Mary Beth Writes

Today Len is at a Drupal (a computer language) conference in Chicago. Via Zoom. He had had hotel reservations, high hopes and enthusiasm, plus plans to meet one of our kids for dinner. Then Coronavirus hit the fan. The hotel gave his money back. Right now he’s sitting at his desk, headphones on, occasionally chucking at God Know What.  Drupal jokes, I guess.

Life goes on.

...

Six writerly types in my congregation write two church services per year.  We were going to do a service at the end of this month. We met once, eight days ago, which now feels like Back in the Days of Yore. We brainstormed about our theme – Wisdom. We took assignments, figured out more-or-less what we were going to try to do and then went home to continue thinking,  writing, and emailing.

We got a fair amount done. Then yesterday we all sort of (via email) realized that we cannot prepare a service about wisdom to be presented weeks or months from now. Because right now we are living in fear, questions, smart ideas, terrible ideas, and a deep intuitive search for wisdom.  One can’t pontificate on wisdom while one is in uncharted waters looking for a map. 

Is this happening to you, too?  You are trying to wrap up projects you started before this crisis – only to intuit that the old ideas aren’t quite up to the world in front of us?

Those of you who draw, quilt, paint, etc – people who create arts and crafts with your hands – is this happening to you? 

I’m curious if our questions are changing. If the materials and colors and metaphors we need are changing.

Here are some of the photos that Len took on our Scuppernong Springs hike.

 

Red Wing Blackbirds were singing and flitting like marshland popcorn on Tuesday.  Len took photos of these small noisy, skittish blackbirds. It’s not hard to identify with how vulnerable they are and yet how they just keep going.

I also found this curious story. Its from the Chitimacha nation (very small now) of Native Americas who live in the deltas along Louisiana’s shoreline. 

This story is lifted directly from the internet. Read here. 

Why the Blackbird Has Red Wings

This version of the legend comes from Katherine Judson's 1914 collection Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes.

“One day an Indian became so angry with everyone that he set the sea marshes on fire because he wanted to burn up the world.

A little blackbird saw it. He flew up into a tree and shouted Ku nam wi cu! Ku nam wi cu! The world and all is going to burn."

The man said "If you do not go away, I will kill you." But the bird only kept shouting "Ku nam wi cu! The world and all is going to burn."

Then the Indian threw a shell and hit the little bird on the wings, making them bleed. That is how the red-winged blackbird came by its red wings.

Now when people saw the marshes burning, they quickly ran down and killed game which had been driven from it by the fire. Then they said to the angry man, "Because you put fire in those tall weeds, the deer and bear and other animals have been driven out and we have killed them. You have aided us by burning them."

Nowadays when the red-winged blackbird comes around the house, he still shouts "Ku nam wi cu, so they say.”

If the people had saved the bear and deer and other animals, I would have loved this story. Little bird calls a warning, people respond and save their world. But no, the little bird calls a warning and the people rush to the marsh and kill the animals trying to escape the fire. 

Is this an ancient native American tale.

Or is this CNN?

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

I enjoyed the message, the great writing and the gorgeous pictures! Thank you!

Hello Mary Beth, I'm an academic, artist, grandmother, Quaker ... and lots of other things based in Oxford, UK. Just to say I recently discovered your blog and I'm finding the Coronavirus entries deeply warming and comforting. Thank you.
Mary Beth's picture

Thank you so much for appreciating my writing and saying so. It's like making a pie - half the satisfaction is in the making of it. The other half is knowing people want to eat the pie!

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