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The Bronze Legacy

Effie Lee Newsome

1885 –1979

To a Brown Boy

’Tis a noble gift to be brown, all brown,

Like the strongest things that make up this earth,

Like the mountains grave and grand,

Even like the very land,

Even like the trunks of trees—

Even oaks, to be like these!

God builds His strength in bronze.

To be brown like thrush and lark!

Like the subtle wren so dark!

Nay, the king of beasts wears brown;

Eagles are of this same hue.

I thank God, then, I am brown.

Brown has mighty things to do.

In his newest book Being Here, Padraig ó Tuama offers a daily prayer liturgy blending poetry, prayer, literature and scripture grounding the reader in words of the ages to begin each day oriented to the holy and nurtured by encouragement and hope.

Beginning with an opening prayer, he draws the reader into a new day with gratitude regardless of what the previous day brought. Followed by a reading from literature or poetry, then scripture and then a collect, "collecting" the thoughts and desires of the readings, then closing with what he calls "a remembering prayer" which is the same every day and ends with the words,

"Breathe in us

just like you always do

and renew us

with every twilight

with every morning

with every encounter

with every opportunity."

The poem above from Effie Lee Newsome was the opening reading for today, and it stunned me in its beauty. Effie Newsome was one of the first African American women who primarily published poems for children. I will read it this morning to my brown four year old nephew who is just waking up.

I hope you will be equally stunned. Padraig's book would be a beautiful addition to your Lenten Journey!


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