Gratitude for Poetry, Music, and the Passing of a Revolutionary Woman

Tuesday, October 13, 2015 - 2:24 pm

Gratitude for Poetry, Music, and the Passing of a Revolutionary Woman

On Friday, October 30th, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and poetry editor of The New Yorker, Paul Muldoon, will be at On Being on Loring Park. The Irish poet will read from his latest collection, One Thousand Things Worth Knowing Knowing — and sign your books as well. Join us for a delightful evening in Minneapolis! It’s free and open to the public — just RSVP here.

(Gerald Streiter / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved)

Poetry and music are elemental to what we do and how we make our way in the world. Siri Liv Myhrom shared this touching verse praising small kindnesses shown to her widower father in the safe space of a coffee shop:

You cannot know how those small gestures matter, unless you are him, unless you are me, watching…

Siri’s guest submission is part of a new series we’re calling Murmurations. It’s a way for us to publish some of these lyrical gems, whether they be poems or songs or images, and provide a meditative moment to reflect and appreciate the depth of our experiences together.

“If I believe in anything, it’s that light burns brightest in the so-called dark places. I’ve felt this in war zones. I’ve felt it going cell-to-cell as a volunteer on death row, or at the bedside of dying loved ones, or walking alongside friends who have suffered terrible losses.”

Serendipity surrounds us. I think it’s important to identify it when we can, to name that gift, to share it. My former colleague Jeff Severns Guntzel shares a vignette about the classic love song, “Dark End of the Street.” It touched me deeply and so I share it with you.

Want to suggest a Monday Evening Melody? Submit your song and a few words about what it means to you.

(Sarah Ross / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved)

“This time of year always makes me feel a profound disconnect. I want to be with others and I want to be alone. Mostly though, I want to want less, to make peace with what I have and what I don’t — on special days as well as ordinary ones.”

Our newest columnist Jane Gross, the creator of The New York Times “New Old Age” blog, faces a dilemma many have in common. Single and in her 60s, she reflects on trying to reconnect with community for the Days of Awe and finding new comfort in her solitude.

(Gerard Streiter / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved)

“The bottom line is that all beings want to be happy. And as part of that, we all yearn for connection. Yet most of us also tend to feel trapped by our sense of isolation, anger, envy, and other forms of aversion. What I think we actually need is simple: a sense of spaciousness from within that lets us feel abundant and whole internally.”

When asked about love, people frequently use the word “need.” Sharon Salzberg analyzes this intermingling and why we should find a way to disentangle them for a better understanding of real need, and real love.

(Nobukuni Enami / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved)

“Life is neither a battlefield nor a game of chance but something infinitely richer, more promising, more real.”

The metaphors we use matter. Parker Palmer claims the metaphor of seasons to promptly remind us that we’re not in charge, that we’re not alone, that it’s possible to transform and be transformed in this world.

Grace Lee Boggs reflects as she looks into her mirror at her home on Detroit’s east side in 2006. (Regina H. Boone / Detroit Free Press / © All Rights Reserved)

“We have to restore the neighbor to the hood.”

Grace Lee Boggs died Tuesday. She was 100 years old. We had the great privilege of sitting with her in her Detroit home a couple of years ago. She was a revolutionary who had a vision, an iconoclast who reimagined community and its members on her own terms. Her plainspeak and pragmatic ideas elevated the conversations we are having about the fabric of our neighborhoods and our cities. So, it’s with a heavy heart that I share this interview with you. Listen in as she and some of the people who live her legacy forward talk about ways that truly build the beloved community Dr. King talked about oh-so-many years ago.

Thank you for all the kind comments and questions. You can reach me at or via Twitter at @trentgilliss.

May the wind always be at your back.

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is the cofounder of On Being and currently serves as publisher & editor-in-chief. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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