do the sorrow songs sing true

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The one who taught me best; me and my mother, 1980.

“Through all the sorrow of the Sorrow Songs there breathes a hope—a faith in the ultimate justice of things. The minor cadences of despair change often to triumph and calm confidence. Sometimes it is faith in life, sometimes a faith in death, sometimes assurance of boundless justice in some fair world beyond. But whichever it is, the meaning is always clear: that sometime, somewhere, men will judge men by their souls and not by their skins. Is such a hope justified? Do the Sorrow Songs sing true?” —W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folks: Chapter XIV. The Song of Sorrows

I had intended to write this post on inconsequential musings of my life; my little world here in the mountains.  But events beyond the keep of home have arrested me and left me thinking the inconsequential should be written for another time.

I have known racism. If you are person of color, you have known racism. Being spat at as a child for having a white mother. Being called the n-word at the neighbhorhood playground as an adolescent.  Being told I wasn’t Black enough in college. Being refused as a potential tenant for an apartment by a white landlord because of my skin color. I have known racism.

You feel it to the core when confronted with racist acts. Anger. Deep anguish. An emotional aching so visceral your body shakes. But I have not personally known the violence of hate in the way I have seen in the news this week.

Today I’m going to close out the world’s events and shield my young daughters from the violence.  There will be a day when they too are confronted with these images. A day when they question why their Mama is darker skinned than they are—if it matters, why it matters. A day when a friend might ask them, “Is that your mommy?”, and all that implies. But today won’t be that day. Today I’m going to be selfish and retreat to my family. Snuggle, read stories, make s’mores, laugh at dad jokes.

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Me and my daughters, 2016.

Yes, I know I am the fortunate one.  I have a husband and daughters to come home to. My heart aches from the images I have seen. I am eager for change. I am disheartened at how much has not changed but I am hopeful for my daughters. Because I am certain we can drive out hate by nurturing our own and showing them that acts of compassion and benevolence are the ways out of ignorance.

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love of object

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Taking home a new feathered friend purchased this past spring at a flea market

“Caring too much for objects can destroy you. Only—if you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it? And isn’t the whole point of things—beautiful things—that they connect you to some larger beauty? Those first images that crack your heart wide open and you spend the rest of your life chasing, or trying to recapture, in one way or another”  -James “Hobie” Hobart, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Anyone who knows me and by extension my family, knows our love of object. Our house is full of stuff. Artwork, furniture, knick knacks, bric-a-brac filling walls, crowding surfaces.

I like collecting things. My husband likes collecting things. My oldest daughter likes collecting things and I’m sure this desire will soon be apparent in my youngest daughter. Frequenting flea markets and antiques shops has long been a pass time in our household. Found objects on hikes have recently taken a front seat to our collection.

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An entire shelf is dedicated to these lovely sculptures. On rainy days my husband and oldest daughter sculpt silly and curious creatures out of colorful clay.

We collect but we don’t stow it away. We find one last corner on the side table to proudly display our latest find. We add another piece above the last treasure on the wall, salon-style, so that when we turn the corner to go up the stairs we can see it and enjoy it if only in the fleeting moment it takes us to go from one step to the other.

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Not a square inch of space is spared on our walls even in the corners of rooms.

My husband and I will occasionally fawn over a minimalist mid-century modern interior in some fancy design magazine. We flirt with the idea of paring down our collection but then we hit the road in search of some antique shop we haven’t frequented in a while and find one more thing to add to our home.

A cleared surface may bring order but I think living with objects around you provokes inspiration far better than an empty space. I happily look in on my daughters’ room and see walls covered, bookshelves crammed. There are never enough books to own or knick knacks to look at—I’d like to think my daughters are inspired to create, play, and imagine amongst it all.

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My youngest daughter intrigued by the many things adorning her sister’s bedroom wall.

My family and I are like magpies—always on the hunt for the next shiny object to add to our collection. Our home will never be minimalist, never sparse, never empty.

I live with a lot of stuff and I won’t soon relinquish my desire to keep it, display it, love it. There is great beauty in this world and I’d like to think my love of object puts that beauty within my grasp.