April 2021

At April

Toss your gay heads,

Brown girl trees

Toss your gay lovely heads:

Shake your downy russet curls

All about your brown faces;

Stretch your brown slim bodies;

Stretch your brown slim arms; Stretch

your brown slim toes.

Who knows, better than we,

With the dark, dark bodies,

What it means

When April comes a-laughing and a-weeping

Once again

At our hearts?                  

~ Angelina Weld Grimké

Angelina Weld Grimké (1880-1958) was a writer associated with the Harlem Renaissance. She had a white mother, and a half-white father with whom she lived for most of her childhood. She was one of the first American women of color to have a play publicly performed.

Angelina Weld Grimké was named for her father's aunt Angelina Grimké Weld, with whom I confused her in the earlier version of this note. The elder Angelina (1805-1879), was born in South Carolina to a slave-owning family, was a pioneer abolitionist and a radical champion for racial and gender equality.

In my Easter reflection I quoted Frederick Buechner, who said that when we steel ourselves against the harshness of reality in order not to be troubled or upset, we are also depriving ourselves of being opened up and transformed by “the holy power that life itself comes from.” A power that surges in spring when the sap begins to run and the trees begin to bud.

April comes a-laughing and a-weeping at our hearts. Joyous news - Irida’s legal reprieve; worrisome news - the pandemic’s resurgence in Europe, tragic news - never-ending violence, at times fueled by racial hatred; our private moments of contentment; our private struggles. Somehow, we must find a way to hold it all. And when we can’t, we turn to one another, in gratitude for the gift that is life itself.

I am grateful to be welcoming April and spring with all of you.

Janets signature