Artemisia, Geese, Mangoes, and Martin Luther King.

Today my friends I have decided to strike while the iron is hot. I’ve been so inspired by media sites blowing up all over the place about Martin Luther King. This week has given me much to reflect about and has created many pools of inspiration.

Before unleashing the day and plugging into the world of media, I was up at five AM finishing a school assignment on the female artist Artemisia Gentileschi. The night before, I was up past midnight laying out the foundation for a health and wellness paper I am writing about Native American Women.

Earlier this week, I was on a high because the Zero waste market I have been working at was featured in Martha Stewart. Martha freaking Stewart y’all! Then later that day, I had a moment of deflation when I read that the great poet Mary Oliver had passed away.

It did give me another chance to skim through her writing again. I had studied her poetry a few weeks before for a Nature Writer’s class. I suppose the news of Mary Oliver’s death struck me because I felt like we were just getting acquainted. I also felt like she left this world just when her message was needed the most.

Mary Oliver put forth a question that many are familiar with.  “Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’ I was also taken by these words, “Someone I loved once, gave me a box full of darkness, It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” 

Mary Oliver’s poem about wild geese is also breathtaking. I live near the Jordan River and the Great Salt Lake in Utah where geese fly over my house frequently. I used to live on the east benches of the Wasatch mountains and that had its perks, but being on the west side has reintroduced me to the flight paths of geese. A large flock of geese flew over my house the same day my dog passed away, and I will never forget it. It was truly a Mary Oliver moment.

nature bird water animal
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Mango is also a poem I have liked by Mary Oliver. Her writing was not just about eloquent poetry, it was also about social justice. She provides great sensory detail about eating the juiciness of a mango, but also tasting trouble. In this poem, she contemplates the history of the mango in a third world country. She was my type of lady.

person holding red and yellow fruit
Photo by Alan Cabello on Pexels.com

Now, I don’t want to throw my thoughts of Martin Luther King by the wayside. This man deserves a spotlight of his own. I feel a great sense of revered respect for Martin Luther King. It’s comforting to know that his legacy still lives. Yet, there is still so much work to be done when it comes to social justice. It is a constant uphill battle. I’m not so blind to see that he was not popular in his time, or that even some of his humanist friends turned on him. It takes courage to look oppression in the face. What a courageous inspired man he was.

There were times when even Martin Luther King himself felt deflated or that his message of hope may have appeared too naive. The seeds of his message have been planted everywhere and hope for a better world continues to be cultivated. I believe it. This passage carries some foreshadowing of times that may have been ahead:

“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!”   Martin Luther King.

Whoa. Powerful stuff right there. I can’t even wrap that one up. Praise be to the man who praised his god and dared to dream that equality and social justice could be possible.

I can’t leave Artemesia Gentileschi behind. She was a famed painter from the Renaissance era. In my women’s art class a question was brought forth, “Why were there so few female artists in history?” Well…there were. They were just unaccounted for or had few opportunities within a male dominated society. The male construct had also determined the classification for “what art is.”

Praise be to this woman who painted herself as the very essence of art itself. Something her male colleagues could not do, and she did it without a gag upon her mouth. She also gave a more accurate depiction of the rape scene of Susanna where a woman would dare show signs of defiance. Her painting of Judith beheading a man also exemplifies a defiance to Renaissance ideals of what a woman should be. I’m just saying, check her out. I recommend it.

So if nothing else, I just wanted to write about the inspiration I have acquired this week, and to just take a moment to thank whatever forces were at work that allowed me to contemplate these awe-inspiring beacons of light and their legacies.

I have talked a lot about instigating action in my corner of the world and personal choices one can make for impacting the world, but not enough about drawing inspiration from others as a source of strength in trying times. I also felt influenced by my daughter this week. Her husband has been deployed and she took the opportunity to tackle a twelve mile hike with a female friend and to observe the blood moon. It was a great way to approach her transition ahead with renewed strength in herself.  I loved it. I was also reminded to get outside more and to enjoy the wonders of this beautiful planet while I still have her.

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I just love when I get nature all over myself. To be all muddy on the side of a mountain sounds heavenly right about now. I read another feature today about how just five minutes of outside time a day can benefit your health. I thought,  “How sad. Is that all we are divvying out for outside time these days?”

Other articles have been brought to my attention about how we appear to be losing this battle with the outdoors because we as a society have become out of touch. This has made “the humans” apathetic towards our planet.

Another reminder to me: The outdoors are also a tremendous source of inspiration to draw from. I must get out there. These are my thoughts friends. I feel blessed to share them. I would love to hear where your sources of inspiration have come from this week! Until next post!

XO

Rachelle Whiting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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