Soonchild by Russell Hoban

SoonchildSOONCHILD, authored by Russell Hoban and illustrated by Alexis Deacon, is classified in my library as YA (young adult fiction), but here is that mysterious thing, a book to read to a child until she can read it for herself as well as a book that child can understand both differently and completely each time she rereads it at a new stage of her life– a book for all ages.

John the shaman/shamed man has gotten lax, but when the world (wearing the face of the daughter in his wife’s womb) needs him, John enlists Raven and journeys to find the World Songs his daughter demands. And what a rollicking, flawed travelogue the reader gets to witness! Russell Hoban  is a master of “the strangeness and silence underneath everything,” which, in this tale, he names Ukpika. The illustrations of Alexis Deacon are as genius as Hoban’s tale itself. Not only is SOONCHILD a roaringly magnificent read, but the jump John must make to find the World Songs happens to be the very jump each of us alive at this time on the planet is being asked to make.

I’m truly sorry that Russell Hoban’s mystical gladness has left this plane (1925-2011), but SOONCHILD seems  a fitting last imagining from such a uniquely magical and hilariously comedic author.

Out of Time

We are perhaps the first species to become conscious of our own evolution, aware that we can destroy ourselves, or, make the quantum leap to evolve into a cooperative species. What futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard calls December 22, 2012 is Birth2012. Her documentary film, Visions of a Universal Humanity, inspires me to offer my personal gift to the great Shift, which is a poet’s imagination. I can imagine the pattern of the new cocreative society, I can hold a vision of how it is when all the global sectors and communities work together.IMG_5036

This moment in humanity’s role in the cosmic story is as significant a leap as when single cells joined, a jump across a gap that was not only possible but demanded. This optimistic view of a future of infinite possibilities is actually natural, reasonable, and obvious. Not an incremental movement but a leap to a new kind of species. Barbara asks each of us to determine what our task might be, to find our deepest experience of self and to participate in the shift by contributing that experience.

From inside the womb, the perspective is grim. The cataclysm comes, there is an  explosion, an opening into fierce light appears, and then the life form disappears into a different world and all seems lost. Or is it.  From outside the womb, the perspective is jubilant — the receiving of new life, a glorious beginning celebrated by beings in a larger world.

We will soon be out of time, and this is a good thing. Time can begin anew and we can reframe everything, including time. Soon now, time transforms into an evolutionary leap to create more conscious life. What a magnificent time to be alive.

Disturb the ‘Peace’!

Photo by Michal Fatta of Anat Hoffman arrested for disturbing the peace at West Wall as she lead women in prayers for peaceIn the year 1947, the UN General Assembly declared October 24, the anniversary of the Charter of the United Nations, as United Nations Day. I am heartened that the Western North Carolina Chapter of the UN Association has chosen to celebrate UN Day with a program honoring women. Promoting women’s equality promotes peace and sustainable development around the world!

Last night at a Sahara Peace Choir rehearsal for our part in the WNC-UN program, I learned of the recent arrest of Anat Hoffman, who was leading prayers for peace at Jerusalem’s Western Wall and charged with, yes, disturbing the peace. Hoffman is the chair of Women of the Wall, a group that brings women to the Wall at the start of each Hebrew month. The Wall is currently under the jurisdiction of an ultra orthodox Haredi rabbi who considers the Wall as an Orthodox synagogue and authorizes only individual women in silent prayer, without tallit (prayer shawl) or Torah, and only at the small portion of the wall set aside for women. Hoffman reports that she was handcuffed, shackled and strip-searched during her detention by Jerusalem police.

This follows on the heels of the story of the teenage Afghan girl, Malala Yousafzai, targeted for promoting education for girls and shot in the head on her school bus by fundamentalist Taliban soldiers in the name of religion. In a UN Day message, the UN Secretary General has invited the world to join as one human family. One can’t join what one is already part of. Anat Hoffman and Malala Yousafzai have acted in their daily lives on the belief that they are inherently included in the human family.

It is actions taken by women and girls like Anat and Malala that disturb a ‘peace’ that must be disturbed, in order to become authentic and inclusive.  It is stories like theirs that are indeed disturbing. May the courage and commitment shown by all such women fighting for our rights be celebrated. May these stories disturb us so profoundly that on UN Day and every day,  we promote women’s equality in small local actions of our own.

The Courage of Malala Yousafzai

Pakistani teen activist shot by Taliban on her school bus for promoting eductation for girlsMalala Yousafzai is a 14-year-old education activist from the town of Mingora in Pakistan who was shot in the head on October 9, 2012 in an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen. In 2009 Yousafzai wrote a blog for the BBC detailing her life under the Taliban regime, their attempts to take control of the Swat valley where she lives, and her views on promoting education for girls. She remains unconscious and in critical condition. The Taliban have publicly vowed to kill her if she survives. Que vive Malala!