Holding back from tossing myself into the fray caused by the proclamation coming out of Fort Lauderdale City Hall last week, I will turn my attention to springtime and all its wonder.
Perhaps not so noticeable here in South Florida as is north of our borders, where flowering bulbs are popping out of the ground as snow still falls, springtime has a magical effect on people.
Coming out of the dark and cold, one begins to see sunlight, warmer tomorrows, flowering beauty, and an overwhelming awareness that life is just an amazing miracle to embrace and enjoy. Perhaps that is why the month of April was selected to be National Poetry Month, since the power of poetry and the power of springtime are the perfect match. Poetry can describe the absolute beauty one sees in the budding flower on a sunny morning, and can also shine a light on our darkest fears.
Back in January a young poet named Amanda Gorman reminded a nation of the power of poetry. Spoken words that brought a nation out from the darkness of the past four years, words fortified with hope and inspiration. We had become all too familiar with words used to insult, harm, degrade, demonize, tweet out hate and lies. What a refreshing moment to hear life return to our language, to hear inspiration, to hear hope, to hear poetry move a nation.
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we're brave enough to see it
Reading Amanda’s words tonight as I write is pulling me back where I did not want to go when I began writing this article. Amanda talks about breaking the time-worn habits that do not move us forward as a community.
For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us…
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be…
And many in our community had their eyes on the past these past few weeks as shouts of shock and disbelief rose up as Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis talked about leaving the past behind. Myself amongst those expressing such feelings, my reactions based on a need for justice of past wrongs, a need to have past atrocities atoned for, to have some statement acknowledging past misdeeds.
Rather than receiving any demonstration of contrition, members of the Coral Ridge congregation made statements showing no regret or remorse for the damage caused to so many in our community over the years. Such actions just expose the hypocrisy practiced by many in the name of Christianity.
While looking back in the past, we should take a look at another poem, this one written in the 14th century by Dante Alighieri entitled Divine Comedy. Dante depicts hell as a realm of those who have rejected certain spiritual values. Those rejections or sins were laid out as nine concentric circles, each ranked in their degree of severity. The deepest levels reserved for hypocrites, deceivers, falsifiers and liars. Not for me to judge, but you can see where I am going with this.
So perhaps Dean Trantalis is more of a spiritual leader in our community than those pounding the pulpit at some local houses of worship. Judging by Dean’s words, “It’s time to build a future based on love and not hate. And it’s time for those who still harbor resentment to let go of it. I know I have. And I know our community is better off for it” causes me to stop, pause and really reflect on what we need to do to become a better community. That reflection brings me back to Amanda Gorman’s enlightening words on that cold January day on the steps of the Capitol Building:
“When love becomes our legacy … let us leave behind a country… better than the one we were left with …we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one… our people diverse and beautiful will emerge … When day comes we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid, the new dawn blooms as we free it …For there is always light,”
We celebrate that light during springtime holidays and festivities as we rejoice in rebirth and reawakening. We celebrate that light in the coming month of April with its designation as National Poetry Month.
We celebrate that light as we recognize the magic and wonder of poetry and poets who bring words to life. Let that light guides us as we move beyond the hatred of the past, as we continue to move beyond the dark days of the COVID pandemic, and as we come together once again as a community to celebrate what makes life just better here.
Sal Torre has been a columnist for the Wilton Manors Gazette since its inception. Sal has served on the Wilton Drive Task Force, Budget Review Advisory Board, and Charter Review Board, among others. Sal is currently President of the Westside Association of Wilton Manors and Secretary for the Friend of the Wilton Manors Library. He is employed with Broward County in the Human Services Division.