News @ The Equalist
Posted 2 weeks ago
Of farewells and stones.
“Be careful. Keep your mouth shut. Eat everything! Don’t get blown up. I would never go there, Turkey is a close as I want to get the Middle East. Be careful, but have fun.” These are the faire-well salutations I received over the weeks preceding this trip to Israel. All given with a smile and maybe a hug or a handshake.
The day before I left North Carolina and my students at NCA&T, I took some of them to the North Carolina Museum of Art, as a kind of farewell present. There I came across a collection of Medieval sculptures, alabaster carvings from England. Layed out in stone carved 800 years ago were the clear, well known stories of Christ and Jerusalem. The simplified and naively distorted bodies of Christ and others, for me at least, create a sense of innocence and welcome, like a child’s expression of emotion -just as pure and honest, though often devalued by adults.
One sculpture stood out to me; that of Saint Christopher, patron saint of travelers. He was as large man, and after his conversion to Christianity served others by carrying them across the dangerous waters of a river. The sculpture showed his large legs and bare feet covered by waving sheets of water. In his right hand he carried a large stick, important for bracing himself in the current. In the other he carries a child. As the story goes, he once carried such a child across the river but as he progressed his load became heavier and heavier. He wondered aloud why and it was revealed he was in fact carrying Christ, and along with him, the weight of the world.
Do we all carry the weight of the world when we travel, when we cross dangerous streams to help others? “Be careful. Don’t be blown up.” These modern salutations to me seem to carry the weight of the world in them.
I, and my wife Robin, are here to work with children and young Palestinian adults. To lift them up, to help give them a voice and better care for them and their children living with the disability of Autism. Together, we cross that dangerous, invigorating stream that is this life we all live now, in a world of slippery, dangerous, but also wonderful stones.
Posted 3 weeks ago
Why bother? Look down.
“Peace will never come here. Never. You will see.” said the voice on the phone, a contact of mine for my upcoming trip to Jerusalem. Her words have echoed in my head all day. As I write, a copy of Picasso’s Guernica stares down at me from above my desk and my computer screen is awash with image from the Boston Marathon. At times like this, peace seems like a long lost ideal.
I have no illusions that I will bring the final answer to a lasting peace to the Middle East. I am not some self filled savior who comes with all the answers. Rather, I feel like a farmer who steps onto a battle field and plants seeds for another season. My seeds are a simple idea; that art and the stories we tell ourselves now shape our future selves and our future actions. I did not even come up with this idea, many before me have established it. I know that nothing I do will prevent another bomb from going off tomorrow. So why bother?
A refugee from the jungles of Vietnam told me a story about a battle he was in once. He was fighting the Khamer Rouge in the jungle. When the mortars and gun fire got unbearable a line of fighters in front of him pulled back. He and his men advanced and found in the fox holes children that had been abandoned by their parents who were peasants turned soldiers. He and his men fought hard and pushed back the communist. They then paused and picked up the babies. They carried them with them, caring for them until they found a village of the same ethnicity that would adopt the children.
We all have a battle raging in our lives. Some more than others. We have no choice about what comes our way. We do however have a choice to pause and pick up all that is good around us, to stop in our lamenting long enough to enjoy the beauty that is in front of us. As I write beneath the weight of Guernica and Boston, I can also look out my window at Spring’s unfurling flag of wonder; flowers, green grass, and butterflies. Will I pause to pick them up? You bet.
I hope to take the seeds of that peace with me to Jerusalem. To share my enthusiasm for the power of art and its positive effect on our future actions. To plant this idea, like many before me and many who will come after, for a future season when the youth of Palestine and Israel will have to look at still images and not out their window to be reminded of the violence and sadness that is only half the picture before us all.
Peace will not come. It is already here and if we are to survive the awfulness of the battle around us, we must all pick up and carry the child at our feet.
Posted 4 weeks ago
I am off to Jerusalem in April to work with Palestinian Youth. I will post updates here.
Posted 6 weeks ago
"For the Ages"
Still deeply moved this morning by Lincoln, the movie. It is a must see. Last night, I left the theater after 2 1/2 hours that flew by, deep in thought about the ideals of our nation. Stepping into the lobby I saw smiling faces of every color and realized I was still in the narrative, and it was a good thing. On the drive home my wife and I wondered at the history we had ourselves lived, near and far from this time. As I watch the sun rise this morning, I am thankful our fore fathers and fore mothers set into motion ideals that can renew us every morning as a nation -if we only turn our face toward that sun. Though war is not the answer, nor baby-minded calls for secession, struggle is good. We have two angels in us all, and to take the time a wrestle down the one that would have us be petty and small is a must, if we and those around us are to live lives of worth. Some will sneer at the idealism in this movie, but our hearts are filled with more than blood. The South Park generation has no heroes it seems, little is holy, but for me, Lincoln remains at the top of my hero list, and the ideals that all men ( and women) are created equal, and that we are members of sacred union called Humanity is something holy. That it remain so, for the ages.
Posted 26 weeks ago
Posted 37 weeks ago
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"The Stories We Tell" Workshops and exhibition, Jerusalem.
April 21-May 6, 2013
Immigration and Refugee Day Exhibition
UNCG, Greensboro, NC
March 27th, 2013
Reorienting The Veil Exhibition and Conference, UNC, Chapel Hill
February 22-23, 2013
January 23, 2013
Miami University's Center for American and World Cultures, MacMillan Hall
October 15- Nov. 16, 2012
Zones of Contention @ Weatherspoon Art Museum, NC until Sept. 1, 2012
Esse @ Heart Mountain, WY
July -Sept, 2012
Esse @ St.Thomas Aquinas College, NY
Opening April 3rd, 2012
Esse @ FaithAction, Greensboro
April 16, 2012