Love In Action

 


Love

In

Action


a column by

Elizabeth Hill


Elizabeth Hill is an artist, teacher, nurse, and mother of three grown daughters.

Her early work in pediatric nursing inspired her international award-winning sculptures, which led her to live at a spiritual and eco-conscious community called Findhorn in Scotland for four years.

There her art became community-based, which ultimately led her back into nursing.



She now finds the two careers have merged in her teaching as well as creating therapeutic products for people with minimal mobility.

www.findhorn.org

www.elizabethhillart.com


Read Love in Action 2016

HERE


And Love in action 2018

HERE


Love in Action 2019

HERE

 

Transforming Us

A tribute to John Lewis


~Baby Chick~


Peck, peck, peck

On the warm brown egg.

Out comes a neck

Out comes a leg.


How does a chick

Whose not been about,

Discover the trick

Of how to get out?


~Aileen Fisher


A friend told me that farmers know not to help baby chicks in their hatching process. It seems that outside intervening can be dangerous for the chick. Though some chicks struggle for several days to emerge from their egg shell, if a person tries to help by taking off pieces of the shell, the chick will often die. Apparently, it is essential that each chick does the hard work of hatching by itself.


Over the last few months, all humans have been stopped in our tracks and confined—not unlike the incubating chicks inside their eggs—to our homes by a deadly pandemic. Many people have not only lost friends and love-ones to COVID19, and were not even able to say goodbye in person, or to honor them with funerals. Even now, as some states are gradually opening up, many continue to experience anxiety at the very least while others suffer from full-blown PTSD.


America itself is in chaos—politically, financially, psychologically, and spiritually—while unbridled and enabled-from-the-top racism and violence rear their ugly heads for all to see. 


Every day when I walk my dog around this fairly diverse middle class suburban neighborhood, I am often the only person who is wearing a mask. As a recently retired nurse, it infuriates me that so many others don’t see the need to help quell the spread of this ever-mutating virus.


All that said, I am aware of growing positive change forming out of necessity from grass-roots initiatives to combat climate change, social injustice, our healthcare crisis, and homelessness.


I have also seen that many people have turned their attention inward—individually and collectively—each struggling to emerge from a process of hatching out of old ways of thinking, living, and being. 


With hope in our hearts, and creativity in our hands, together we can transform ourselves and manifest a better, more sustainable, and equitable New World. 


We are one people; we are only family.

 And when we finally accept these truths, 

then we will be able to fulfill Dr. King's dream to build a beloved community, a nation, and a world at peace with itself. 

~John Lewis


An American Life Full of Grace


“Fear is a disease that eats away at logic and makes man inhuman.” 

~Marian Anderson


Marian Anderson, born in Philadelphia Pa., was an African-American contralto opera singer who performed world-wide. The Italian conductor, Arturo Toscanini, celebrated her voice as, “One that comes around once in a hundred years.”


Anderson performed in countless Concert Halls across America. Though beloved by her audiences, she was subjected to racial restrictions regarding accommodations, dining rooms, travel, restrooms, and backstage dressing rooms. 


“Prejudice is like a hair across your cheek.

You can’t see it, you can’t find it with your fingers,

but you keep brushing at it because the feel of it is irritating.”

~Marian Anderson


By 1939, Anderson’s popularity had outgrown most of Washington DC’s concert halls. However, Constitutional Hall, built in 1929 by The Daughters of the American Revolution, had a capacity of 4,000 spectators. Anderson’s agent—Sol Hurok from Howard University—approached the management of Constitutional Hall, hoping to book the venue for an Easter Sunday concert for their annual fundraiser.  Hurok was told the venue was already booked. Hurok then offered several more dates for a concert, but was given the same response. Shortly after that, Hurok discovered those dates had all been available for white performers. Apparently, the DAR had accepted their largest funding for the Hall’s construction under the condition that only whites would be allowed to perform on that stage.


Marian Anderson had twice performed at The White House, and when First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt—a member of the DAR—found out about the rejection, she was outraged! To the DAR she wrote, “I am in complete disagreement with the attitude taken in refusing Constitution Hall to a great artist. You have set an example which seems to me unfortunate, and I feel obliged to send in to you my resignation. You had an opportunity to lead in an enlightened way and it seems to me that your organization has failed.”


Though the DAR president general tried to dissuade her, Mrs. Roosevelt arranged an outdoor Easter Sunday 1939 concert at The Lincoln Memorial, overseen by the Department of The Interior.


On Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939, Harold Ickes—the Secretary of the Interior—introduced Marian Anderson saying, “In this great auditorium under the sky, all of us are free. . . Genius knows no color line.” 


With Lincoln’s image above her, a multitude of microphones broadcasted to millions across the country. In front of her, 75,000 Americans of all races, genders, and ages stood, dressed in their Easter finary. It was, by far, the largest audience she had ever seen and she was terrified.


In reading about the event, I was intrigued by her choices and placement of the first song as well as the last one. She opened with “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” 

Link to 1939 Lincoln Memorial Concert: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAONYTMf2pk


The last song in her concert is one that goes straight through my heart, as I’m sure it did for the audience that day, as she sang “Nobody Knows The Troubles I’ve Seen.”  

Link to a rendition of it: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxFvI1roQIw


Among the audience that Easter Sunday was ten year old Martin Luther King Jr. Five years later, in an oratory contest, he referred to Anderson’s Lincoln Memorial performance, saying, “She sang as never before, with tears in her eyes. When the words of “America” and “Nobody Knows the Troubles I Seen” rang out over that great gathering, there was a hush on the sea of uplifted faces, black and white, and a new baptism of liberty, equality, and fraternity.”


Newspapers across the country acknowledged the significance of the moment with front page stories. One newsreel labeled it, “Nation’s Capital Gets Lesson in Tolerance.”


“None of us is responsible for the complexion of his skin. 

This fact of nature offers no clue to the character or quality of the person underneath.” 

~Marian Anderson


On the DAR’s website, the organization made a formal apology to Marian Anderson for their slight in 1939, and went on to say “...today we join all Americans in grateful recognition that her historic performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial was a pivotal point in the struggle for racial equality. The beauty of her voice, amplified by her courage and grace, brought attention to the eloquence of many voices urging our nation to overcome prejudice and intolerance. It sparked change not just in the DAR but in all of America.”


In 1943, Anderson was finally invited to perform at the DAR’s Constitution Hall for an American Red Cross war relief fundraiser. That concert brought the world an extra blessing, in that Anderson, at first, had refused to perform unless the management agreed to suspend their segregated seating policy. 


They complied to her request, and then, she sang...