Pete Seeger – Singing toward our inmost calm

In this American time of turmoil and strife, Pete Seeger singing “How Can I Keep from Singing?” restores my faith that “no storm can shake my inmost calm” (Robert Lowry, 1869). RIP, Pete. We’re listening.

When the Power Goes Out

For ten
Was off
With the
We lit a
In each
The fire
From the
Us all
We each
No one
Came to

– Steve Shoemaker, Dec. 4, 2013

Compare the spirit of Steve’s poem with that of the survivalist at last February’s public dialogue on guns who challenged the audience to think hard about the time when the little girl from next door comes to your home because you’ve stockpiled food and her family hasn’t prepared for the catastrophe. He was making the argument against gun control. “Ufdah!” as we say here in Minnesota. There are many rooms, but we all live in the ONE house. “In my Father’s house are many rooms.”

Light a candle and say a prayer.

Ode to Mama

Leah Thomas and family

Leah Thomas and family

Leah Thomas was known as “Mama” by her clients. She was an attorney at the Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis when she “fainted” at a coffee shop on her way to work. This poem was read at her funeral. We called her Mama because she treated the “juvenile offenders” she represented as though they were her own children. Leah’s older brother had been a member of the Black Panthers in Chicago.


Like light
Like joy
Like sun breaking through a storm
Her laughter
Brightens the room
Breaks the ice
Fills it with peace.

Mama walks lightly
Amid the trials and the cares
Quick as a black panther
Steady as a turtle
She coos the tenderness of
the turtle dove
walks with the strength of a lion.

With steady hand
With sturdy faith
And clarity of mind
She laughs
And soars her craft
Through clouds and storms
To lead us on and through.

Like light,
Like joy,
Like sun breaking through a storm,
She laughs,
She brightens the room,
She wipes our tears
She fills us with her peace.

– Gordon C. Stewart, Executive Director, Legal Rights Center, Feb. 1, 2005.

The Promise of a Storm

There is a warning whisper in the wind.
The birds have heard and gather on a wire
to watch. My old ears cannot hear much sound
without my aids. I search and finally find
new batteries: the wind becomes a roar!
I quickly dial them down from music to
a conversation: whistles, whines and more
now wind around our house. The clouds race to
go there from here, and here from there. I see
the colors change from white to grey. The snow
begins to fall and white returns in swirls. The ice
forms on the twigs–the trees begin to know
they’re in a struggle with the wind. They try
to bend, and hope the promise was a lie.

– Verse “The Promise of a Storm” – Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, Feb. 22, 2013


green storm clouds – Kay Stewart photography

Tonight the storm blew in

Darkness covering the deep.

Green-sky funnel clouds

threatening everything that is

passed over, passed over

blew on past

while beauty rarely seen swept in

as morning follows night.

yellow puffs of mercy,

puffs of wonder,

yellow cotton-candy light

puffed across the sky

pushed by first-light breeze

that cooled the skin

refreshed the air and

took my breath away!

– Gordon C. Stewart, Mother’s Day, 2004

Yellow cotton-candy clouds – Kay Stewart Photography