When I learned that Nelson Mandela had found great strength in Invictus, I made copies of that William Ernest Henley poem and mailed them to two men I correspond with, currently behind bars.
Nice gesture, right? But pointless. I see that now. Somehow, mysteriously, a Victorian, “stiff upper lip,” Brit poem (i.e. language of his oppressors) spoke to Mandela. He discovered that rereading “I am the master of my fate” every day reminded him that his strength was with him. He chose that particular poem; he let it speak to him. Through him. And it worked.
Each of us has to chose our own Invictus. One poem can’t fit all. But whatever works for you, oh Lordy, I hope you’ve found it, find it!
Here’s what’s working for me these days: a cheesy* version of “How Can I Keep from Singing?” It sounds an echo in my soul, indeed!
*A word about cheesy: From an interview with Patty Jenkins, director of “Wonder Woman” (New York Times, June 1, 2017):
This may be a cheesy question, but what do you want people to take away from this movie?
Did you say cheesy? Cheesy is one of the words banned in my world. I’m tired of sincerity being something we have to be afraid of doing. It’s been like that for 20 years, that the entertainment and art world has shied away from sincerity, real sincerity, because they feel they have to wink at the audience because that’s what the kids like. We have to do the real stories now. The world is in crisis.
I wanted to tell a story about a hero who believes in love, who is filled with love, who believes in change and the betterment of mankind. I believe in it. It’s terrible when it makes so many artists afraid to be sincere and truthful and emotional, and relegates them to the too-cool-for-school department. Art is supposed to bring beauty to the world.
Well, hello, there, Patricia, and greetings and salutations to you and to you and for you my absolutely awesome and dearly special soul sisterfriend Christian Quaker woman who you’re For Always so, so very much!!!!! Sister, WOW, here, I just love, I just so love this very engaging, endearing, and absolutely beautiful full of such great clarity and insight blog post article of yours which really speaks to me and to my very heart and spirit, Patricia!!!!! WOW!!!!! YAY!!!!! I like you, my absolutely fantastic sisterfriend just so, so very much love and admire our late great Nelson Mandela, Patricia. I have not seen the great movie called Invictus as of yet. A part of the great poem Invictus always has spoken to me directly to my very, very heart, and to my very, very heart, mind, soul, and spirit with the very deeply moving, profound, and touching words, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul,” as well for me, too, like our so very dear late Nelson Mandela with these words being the more familiar part of this epic poem for me. Sister, I have things which serve as my own personal form of Invictus as well, my dear, dearest precious Patricia. In December 1986 when I was 24-years-old I had one of my very, very many major spiritual awakenings when I decided to get good help for myself just absolutely knowing that I needed help having grown up abused in every way from my parents, two older brothers, and other family members with alcoholism and other addictions running rampant up and down both sides of my family like with my parents, two older brothers, and lots and lots of other family members. Since the age of fifteen I had been seeing a bad psychiatrist who was a quack and committed medical abuse against being a friend of my parents and not helping me at all. I knew that I needed help urgently so I made the right decision and fired that horrid psychiatrist and hired my own choice for a therapist and psychiatrist in December 1986. I knew that I had low self-esteem and needed to learn to love myself and my two own personal “Invictus” moments were in claiming the great words of William Shakespeare with this marvelously empowering quote, “To Thine Own Self Be True,” and with the timeless and powerful lyrics with our late Whitney Houston’s great song back then, “The Greatest Love Of All.” Wow, these two of my own personal “Invictus” moments began my long and enduring journey of learning, growing, and healing in my very gradual process in my lifetime’s path and journey which continues at present, sister. I became a rejoicing and proud member back in December 1986 of Al-Anon, and Al-Anon Adult Children of Alcoholics, Adult Children of Alcoholics from another group like this, and in January 1987 I went to my very first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in my long journey in dealing with and accepting my alcoholism finally becoming clean and sober on Sunday, August 5, 1990 after several relapses and One Day At A Time I’ll have 27 years clean and sober in Alcoholics Anonymous and in Narcotics Anonymous on Saturday, August 5, 2017. I am just so, so very incredibly blessed, sisterfriend!!!!! It also helped so so much to fire that psychiatrist who was a friend of my parents because he enabled them in their abuse in every way toward me, committed medical abuse against me, broke my confidentiality, and harmed me very egregiously not helping me at all!!!!!
