March 30 – Susan Rooke, another new poet

Monday, March 30  “Then you relax your hand, and all the skin relaxes, letting go the taut shine of youth . . . “

March30 — the second last day of March which, the saying goes, “comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.”  Whoever thought the saying first must have lived somewhere where March weather is fickle and tentative.  Blustery.  Surely not Tucson or Miami.   Tentative weather months are the blessing of geographies where the tilt of the sun against the earth creates seasons rich with teasing, soft breezes swept away by 25 mph bluster.  The teasing sharpens the appetite for new flowers and fresh grass.  A great moment in the year for the Christian feast of Resurrection, thousands of tiny explosions of new life and improbable beauty.

Today’s post comes from a list that often expands my horizons (“A Year of being Here: mindfulness poetry by wordsmiths of the here & now”).  Susan Rooke is new to me and, perhaps, to you.  Today’s post, “A Marriage in the Hands,” can be read any day in any season of the year.  Understated love, so intimate.  It measures time in decades, not the rapid fire swirl of springtime energy only.

Have a blest day.

 

John sj

Today’s Post —  Susan Rooke: “A Marriage in the Hands”
Posted by Phyllis Cole-Dai on Mar 25, 2015 12:00 am

hands

You make a fist, that I might see
your skin grow tight again,
smoothed across your hand.

Those big hands that you like
to joke are too heavy when carried
all day at the ends of your arms.

Then you relax your hand,
and all the skin relaxes, letting
go the taut shine of youth,

and I see your sacrifice,
the thirty years you’ve held
us close, held my strength

for me, and all your tenderness.
I put my own hand out, relaxed,
palm down, next to yours.

You are aging, so am I, and this
is something we have sworn
always to do as one. Undeniably

I see we have. Then you make
a fist again. I make my own.
As one we smooth the way ahead.

Susan-Rooke

“A Marriage in the Hands” by Susan Rooke.

Susan Rooke lives in Austin, Texas.  Despite her normal façade, she’s always been interested in the mysterious and odd, and has completed the first novel of a fantasy series. Her work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in The Texas Poetry Calendar 2013Pulse: voices from the heart of medicine, San Pedro River Review, and on Austin Capital Metro buses.  She and her husband of almost 30 years (who indulges her interests without subscribing to them himself), spend as much time in the mountains of West Texas as possible.

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March 27 – “Lent,” in Anglo-Saxon, means “Spring”

Friday, March 27 – “There lives the dearest freshness deep down things”

“In the late Middle Ages, as sermons began to be given in the vernacular instead of Latin, the English word lent was adopted. This word initially simply meant spring (as in the German language Lenz and Dutch lente) and derives from the Germanic root for long because in the spring the days visibly lengthen.”   Wikipedia   The English spoken in the United States is inherited from England, a blend of Anglo-Saxon (German roots) and French (from the Norman Conquest).  Our word “Lent” comes from German/Anglo-Saxon roots, an inheritance from northern Europe (Wikipedia could tell of other names in other climates for this season of 40 days leading to Easter).

In our climate, you might say that “Spring” means the season when trees and shrubs and flowers and grass look dead and very gradually tell the careful observer that they are coming back to life.  Very gradually.  For some years, I’ve followed a ritual to remind myself about how slowly this happens:  I look for a large shrub or a low-hanging tree branch somewhere along a pathway I walk.  I stop nearby, close enough that I can look at one twig on one branch from a distance of 6 to 8 inches and look at the twig for half a minute or so, paying attention to signs of rebirth.   I try to remember to stop there 3-4 times a week.   From day to day not much new appears.  Very gradual. Little by little this attention is rewarded by delicate hints of rebirth.

Stopping and looking is a form of Lenten prayer and helps more than giving up candy or beer, stopping and looking at a twig on a shrub can be a metaphor for close watching other parts of life and waiting there in hope: a  child growing up;  a city laboring through bankruptcy; a Congress waiting to learn civility again.  A university teeming with people trying to learn, trying to teach, trying to renew its day to day operations.  Beauty all around us.

The growing length of daylight during this year’s Lent comes to about 3 minutes more light each day.

Have a blest weekend.

