Saturday, September 6, 2014

A New Way Forward

"...the whole process of the soul’s journey is toward the inner marriage of the mature masculine and the mature feminine.” ~ Marion Woodman, Leaving My Father’s House: A Journey to Conscious Femininity

The traditions that molded the woman that I am today are rooted in the deep, segregated south―Mississippi. I hear my pretty mother's voice in a youthful singsong as she chants the tongue twist of duplicate letters that make up her birth state―M- little i, ss, little i, ss, little i, pp, little i. I am rooted to segregation, yet I am a product of de-segregation. I am both old world and new promise. I am both wounded and healed. I am the leaf that grew from the extended olive branch when my beautiful grandmother, Anna Belle Latham, uprooted her reluctant family and headed out west in the early 1960s. When the Freedom Riders― men and women, boys and girls, black and white― came calling, Anna Belle reached within and then outward to find a more peaceful space, or perhaps she was simply following her soul's journey. Those freedom fighting northerners were not welcomed, my mother told me. They were not called to come in and unravel the package that was so nicely and so neatly assembled in a pretty little segregated box. The shifts, and the unsettling, my mother tells me, were not appreciated in a town where everyone knew their place.

I am a child of the sixties and seventies―old world melding into new promise. I was born and raised in the city of the angels, Los Angeles.  My childhood friends were Jewish, black, mixed, Chicano, Persian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, wealthy and poor. The mothers who visited my elementary school class during the holiday season brought in Latke pancakes and taught us Hanukah songs. The private parties in my high school town near the beaches that lined the Pacific Ocean were filled with surfers, dead heads, drug heads, sushi and a raw vegan feast that at the time didn't have the fancy names. I am old, and I am new. I see the pain, but I see the healing as well. Sometimes the densely packed pain of a culture feels too heavy to move, too mired in the complicated, complicit layers of the familiar where everyone knows their place.

This month One Woman One Voice Project features Rasib Mehmood, a gentleman poet, a PhD scholar, a Pakistani national and the freedom fighting face of new promise. With his lilting, deep-searching words, Rasib stands poised to figuratively sit at the lunch counters where the Freedom Fighters dared to peacefully stake their place. He stands poised to begin the unraveling of the war men and women all over the world are facing―domestic abuse and other gender-based warfare. My soul's journey is to bow in gratitude to the old while reaching toward the new. The old―the segregation of women into stifling compounds of victimhood and men into hallow, shame-filled pockets of denial― while the familiar, is packed too densely to see any shards of light. The new―men and women of all nations, gay and straight, old and young, gender-specific and not bound by masculine nor feminine―is that reach for the mature marriage that Marion Woodman speaks of and perhaps our collective souls' journey as men and women. It is that peaceful space that my beautiful Anna Belle found when she courageously settled in the dessert land of promise leaving the tattered pieces of the familiar on the dusty road behind her.

Read Rasib's poetry here!