Learning to Choose Love:
News from China Galland
Iím writing to let you know that Iím close, so close, to completing the book, The Keepers of Love! Though itís set in a remote part of rural East Texas, the story of Loveóthe historic black cemetery that Iíve been working to reclaim with the African American communityóis really about the choices set before us today.
As Iíve pursued the question of how this community, descended from a group of prosperous black farmers, suddenly found themselves locked out of their communal burial ground in the 1960ís, Iíve unearthed a quintessential American story of land theft, racism and environmental destruction that plays out in different versions in New Orleans, Iraq, and Darfur. Iíve also had to look at how the shadow of our racist history even affects the very people who have gathered to save this cemetery.
Can we choose love when thereís reason to hate? Can we claim and conserve a corner of sacred ground in the face of overwhelming exploitation: oil and gas drilling, timber cutting, and exotic animal hunting? Can we take a stand for the Ancestors in this nearly 200 year old cemetery or will they too be lost, like the memory and names of the millions of African Americans and Native Americans upon whose suffering this country was built?
My answer is this book, The Keepers of Love, this ragged story of a shared, emerging, communal process of healing; imperfect but headed always, always toward healing.
Please join me in getting this story of hope and reconciliation into the world! It is due very soon at the publishers, Harper San Francisco. Why do I need your help?
My advance from the publishers was modest. When I could, I supplemented it by teaching and speaking and leading retreats and writing grant proposals to foundations in the Bay area and in Texas and by appealing to generous individuals like you. But Iíve reached a point where I must focus all my energy and time on completing the book if I am to meet my deadline. Missing it would endanger the project in ways I donít even want to think about. Iím calling on the Ancestors and you to help me make it over this threshold. I cannot do this alone.
This book is aimed at the heart. Stories are what move the world and change us from the inside. The African-American farming communities that Love came from, were part of a great, brief flowering of African American civic participation, business enterprise, education and culture that occurred shortly after the Civil War, only to be crushed in the 1880ís with the rise of Jim Crow and the unrepentant white racism that fueled the spread of the KKK and related groups. Some of these groups are on the rise, once again, today. There is an undeniable link between racism, cruelty, torture, and the destruction of the earth that is made apparent in this story. I hope these few paragraphs give you a sense of the ways that the story of Love Cemetery is at the center of a widening spiral of much larger stories.
Please join me in completing this work, for the benefit of all beings.
People who donate $100 or more will receive an early copy of The Keepers of Love. Those who contribute $500 or more will receive the book and an invitation to a private publication party with China. Donors who give $1,000 or more will be invited to a day-long private retreat with China along with the book and the party. Whatever donation you are able to make will be gratefully received and carefully used. All donations are tax-deductible.
Click here to donate via PayPal's secure, on-line system,
or mail a check to:
Please make your check out to C.A.R.E. (Center for Art, Religion and
Education, our fiscal sponsor) with "Images of
Divinity" in the memo line
For more about The Keepers of Love project, click here
|Images: Top: Painting: The Keepers of Love by Janet McKenzie; all photos by China. The top two show stages of work clearing the overgrown cemetery; the bottom shows the result. The State of Texas recently sent their Chief Archeologist to Love to help locate additional grave sites and map the cemetery.|