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12 of 12 | Monday is for Religion: “Seize the Moment,” by Alice E. Van Pelt

Hi lovely Earthlings!

One more poem from Alice Van Pelt.  This one is a bit sad.  She seems to have a hard time staying well.  Her sleep, her days are a bit tormented.  She holds on to her source and feels its presence at every step.  When she has a “moment” free of torment, she dedicates it to that source.  This reminds me of a beloved friend, Eros.  I often tease him that “atheism” is just another religion as I used to do with my dad.  And yet what I like about him, what makes him unique among beloveds, is the “religious” way he’ll do what’s on the plate, including love.  Love to Eros is like a prayer.  It’s like a religious ritual and a trance.  I am sure this mother would be in awe of that.  It is a joy to be part of the narratives of the amazing human family!

Seize the Moment

I thank you Lord because you’re there
Alice E. Van Pelt
When I’m disturbed I know you care
You wake me up to start my day
Carry me through all the way
Hold my hand when the going gets rough
Brighten my spirit when things are tough
When evening fails and night returns
You lay me down with soft concerns
You watch me as I start to pray
And keep me calm in every way
I must seize the moment
To honor you always
Give you the glory and give you the praise.
No date
From the poetry collection of Alice E. Van Pelt, published here with permission from her descendants, gratefully acknowledged.

Dear Earthlings: 
Did you notice the beauty of this poem?  Again that soft touch of rhymes kissing each other, of rhythms and tones in a dance.  We say goodbye to Alice for the moment.  Perhaps more poems will be released from her collections and we will open another series for her.  We thank her for her gifts of poetry to this blog.  And for the gift of jarring yours truly with a belief system she had rejected.  The gift of thinking of monotheism in the context of amorous and religious inclusiveness again.
More series coming.  Stay tuned for next.  We will announce in the social media.

Did you enjoy the series?  Let us know!  Yours truly appreciates your attention.  The comments box is open.

Come back!  And stay tuned for more wonders.

Namaste,

Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio, PhD
Gilf Gaia Extraordinaire
Author of Gaia and the New Politics of Love and many other books
Professor of Humanities

University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

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11 of 12 | Monday is for Religion: “Troubled Waters,” by Alice E. Van Pelt

Hi lovely Earthlings!

This is one of the most beautiful of Alice’s poems I’ve read.  It is so simple and chiseled to perfection.  How do we overcome a rough patch?  Where does it register within that one has arrived?  And what source do we tap into to get past the storm?  Her religion helps.  Another way Alice shares her experience with posterity.

TROUBLED WATERS

Alice E. Van Pelt

Heavy clouds above my head

Storms approaching, fears I dread
Times are changing, so it’s said
Tears of sadness in my head.
Like the Phoenix from the ashes
As the waves of torment passes
God declares a new beginning
New life in Jesus I am winning.
April 26, 1998
From the poetry collection of Alice E. Van Pelt, published here with permission from her descendants, gratefully acknowledged.

Dear Earthlings: 
Did you notice the beauty of this poem?  The words dance in the short verses and the rhymes kiss each other at the end.  The tone and theme are in lockstep. When you feel you want to react to the monotheism, remember it’s an instance of polytheism, only with just one deity.  People invent the belief systems they need.  And this one seems to work for Alice E. Van Pelt. 
More poems from Alice coming.  Stay tuned for next.  We will post every Monday at noon.

Did you enjoy the post?  Let us know!  Yours truly appreciates your attention.  The comments box is open.

Come back!  And stay tuned for more wonders.

Namaste,

Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio, PhD
Gilf Gaia Extraordinaire
Author of Gaia and the New Politics of Love and many other books
Professor of Humanities

University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

Join Our Mailing List
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10 of 12 | Monday is for Religion: “Exploring Our Afro American Heritage,” by Alice E. Van Pelt

Hi lovely Earthlings!

This week we get into another aspect of Alice’s life.  She was a leader and a public speaker in educational events about the Afro American cultural heritage.  Her scrapbook reports some of the talks she prepared.  Here’s one where an introduction is followed by poetry and music.  Who should be ashamed of slavery?  Alice’s presentation begs the question.  Again, we are present to an inclusive voice that embraces all of the Afro American heritage, that looks at history as a flow.  Not a tale of winners and losers, but rather a sense of creativity, of music, dance, ritual, song, of feeling life pulsating together as we overcome odds.  Perhaps this is the art of living after all.

