Day 94: The journey homeward, and why we sing.
December 15 -- Yesterday, the One Earth. One Voice. campaign spent its first full day on continental U.S. soil since our trek around the world began. Our glass globe and I spent the morning with school children at the Waldorf School of New Orleans, unaware until after our visit of the unfolding horrors in Newtown, CT, which were happening at the same time. I have been highly reticent to post more of our photos from that visit, out of deepest respect for all that we carry in our grieving hearts in the wake of yesterday's unimaginable events.
In an odd way, however, the events in Newtown and the central message of the One Earth. One Voice. campaign find a deep connection. I am a mother. One of the most compelling motivations for beginning this journey in the first place was sparked by a spiritual vision of the future of our planet, and my feeling of a deep moral imperative to give everything I have -- my capacities, my time, all of my resources, including the power of song -- to make the fullest contribution possible to ensuring a safe, healthy future on this planet, for my children, for your children, and for all who come after us. As most of you know, at the root of this mission is a call to world leaders to end violence against the earth in all of its forms. That call, at the appointed hour, together with our glass globe, will be presented to the United Nations General Assembly.
On Day 1, I dedicated this entire campaign to Emily and Sophia, my two teenage daughters. They were the very first to hold and bless our glass globe. Last night, as I strive to do each night, I "hugged" them goodnight. In light of all that happened yesterday, and like most, if not all parents I know, I "hugged" them extra closely. But my "hugs" were virtual hugs, facilitated by the very medium through which I am writing to you now. This has been true for 94 days. We have been on this journey together, my girls and I, every step of the way. It has been excruciating at times to be away from them for so long. But the shared understanding about why we sacrificed our family time for this mission has remained at the center of our lives each day. While campaigning in Egypt, Hurricane Sandy came barreling up the east coast, my children's home in VT initially projected to be in the storm's path. Sobbing at a cafe in Alexandria, "chatting" with Emily here on Facebook, I wrote "Honey, I am so worried. All I want to do is come home to you girls."
"No, Mom. You have to keep going. The world needs to know about this campaign and why you are doing it. We'll be ok. Sophia and I support you 100 percent."
The following day I was in Tahrir Square, glass globe in my arms, surrounded by dozens of smiling, laughing children, eyes bright with hope and delight. They kissed and blessed the globe, one by one, and shared with me, in the simplest Arabic they could (so that I would understand them): "Yes. Fragile earth. Fragile future." The children of Tahrir, the children of Newtown, all the children of the earth know the realties of the delicacy of this time. They don't despair; they live its reality with a quiet nobility that would break even the hardest heart wide open. It is for them -- for the future of our humanity, of our planet -- that I put my life on the line to make this journey.
Today I return to the East Coast for the first time. Later today we will be announcing where it is that the glass globe and I will be to bring this odyssey to its conclusion on December 21st. In the days ahead, we will be spending time in New Jersey, visiting communities devastated by the storm, attending a school holiday concert, which, against all odds, will happen on Wednesday this week. They will be singing Ise Oluwa as part of their program. The power of song, once again, rises up as a catalyst for hope and healing.
I would never presume to have any words of wisdom or insight into why the gates of hell were opened on the small town of Newtown, CT yesterday, any more than I could explain why the children of New Jersey may not have a stable roof over their heads this holiday season, much less gifts or a decorated tree; or why the children of New Orleans, with whom I spent the morning yesterday, face longer odds for long-term physical health than my own children, simply because they live in a region so toxified by the violence rendered against our earth. I believe, however, that these realities are intimately linked, insofar as they are devastating symptoms of a spiritual ailment that has disconnected us from our core humanity, and therefore, from our deep-rooted knowledge of our intimate, interconnected relationship with our planet, and with each other.
It may not seem, on the surface, that singing could contribute anything of substantive response to these soul-searing dilemmas. But I invite us all to consider this: in times of crisis, transition, sorrow -- when our need for connection to one another and for healing is at its most acute -- we gather, and we sing. It has been true since time began. And as we approach our day of song for the earth on December 21st, the reasons for doing so poignantly come into increasing focus.
We may still be stunned into silence. That is healthy and fully understandable. In the days ahead we will all try to integrate the horrors of what happened, even if we can't make sense of them. For my part, I will return to the East Coast of the United States, having circumnavigated the globe and prepare for my long-awaited reunion with my own children. As we together move through this tender time, may we hold the power of song in our hearts, our love for the children of the earth in our souls, and a vision of a future free from violence of all forms, ever most in our sight.