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Friday, November 1, 2019

Their eyes were watching God: one small narrative of hope in the darkness.

Zora Neale Hurston wrote in "Their Eyes Were Watching God:
“It is so easy to be hopeful in the daytime when you can see the things you wish on. But it was night, it stayed night. Night was striding across nothingness with the whole round world in his hands . . . They sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes straining against cruel walls and their souls asking if He meant to measure their puny might against His. They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God.”

I have no real power, I do not know any Billionaires or CEOs. I have never dined with governors, senators, members of congress, or presidents. I live in an America where wealth and power are constantly giving more, and the poor are beaten down. Treated as if their poverty was their choice. I reject the notion that poverty is a choice. These are endless tax breaks for billionaires while neglecting to lift our sisters and brothers living in poverty. This is our nation's choice. I am a member of Moral Mondays, part of the Poor Peoples Campaign because I reject this American choice.  In my view, my nation is waging war on the poor, CEO and Wall Street are profiting off our poor, and our nation's leaders conveniently turn their heads away. My role is a small one at best. I shall not turn away, and I will carry truth everywhere I go.

In this war of hurt and pain for so many homeless human beings, in this time of hopelessness for many. I have little to offer, but my simple narrative of truth and hope.
My mother and I were homeless for two years, we slept where we could. On good days we could afford a bed at one of the single occupancy hotels, on others we made a wood bench our home, sometimes my mother would have me sleep at one of her friend's houses. She worked six days a week as a waitress. We became homeless to escape domestic violence. She stayed too long, paid too high a price because she knew we had nowhere to go. None of what happened to us was a choice, even eventually leaving. You see he left us, not us him.

I went to school not to learn, but to stay warm, dry, and out of trouble. I went to the library every day it was open for the same reason. I went for a cup of hot chocolate and some cookies from a kind librarian who knew why I came. My grades suffered during this time, but one teacher made sure I had gloves, a hat, a coat, and shared his lunch with me for a whole school year. I did not go to the library to read. I went to stay warm, dry, and for that cup of hot chocolate, and a couple of cookies. I did not go to school to learn. I went to stay, warm, dry, and for a sandwich from Monday to Friday.

While reading and learning were not my goals for going to the library and schools. Reading became my lifeline, and learning became the one good thing my mother and I could share each night sitting on that wood bench at the train station.

So, on Saturday I have no real gifts or no magical solutions. All I have is my narrative of hope, it is not much, but it what I share carry with me this Saturday.
This narrative of trauma laid buried and denied for 50 years. I have only recently been able to share it publicly. Trust me sharing it does not make me feel better. Something in my heart tells me that sharing it gives might give hope to someone. Then I shall bring this offering of pain, truth, and hope on Saturday to South Windsor.
If sharing my narrative helps just one librarian, just one teacher to know that their humanity could lift a child in their darkest times. Then I shall open my heart hoping beyond all hope that my narrative of sorrow and hope helps to lift one mother, one child, and open all our hearts to understand no one chooses poverty. However, an America that continues to give breaks to the wealthy, the powerful, and the connected without lifting our poorest out of poverty makes an immoral choice.
There is this Guadalupe candle that burns in my heart and in our kitchen. I have no power, I am not a rich man, but my eyes are watching God. My prayer is my one constant plead. Lady rain down your flowers, open our hearts and ask God to help all those in need.
Hate runs deep in America's DNA; my only weapon is this small truth I carry with me.
Young Tiernan, I shall come on Saturday to your gathering at Hartford Bags Of Love in South Windsor Connecticut.
I shall bring my small truth with all the love my heart holds,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you like to listen to the song that inspired my walk this morning...its Foy Vance singing "Burden" 
"Let me carry your burden

If something's not right I will let you know
Like the paint that's drying on a heart that's poor
Let me carry your burden
Get you back on a high when you're feeling low
When the weight is too heavy but you won't let go."

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