Two voices are present: Alice and her husband Harold.  He is the musician who accompanies the song.  The pictures refer to the African American music scene in New Jersey in the early 20th Century of which he was part.

Theme

Exploring Our Afro American Heritage

From the mountains of West Virginia to the farmlands of Pennsylvania
From the West Coast to the East Coast
From the South to the North 
They came and they kept coming
And they kept signing, playing music.
Beating the drums to freedom.
African Americans–survivors of a spiritual people–people who made it out of the trials and tribulations of Slavery.
We are here today to explore that history through music.
It is a rich heritage that will not be denied 
That must be fortified, restored, built up in our young people for future generations.

Black folks have a strength that has survived racism, depression, recession, and genocide–all designed to steal, kill, and destroy them.  The term of “we shall overcome” aptly describes their perseverance.

Our Program today depicts thought “music” pictures from whence we have come and will point out a direction for others to follow.
To show where we are going.
I would like to take you back to the period when slavery existed–a regression for black people–a time when the only thing that kept them going was faith in God. Music became an integral part of their day to day existence–the Negro Spirituals became a coded message used to signal that the master was coming–notify them of a meeting tonight–to “steal away”–meet secretly in old barns, people’s home, anywhere they could pray and ask God to deliver them from the bondage of slavery–strong faith sustained them.
Recent study of Newark’s black music scene

During the 19h Century Gospel songs were sung in the Black churches–Gospel meaning “Good News.”  Webster’s Dictionary defines Gospel music as African American music–combining spirituals, Blues and Jazz–isn’t it strange that each type of music is distinct in its own right?  Spirituals are sacred songs also called jubilees, folk songs, shout songs, sorrow songs, slave songs, slave melodies.  Gospel music added another facet, they became religious songs used in church to lift the spirit.  Even though Blues and Jazz were performed in the clubs and honky top bars–this music also came out of the souls of black folks and contributes to the Black Heritage.

Alice: “I want to first show you a picture of role models who motivated me–my mother was the one who pointed me in the right direction–even though she died when I was nine years old.  Those formative years have stayed with me throughout my life.  I have always felt her presence guided me, teaching me–at the time I didn’t know it but God was with me and through his guidance my mother was there–I wasn’t a ‘motherless child'”–play the song.
Harold: “What and who motivated Him.”  Talks about beginnings of boycott in Montgomery.
After he finishes, Alice to continue with poem “Troubled Water”–do spiritual “Wade in the Water.”
Today we all face a new type of slavery, a modern type of bondage–destruction of the family–no matter what the color or race of people.  Drug addiction has taken its toll.  Again, we must all work together in unity to break the bonds of slavery and be free.  

Friday, February 26, 1999

Notes from the scrapbook of Alice E. Van Pelt, published here with permission from her descendants, gratefully acknowledged. 
Dear Earthlings: 
Did you notice the wisdom of these words?  Yours truly remembers when she first moved to the United States.  She lived with emigres in California. African Americans were definitely her first American friends.  So warm, so welcoming, so magical in their ways of being together.  She felt privileged to be accepted by them.  Never treated like a “foreigner.”  What moves me in these notes is Alice’s mention of her late mother, the model she offered, the spirit who lingered on to protect the little girl.  And her final note: whose “family” is she talking about?  Is it the normative, nuclear family, the family of all African Americans, or perhaps the human family?  And drugs?  What drugs is she talking about?  The drugs that medicalize the lives of seniors and other people with chronic illnesses to the point of making conscious death a more sustainable choice?  The drugs that infest the streets of the poor and replace the hope for an education that only money and privilege can access?  The drugs that kill one’s creativity rather than enhance it?  When I read Alice’s poems without the prejuduce against monotheism, all kinds of meanings and interpretations are open.

More poems from Alice coming.  Stay tuned for next.  We will post every Monday at noon.

Did you enjoy the post?  Let us know!  Yours truly appreciates your attention.  The comments box is open.

Come back!  And stay tuned for more wonders.

Namaste,

Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio, PhD
Gilf Gaia Extraordinaire
Author of Gaia and the New Politics of Love and many other books
Professor of Humanities

University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

Join Our Mailing List
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9 of 12 | Monday is for Religion: “Those Sizzling Seniors,” by Alice E. Van Pelt

Hi lovely Earthlings!

