Dear Sisters at the University of Michigan,
I accept your invitation to visit with you in the coming year: I believe we have all learned something from our efforts to reach out to one another, and I believe also that – if solar flares or deeply unintelligent wars haven’t carried us off – it will be a good time.
It so happened that during the period I was “disinvited” from the University of Michigan, I was re-reading one of my favorite authors who, I noticed on the book jacket, taught at your school. The African shaman, Malidoma Patrice Somé. Somé ‘s work is crucial to understanding so much about life, and abounds with wisdom for all people, but especially for Indigenous people, whose roots have been so violently trampled by Colonialism. Of Water and the Spirit is an extraordinary book, the one I am re-reading now, but equally as profound as medicine for our time is The Healing Wisdom of Africa. I wondered what life had been like for him, years ago, at your school: a young African man, alone, far from his home among his people, the Dagara, in Burkina Faso. I hope he was welcomed and appreciated. I have had the good fortune to meet and engage in rituals of healing designed and led by this man; his gifts to the West (his name, Malidoma, means “one who makes friends with the stranger/enemy”) are literally beyond compare.
And that I am to give the annual Zora Neale Hurston lecture, which has been celebrated at the University of Michigan for 16 years: what a lovely turn of events.
It has been my experience in this life that whenever, on my path of love and devotion to life, I have had cause to falter, an Ancestor has appeared, ready and willing to steady my step. Those of you who know the history that connects me with Zora Neale Hurston will understand why I stand now in my kitchen enjoying her warm chuckle of support for all of us. It is a magic of women to create celebration from sorrow.
Also: It is never wrong to engage in sincere diplomacy. It is perhaps worth modeling this for our political leaders whose belief that they can wring peace from making war upon innocent people (and even if they were guilty of something!) is not something the peoples of the world need to share.
P.S. I will soon be posting this letter on my blog, hopefully you will have received it by then! And I have no idea why this print is blue and underlined! With all the spying on us, one could become quite paranoid.*
*Weirdness fixed by Webmaster angel.