Andréana Lefton is a poet, freelance writer, and educator, currently based in Chattanooga, TN. She works with entrepreneurs, non-profit leaders, artists and educators to create spaces for healing, art, and “the inner work of social justice.” She is also an instructor with Turn the Page, a non-profit that brings creative writing to people in jail and in recovery. Her writing has been published by the United Nations, The London School of Economics, Sojourners, Sufi Journal, Iran Wire, the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, and On Being. You can read more at www.aelefton.org.
Our world is burning up from within. We need action – now – to lower the earth’s temperature, to stop mass incarceration , child abuse, and human trafficking. And what about self-harm and self-hate? Why does our own spirit twist against us so violently?
Searching for more answers – or at least some deeper insights – I turned to the lives of three people burned by hate, and burning with love. The first is Vietnamese monk and peace activist, Thich Nhat Hanh.
That whole morning and night before were one long prayer for assistance. I woke at four, and sat in the living room of my friends’ river-side house, speaking aloud to the darkness, undamming the river, flooding inside.
Then I got ready, and drove to Red Clay State Park.
For years, my feet have taken me to Red Clay State Park, near Cleveland, Tennessee. This land was once the last seat of Cherokee government, and also the place where, in 1838, the Cherokee people learned that the Treaty had again been broken, their remaining land would be taken, and they would be forcibly “removed” to Oklahoma and parts unknown. Thousands and thousands of people died.