 

john sj

 

Today’s Post:   Gerard Manley Hopkins, sj  “God’s Grandeur”

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

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March 25 — Denise Levertov “Problems . . . jostle for my attention”

Wednesday, March 25 – “Winds peak c. 23 mph about 3:00 pm, after spring rain, then a passing smile of sun,” so says Weather.com

Weather.com says this Wednesday is getting ready to be a classic spring day:  a system change passing through from the South, South-West — our gummy weather direction,  bringing some measurable rain and gusty winds, peaking c. 23 mph in mid afternoon.    The weather-wise will notice that we’ve been short of rain, nothing like suffering California, but still overdue.   Then, a little after 3:00 pm the wind changes direction, from SSW to WSW and brings in late afternoon sun and some more wind.  All this beauty waiting to be noticed while we carry along the day’s commitments:  Beauty and wonder; Beauty and sloppy puddles;  Beauty and deadlines.  We work and walk in mystery.

The Work Day blog hosts poets of many faiths and some who refrain from religious faith.  Denise Levertov celebrates a creator God whose attention is not easily distracted.  In this mode, she reminds me of Tagore.  Best read the poem out loud, with pauses.

Have a blest day.

 

john sj

p.s.       UDM’s neighbor high school, UD Jesuit, packed the McNichols campus’ parking lots for a quarterfinals hoop game with Clarkson,  Won at the buzzer with a daring layup.  A tip of my 6 Mile baseball cap to these disciplined 7 Milers who played their game here on our street.

Today’s Post  “Primary Wonder”

Days pass when I forget the mystery.
Problems insoluble and problems offering
their own ignored solutions
jostle for my attention, they crowd its antechamber
along with a host of diversions, my courtiers, wearing
their colored clothes; caps and bells.
And then
once more the quiet mystery
is present to me, the throng’s clamor
recedes:  the mystery
that there is anything, anything at all,
let alone cosmos, joy, memory, everything,
rather than void: and that, 0 Lord,
Creator, Hallowed one, You still,
hour by hour sustain it.

— Denise Levertov

Denise-Levertov

 

 

 

 

p.s.       Bishop Bob Morneau, a family friend from Wisconsin, wrote a piece “Every month, I put a poet in my pocket.”  Sr. Gerry Finan, a New York friend emailed it to me this morning.  Bob called attention to this Denise Levetov  poem I had til now missed.   I owe both friends.

ncronline.org/blogs/soul-seeing/every-month-i-put-poet-my-pocket

Bob-Morneau

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March 23 – Al Zolynas “‘Nevermind,’ I want to cry out. ‘It doesn’t matter about fragments. Finding them or not'”

Monday March 23  —  “ . . . a sudden, sweet, almost painful love for my students.”

On Monday mornings, I often begin looking for a post in “A Year of Being Here” which hits my inbox on Saturdays with a handful of poems.  Most of the poets I have not met before.  Some read to my ears like the poet missed something.  I re-read and, sadly, come to the same conclusion.  But not very often.  Some stranger opens my ears to the day and to the work week.  A few minutes ago, that happened again.

Who, I wonder, is Al Zolynas?  His poem, “Love in the Classroom” knocks me flat.  And invites me into a classroom in the middle of an assignment, into the fear of routine dulling his senses and blunting his bravery.  But then, the whole poem opens my ears; the courage of exploring the ordinary fears that are part of a teacher’s life.  Courage and fear will be at work all over this Monday campus at Six Mile and Livernois, on Jefferson at the Law School, on M L King Blvd at the Dental School.

A university is not only faculty, all around the place people begin to suck it up and focus on the tasks that will shape the day, committed to ordinary courage and ordinary fear.  But this Monday Al Zolynas pays tribute to teachers as they teach, and to their students.  Beauty all around while we wait for spring to open the daffodils.

Have a blest day.

 

john sj

p.s.      Sr. Bette Moslander, C.S.J, a giant of a woman, died yesterday in her Kansas home.  I think she was in her 90s.  I know, from my own experience and that of many others that her wisdom ran deep, its bite and edge softened by her kindness and her amazing wit.  A loss for many Sisters of St Joseph and an uncounted number of other women and men.

 

Today’s Post  “Love in the Classroom”

Best to read the poem out loud, with pauses.

Al Zolynas: “Love in the Classroom”

Posted by Phyllis Cole-Dai on Mar 18, 2015 12:00 am

Art
—for my students

Afternoon. Across the garden, in Green Hall,
someone begins playing the old piano—
a spontaneous piece, amateurish and alive,
full of a simple, joyful melody.
The music floats among us in the classroom.