Sister, the great and sweetly beautiful hymn called, How Can I Keep from Singing I just so, so very much love and cherish with this fabulous hymn sounding an echo in my soul, too, very much indeed, sister! Sisterfriend, I just so love, enjoy, and appreciate this great link which you have very graciously and generously featured and included here with this amazing young people’s choir singing this magnificent hymn. We very often sing this splendid hymn at service at my Faith United Church Of Christ in my Iowa City, Iowa. Sister, I have found for me as well that the Invictus poem works very well for me along with the superb Shakespeare quote and our late great Whitney Houston’s song all serving as such a great impetus back then to inspire me to take the initiative in getting help for myself just knowing that this was so sorely needed, Patricia.
My so, so very dearest and darling friend, I’m very, very sentimental. I so love the soppy, the over the top, the sweetly sentimental. Like our brilliant Patty Jenkins I avoid using the word cheesy although some people who I know use the word cheesy. I know that I just love what some others find cheesy just so, so very much loving, liking, enjoying, and appreciating things which some find cheesy, gaudy, too sentimental, and over the top, my friend. Sister, I agree wholeheartedly with our Patty Jenkins. I so love, value, and cherish real sincerity. I loathe the too cool, the too sophisticated just loving and making as such a priority for me the sweet, loving, the sincere being very idealistic and such a dreamer, Patricia. Wow, does our outstanding Patty Jenkins make such very right on and salient points here in her interview in such a succinct and a cogent manner, sisterfriend of mine, Patricia. Sister, I thank-YOU as well for all of the other spectacular links which you have very graciously and generously featured and included with this very interesting and fascinating blog post article of yours. The title of your very fine and excellent blog post article here by absolutely AWESOME YOU, Patricia, is just perfect here, absolutely perfect, so finely added to and complemented by the perfect picture which you have very sagaciously chosen to accompany your stupendous writing here, friend of mine. Sisterfriend, what such a very sheer joyous blessing it is to read this so full of such spirit and Spirit blog post article here and to joyfully respond with my very heartfelt, detailed, and thorough thoughts, ideas, and comments, Patricia. Now I’m even more emboldened and encouraged to carry on keeping up the good fight in never ever losing heart, never ever losing spirit and Spirit, and in never ever giving up being even more renewed, re-energized, reinvigorated, and rejuvenated feeling even better and brighter with even more great cheer, Patricia. My friend, you are just so, so very good for me and for my very walk with Spirit keeping my very heart and spirit so full to overflowing in keeping my very faith and hope alive with such a positive optimism, Patricia! I thank Spirit continually for YOU and for YOUR very presence in my life, sister!!!!! YAY for YOU, Patricia!!!!! YAY for this very super blog post article, for your other poignant blog post articles, inspirational writings, and books!!!!! YAY for all you do in such a very fine and excellent manner with being diligently conscientious, sisterfriend!!!!! YAY for our very sisterhood and friendship, Patricia!!!!!! YAY!!!!!! My so, so very dearest and darling friend and sister, please have such a fun-filled and fantastic Friday, a wondrously wonderful weekend ahead, and may all of your very days be so, so very especially blessed!!!!!! Spirit so, so very much loves and cherishes YOU, Patricia, and so do I just so, so very absolutely MUCH, sister!!!!!!
Very Warmly and Sincerely For Always, my awesomely precious and dearly special For Always soul sisterfriend Christian Quaker white woman who you’re For Always so, so very much, Patricia, with My and God’s Peace and Love For You For Always, friend of mine, and with Such Blessings and Such Very Even More Blessings For You For Always, sister of mine,
Yours For Always soul sisterfriend Christian black woman and For Always in the very great spirit of unity and solidarity, Sherry Gordon in Iowa City, Iowa
Hi, Patricia, It’s Martha Mangelsdorf. I love “How Can I Keep From Singing?” BUT I’m writing because I’m trying to get in touch with you, but the old phone number I have for you is out-of-date, and I think the email address I have is, too. I am hoping to reach you by posting on your blog; my hope is that my email address will be visible to you as the site owner, and you can email me. (If this doesn’t work, I think I’ll just mail you a letter.) It’s nothing earth-shattering: I’d just like to invite you to come worship with me at a New England Quaker meeting that, as part of its history, had members who were part of an important and inspiring story in African-American history: helping Frederick Douglass in his escape from slavery. I am experiencing a leading about attending this meeting and inviting others to join me for a visit, and you’re one of the people I feel I should invite. So I am asking you if you’d like to join me on a trip to New Bedford Friends Meeting some Sunday. I can drive us from Boston (although I think I’d need you to get from Somerville to Boston) and am happy to take you out for lunch afterwards at a Cape Verdean restaurant down the street. It would be great to catch up with you! Let me know if this sounds of interest at all. Blessings to you, Martha
Replying offline. <3
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