Beauty and terror, pt II


Last week I shared an easy memory of dream telling and wild wandering. Intertwined with those breakfast table conversations are also the very real and tough realities of much harder memories.

The following video, in its seemingly dreamlike state, calls forth Beauty to surround, intersect with and tell a story of terror still alive in our country today.

What happens with terror when it is so held in Beauty?

Southern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees

Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Songwriters: Lewis Allan / Maurice Pearl / Dwayne P Wiggins

What happens with terror when it is held in Beauty?

I don't know the answer to the above. What I do know is that over and over and over again I witness people facing the truth of the terrors within themselves and their communities with courage, commitment, and creativity.  

Examples just within this Reflection post: 
Eleven of us gathering on retreat, a wide range of ages, experiences and histories, sharing our heart-stories, laying down the truth of our vulnerability in front of one another and holding one another with open interest and deep care. Many of us had met for the first time. 

The video above, with all who gathered together to create it, taking yet another step in healing the wounds of our present by facing the truth of our country's past

The lyrics to the song-poem "Strange Fruit", written by a Jewish man who wrote it at a time (and Billie Holiday then performed it during this same time) when lynchings were still happening in this country (1940's). He has his own strange and beautiful story

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Let the above offerings (or merely choose one small piece of this Reflection) really settle into your body.

Receive....and allow yourself to sense-feel all that arises within you.

And then wait, breathe slowly, and wait some more.

What sensations are arising within you?
Is there anything that you can breathe with, be with,
right now? 

photo credit: screen shots from the "Strange Fruit" music video.
other links: my Reflection post, "Scattered Thunderstorms" (last section in particular); 
The Equal Justice Initiative and the work of Bryan Stevenson: