Sunday, March 1, 2009

Music of the Mad

Joy to the World. All you boys and girls.

I looked around on the school bus. Black faces. All of them. I wasn't afraid though because my best friends in kindergarten were twin black boys, Gary and Greg Ivey. Black was another color in the crayon box I was all too familiar with. And in secret delight, I thought God giving me two best friends that looked alike was as if He handed me two cookies instead of one. I was the first to get off the bus at my Papa & Grandma's historical house in town. I never got to see where all the black boys and girls were going. At school, Gary, Greg and I played in a wonderful cardboard cutout house. We were equal. If they'd known that a little white girl was having so much imaginary fun with two black boys, I suspected they would had stopped it. Years later when I heard of Rosa Parks and her famous bus ride that triggered a movement, I came to the conclusion that she was the big reason me, Gary, and Greg were even friends at all.

Joy to the World. The Lord has come.

The sirens shouted get out of our way for there's a fire to put out. It was the first house I ever saw burn to the ground. We stood in the yard and watched all the confusion and excitement. The row of houses across the street from my grandparent's town house fascinated me because they were crooked shacks which reminded me of the nursery rhyme about the crooked man. I would learn the crooked man was the one who rented these sub-standard houses out. And he rented them out to black families. To boys and girls who rode the bus and got off after me. I misinterpreted the sirens. They were shouting get out of our way so we can salvage this white man's real estate.

Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea. Joy to you and me.

When we moved to Oakwood Mobile Home Park in 1992, exactly one year earlier an unknown but substantial amount of diesel spilled from a faulty underground pipeline. But we didn't know it. The experienced local environmental beat reporter didn't either. That hazardous waste was not cleaned up. Like toxic vomit left to saturate the soil and groundwater, this neighborhood was known in secret files as Low Target Population. But, give us credit. We did know if there was ever a fire, we should evacuate immediately because the place would ignite much quicker than the crooked row house I saw at age 5.

Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room.

Diagnosed at age 4 post-Christmas 1998, how did my son make it to age 5? We got home from the clinic that day to celebrate his birthday with a homemade banner expressing our sentiment: We thank God Micah is alive. Come celebrate for today he is five! It would soon be one year since he was rescued from death at the Low Target Population subdivision. Fitting in some strange ways that Micah wanted a Star Wars party. Being thrusted into the world of childhood leukemia resembled a galaxy far far away. I certainly felt I was in a battle like no other in all my life to keep Micah alive and remain functionally sane. I would come face to face with evil I didn't even know existed. Complete with his sister dressed as young Anakin Skywalker, and character masks of Queen Amadelia, Jar Jar Binks, and Obi Wan Kenobi, Micah challenged many of his party guests to a friendly light sabre showdown! It was all in good fun, but a foreshadow of things to come---of masks that were to come off in real life: of those that worked to cover up the truth, who kept the system running at all costs--- the Anakin Skywalkers turned Darth Vaders for a paycheck. I would learn God is not the feel good galactic force that is with you. He's in the furnace fireproofing your heart when a mad world has thrown you in there and turned up the heat.

If I was the king of the world, I'll tell you what I do. I'd throw away the cars, and the bars and war.

The war in Iraq. The cancer of children. The exploitation of indigenous people. The dirty secrets of the world were pumped in and stored next door to me at Oakwood Mobile Home Park. Hello. I would like to know the address to your home office. My son was poisoned from your operations and I am in need of an apology. He tried desperately to connect with me as much as one human being can to another on the phone. But the madness was ever present in his detached conversation reminding us both of what we knew: no human king would throw away the cars, bars, and wars. King George was living proof of that. Cars need oil. Wars determine who gets the oil. And bars anesthetize us to accomplish the unethical mission.

And heaven and nature sing. And heaven and heaven and nature sing.

Our multi-ethnic President who identifies himself as African American is pulling troops out of Iraq by August 2010. He is promising millions of green jobs in a hemorrhaging economy. He has plans to detox us from our addiction to fossil fuels. Taking bold efforts to secure our houses and protect our children from chemical trespassing, I see Gary and Greg in him. And wonder why I set up house at Oakwood Mobile Home Park where the bus stop sat right on top of an underground petroleum pipeline. God knows this white woman is tired of the madness. Rosa Parks, I understand, was tired too when she refused to give up her bus seat. Is there a movement around the corner?