Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Telling the truth about the USA

The Arrowhead | Mary Oliver

My home is full of relics. Bits and pieces I’ve gathered over the years. Memories, yes. But is it more? Mary Oliver invites me to think about this. My comments follow.

The Arrowhead

The arrowhead,
which I found beside the river,
was glittering and pointed.
I picked it up, and said,
“Now, it’s mine.”
I thought of showing it to friends.
I thought of putting it—such an imposing trinket—
in a little box, on my desk.
Halfway home, past the cut fields,
the old ghost
stood under the hickories.
“I would rather drink the wind,” he said,
“I would rather eat mud and die
than steal as you still steal,
than lie as you still lie.”

Mary Oliver, from Why I Wake Early, 2004, p. 185
© 2017 by NW Orchard LLC
Published by Penguin Books, 2020

Was this a waking dream? The last four lines of the poem gave me a jolt. The unexpected jolt I always have when Mary Oliver’s lovely poetic words suddenly rip the cover from our complacency. The topic of this poem is stealing. It seems our nation might be addicted to stealing.

However, this is about more than our nation.

It’s tempting to think of Mary Oliver as a nature lover who sees beauty in everything. But truth be told, many of her lovely poems are salted with barbed wire. Her words dare us (and herself) to ignore what’s right in front of us.

These are hard times. Some might say we’re headed toward doomsday. However, this poem isn’t about doomsday. It’s about what many, if not all of us, do daily and without forethought.

Could it be that we’ve forgotten what our own special versions of stealing and lying look like? Especially when it involves highly prized possessions or status.

I recall occasions when my words or ideas were stolen and passed off as someone else’s. Of course, there were also times when my words or ideas were scoffed at. However, most painful was hearing someone else use my words or ideas and pass them off as their own inventions.

The older I get, the more I recognize my desire to ‘discover’ or pretend to own what doesn’t belong to me. Words, ideas, and even arrowheads that catch my eye.

Will we ever learn to live with integrity? As citizens, and as a nation? Or have we so muddied the waters that we don’t know where to begin telling the truth. Not just about ourselves, but about our nation.

Praying for honesty, integrity, patience, and determination to honor truth. Especially when it costs.

Thanks for stopping by today,
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 30 September 2022
Photo found at rockseeker.com

Telling the truth about the USA

It’s not how we feel
Or who we know
Not our gender or race
It’s who we are
From the inside out
Every molecule on alert
For unexpected opportunities
We never dreamed we’d have

The name of the next POTUS
Won’t save us from each other
Or from this pandemic moment
Of truth and consequences
That follow us night and day
In this dry and weary wilderness
Many call home and God Bless America

Already dying, we live out
Our numbered days trapped in
A fake dream wrested from
The hands and hearts of
Prior inhabitants living and dying
In less than Paradise
Pushed aside in order to grow
The most life-denying ‘product’
We’ve ever imagined—slavery
Held together by chains and the ill will
Of zealous white inhabitants afraid
To welcome racial justice or
Open their hearts and their doors
To darkness in any shade of brown

Yesterday I took the day off to rest and calm my sometimes racing, sometimes dawdling heart. I decided to watch a sermon on YouTube. It was sent to me (and other surviving Bible college friends–think early 1960s) by one of my classmates who unabashedly supports Trump. The sermon was engaging and articulate, sometimes humorous, preached in person to maybe 1/3 of the pastor’s normally packed mega-church auditorium. Title: “Church in America, Wake Up!”

It was his 2020 Election Sermon (preached each major election year). In it, he let his congregation know for whom he will vote and why. His bottom line was simple. Trump’s our man! No, you don’t have to vote for him, but I will, and here are my top five reasons.

Of his top five reasons (Religious Freedom, Marriage & Sexuality, Economy, Israel, Life), two generated the most affirmation. One was the economy. He was against redistribution of wealth and government overreach, and came down hard on Socialism. He saw all this (and more) in a Democratic Presidency. Of the two issues, this also generated the most energy from the pastor.

The second highest affirmation came from his final point: Life. To him this was an absolute no-brainer (his words). “Life” was his short version for Pro-life, meaning No Abortions Ever. He called Mr. Trump “our most pro-life President ever.” The congregation gave him a standing ovation. This was clearly their big issue.

I’m not going to debate him. I wanted to hear what a highly-regarded, articulate Protestant preacher would say about this election.

The poem above is about the importance of telling the truth about the USA. There’s no excuse for one-issue voting, or for ignorance or silence about our history. Especially by pastors within USA churches of any denomination.

Praying you’ll have unexpected opportunities to speak truth today, clearly and without rancor.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 October 2020
Image found at chaseoaks.org

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