Yours truly is back with another of Alice’s poems.  This time she talks about how it feels to be a “senior,” to get “older.”  Oh well, aren’t we all going to feel that way–if we’re lucky enough to stick around!  Yours truly is absolutely ignorant about Protestantism, especially the American denominations, and so she had to educate herself about Presbyterianism.  And sure enough she found out that the Elders are respected.  How nice!  Being raised by a grandmother always helps a young girl respect old age.  Yours truly is aware.  And Alice experienced that as well.  As an adult, she lived in New Jersey, where the toxic soup that produces so many of the chronic illnesses of today is particularly thick, including industrial waste, nuclear plants, soil, water, and air contamination, and much more.  She suffered and died from one of them.  Yet in this poem she celebrates the seniority of age.  Seniors are ablaze with a special kind of energy: more subdued, more long-standing, wiser and steadier.  Old age can be a fun age if one relishes one’s memories.  Remembering past events with joy can be just as much fun as being part of them once was.  One may not attend in person, but once the memory is written in the body the dream can stay awake.  And of course, more longevity, more cherished memories. 

As Alice remembers:

THOSE SIZZLING SENIORS

Don’t write us off yet, cause we’re ready to roll
Just see what you get when you’re calling us old
You forget that we have been where you’re trying to go
And we have the skin from the battles to show.
Alice E. Van Pelt
Like a TIMEX watch we’ve been taking a licking.
But also we’ve found that we have kept on ticking.
We’ve learned to slow down to a steady pace–
Keeping ourselves still in the race.
We try to remember the things that we have done.
The trials, tribulations and the prizes we’ve won.
Somehow the mind doesn’t work the same
And you look around but there is no one to blame.
There is always a place that you want to be
But somehow you wonder if that’s for me.
You have searched and wandered near and far
But can’t remember where you are.
Once the mystery of it all was in the old faces.
Now you realize that you have just changed places.
We have danced and pranced and kicked real high
Now you sit and dream and wonder why.
September 8, 1999
From the poetry collection of Alice E. Van Pelt, published here with permission from her descendants, gratefully acknowledged.

Dear Earthlings: 
Did you notice the wisdom of these words?  Alice wants to be seen as senior, not old.  Senior, as in one worthy of respect, not “over the hill,” as they say.  Senior, as in one whose wisdom has accrued with experience.  And isn’t saving one’s energies part of that wisdom as well?  One can interpret this poem from the point of view of an artist of love.  The wisdom Alice claims speaks of one who lived life in an artistic way.  The art of living is what she calls attention to as she claims her senior place in the world. That, yours truly bets, is the message she wants all descendants to get. 
More poems from Alice coming.  Stay tuned for next.  We will post every Monday at noon.

Did you enjoy the post?  Let us know!  Yours truly appreciates your attention.  The comments box is open.

Come back!  And stay tuned for more wonders.

Namaste,

Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio, PhD
Gilf Gaia Extraordinaire
Author of Gaia and the New Politics of Love and many other books
Professor of Humanities

University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

Join Our Mailing List
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Follow us in the social media
Poly Planet GAIA Blog: http://polyplanet.blogspot.com/ 
Author’s Page/Lists all books: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JS1VKA 
YouTube Uploaded Videos: http://www.youtube.com/SerenaAnderlini
 

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8 of 12 | Monday is for Religion: “A Letter to My Sons,” by Alice E. Van Pelt

Hi lovely Earthlings,
You know how prejudiced yours truly is against monogamy.  “Monogamy is all about exclusion,” her mind goes!  So, let’s exclude monogamy and we can be inclusive then.  Same applies to religion, no?  Monotheism is what drives the cultural wars.  So, let’s be pagan instead.  We can include however many deities and there will be no wars!  Well, when she read the poems in this series she realized the cost of this prejudice.

This series, “What Is Mono?” includes poems from unpublished collections by Alice E. Van Pelt.  This woman was the mother of yours truly’s beloved, a friend we’ll call Eros.  He is devotional, magical, and absolutely inclusive in his love.  Alice was Eros’s confidante and favorite parent.  She left a legacy of poems and yours truly offered to take it on as form of devotion to Eros and his loss.

