Sunday Evening Reflection: Benediction

Over the past months, I have taken my poetry recitation outside. There seems to be a fresh energy that comes when surrounded by the sounds of a vibrant nature scene that thrives within the confines of city life.

“Benediction” by Georgia Douglas Johnson was my companion when I came upon a family (gaggle) of Canadian Geese gathering for an evening swim. While the goslings were well on their way to maturity, they were still protected by the older generation. Time moves on. Within a few short months, the Geese family structure will change as the goslings reach maturity, preparing to become next year’s guardian cohort.

As so it is with us, which is beautifully illustrated in “Benediction”. There is a flow from generation to generation, with time allotted and duties assigned to each. It is an arch of ascending and descending, of striving upwards and a downward slope of acceptance and celebration. “To every thing there is a season…”

May we enjoy every season of our lives.

Benediction by Georgia Douglas Johnson

Go forth, my son,
Winged by my heart’s desire!
Great reaches, yet unknown,
Await
For your possession.
I may not, if I would,
Retrace the way with you,
My pilgrimage is through,
But life is calling you!
Fare high and far, my son,
A new day has begun,
Thy star-ways must be won

Georgia Douglas Johnson, (September 10, 1880 – May 15, 1966), was an African-American poet, one of the earliest African-American female playwrights and an important figure of the Harlem Renaissance.

59 Thoughts

    1. Thank you, Diana! I have come lately to poetry and am in the catch-up phase. The first time I heard about the Harlem Renaissance was when a dear friend recited this Langston Hughes poem to me: “I’ve known rivers:
      I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins. My soul has grown deep like the rivers.” https://youtu.be/WN3G7dQJll8. Thank you so much for joining me and for your heartwarming comments.

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      1. Langston Hughes is a favorite of mine. I’ve been teaching his personal narrative “Salvation” in my writing process for the last few years. (It’s the first chapter of his autobiography.)

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    1. Thank you so much for your comments! It was a beautiful evening and I love how nature brings respite in the midst of an uncertain time. Isn’t it interesting that a poem takes on a life beyond that of the poet. Sending hugs your way.

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  1. Dear Rebecca,
    thank you for this video. You read this poem VERY well and it’s a great combination of the pictures, the music and your reading. We all enjoyed it so much.
    With love xx and hugs 🤗 🤗
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Klausbernd for your kind comments. The sun had just set and there was a gentle warmth that comes just before night sets in. I enjoy watching the movement of winged creatures throughout the day. In the morning, the ducks reign supreme, then come the seagulls in the afternoon and then the geese at dusk. The crows are ever present, until they gather together to make the flight home to their roost in Burnaby. Even in the transitions there is a symmetry. This small lake is next to Charleson Park which is an off-leash area for dogs, which creates a happy space. Nature appears to give a special “benediction” to all who enter, even in the middle of a city. Sending much love and many hugs to my dear friends, The Fab Four of Cley. 🤗🤗🤗🤗

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. As you know, I have come late to poetry and am making up for “lost time.” I am especially interested in the Harlem Renaissance, ever since I found Langston Hughes. I am on the lookout for Georgia’s last poetry book that was published in 1962: “Share My World”. I understand that these are her reflections on love towards all people and forgiveness. I’m on a treasure hunt, Dave. Today we are celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving. Send much gratitude your way.

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  2. Oh my, how utterly beautiful. What a poem actually. I am ashamed to have never heard of it. But I have now and how. So thank you and for bringing this amazing woman to all our attentions. The music was wonderful and your voice as ever??? Sigh.

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    1. Oh Shehanne – I knew that you would like Georgia, who was ahead of her time. I have just discovered her recently myself. I have subscribed to a “poem-a-day” and serendipity brought “Benediction” to my in-box. I read a short bio and was even more interested in how she fostered a poetic spirit. Even her husband thought that she should be more of a homemaker. But when there is a passionate call, we must respond. Georgia wrote 200 poems, 28 plays and 31 short stories, a phenomenal achievement for that time. Sending many hugs and thanks for your heartwarming comments.

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      1. You know what??? I thought the words were ahead of their time. That was why I liked them so much. I kept looking at when she was born etc and considering the kind of work doing the rounds when she must have write and this just felt like another galaxy from a lot of that. Add to that all the things she was up against. And yes, we don’t call the muse. It calls us.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this poem, the video, and your recitation of the beautiful poem. Very nicely done! ! A beautiful poem from mother to son. It is true, as parents, we cannot follow in the trail our children will take, but we can encourage and pray for them in the way they take in life. I liked the photo of the parent duck and the half grown family, a great leader of a beautiful family. Well done, thank you!.

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    1. Thank you, Frances! Life moves forward, carrying us along on a journey of discovery, with twists, turns and a few bumps. It is in the acceptance of our changing roles that will give a sense of being in sync with ourselves and with our families and community. You have been an extraordinary support and encouragement to me over the years. So it is my turn to say “Well done and Thank you!!! Hugs!

