Sunday, February 20, 2011


I miss God, and I'm not even sure I understand what that means. What it doesn't mean is evangelizing, proselytizing or joining some mainstream (or not) organized religious denomination or group. It doesn't mean that I miss something male or female or anything that is remotely like me. What I miss is being in the company of people of faith, and I don't know who they are. I think I mean people who believe in something that isn't human. People who believe in something other than or in addition to science. I'm not suggesting that people of faith don't do the things that other humans do, but perhaps there is a collective consciousness of our collective shortcomings. Maybe there is a willingness to be always working toward being better people. Or perhaps it's just a longing for people who speak a familiar language even in the midst of our various and sundry theological arguments and positions. I want to understand why my friend, who calls herself a lapsed Catholic atheist, wants the Roman Catholic "Rite of Christian Burial" when she dies. When I ask her why, she can't tell me. Whatever that is-that desire that seems to make no rational sense--is the same desire I have. While I don't know what I want, I know what I don't want: religious fundamentalism, rigid rules and dos and don'ts; people who tell others what to believe. Ironically, I don't want a community that has no collective belief or consciousness. I only know that I miss God or Allah or Buddha or Jehovah or whatever that thing is that fulfills me, reaches in those deep places of mine and speaks a language that no human speaks.

I want to speak of those things that I don't understand. I want to meditate or even pray, in the broadest sense of the term. I want to be with humans who have limits--those whose consciousness of something larger guides their interactions with other humans. Perhaps it tempers their anger or envy, jealousy or words. I seek a community where there's no room for ego or arrogance or showing off. My focus is the now--not the hereafter. Whatever a spiritual community is, that's the community I seek. It must offer peace, an absence of judgment or criticism, if only for the moments that we are in community. Two friends and I gathered to read and speak of meaningful things. It felt almost like community. The time was brief, but maybe...

My longing continues; it's become a necessity. I search and search to no avail. It's not a church or a service or a meeting. I want a community committed to social justice; one that doesn't give a damn about amassing money and other material things; a community committed to active eradication of pain and suffering while being acutely aware that eradication is highly unlikely; a community that actively engages in criticism of itself, its values and mores; a community that never forgets its own flawed humanity--one that gathers to read poetry or prose and speak of meaningful things. A community that makes time, however briefly, to reflect on something other than the mundane. We must be certain of mutual love, respect and trust--that is community.

I miss God or gods or deities or meditation or community. "Deep calls unto deep... Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret."


The early bird doesn't always get the worm, even if it really tries. There are occasions when some late sleeper happens to awaken at just the right time. It sees the worm upon which that early bird has its eye, and simply swoops on that worm and enjoys the work of the still-hungry early bird. It's not fair. The early bird deserved that worm. It worked for it. It earned it. The only bird that cares about this injustice is the early bird who lost the worm.

"Don't you care about your legacy? Doesn't it matter that folks think you're loud, abrasive and far too outspoken?" There was a room full of people of color in a place that had fewer than 5 many years ago. No one has worked harder to make that room possible. Does it matter that no one cares? A little. Does it matter that the sleeping birds, the good birds, the quiet and acquiescent birds; the birds that just sleep; the birds that never chirp or get up early, are the birds who get the worms? A little. Few birds get what they deserve.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Edouard Glissant died yesterday, and I, somehow, think everybody ought to know what that means; what the world has lost. No learned person in the francophone world would claim such ignorance. Edouard's brilliance, activism, poetry and prose; Edouard's scholarship and teaching have left profound and enduring contributions, impressions and influences. Edouard was, and will long remain the Caribbean's foremost Renaissance man. And yes, the Caribbean. Though he lived in Paris, I can still hear him announcing in that rich, heavily accented voice: "I am a West Indian." He was. Born and bred in Martinique, Edouard carried the place in his heart always. He loved the Caribbean--the warmth of the place and the people.

I was a graduate student when I met Edouard and his wife, beautiful Sylvie. We became fast friends. We laughed often. Shared meals and stories. I lived in Edouard and Sylvie's home in Baton Rouge. We were family. When I walked into the room for my dissertation defense, there sat Edouard, grinning. We'd left the same house that morning, but he neglected to tell me that James, my disseratation director, invited him to my defense. After the defense, Edouard revealed that he'd read my disseration and decided that I, indeed, had a "very smart."

I love him. He was a great man, a highly visible figure, sought after by students, colleagues and journalists. Edouard, more than anything, was a great man with a good heart--humble, loving, caring and kind. He was generous with his time, intellect and all material possessions. Edouard knew what mattered in this life.

Many years have passed since Edouard, Sylvie and I have shared the same physical space, but they, Olivier and Mathieu are always in my heart. There has never been a better man than Edouard Glissant. Never. I honor him, and I cherish every moment I was in his presence. Edouard's life was a gift to me and to many. I loved him in life, and I love him in death. Sweet rest, my brother. Sweet rest. Je t'aime.