Guineamen: Brookes. Clotilda. Hannibal. Jesus of Lubeck.

Slave patrols. Black codes.

Neo-Nazis. Ku Klux Klan. Jim Crow.

Underground railroad.

Freedom struggle.

Civil rights.

Chains and whips and hanging trees. Neck collars and lynchings.

Water cannons, German Shepherds, Billy clubs, bombings.

Rubber bullets, concussion bombs, tear gas.

FBI in tactical gear, National Guard.

Weaponized squad cars.

Racial profiling.

Extrajudicial executions.

Police brutality.

Fatal force.

Name a name. Name a place. Ask the date. Calculate the loss.

Name the thing no one utters.

Call it what you will.

It has to end with us.


The January 1956 issue of Look magazine contained the confessions to the 1955 murder of Emmett Till by J.W. Milam and Roy Brant; their trial concluded with a verdict of "not guilty." 

Both Martin Luther King Jr. quotes come from a March 14, 1968, speech by King at Grosse Pointe High School.

According to Wikipedia, the large cargo ships used to traffic slaves were called "Guineamen" because the slave trade operated along the Guinea coast of West Africa.