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  4. Yes, what a lovely blessing for passing the baton to the next generation, when nearing the end of our own days. We can only hope and pray our best examples will be remembered as they go on to win the “star-ways.” The other phrase, “Great reaches, yet unknown,” is also meaningful in these challenging days and those ahead. Thank you for your wonderful recitation in nature and for your powerful advocacy of the art of poetry. While we are earth bound, we can inspire others. Hugs on the wing, as your friend so aptly puts it 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Mary Jo, for your reflections on how we “pass the baton” to the next generation. Transitions are difficult for there is a grieving process that comes when we see the turn in the road ahead. There may be an exhilarating anticipation for the unknown that is to come, but there is always a poignant farewell to what was. Here is something for you to consider: Every day I receive a poem for the day. Sometimes the poem is from the past and is public domain. Others offer a fresh perspective of today, have come into being in 2020. There is a marked difference between the way poets of the past and poets of today explore poetry. I am fascinated and would appreciate your thoughts on this subject. My wings are growing, Mary Jo, so am sending hugs back to you “on the wing”.

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  5. A wonderful old and near timeless poem, dear friend, and your reading of it was in perfect balance. Thus so as well, giving its kind of simplicity, a voice that assures her son the recipient, her spiritual presence in his life’s adventure. Convincingly well done, Rebecca…!

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    1. Thank you, Jean-Jacques for your insights. I agree – there is a timeless element to poetry. It seems words and ideas survive long past the lifespan of the poet, meeting up with new generations that embed their ideas into the words. It seems a poem reflects the age in which they were inspired. I just found a link to Sapphic Fragments that speaks to this thought: “Come now, luxuriant Graces, and beautiful-haired Muses. I tell you someone will remember us in the future.” Happy Thanksgiving, my dear friend. Sending hugs along with my gratitude to you and Marianne!

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  6. Let me add my appreciation and admiration to the chorus of friends who have already praised this gorgeous post. Another blissful start to the week, Becky, thank you! 💕

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    1. I am so glad that we opened a new week together! And what did you think of our art for the day by George Wesley Bellows – Shore House? The ocean and sky came together so beautifully. It reminded me of travels to your side of the world. The adventures continue. Sending many hugs and love along with my gratitude. It is Thanksgiving Day in Canada.

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      1. Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving – we are celebrating with you on this side of the pond. And isn’t the Bellows picture just fabulous. Another treasure from our lovely calendar. How are you getting on with Scotland Street? We will have to take a stroll around the places featured when you are next able to visit. The Floatarium is a real place!! XXX

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      2. Did you know that 44 Scotland Street has 13 books and climbing? Alexander McCall Smith has a brilliant way of using humour to bring out complex ideas. Consider this quote: “Believe me, there’s nothing more brittle than human beauty. Encounter it. Savour it, by all means. Then watch how it turns to dust.” And this is said in the context of humour.

        Dave – you would enjoy this book. As a writer and journalist, you would appreciate, more than I do, the way it is written in the form of a daily newspaper column, where even the author does not know exactly where it is leading. I read that at one point only he had the material for three columns. The books are a compilation of the daily columns.

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    1. Oh Sylvia! These past months have been a stirring reminder that we live in a world that offers complexities and uncertainty, even as it grants us family and friends. Today, we are celebrating Thanksgiving in Canada. In past years, we had dinner at a restaurant with friends and family, but this year we stayed at home. The kitchen is now a scene of activity that harkens back to the days when we visited my grandparent’s farm, only on a smaller scale. Looking forward to celebrating a second Thanksgiving with you in November. Sending much love and hugs across the miles.

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    1. It is one of my favourite words, Liz. I looked up the meaning again when I first read this poem. “Bestowing a blessing” “The state of being blessed.” There is a deep and sacred emotion that comes from the heart.

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    1. I am so glad that you enjoyed the video. These past few months have been a time of discovery and reflection for all of us. We are entering uncharted waters with respect to how we connect. While we have been on a steady march to virtual communication, COVID 19 has increased the speed of the virtual timeline. The bandwidth is being stretched as we all take to our computers for work, school, and creative endeavours. We miss the face-to-face communication and hearing the voice clarity of someone that is sitting across the table. So glad you stopped by…

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  7. Oh Rebecca!
    That gave me shivers!
    You read so very well. I am always impressed.
    You segued the poem in seamlessly, after the geese & goslings.
    Thank you!!!

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    1. I confess Resa, that I had to do the recitation about three times because when I came to the part of “my pilgrimage is through” I started to cry. I remember that wonderful poem by Maya Angelou: His Day is Done – a tribute poem for Nelson Mandela

      “His day is done.
      Is done.
      The news came on the wings of a wind, reluctant to carry its burden.
      Nelson Mandela’s day is done.”

      I was reminded by the words of both of these poets, their words written decades apart, that this is our time, our moment. It is a call to action for we are defined by our every act of kindness and compassion. Sending many hugs!!!

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    1. Thank you – just felt your hugs on the wings come through with stunning clarity. Ah, Teagan, I am so glad that you enjoyed Benediction. I confess that I had to start over several times, because I felt the tears come. And the light was fading ….By the way, my word for 2021 will be “benediction”. Last year’s was “resilience” this year’s was “reconciliation.” I find that most difficult reconciliation is an internal journey with myself.

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      1. You got that right! It’s no wonder my current novel in progress is so hugely difficult to write — I let my abused past be part of the heroine’s character. That kind of reconciliation is continually in my mind as I write this story. I’ll be relieved in many ways when it is finished. Wishing you sunshine. ❤

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