The Van Pelts are Presbyterians.  In the North-East this denomination is not uncommon among African-Americans with deep roots in Unionist states.  With its abstract, non-representational sense of the sacred, its exigent work ethic, it was probably a belief system that sustained them better in the industrialized economy of the Eastern Seaboard.  Alice’s poetry is very religious, and very inspiring in that way.  There is a fervor, a devotion, that marks it as genuine, heartfelt.  The words dance on the page and recollect themselves in a gentle prayer, as in the poem you’ll find below, to Alice’s two sons.

However, Alice’s vision is just so far removed from that of the African American women’s voices that have guided yours truly to first question the ideology behind the single white male deity Christians call “God.”  As in, for example, Ntozake Shange’s “i found god in myself and loved her, loved her fiercely.”

What was yours truly going to do with this legacy on a blog that’s devoted questioning that belief system and supporting others who do so?

Sometimes the contradictions, the inner conflicts of our lovers help us untangle some of our own.  Eros is of course not a monotheistic person at this point.  And yet there is a correspondence between his magic as an artist of love and Alice’s as a wordsmith.

Yours truly often claims that monogamy is not the opposite of polyamory but just a special case of it.  The number “1” just happens to be the first in an infinite series that includes it.  By the same token, monotheism is just a special case of polytheism.  The infinite, not the one, is where the whole resides.

“Polytheism, polyamory, are just more inclusive, that’s all,” yours truly claims.  But then, does that alleged inclusiveness give one the right to exclude monotheism and monogamy–to declare them obsolete, prejudiced, or wrong?

If we who believe in poly truly believe that poly is inclusive we need to practice that by including mono, no?

So that’s how yours truly came to accept Alice’s poems.  And, guess what, once she did, the poems acquired a whole new meaning.

For example, the poem to Alice’s sons below: is it only to her own two biological sons?  Can it not be read as a poem to all of the “sons” Alice’s poetic voice embraces?  An invocation to action, to resilience, to self knowledge, to self possession, to extending the embrace well beyond the poet’s family or denomination?  As yours truly reads the poems again without prejudice against monotheism, their ecumenical, inclusive values become transparent.  Their evangelical message is one of courage and awareness for the infinite that is the whole.

A LETTER TO MY SONS

To my sons this time I take
this wish from Mom’s heart I make.
Alice E. Van Pelt

Remember how we came to be

part of the Negro’s history.

Shun not the struggle, for you see
we must continue this legacy.
Be strong in all you attempt to do
for God is always watching you.
There is hope for you in prayer today.
His aid is never far away.
Call upon him whenever life grows dim
and you must never abandon him.

Our strength is in the young today

and we must guide them all the way.
Be kind and loving to your brother
for there will never be another.
Since we were brought to this place
we have become a dying race.
Our blood is running in the streets
from drugs, and guns and men in sheets.
Our children are victims of the man’s oppression.
Prejudice is the oppressor’s obsession
and yet we hope for a brand new day 
Three generations in Alice’s family

with every step along the way.

Lift your voices loud and long
remember how hard we fought, be strong.
This torch I place within your hand
carry the struggle throughout the land.
Don’t let us die in vain you see
We need to make this our legacy.
Alice E. Van Pelt
No date.

From the poetry collection of Alice E. Van Pelt, published here with permission from her descendants, gratefully acknowledged.

Dear Earthlings: 
Did you notice the wisdom of these words?  Alice reminds the children to stay connected and get along, to respect each other and respect themselves.  She wants them to guide the young and feel connected to their legacy.  History is important, and standing for justice is more important than winning.  Feeling part of that force that brings hope to our worlds, that “universal energy” that the Greeks called Eros and the Christians call “God.”
And since it’s everywhere, then it may as well be a “one” that’s form to the many. 
More poems from Alice coming.  Stay tuned for next.  We will post every Monday at noon.

Did you enjoy the post?  Let us know!  Yours truly appreciates your attention.  The comments box is open.

Come back!  And stay tuned for more wonders.

Namaste,

Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio, PhD
Gilf Gaia Extraordinaire
Author of Gaia and the New Politics of Love and many other books
Professor of Humanities

University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

Join Our Mailing List
 GaiaCoverFullSize  
Follow us in the social media
Poly Planet GAIA Blog: http://polyplanet.blogspot.com/ 
Author’s Page/Lists all books: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JS1VKA 
YouTube Uploaded Videos: http://www.youtube.com/SerenaAnderlini
 

Find us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView our profile on LinkedInView our videos on YouTubeVisit our blog

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