I stand in front of my students
telling them about sentence fragments.
I ask them to find the ten fragments
in the twenty-one-sentence paragraph on page forty-five.
They’ve come from all parts
of the world—Iran, Micronesia, Africa,
Japan, China, even Los Angeles—and they’re still
eager to please me. It’s less than half
way through the quarter.

They bend over their books and begin.
Hamid’s lips move as he follows
the tortuous labyrinth of English syntax.
Yoshie sits erect, perfect in her pale make-up,
legs crossed, quick pulse minutely jerking her right foot. Tony,
from an island in the South Pacific, sprawls
limp and relaxed in his desk.

The melody floats around and through us
in the room, broken here and there, fragmented,
re-started. It feels Mideastern, but
it could be jazz, or the blues—it could be
anything from anywhere.
I sit down on my desk to wait,
and it hits me from nowhere—a sudden,
sweet, almost painful love for my students.

“Nevermind,” I want to cry out.
“It doesn’t matter about fragments.
Finding them or not. Everything’s
a fragment and everything’s not a fragment.
Listen to the music, how fragmented,
how whole, how we can’t separate the music
from the sun falling on its knees on all the greenness,
from this moment, how this moment
contains all the fragments of yesterday
and everything we’ll ever know of tomorrow!”

Instead, I keep a coward’s silence.
The music stops abruptly;
they finish their work,
and we go through the right answers,
which is to say
we separate the fragments from the whole.

Al-Zolynas

“Love in the Classroom” by Al Zolynas. Text as published in Under Ideal Conditions: Poems (Laterthanever Press, 1994; no bookseller link available). © Al Zolynas. Reprinted by permission of the poet.

Art credit: “Open Window,” acrylic on canvas, abstract painting by Filomena De Andrade Booth.

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March 20 — The First Day of Spring

Friday,  March 20  —  “landed backwards!”

Spring does not promise an endless parade of sun drenched 72º days with puff-ball clouds and light breezes to stir new flowers.  A good thing it doesn’t promise all of that because spring never delivers an endless repetition of anything.  Some days stir the soul with playful, kind beauty.  It renews our spirits.  Some days deliver soft rain that brings in its wake deeper green colors.  Some days bluster and make us glad we brought change of weather jackets, or we shiver and scuttle across the outside if we didn’t.  Look out for mud too.

Put all the varieties of spring together?  How to name them as a season?  My favorite spring poem, from William Carlos Williams, suggests that spring catches our attention and renews our courage.

Best to read the poem out loud, with a pause.

Have a blest Spring.

 

john sj

 

Today’s Post  “I saw the two starlings coming in . . . “

The Manoeuvre

I saw the two starlings
 coming in toward the wires.
But at the last,
 just before alighting, they
turned in the air together
and landed backwards!
that’s what got me – to 
face into the wind’s teeth.

William Carlos Williams

William Carlos Williams

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March 18 Tagore: “the bliss of the touch of the one in the play of the many”

Wednesday March 18           The task of beauty

Pretty classy day’s weather it looks like.  High pressure, winds about of the West Northwest, zero pollen predicted, lots of spring songbirds.  Counter-intuitive beauty.

“Counter-Intuitive”:  I happened to hear four adult stories of fatigue and anger and grief yesterday afternoon and evening.  That’s not counting the bravery of 12 year old Deonté Whitehead who jumped in front of three strangers threatening with a drawn knife to rob his mom as they got out of the car to head inside their house.

“Responding that she had none [no money], the three became angry and started using profanity, which spurred Deonté into action. Police said when one person produced a knife, Deonté jumped in front of his mother. That person “started flinging it,” the seventh-grader said, so he put his arm out.  The boy said he was “scared for a minute,” but his mother said: “I don’t think he was. He wanted to help his mom. … At that time it was just more adrenaline — trying to protect his mom.”  Deonté took some stitches.  Neighbor Charlene Broaden “said she was surprised to hear about a stabbing on her street.  As bad as (the neighborhood) looks, it’s getting better,” she said “They’re knocking down the burned-out homes.”  Jim Grenwick, president of the Cornerstone Village Community Association, said: “The young man is heroic. He did the right thing,” Grenwick said. “He didn’t need instruction to try to protect his mom and that’s a good thing.”  Detroit News

Good news and hard news.  It’s easy to get worn down.   Sheer beauty can look inadequate for the task repairing violent damage, like the stiches in Deonté’s arm and the worries about neighborhood crime.  But I doubt it.  Beauty does not deceive when it catches our attention. Its work is reminding us that deep down, under the exhausting burdens of our adult commitments, lives a wellspring of sacred grace.

