Hammer and a Nail

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I’m so excited that the Indigo Girls are coming to town in May, and even more so that I’m going to see them at the Lakewood Theater, which used to be a movie theater, so it’s pretty tiny. It’s gonna be awesome. I was listening to some of the “Nomads, Indians and Saints” album over lunch, and the “Hammer and a Nail” song struck a chord in me.

This last season has been one of renewal for me on many fronts, not the least of which is that I joined a community garden. I’ve been learning how to amend soil, picking through soil for rocks, getting the knees of my jeans muddy as I plant seeds in the ground, and watching my garden slowly grow before my eyes. Being out in the sun, wind, and cold while working the ground and learning about how to grow food has been really wonderful – very cathartic, physical action. A lot of my life, at least since I took this new job, occurs in silence and solitude – listening, thinking, learning, watching, reading. It’s not always passive silence, but quiet nonetheless. And if you’ve known me for any length of time, you know that goes against my nature. So to be out in the garden, making something happen, interacting with the soil and the people around me, has been a wonderful change.

I’ve also been involved for the last 6 weeks or so with a wonderful little community of people affiliated with Church in the Cliff, a great little emergent group in Oak Cliff. They’re all different from each other, but one commonality seems to be that they are all very much about social action/justice/change in their own fields. This group, more than any other I’ve been a part of, insists on being there for each other and those in their community in an effective and authentic way. Recent discussions have centered around connecting with others, and therefore connecting with life, and also the vital importance of taking action instead of living in endless deliberation and preparation, even when taking action may lead you into the unknown. I thought the “Hammer and a Nail” lyrics fit quite nicely with this season in Janie Land. Hope it speaks to you, too, whatever season you find yourself in.

Clearing webs from the hovel
a blistered hand on the handle of a shovel
I’ve been digging too deep, I always do.
I see my face on the surface
I look a lot like narcissus
A dark abyss of an emptiness
Standing on the edge of a drowning blue.
I look behind my ears for the green
Even my sweat smells clean
Glare off the white hurts my eyes

Gotta get out of bed get a hammer and a nail
Learn how to use my hands, not just my head
I think myself into jail
Now I know a refuge never grows
From a chin in a hand in a thoughtful pose
Gotta tend the earth if you want a rose.

I had a lot of good intentions
Sit around for fifty years and then collect a pension,
Started seeing the road to hell and just where it starts.
But my life is more than a vision
The sweetest part is acting after making a decision
I started seeing the whole as a sum of its parts.

My life is part of the global life
I’d found myself becoming more immobile
When I’d think a little girl in the world can’t do anything.
A distant nation my community
A street person my responsibility
If I have a care in the world I have a gift to bring.

Gotta get out of bed get a hammer and a nail
Learn how to use my hands, not just my head
I think myself into jail
Now I know a refuge never grows
From a chin in a hand in a thoughtful pose
Gotta tend the earth if you want a rose.

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