By Rev. Dr. Mary Lautzenhiser Bellon
This poem was written for the Trauma Summit that was held in 2009 in the collaborated Orders Event with the Office of Pastoral Care and Counseling. We read it in unison. I wrote it as a homage to the way I had come to experience Iowa and its people. While we find ourselves divided in so many ways – in our politics, in our theologies, and perhaps, for many, within their own minds – I still lean into the sense of place that has gathered human beings here beginning with the ancient Mound Builders whose effigies are still evident in Northeast Iowa, to the Native people who peopled this area for centuries, to the settlers who came and to us today who have found ourselves in this place too. Perhaps if we allow it, the history, the smells, the sounds and the hearts of this landscape will both convict us and convert us to be the kind of people who do better to be the ones of whom Jesus said: “You will know them by their love.”
Sweet loam and half way to everywhere
the land gloves the sky
but cannot catch all that blue
winding with cloud pathways
that the sun sheds beauty into
like scarves draped over the wideness.
You could stand or kneel at the center
bend your life onto the earth
then grow tall like day burnt corn stalks
ripening in yellow, or then,
the fields of green alfalfa and sweet pea,
what is edible, what is given to hunger.
I have been grown into harvest here,
seen the way people lift their feet
in muddy boots while blessing their eyes
with a little shade, the black walnut at the edge
where the wind block holds the space
between the plow and the ground.
There are rivers reminding of the time
when water weeps like grief,
the impermanence that binds us together.
The land drinks from that flow
until we hold hands while walking; we are
wildflowers covered in color and bees
drinking life from the sound of the day
watching the night waken the stars
and the wind blowing, our hatless heads
turned upward in witness to a divinity
whose strong heart breathes in the soil
and whose pulse quickens our life together.