Rabindinath Tagore saw his share of the world’s wounds.  Many of his poems are like today’s post, realism and wonder seamlessly intertwined.   Have a good day.

 

john st sj

Today’s Post from Gitanjali

Thou hast made me known to friends whom I knew not.
Thou hast given me seats in homes not my own.
Thou hast brought the distant near and made a brother of the stranger.

I am uneasy at heart when I have to leave my accustomed shelter;
I forget that there abides the old in the new,
and that there also thou abidest.

Through birth and death, in this world or in others,
wherever thou leadest me it is thou, the same,
the one companion of my endless life
who ever linkest my heart with bonds of joy to the unfamiliar.

When one knows thee, then alien there is none,
then no door is shut.
Oh, grant me my prayer
that I may never lose the bliss of the touch of the one
in the play of the many.

Tagore Gitanjali #63

 

tulips are coming soon

Tulips

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March 16 – Saying “Yes”

Monday  March 16  –  “. . .  did Yes get born right then and did you weep?

Paying attention has a lot to do with noticing which places in my world invite me to stop and wait for mutuality.  Which places to notice and wait for and which to overlook, without contempt, just making necessary choices; you can’t make everything important.

{Years ago a student, having trouble with the weekly quiz, stopped in the office to ask for advice about how to prepare.  I asked him how he prepared now:  “I read each reading, I highlight . . . “   Then he showed me a reading he had prepared; almost every word was highlighted . . .  .“I think I can help you,” I said, next time, don’t highlight anything in the first paragraph. Then stop and think until you can decide which one word to highlight.  Highlight it.   Then begin the next paragraph.”}

Where to stop and where not to?  — inside joy;  inside fear;  inside grief; inside laughter?  I’ve come to think of attentiveness as the heart of prayer.  Today’s poet, Nancy Shaffer, is new to me.   She writes well about attention here.

Best to read out loud, with pauses; perhaps after “seeking one lost sock?” or “planting radish seeds”;  lots of places to pause.

Have a blest week.

 

john sj

p.s.      Maybe the snowdrops in our back yard will start to show off by mid-week, some more warm days with a little rain added  (“snowdrop”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galanthus).

If you get close to where they grow up in the grass you can see lots of them just getting started on their spring.  Even, last evening, one very tiny white beginning of a flower.

 

Today’s Post:    “Calling” 

When you heard that voice and
knew finally it called for you
and what it was saying—where
were you? Were you in the shower,
wet and soapy, or chopping cabbage
late for dinner? Were you planting radish
seeds or seeking one lost sock? Maybe
wiping handprints off a window
or coaxing words into a sentence.
Or coming upon a hyacinth or one last No.
Where were you when you heard that ancient
voice, and did Yes get born right then
and did you weep? Had it called you since
before you even were, and when you
knew that, did your joy escape all holding?
Where were you when you heard that
calling voice, and how, in that moment,
did you mark it? How, ever after,
are you changed?

Tell us, please, all you can about that voice.
Teach us how to listen, how to hear.

Teach us all you can of saying Yes.

Nancy-Shaffer
“Calling” by Nancy Shaffer. Text as published in Instructions in Joy: Meditations (Skinner House Books, 2002).

 

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March 13 Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at the DIA

Friday March 13

“Next time
I’ll move like cautious sunlight, open
the door by fractions, eavesdrop
peacefully.”                            Denise Leverov

In these few days at the end of mid-week March, the Detroit Institute of Arts opens its exhibit, “Diego Rivera/Frida Kahlo In Detroit.”  It’s time, I’m thinking, to go down to the DIA and renew kinship with these tempestuous lovers and artists who lived the year of 1932-33 on Kirby and Woodward, right next to the museum.  Rivera and his team worked all year to transform precise mural geometry into the pulsing faces and colors that are the “Industry in Detroit” murals.  Kahlo, less famous then, tended a painter’s genius that would later shake the world of art.  They fought too, divorced once, married twice. “I love you more than my own skin,” Frida wrote once during their long dance of betrayals and outrage and astonishing renewals of intimacy, over and over.

