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Monday, August 19, 2019


by Kelley White

We settle into worship. Is it better to pray—
or to listen for the voice of God?

Is it better to wait on God
with eyes closed, cast down, or open to light?

I seek light in the meetinghouse’s tall
windows, the faces of gathered friends—

when Jondhi breaks Quaker silence to speak
of the Nicetown shootings we all know

it is too real—his, our, Healing and Transformation
Center, the Center for Returning Citizens

is a block from the crime scene.
He heard the sirens, he saw the masses

of police, the stunned neighbors, children
evacuated from day care centers.

He asks about community. About
the roots of drug crime. Fear. Economics.

Unemployment. I close my eyes. The ghost
light of the windows a negative beneath my lids. Then

D., who like Jondhi has done serious time, lifts his
walking stick to his lips: I see it

decorated with feathers and red paint, a line of holes
punched along its shaft—

and it is actually a flute, with a voice so pure and deep
it returns me to silence, to my lit darkness, truce.

Author’s Note: J. Jondhi Harrell is the Founder and Executive Director of The Center for Returning Citizens (TCRC) in Philadelphia. Twitter: @JondhiTCRC . “D.” is a pseudonym.

Kelley White, a member of Germantown Friends Meeting is a pediatrician working about 2 miles from the ‘active shooter incident’ this past Wednesday, August 14, in Philadelphia’s Nicetown neighborhood.