Marian Wright EdelmanOp-EdOpinion

MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN: Sharing Our Communal Grief and Never Losing Hope

Every day, my very beautiful, brilliant and much-beloved mixed-race African friend Maria Nhambu — who was placed in a Tanzanian orphanage in her first week of life — feeds my spirit. She is a daily trove of shared wisdom and loving support. She recently shared a poem by Heather Plett, which profoundly spoke to me during this pandemic and turbulent political time. I hope it will move you, too.

Today I will greet Grief
When it comes:
I will meet it at the door,
I will say “Come in, old friend.
Take off your shoes.
Settle into this comfortable chair.
Make yourself at home
In this messy, humble space.”

I will pour tea for Grief
And I will sit with it,
Sipping slowly as we
Stare out the window at the passing clouds.
I will listen to the
Hard stories of loss
Grief wants to tell.
I will breathe deeply into the ache
Grief lays before me.

I won’t say much –
Grief doesn’t ask for many words.
I will mostly sit in silence
And I will let the tears flow
When Grief nudges the
Tender places in me.

When Grief is finished speaking,
I may invite Grief
To come to the canvas with me
To feel the ooze of paint
Between our fingers.
I may also invite Grief
To walk by the river with me
So that we can watch
The water flow past.

I won’t ask Grief to leave,
But when Grief is ready to go,
I will open the door and bid farewell.

Then I will put away the teacup,
Clean the paint off my hands,
And carry on.
– By Heather Plett

In these times, we must all hold on to hope and have faith that we can and will overcome whatever faces us today and continue to build a hopeful tomorrow for ourselves and our children.

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