The DIA created an earlier Diego Rivera exhibit, pairing his perception of Detroit industry with the more cerebral landscapes of Charles Sheeler (“The Rouge: The image of Industry in the Art of Charles Sheeler and Diego Rivera” DIA 1978).  It’s pretty thrilling to find Detroit’s world class museum returning to its most important painter with a fresh interpretation.   I’m going down Saturday to listen to Linda Bank Downs’ lecture: “Diego Rivera’s Wife/Frida Kahlo’s Husband: A Question of Popularity” at 2:00 pm.

Rivera-Kahlo

Perhaps it’s anticipation of time with the exhibit, perhaps it’s this week’s unobtrusive melting of snow and ice by tiny stages.  No matter the reason, Denise Levertov’s poem about shy and delicate entries into private human mysteries seems like good counsel when the city invites the world to eavesdrop on these two genius painters and intense lovers.

Have a great weekend.  Weather.com says cloudy tomorrow, sunny on Sunday, warm both days.

Best to read the poem out loud, with pauses.

 

john sj

Aware
by Denise Levertov

When I opened the door
I found the vine leaves
speaking among themselves in abundant
whispers.
My presence made them
hush their green breath,
embarrassed, the way
humans stand up, buttoning their jackets,
acting as if they were leaving anyway, as if
the conversation had ended
just before you arrived.
I liked
the glimpse I had, though,
of their obscure
gestures. I liked the sound
of such private voices. Next time
I’ll move like cautious sunlight, open
the door by fractions, eavesdrop
peacefully.

“Aware” by Denise Levertov, from This Great Unknowing. © New Directions Publishing, 1999. Reprinted with permission.

Denise Levertov

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March 11 – Joy Harjo “Perhaps the World Ends Here”

Wednesday March 11 “Our dreams drink coffee with us”

Sometimes I get so busy that being behind on tasks distracts me from beauty.  That’s a shame.

Such a week this is proving to be.  One of the Jesuits I live with saw his first robin 3 days ago.  The snow plow piles shrink a little each day.  Weather.com says the morning is dancing with a high pressure system and bright sun 37º now 52º by 2:00.       Daylight savings time means the sun will set at 7:34.  Yes!!

Still we live with tasks and uncertainties, griefs and wounds.   Today, I found again this Joy Harjo poem, a reminder that the kitchen table serves our needs for food and work and mystical grace.

Blessings on the day.  Best to read the poem out loud, with some pauses.

john sj

 

Today’s Post  —  “Perhaps the World Ends Here”  

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children.

They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

“Perhaps the World Ends Here” from The Woman Who Fell From the Sky by Joy Harjo.
Copyright © 1994 by Joy Harjo. Used by permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., www.wwnorton.com.

Joy-Harjo

p.s.       Last night I emailed a friend at the University of Oklahoma, made noteworthy by President Boren’s strong response to frat brothers caught with a video clip of them singing a viciously racist song.  My friend emailed by a short, eloquent response to me this morning.  Worth sharing.

“Yes, it has been very stressful all the way around. I approve Pres. Boren’s actions although I can’t help but wonder whether the kids involved (who, despite their protests, really are racist) will ever personally acknowledge it and come to grips with it in a way that could produce change. Of course, all things are possible. And you have to set standards of behavior and make an environment that is safe for all. But so much of facing racism is not about intellectually understanding the reality of broad human equality (although that’s part of it), but about emotionally understanding it. And that kind of emotional understanding gets built through contact and community, something that’s so absent in segregated America.”

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March 9 – “In Detroit We’ve Got Hate on the Run”

Monday March 9 – this post was mostly written Sunday morning around 9:30 while reading the Sunday papers.

On Saturday, I learned that Rochelle Riley will speak on campus at 7:00 pm on Thursday, March 12 (hosted by UDM’s African American Studies Program and Women and Gender Studies): “[Black] Women as Public Intellectuals”. I emailed Dr. Terri Laws, who directs the African American Studies Program, asking her to count my email as an rsvp. I love reading Riley’s Detroit Free Press columns.

