March 22: “Human Family,” poem by Maya Angelou

Human Family

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I’ve sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I’ve seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I’ve not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England’s moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we’re the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

NEHEMIAH CHAPTER THIRTEEN

NEHEMIAH CHAPTER THIRTEEN

1 That day when Moses’ Law was read aloud

To everyone, it was discovered that 

The Ammonites and Moabites were not

Permitted to belong to people of 

          God, 2 as they had refused to give

   some food 

And water unto Israel and had 

Hired Balaam to call down a curse on them,

          But our God turned the curse

   into a blessing. 

          3 Now after Moses’ Law was read,

   the people

Of Israel began to send away

          Anybody with foreign ancestors.

          4 The priest Eliashib, related to

Tobiah, earlier had been put over

          The temple storerooms, 5 so he let Tobiah 

          Live in a storeroom, where all

             kinds of things 

Were stored—grain offerings and incense, temple

Utensils, as well as the tenth of grain

And wine, and olive oil that had been given 

For Levites, singers, and the temple guards

To use, as well as gifts for priests.

   6 This happened 

The thirty-second year that Artaxerxes 

Ruled Babylonia. I was out from

Jerusalem to visit him, and later

The king permitted me 7 to go back to

Jerusalem, and only then did I 

Discover that Eliashib had done 

This awful thing in which he let Tobiah

Stay in a temple room, 8 and this upset

Me so much that I threw out every bit 

Of furniture Tobiah had, 9 then I 

Commanded that the room be cleansed and that 

Temple utensils, the grain offerings, 

And incense be brought back into the room.

10 I also found out that the temple singers 

And several other Levites had returned 

To work their farms, because they had

   not been 

Given their harvest share; 11 I called the leaders 

Together and I asked them angrily,

“Why is the temple overlooked?” Then I

Told them to start to do their jobs, 12 and after 

          This, everyone in Judah brought a tenth 

Of their grain, wine, and olive oil into 

The temple storeroom. 13 At last, I appointed 

Three men with worthy reputations to 

Oversee what was brought there and hand it

To others; they were Shelemiah 

The priest, the teacher of the Law

   named Zadok,

And also Levite Pedaiah; their 

Helper was Hanan, son of Zaccur and 

Grandson of Mattaniah, 14 and I pray 

That my God will remember these

   good things 

That I’ve done for his temple and for those 

Who worship there; 15 I also noticed what 

Judeans did on Sabbaths; they not only 

Were trampling grapes to make wine,

   but they were 

Harvesting grain, grapes, figs,

   and other crops, 

Then loading these on donkeys so that they

Could sell them in Jerusalem, so I

Warned them not to sell their food

   on the Sabbath. 

16 People who had moved to Jerusalem 

From Tyre were bringing fish and other things 

To sell there on the Sabbath. 17 I got angry 

And said to Judah’s leaders, “This vile thing

That you do is an insult to the Sabbath! 

18 Didn’t God punish us and this whole city 

Because our ancestors did these

   same things? 

And here you are, about to make God mad

Again, dishonoring the Sabbath!” 19

Ordered Jerusalem’s great gates be closed 

On Sabbath eve and not be opened ‘til 

After the Sabbath completed, then

I put some of my men in charge of gates 

To make it certain nothing was brought in 

On Sabbath Day, 20 and once or twice

   some merchants 

Did spend the night outside Jerusalem 

With goods, 21 but I did warn them, “If you do 

This thing again, I will have you arrested.” 

From then on, they did not come

   on the Sabbath. 

22 I ordered Levites to be sanctified

And to guard gates upon the Sabbath, so 

It would stay holy. God is merciful;

I pray he will treat me with kindness and 

Bless me for doing this, 23 then I discovered 

Some Jewish men had married women from 

Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. 24 Nearly half

Their children could not talk in

   Hebrew—they 

Only spoke Ashdod’s language

   or some other 

Foreign language, 25 so in my anger, I 

Called curses down on those men, and I had

Them beaten and I even pulled out hair 

Of some of them, then made them promise: In 

The name of God we promise solemnly 

We will not let our sons and daughters wed

The foreigners. 26 Now though God dearly loved 

King Solomon of Israel and made 

Him greatest king on earth, but Solomon’s 

Foreign wives led him into sin, 27 so we

          Will follow you and not rebel against 

          Our God by wedding foreign women, 28 and

Jehoiada, the son of the high priest 

Eliashib, did have a son who had

Wed one of Sanballat from

   Horon’s daughters;

Therefore, I forced his son to leave; 29 I pray 

That God will punish them for

   breaking their 

Own priestly vows, disgracing Levi’s tribe.

30 Then I made sure the people were set free 

From every foreign influence, and I 

Assigned the duties for the priests

   and Levites. 

31 And I arranged for people to bring some

Firewood up to the altar each day and 

For them to bring the first part

   of their harvest 

Into the temple. I pray God will bless 

Me for the good I’ve done,

   as I’ve professed.

***