Minister Marvin K. White’s Sermon for Janice Mirikitani
Welcome to GLIDE Memorial Church Sunday Celebration. We Celebrate Life Here. That is our job and our joy. For our Ancestor Poet, Janice Mirikitani, I begin with a Blessing: And I use the word blessing, but if you hear invocation, collaboration, wish, hope, invest in you, hold you accountable, expect you, dream for you, walk through fire with you, support your vision, lead from behind you, consider you, recommend you, or put you in the middle of my altar, or astral project just to get to you, or gratitude for the work of the big bang of you — cool.
I just use blessing here — A radically inclusive, unconditionally loving blessing, not to impose, but to let you know that I’m pooling my poetic and prophetic resources for you. And if you must call this blessing, “love,” to receive it, know that nothing is ever loveless or outside of love. Not your office. Not your position. Not your art practice. Not your condition, your diagnosis, your illness, not your family of blood and making, not your hopes, not your sexuality, not your economic status, not nt your gender, not your addiction, not your recovery, and oh, my people, not your life. Your life is never incompatible with Love. Love can only shape itself to receive the part of you or whole of you that reaches out to it. That’s all it can do.
So, reach for this blessing, beloved, reach. And if you must hear instead of blessing; spiritual, civic engagement, or first responder, or racial justice, or environmental justice, or safe injection site, or black trans lives organizing — if you must hear creative, prophetic, or social justice — if you must hear black or white, straight or gay, gainfully employed or woefully unemployed, incarcerated and unincarcerated, free or getting free, male or female, young or old, vulnerable or invincible, immunocompromised and immunocompetent — cool.
Today, there’s a blessing in it because you’re here, and in it.
The ways we find and come into voice
are uniquely timed to each of us.
You can come out the womb kicking and screaming,
but you can also come out eyes wise-open
and mouth twisted and pursed.
Your adolescence can be filled with hands raised,
limp wrists and speaking truth to 9th grade injustices.
Or it could have been eked out along
the margins of the hallway lockers
that some of us inched along unheard
until choir practice.
Some, in our adulthood, sit sangha
within our communities of stillness and smallness
until we find our soul’s volume button
and begin to turn up from there.
It can be startling and it can be enlightening,
or it can be gradual and smooth.
It can be a crescendo.
There are others like you
who came into voice through noise,
through the din, the yell, and the roar.
Some cussed before they conjugated.
You have found your tone and tenor
in the midst of drowning voices.
You have brass, you cry out loud,
and rehearse your songs out loud.
You have had your truth and your voice interrogated
and it still has not cracked.
Some of you are prophets.
All of you are prophets.
I say all of this beloved,
to assure you that your voice is heard and recorded.
The universe has a queer ear.
It is reshaping itself to your voices.
The universe has a song,
And you are expanding its range.
The stars cup their ears to the universe,
and hear your voice.
And they cry,
like the first time they spoke and heard, felt and tasted,
smelled and saw poetry.
This moment of Janice’s passing,
does not require mouth pieces, punditry, or prattle.
It requires the quiet ones,
and the loud ones to meet in the middle of this page.
It requires us to know that if we come into poem,
raise our voices together —
There is a greater likelihood that we will be heard.
It requires the “to and fro” of dissent and protest song,
to pass the torch to the “back and forth” of consent and writing.
It requires the lullabies of peace,
and the ring shouts of injustice,
to move in and out of each other.
It requires that you do nothing,
but poet your truth and your heart out,
however, it comes to you,
and comes out of your mouth.
Rest in Peace. Rise in Poetry my sister Janice.