We're grateful to the Rev. Dr. Maurice Wallace, Associate Professor of English at Duke University, and Ms. Jackie Dove-Miller, poet and founder of Spirit of Peace, for sharing their words of wisdom at Tuesday's Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation. Below is the beautiful poem Ms. Dove-Miller shared as part of the program.
There is something within me
That is strong enough
To keep me from toppling
Over the edge of
Over the ledge of
Or over the hedge of
It leads me to prayer
When I would otherwise
There is something in my make-up
Or my bringing up
Or just the way I look up
That straightens my back
And bows my head.
It becomes the focus of my meditation.
The sentiment in my supplication,
The reason for my transformation.
That thing inside me
Has me choosing light
Though darkness covers all.
It wells up like ocean waves
Come to drown those who
Think they deserve to push me back
Hold me down or
Steal my joy.
I have a spiritual strength that
Grows deeper and speaks louder as I get to know
More about who I am.
"Where did IT come from?" Someone recently asked.
I answered, "In my developing stage, someone said out loud,
'You sure are good at _______,'"
My puny soul embraced that seed,
and it planted itself deep inside me and took root.
I tested that tiny bit of ego-strength against
The negative family messages that focused on
What I was NOT good at, making me feel small
I was NOT good at being like my mother
Who was all but saintly.
I was NOT good at being
Like my sister who was beautiful and dainty.
I was NOT ballerina thin, nor prissy neat,
But I WAS good at ________
And when I looked a little further, I discovered that
I was GOOD ENOUGH.
Good enough to bear fruit
And reap a harvest.
Good enough to plant a seed
In others and watch them grow
Magnificent and free.
I was GOOD ENOUGH to relate to
The GOD inside of me.
So, this poem is for all my sister-friends
Who don't yet know that
YOU are better than what your mothers,
your teachers, the men in your life,
or even the good sisters in church have called you.
Because God has called you Blessed
And HIS is the only voice that matters.
So, here and now, I pray OUR sister-prayer,
Help me to release
That lives in my heart.
Remind me daily
That I am the product of
And all that
you make... ALL THAT YOU MAKE
Is Perfect. Amen