Friday, November 6, 2009

Charter for Compassion

Celebrating the Charter for Compassion

Love, said Miss Katherine Dunham wrapped in an elegant brown and red oversized pashima as she sat majestically on her bed with ironed white sheets exquisitely embroidered… Love, she said is what is left of tender care after the thrill of pursuit and the triumph of capture is gone. We were both quiet for a moment, and then she said. Let’s write that down. I want to remember that… She wrote in her notebook and I wrote in mine. Love is what is left of tender care after the thrill of pursuit and the triumph of capture is gone…

Perhaps then beyond our need for bickering, our need for self destruction and war is love. This is the place where all of us connect. Are we willing to have compassion? To see and feel the journey of others as a reflection of our own, and to act on injustices?

November 12th marks the date of the release of the Charter for Compassion where thousands and thousands of people around the world will honor others as themselves; where we re-commit to awakening each day--- and moment to moment, acting with compassion. This was Miss Dunham’s dream---that we stop the violence and honor the love within each of us.

I was gifted to meet Miss Dunham through Reginald Yates and interview her first for African Voices Magazine. I traveled with her to her home in East St. Louis for the famed Dunham Seminar where I was befriended by Ruby Streate, artistic director of the Katherine Dunham Children’s Workshop. I journeyed with Miss Dunham to Harvard where she received an honorary doctorate degree, to Jacobs Pillow, where she was named one of the 100 Dance Treasures and to Miami where I re-connected and was embraced by choreographer Michelle Grant Murray.

From 2002-2005, I acted as a special assistant in service---learning about the mystical realms and always in discovery. My journey with Miss Dunham was one of love. Through this relationship, former principal Dunham Dancer, Dr. Glory Van Scott began to allow me to assist her with events honoring the legacy of Miss Dunham.

Today, I serve as marketing director of Dr. Glory Van Scott Productions. In Dr. Glory I met and embraced another great being of love whose life mission is to help others achieve their full human potential. Through Dr. Glory’s Youth Theatre at Riverside Church , children continue the Dunham legacy by developing and growing academically through the arts. The program is one of the finest intensive art programs in existence. These youngsters learn to sing in other languages, are up to date on current and world affairs and are learning to live their lives with compassion. I have been blessed with the gift of having two mentors who are legends in the world of dance, and both no strangers to film, Broadway or social activism.

In life, I have had many great mentors of compassion. My beloved Mother, Betty J. Tilman, Helena and John Hughes, Maida Springer Kemp, Dolores Stanton, Byrd R. Brown, Dr. Lloyd Bell, and Jackie Mullins are a few of the names that have guided me in love. Tyrone Backers, James Aloway, Tyrone and Barbara Rasheed, Deborah Ballard, Gayle and Chuckie Dobbs, Kathryn Twinfeathers, Camille Carlos, Mohamed Rum, Pat Peace, Nydia Loyd, Marva Allen, Kezia Ellison, Manuel Guzman, Andrea Christofferson, Andre McGant, Dr. Albertha Graham,Aziza (DDJW), Vin Esoldi, Joan Peters, Leonard A. Buggs, Dr.Abdullah AlNifay, Dr. Khadeeja Ghozee, Vea Williams, Maudy Fowler, my B’Earth family, my Global Extended family, my One Spirit Seminary family, Burt Danet, The Love Foundation and countless others mirror love. I thank them all.

I am inspired by many including Rev. Sedrick Gardner, Rev. Elizabeth Hin, Rev. Marcia Dyson, Karen Armstrong, Mahatma Gandhi, President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama, Gayle King, Oprah Winfrey, all the children of the universe and my Spiritual Father, His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. May Peace prevail with Integrity, Love and Compassion as our Universal Mantras.

--by Rev. Melony McGant aka Miss Mellie Rainbow…

Storyteller/poet Rev Melony McGant is an Interfaith Minister and author of the novel Sunshine and Olivier:A Parable of Love. Her poetry has appeared in several anthologies including the World Book of Hope and the Book of Healing (Beyond Borders Press) and Go Tell Michelle: African American Women Write to Michelle Obama. She has also written for Tribes Magazine, African Voices, The Harlem Times, the New Pittsburgh Courier and several other publications.