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Seems to me that airy paperwhites, from the Narcissus family, bridge winter’s fury and spring’s first blushing. Easily cultivated indoors, the dun-colored bulbs, the size of Ping-Pong balls, line watery bottoms of open vases whose tangled roots are stabilized within chips of marble or other stones.

Rotating the potted vases within the sun’s late morning warming facilitates the growth of straight green blades and stirs anticipation for what is coming. After three weeks of tending and waiting and loving, clusters of white flowers exude heady perfume that sweetens kitchens, or wherever placed.

Aside from the paperwhites’ beauty, others take solace in its symbolism: purity, simplicity, new beginnings, and innocence—Even virginal in its wholeness.

However, a review of the Narcissus myth, as told by the Roman poet Ovid and others, affords a different spin on the origins of this delicate flower. Its first flowering resulted from the over-infatuation of the handsome Narcissus, of godly parentage, his spurning other’s attention, and his death related to extreme isolation by the side of a river. Through this tragedy, the gods must have perceived some kind of deliverance and marked its significance by this fragrant flower.

However this story evolved in its multiple versions, it was often represented on the frescoed walls of the wealthy, especially in Pompeii, and the works of Renaissance artists.

But the paperwhites, from the Narcissus genus, still arouse my spirit and fill me with gratitude for their Sacred fragrance.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night, so addressed the poet/musician Paul McCartney to this harbinger of spring, with its rich flute-like trills. Then, he unleashed his response to police forcibly removing a black woman from the white section of a New York restaurant in 1968. Moving back from his hotel window across the street, he continued writing.

A close look at the words chosen for this song-poem evidenced Paul’s artistry: This was not your usual blackbird; in the UK, the words bird and girl were used interchangeably, so the victim in the fracas morphed into blackbird whose spirit sang, no matter the violence fraught with death. Years of such bludgeoning no longer mattered and spawned more protest marches.

Only visionaries intuit patterns for critical change, and McCartney’s revolutionary paradoxes sought to fulfill this purpose:

Take these broken wings and learn to fly.

Take these sunken eyes and learn to see.

The mandate to receive these gifts, despite their uselessness, and learn different ways of empowerment and vision was clear. Precisely in their woundedness, they would find healing, through their imaginations. It would be their experience.

Indeed,

All your life/you were only waiting for this moment to come.

That moment has come and gone. Not much has changed, or so it seems. Ensuing betrayals and tribulations have scarred hearts, that is true, but more learning to fly and see continue among us.

And the mandate still holds:  

Blackbird fly/ Into the light of the dark black of night.

Within that paradox, LIFE abounds … and always has.

It seems that monuments honoring notables with charismatic gifts leave larger-than-life impressions upon viewers. Such is the experience studying photos of the thirty-foot sculpture of Martin Luther King Jr., commissioned by the Chinese sculptor Lei Yixin and erected at the West Potomac Park next to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. This was in 2011.

King’s star flamed with his nationwide support of the Montgomery bus boycott, in 1963, but sputtered with his blood-stained shirt on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in 1968. For fifteen years, his biblical passion interfaced with racial segregation, poverty, human rights violations, and the Vietnam war—enhanced by his bass voice trained in oratory. Thousands joined sit-ins, marches, even suffered killings, burnings, beatings, and imprisonment. Deep was the hope for peace that swept our country.

Most remember pieces of King’s story, influencing the nightly news during those years.

But what did happen? In my perception, the MLK sculpture suggests a clue. Standing erect in suit and tie, his eyes piercing off into the future, his arms folded, his right hand clutching a sheaf of papers, he seems bound to the stone from which he was chiseled, his lower legs, unfinished. Seen from behind, the stone also casts a shadow; in the analytical psychology of Dr. C. G. Jung, the shadow symbolizes the undesirable aspects of our unconsciousness. That Dr. King was not immune to such aberrations is obvious. He had his enemies.

And grief spilled upon cracked sidewalks, just beginning to flower that April evening.

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