In seasons of distress and grief such as in recent days, poetry creates space. Today we need a word. A word that reminds us of who we are and to whom we belong as a people beloved and created in the image of God. We need a poem, a song, a word which pulls us away – to be inspired, to be encouraged – to be resurrected into hope.
Written in the 1920’s, Langston Hughes’ poem “I Dream A World” images a world for which we are created. Men and women, all humankind, alike:
I Dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom’s way
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind
Of such I dream, my world!
The world is the audience for this poem. Acknowledging a world that is abused and suffers the shock and pain of violence, Langston Hughes offers a way from the trauma into sweet freedom’s way.
In the 1980’s, The United Methodist Church published Words That Hurt, Words That Heal: Language about God and People, a document that affirms how the Church images God’s world together as God’s people can be a healing act. So too the words of Langston Hughes highlight the significance of words that heal in the face of words that wound. Where wretchedness will hang its head the pearl of great price attends the needs of humankind. And of such we dream. May it be so.