ABOVE: Kathryn Laws and the author visiting the Philadelphia Zoo in 2018
Note from Elizabeth: The May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd from police brutality has galvanized the world and sent people like me scrambling to learn, understand, and take action to be part of the solution. I was put off by the extremes of fear-mongering, self-recrimination, and self-righteous rhetoric all around, yet I understood at a deep level that genuine reconciliation will take more than talk, more than tears, more than shame, more than good intentions.
When I read this moving poetic response by my enormously creative writing friend Joy Newswanger, I knew she had helped me find an expression to embrace: Living Reconciliation. We have to live into this, not just think about it. I was struck that her poem starts where we all need to start: listening. It then calls on the Source of Love to effect a genuine “Living Reconciliation” in all of us.
I’m grateful to Joy for letting me share this here. After reading, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what “Living Reconciliation” might look like in your own life.
by Joy Newswanger
Am I listening?
Am I really listening or am I trying to come up with a brilliant response not hearing what you say or your heart?
Am I listening?
Or am I treating people
like problems to be solved
not diverse, unique individuals to be heard,
Am I listening or
Am I pre-judging
Seeing your outward appearance not your heart?
Am I listening or
Am I loudly defending and justifying myself?
So grateful to hear the voices of my young brothers and sisters.
And yes, please forgive me brothers and sisters of all races and creeds for being guilty of not loving well.
Please forgive me for not intentionally learning about and actively addressing my white privilege. Please forgive me for allowing my self-absorption to make me unavailable to be present for you.
I am learning. I am trying to learn to grow in listening, in loving and growing in this. Please help me to grow.
I am learning to listen. My brothers and sisters, of all races and creeds, I need you.
Your continually being humbled
sister IN Christ,
Jln, Super JOY, 6-4-20
Note from Joy: The title photo shows my beautiful bubblicious friend Kathryn Laws and me at our visit to the Philadelphia Zoo two years ago. We bubble blitzed the zoo. I am so grateful for my friend Kathryn who spoke the truth in Love. Frequently she said. “Joy, you do not know” and taught me more about listening and loving.
“You are always and dearly loved by God! So robe yourself with virtues of God, since you have been divinely chosen to be holy. Be merciful as you endeavor to understand others, and be compassionate, showing kindness toward all. Be gentle and humble, unoffendable in your patience with others. Tolerate the weaknesses of those in the family of faith, forgiving one another in the same way you have been graciously forgiven by Jesus Christ. If you find fault with someone, release the same gift of forgiveness to them. For LOVE is supreme and must flow through each of these virtues. LOVE becomes the mark of true maturity.” Colossians 3:12-14 tpt (The Passion Translation)
Joy Newswanger is a creative heart communicator of true hope. She is a living expression of crazy JOY, crazy HOPE, and Crazy LOVE. She makes her home in Pennsylvania with her husband of 35 years, Gene. Smiles follow her everywhere. You can find more of her unique poetic, photographic, and artistic reflections on Facebook, @joyheartart on Instagram and at her website: joyheartart.com.