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Seems to me that our hearts were fashioned to sing.

Consider the harmonics of the spheres throughout the universe. Consider the strains of a spirited melody, whether in a concert hall or a sports venue that catches our breath. Consider, also, how a ditty will seize our imagination and seed our energy with fresh purpose.

My sister Martha put me up with one that still works: “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Zip-A-Dee-A” – Such are the opening lyrics in this 1947 Academy Award for the Best Original Song from Song of the South. Uncle Remus, the film’s storyteller/handyman employed on a plantation in Reconstructionist Georgia, sings this ditty while interacting with animated creatures during a summer walk. Such gyrations start the feet a-tapping—and much more.

“Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Zip-A-Dee-A” trips off the tongue and opens the psyche to the realm of play. Here, nothing is taken seriously because of unflagging trust in God, source for the “… wonderful day!” and “…the warming sunshine…heading my way!” Even Mister Bluebird on his shoulder concurs: “It’s the truth. It’s actual. Everything is satisfactual!”

And such it is, no matter what happens. It’s all about trust in God’s protection and care, disguised, this time, as a bluebird.

The challenge is to find our own bluebird and listen to its song.

 

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The trappings of Valentine’s Day are upon us: candy hearts stamped with love notes, arrangements of scarlet roses and Babies Breath, chocolate-covered strawberries, intimate candle-light suppers, passionate verse, engagements, and so much more.

Within the buzz of this intoxication, however, few remember the third-century priest, martyr, and saint, Valentine, whose feast day Catholics celebrate on February 14. His work with Christians so vexed the Roman Emperor Claudius II that he sentenced him to death. Before his execution, however, he passed a note, signed “From your Valentine,” to the blind girl he had healed while in prison.

But are there more to such heart-quickenings than the observance of Valentine’s Day with its profane and sacred rituals?

What about those moments of blinding beauty enmeshed within riotous colors of a sunset hugging the wintry horizon? Within a newborn’s discovery of her mother’s nipple and latching onto it? Within piercing lyrics found in “A Simple Song,” from Bernstein’s Mass (1972)?

Like a natural sea sponge with a dense cell structure, the serene heart absorbs such subtle energies that enlarge its world; it sees afresh and thrives. From such heart-quickenings, we sense the Presence in our depths who loves us into our next breath. We can’t help but be grateful.

 

So exclaimed Mary R Woodard (no period after the letter R), her body broken by decades of washing, ironing, and cleaning for others in St. Louis, Missouri. As a child she hunkered down in a ditch in Christian County, Kentucky, and watched her twenty-year-old uncle lynched for looking at a white woman. Following her move North as part of the Great Migration, her experience of racism morphed into “bitter with sweet meanness.” Psalm 37 protected her gentle spirit from its contagion.

 Into Mary’s life came another outsider, Jane Ellen Ibur, a toddler living in an affluent home with a swimming pool. Screaming battles with her parents led her to seek Mary’s bosom, in their basement where she ironed.

This little girl subsequently became a teacher and a poet who honored her mentor in this poetic memoir, both wings flappin’, still not flyin’ (2014). Their mutual selflessness defies words: Mary’s habitual recourse to God and Jane’s care of her the last eleven years of her life—such reveals the brilliance of the Sacred Feminine.

We learn from them.

 

Available on Amazon

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