In a moment of whimsy I quoted Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on Facebook:
“Know your role and shut your mouth!”
I was met with mirth and gifs and whimsy in return … and then …
I was called out and questioned about what my role truly is. This was from someone who had been in the audience during a USO program I was part of. In that show I expressed hope and healing. This fellow human chided me for posting things that he deemed hurtful and divisive. Finally he asked me: “What is your role?”
I stopped and thought. I consulted friends and mentors. I examined my heart and my soul, as well as my gift. I point blank threw it to the social media and asked what role my friends saw me in, in their lives. After much thought I determined this:
My gift is my voice; my ability to communicate. Not card tricks, not magic. Voice. My responsibility is to hone that gift and use it in a way that is pleasing to the giver.
So my role … is Storyteller. To reveal my heart demonstrably in the service of the giver of my life and my gift. The giver and my master is Love. Love must sometimes stand up for justice. Love must sometimes raise its voice against tyranny and oppression. Love must stand in the gaps of division and insist on truth.
I have been given a voice, and I do my best to raise my voice for Love. That’s my role.
… but I will not shut my mouth.
I was born in a bookstore. An intimate bookstore. All raw wood and paper and that smell you get when books are allowed to co-habitate and age together. The new, important, crisp Gore Vidals and Stephen Kings, the venerable professors Twain and Dickens and Woolf. The mad uncle Hemingway. The brooding cousin Poe. The taboo aroma of the pulps: McBain and the Destroyer, Conan the Barbarian and Edgar Rice Burroughs. It was warm and inviting and time slowed and bent, and I was born alongside a million universes, stories and worlds.
I was born in my grandfather’s backyard. He brought in dark soil to enrich his vegetable garden. After spreading, but before seeding, he had me kneel with him in the dirt. “Get your hands in there, Buzzard. Break up a few of the clods and put a piece of yourself into the earth.” So saying, we plunged in, wrist deep and let the dirt flow through our fingers. Working the soil, giving thanks and requesting fat tomatoes and squash. The aroma from the broken soil was a promise of life, of food.
My hands … are still dirty.
I was born in the shade of a large oak, among the roots. Regal, masterful and knowing. Everyone praises the tree for its garments: green and then red and yellow … gay and beautiful and heart lifting. Underneath its clothes, though … that’s where it happens. In the gnarled roots and rough bark. The hands of the roots plunged deep into the earth, feeding and nurturing and creating fruit. The time traveling tree, having shaded your grandfather and his grandfather … has been told secrets and has witnessed history, yet stoically remains quiet, maintaining foundation and changing clothes every now and then.
I was born at the taste of cinnamon apples on a girl’s lips.
I was born again when I looked into Her eyes and saw deep, mahogany history.
My life is stories and dirty hands.
I am surrounded by love, warm and nurturing … books, earth, and roots.