Tuesday, October 9, 2012

First Blogpost: A Psalm for Our Mother

I admit this is a sad state of affairs.  I have been working at IMPACT Silver Spring in Montgomery County for over two years and this is my first blog post. To finally get started, I am using the occasion of my recent trip to Ethiopia with 36 other souls from Montgomery County and the DMV region.  The delegation was led by our County Executive Isiah Leggett, and organized under the auspices of the Office of Community Partnerships (led by Bruce Adams) and the African Advisory Group.   This was no vacation or PR junket, rather, this was a trip to establish a new sister city relationship with the Gondar region in Ethiopia.  The ceremonial part of establishing the relationship is over, now the hard work of community building and virtuous exchange (thanks Tebabu!) between the two jurisdictions begins.  Many thanks to Daniel Koroma and the tremendous efforts of Yasin (the Dream!), Demeka, Enkutatash, and Solomon, who handled the task of “herding cats” with grace, patience, and poise.  Through your hard work and commitment we were blessed richly. 

During the 10-day visit my emotions ran the gamut from eager anticipation, to deep disappointment; from romanticized ideas to sobering realities; from soaring inspiration, to fiery anger; from a profound sense of the sacred, to paralyzing terror.  I began the trip believing that Ethiopia and her people, had so much to teach me, us even, about the spirit and practice of community.  I left knowing that I had learned and experienced more than I could have ever asked for.  I hope you’ll indulge me—my first few posts will include a series of reflections from the trip.  From these reflections I seek to gain more wisdom and insight to inform our efforts as we (re) build community here within the bounds of Montgomery County, with our new sister the city of Gondar, with the nation of Ethiopia, and beyond. 

The first post—a Psalm of thanksgiving and praise to the Mother of Humanity, our Mother— Ethiopia

Your comments and reflections are very welcome. Make sure to press the "Read More" button below to get the full blog post.

(Video created by Reemberto Rodriguez)

Castle Complex first built by Emperor Fasilides
in the 16th Century-- Gondar, Ethiopia
(Picture by Reemberto Rodriguez)

A Psalm for our Mother

Ethiopia, Ethiopia,
Mother of humanity, Giver of life, Sacred ground, Mama.
Without you we would not be.

Since the beginning of time
And the emergence of consciousness
You have given the best of your heart and soul to us

The Montgomery County Delegation arriving
at Gondar Airport
(Picture by Reemberto Rodriguez)

By force and by choice, your children have been scattered to every corner of the earth and now a few have returned.

We are drawn to your beauty
We are awed by your magnificence
We are covered by your grace
We are humbled by your resilience
And convicted by your faithfulness.

There you are in all of your majesty and all of your pain
Arms wide open, and joyful for our return
Just as a mother whose child has been away for too long.
Demeka, Ronnie, Enkutatash, and Solomon
with the City of Gondar in the background

Longsuffering, you have nevertheless stretched forth your hands
As your prodigal sons and daughters return, we stretch our hands back to thee
No other help do we know
Embracing you tightly even as we are embraced by you.

Help us to remember
Remind us of who we are and from where we have come
A bridge from the edge to the Church, Rock
Church Complex in Lalibela
(Picture by Reemberto Rodriguez)
Take us back to what is fundamental
To that which should be of ultimate concern to each of us—
That each of us is essentially good
That there is a power greater than any
one of us, working on our behalf
That all of life is sacred
That material is temporal, spirit is eternal,
and both are important
That none of us is free unless all of us are free
That we were divinely designed to be in
communion with each other
And that unconditional love overcomes any
obstacle, and never fails.

The past teaches us, the future beckons us
Open the eyes of our hearts and the ears of our souls
Ethiopian Orthodox Church Priests
gathering at the Stone Church Complex
in Lalibela
(Picture by Reemberto Rodriquez)
So that we might be moved again
By what you have revealed to us.
Give us the courage to be
To listen for the sound of the genuine that is in each of us
To tell the truth the truth in love,
To lift as we climb
So that we might return back to you,
What you have so freely given to us
Life—abundant life.

@ Queen of Sheba Palace Complex, Spirit hovering, sun (and soul) radiating
(Picture miraculously captured by Marie Henderson)

Your comments and reflections are very welcome.