Water is a powerful force – literally or metaphorically. If you pay attention to key moments in movies and books, you will often find that water is somehow a part of those moments. Perhaps it is a rainstorm, or a tidal wave, a flood, a baptism, or maybe that first glass of water after an arduous journey.
Water is life.
A Second Chance
This was my second visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The first one I was a chaperone – I only had about 45 minutes to truly check out the entirety of the museum while maintaining my duty as a chaperone of 50 eight graders.
Needless to say, my visit was rushed.
Recently, I got to return to Washington, D.C. I made a point of returning to the museum to see some things that I missed last visit.
As I wandered (or perhaps the better word would be wondered) through the museum, I had to pause to contemplate where I had come from. I had to consider the legacy that was gifted to me through the blood, tears, courage, and resilience of my ancestors.
When I chaperoned the trip, I was told there was an indoor waterfall – The Contemplative Court. I never got to it and so I made it a priority for this trip.
I made it to the contemplative room after an abbreviated tour of the history of slavery. The room is a spectacle to hold in wonder and awe. The waterfall drips from stories above your head and falls in a ring (almost like a crown) in a wading pool below. It is like a religious experience.
There are quotes adorned on all four walls, and I don’t mean to minimize them here, but my eyes came back to the water.
The waterfall is like a steady rain. You know the kind that you can see the individual, large, drops of water, but then you adjust your eyes and see the blanket of water for the force that it is.
Four walls. Four quotes. Lots of contemplation.
I cherish my own freedom dearly, but I care even more for your freedom. – Nelson Mandela
We are determined. . . to work and fight until justice rains down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I ask no monument, proud and high to arrest the gaze of the passers-by; all that my yearning spirit craves is bury me not in a land of slaves. – Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
A change is gonna come. – Sam Cooke
I sat there and felt myself focusing first on the waterfall as a whole then back to the individual drops. And then I found myself watching the ripples of water reacting to the large drops splashing into the pool.
I had lots of thoughts. The curse and the blessing of this trip was that I was alone. While my movements were indeed unencumbered by anyone else’s wishes, I had no one with whom to share my thoughts.
So I sat down on one of the benches and pulled out my phone and started writing because that is how I think. It is how I process.
I’ll share those thoughts with you now, but please excuse me because I’m not a poet by trade nor have I played one on TV.
Here’s what I wrote:
It only takes a spark
Or begins with a single drip
One drop is quiet, but persistent
Hundreds sing a cacophony of change
The drops rain in the water
The drops reign in the water
They emulate the sounds of millions marching
Of thunderous applause
Of voices in unison
To be heard
Persistant, Resistant, Consistant
The drops reverberate
The drops continue to fall
and cannot be ignored.
Magnanimous, Humble, Bold
The pitter patter of their impact
A constant reminder
If they fall on deaf ears, the eyes must see the ripples
The feet must feel the waves
The drops are persistent
Each one valuable.
The value is in the volume and not the identity
Each one valuable
The drips started before we were born
And will persist after we’ve gone
Till the cycle is broken.
Let the circle be unbroken
Each one valuable.
We can argue who has made the biggest splash in history, but something that should not be discounted are the millions of drips and drops that have accumulated over time. Sometimes change is slow and persistent like erosion.
As I toured the museum, I found myself full of gratitude for the millions of drips that have contributed to change. Water is a powerful force. Water is life – literally and metaphorically.