Sunday morning I read her column, along with two other long articles, all of which began on the front page above the fold. All three covered the shooting of Judge Terrence Berg on his back doorstep. Two young men wanted to get into the house; the judge refused; one of the young men shot him in the leg; they ran away. Then Anita, Berg’s wife, got busy getting help for her husband. This happened in our neighborhood, the University District neighborhood, the Jesuit Gesu Parish and U of D Jesuit High School a mile away. Rochelle Riley’s column frames the two longer articles. Anita decided not to chase the two young men as they ran away (she’s done it before), just hurled an obscenity after them and began taking care of her husband. Neighbors came out of their houses and converged at the Berg’s. Coming to help.

Ms. Riley embodies the soul of this poetry list, a work day in a hard time. She gets it about the way violence and kindness are contiguous here. I’ll be proud to listen to her Thursday here on campus. Right now, on Sunday morning at 10:29, I’m heading across the street to the Gesu church to be part of the worship and the singing in that place that welcomes its city and its stories.

****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ******

Now it’s Monday morning. Yesterday, reading the newspaper coverage and worshiping with the Gesu congregation reminded me of why living right here these past 34 years distills sheer beauty in my life. I’ll be there Thursday evening in Engineering 220. Her column, Today’s Post, is not a poem but you may find a few lines that help to read out loud, with pauses.

Have a blest week. 52º & sun yesterday, snow begins to melt. Sweet.

john sj

Today’s Post – “In Detroit We’ve Got Hate on the Run”
By Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press Columnist
March 8, 2015

When one of the first things Anita Sevier did — in the hours after her husband was shot in a robbery attempt — was tell the world “Don’t blame Detroit,” I wanted to stand with her.

News of the shooting spread quickly. Judge Terrence Berg was hailed as a hero for standing up to thugs. And he is. But there’s another hero, no matter what she says in protest.

“Instead of being angry,” Sevier said to Detroiters and to the world, “be part of the solution for the hopeless teens and children of Detroit. We don’t want this to be a reason to hate.”

Hate is an unwelcome resident of Detroit.

It moves around indiscriminately instead of living in one place where we can keep an eye on it. Its cousins — apathy and anger — turn up anywhere, unwanted and often unprovoked.

But here’s the thing: Hate has ruled for a long time. Detroit has let it, lived with it, let it run rampant over the city.

But things are changing in Detroit.

Hate is not the city’s only resident. Hate is getting a run for its money, thanks to people moving in and people like Judge Berg and Anita Sevier not moving out over 26 years.

There are many more Detroit residents like the Berg family, families descended from families who have loved this city for decades. They are the ones who fight for a better Detroit from the inside — and most are welcoming help from wherever it comes. There are Detroiters, former and future, around the world who remember the great city they once knew or envision the great city they want.

That city has got to tell Hate it isn’t welcome anymore. That city has to get rid of apathy and demand that every person stand up and be heard.

Some say that Mayor Mike Duggan’s biggest challenge is creating dense, safe, stable neighborhoods that new residents will flock to.

Some, including me, say that effective, safe schools for Detroit children deserve the most attention.

But truly, if we’re honest, we all know the real obstacle to what Detroit is and what it can be: Crime.

Crime affects neighborhoods. Crime affects schools. Crime affects children. Crime affects families.

Crime threatens the city’s renaissance.

We don’t need more studies to explain why there is so much crime. Part of the answer is a lack of jobs. Unemployment is more than a number — it has faces and ages. Where there is frustration and need, there is crime.

But what Anita Sevier said, even before her husband headed into surgery, was that it’s not Detroit’s fault. Not the entire city.

If we have to attach blame, then blame the proliferation of guns so easy to get that a child can shoot himself with one. More than two years after a former student shot up a Newtown, Conn., school and killed 20 children, we are still cowards about demanding strict gun laws.

If we have to attach blame, blame the thugs raised for prison rather than college, who live to shoot rather than live to succeed. Some could have been saved, if their parents had tried and if they themselves had used school for an education rather than day care until they could drop out.

Two thugs attacked a judge outside his house. They didn’t steal anything, not a wallet, not a car.

And most importantly, they didn’t steal the spirit of a longtime Detroit resident who, in the middle of despair, had the presence to ask people to rise above the destructive emotions that have held Detroit back.

Hate the thugs, if you must. But not the city.

Neighborhood
Ronald Belle, 70, a retired city of Detroit worker returns home after walking his dog on Oak Drive in Detroit on Saturday, March 7, 2015.
(Photo: Romain Blanquart Detroit Free Press)

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