Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Your My Dream

It began with me listening to a compact disc in a car on my way to Philadelphia in August 2004. My fraternity brother and I were driving to a conference for the weekend and his choice of riding music was the cast recording of a Broadway musical that he’d love for many years and that I’d only heard about through its scores ever presence, not even the whole score but really one song that stood out above all others. When he placed the disc in the player and the car began to move so did I. Along with the car and the conversation and the disc I began to move down a road as well. By the time we’d completed our two hour journey to the City of Brotherly love I had fallen in love.

I was in love with a musical that I’d never seen performed. That didn’t matter at all. Through the words and the music I had created every nuance of the show in my head. In my mind I saw how the curtain rose and the final bows of every principle and every ensemble member of the company. It was real to me.

From then on I wanted to know everything there was to know about how the show came to be and why. I craved the living history of the musical that was living history. While some of the characters seemed at times larger than life, as there voices were all the time, in very fine ways I was able to connect with them. I loved them as if they were my own and because I knew that on different scales and in different times and in different situations I was them. I knew that ultimately humanity is something sans different. Humanity is common. Our emotions, our desires, our quests, our needs, our touches, we are linked by them. They are our common strands of thread that weave us together.

Tonight, on this Christmas night I saw with my open eyes images, persons, props, things, to correlate with the words and music I’ve become so familiar with. Aziza and I walked into a theater in an almost haste to find seats side by side as we were the night of our high school graduation nearly ten years ago. We were to share in an experience.

In the beginning, I was sitting in a chair in a dark sold out theater surrounded by strangers and saddled with friendship familiarity. But just after the Earthly space around me grew darker and I saw a burst of blue light adorn what was once a naked white screen I found myself, at least my mind and spirit, in another space and place. My body was here but so much of me was somewhere else.

It was as if with every frame I was lifted further and further up and out into another orbit. One occupied with an unnamable energy. I was captivated. I felt their language. When they spoke and sang at moments I felt they had taken the words from my mouth and feelings from heart and strength from my body to produce this. To learn, to love, to lead. To feel, to fail to be free. To dare, to defy, to dream.

This evening was much more than I thought it would be. It was reaffirmation. It was uplifting. It was reality and even better it was a dream that became a reality.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Reflecting on the conversation I had last night with my sister and brother I was drawn to the dictionary. One word has been resonating with me since our discussion. Negotiate.

The online dictionary offers one definition of the word as being: to move through, around, or over in a satisfactory manner. Indeed last night our three-way phone call was an example of negotiating on multiple levels.

As has been the case for many important birthdays, Christmas’s and milestones, my sister first called me and then she requested I call my brother so that we could decide collectively what we’d be getting our mother as a gift. With three very distinct personalities and tastes it has always been a large feat for us to agree on one gift. There have been several occasions when we decided not to do a group gift because of our varied opinions.

My sister put forth one good idea and several that I didn’t like at all. All of her ideas were certainly practical and well meaning. My brother had no suggestion. My idea was immediately shot down. I wanted to duplicate my last birthday gift for my mother. I wanted to get her something that she wouldn’t normally purchase for herself, several tickets to theater performances stretched out for the next several months. My suggestion was met with much skepticism. This was partly because of geographic location and also due in part to personal beliefs and where each of us finds value.

After several more minutes of back and forth we’d come to a satisfactory agreement. With a tag that says “To: Ma ~ From: Queen J, Jimmy Jam and ClayStarr” there will be a package nestled under the Christmas tree this year.

On another level the negotiation of the gift was another reminder that the world that I have created for myself over the past several years is far from the world that I lived in when I was growing up which is to a great degree the reality for my siblings. Respectfully navigating my way through both waters at times triggers a different type of negotiating for me. Not only am I doing my usual asking others to meet me where I am but me working and being cognizant that I should meet others where they are. There are times when I am interacting with people, not just my brother and sister, but people all around me, and we are in different places and spaces.

That is when the negotiation takes places. I must move in, through and sometimes around in places and spaces to reach that in between. It is the point where we all connect. Last night it was that each of us cares deeply for our mother and wanted to express that love through a physical gift and we know that she enjoys when she sees us come together.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Dear Brother

Dear Brother,

This morning as I was dressing for work I looked in the mirror and a radiant energy illuminated all around me. I was wearing my black suit, a crisp white shirt and a gold neck tie. It was a proud moment. I was dressed in traditional Alpha wear and I knew today was a special day in the history of our organization, a significant day in the history of our people.

All was well with me in that moment. I then began moving about my apartment as I normally do. When I stepped near my door and bowed my head and lifted my hands for my typical morning prayer I became overwhelmed. I started off thanking God for the journey into the brotherhood. I thanked him for the seven Jewels who with great vision founded our organization 100 years ago today. And just as water cascades down falls with elegant force and without effort the names of other Brothers who have in their own right been jewels to me over the last six years came pouring out. Men. Brothers. Friends. You.

I am thankful to God for opening the door of Alpha to me. I am thankful I met you in this great House. My dearest Brothers, it was you who stood for me when others were against me. It was you who stood next to me when I needed someone by my side. It was you who made me stand when I didn't know that my legs could hold me.

No one knows better than God, the Father, who I thanked today for your being, just what the road to and through Alpha was and is to me. He in his all knowing infinite wisdom made you my Brother and I your Brother for a reason. Vessels for love, understanding, guidance and kindness are we. Reasons, I am grateful.

In some of the darkest places on my path of life you have held out the torch so that I could see and feel the warmth. In times of joy and light you have shared it with me. From the smallest gestures to those of a great overt magnitude, in some way you have been a Jewel to me.

Today I say thank you.

After 100 years our organization and infrastructure continue to strive for enhancement. In the next 100 years I hope for strengthening of the framework. But the heart and soul already beat fiercely and strong. This Brotherhood is what the seven Jewels envisioned. They who saw you before you even saw yourself, as they did the men who will come even after us. What noble men those Jewels were.

I could not let this day go by without acknowledging them or you. You are a Jewel to me and I wish you all the best as we celebrate this Founders' Day and many more to come.

I am always - fraternal,

Brother Clay Starr