Excuse me, are you Listening? 8-5
Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dear Readers,

After a long conversation with myself, I took my daughter to see the “Color Purple”.  My daughter, Anissa, is 7 years old.  The “Color Purple” is a play that begins with youthfulness and the promises it holds.  However, the innocence of youth begins to quickly unravel.

I had a conversation with myself and agreed with my husband that it would be all right to take her.  Before we even arrived at the theatre, Anissa was asking 111 questions.  I told myself to answer every one because she was just very excited about her Mommy and Daughter excursion to the theater.

She held my hand excitedly and as we ran into people I knew she graciously said hello and waited patiently through idle adult chatter.

We made our way to our seats.  We were seated close to a group of women who were just as excited about being at the play as we were.  Anissa is very friendly and began to talk to the woman who sat next to us.  On the curtains was a quote before the show that said: "Dear God, I am fourteen years old. I am I have always been a good girl. Maybe you can give me a sign letting me know what is happening to me."

Anissa of course read it out and asked me what it meant.  I was in Mommy mode.

I said, “Umm, I don't know.” 

She said, “Well, why don't you know Mommy?”

I was so happy when the woman sitting next to Anissa smiled.  It was a beautiful smile and it was warm and inviting.  She was looking through the playbill for the pictures of the actresses and actors.

Saving me she said, “Celie used to write letters to God because she didn't think anyone else was listening to her.”

Anissa said, “Oh….”

The woman told her a little about the play and she asked her what school she went to and Anissa told her Shabazz Academy.  The woman told her about someone who worked in her office whose children went to Shabazz and they began to chat. 

It was interesting listening to my child speak to an adult about the woman’s children and how great they were.

I’m always amazed at how Anissa can engage in a conversation with adults and not be intimidated.  At her age, I was still hiding between the folds of my mother's skirts trying to hide from anyone who was not my size.  I was always my mother’s shadow.

Anissa can’t want to go over someone’s house or out to play.  I was a bookworm and a knitter at her age.

The first half of the play was excellent, I watched as adult themes came and went and my daughter seemed unfazed by the content.

It was interesting the way that the predominately “gay” scenes between Shug and Celie were accepted by the audience and my daughter asked no questions about two women and kissing. 

The most fantastic part of the production was that even though the content was very dramatic and sometimes brutal the seriousness was broken by wonderful comedic pieces. 

I found it interesting that the all black cast, had an interracial audience that was very engaged.

The show ended with a musical finale that was inspirational and powerful.  We saw a woman who was abused for a long time turn into a confident balanced human being. 

The ending incorporated the book's infamous last line: "I don't think us feel old at all.... I think this the youngest us ever felt. Amen."

Anissa and I also met a friend that day.  We exchanged information and kept in touch with each other.  We are becoming a more connected community.   As people, we are becoming more conscious about being friendly and keeping in touch with people we meet and like. 

My second meeting with the woman from the play was somehow even more gifted than our first.  I saw her at an event where she and her friends were showcased at Unity Church.  My daughter wasn't with me, as I rushed to see my friend after the Pastor's Salute at the Lansing Center.  I only had less than an hour to talk to her and it was a transformative meeting.

I went to a brief but informative seminar and then found her to say good bye.  She led me to her table and showed me a display of boxes.  She said, “Rina, I want you to have one of these and you get to pick the one that you want.”

I looked over the boxes and they were all so beautiful.  They were made with originality and obviously made with such love and attention.  She knew that each box was made for that person even before they chose.  I believe that she gathers the inner being of the person by what type of box they choose.

I picked up my box and knew right away it was the one I wanted.  It was the deep olive box with the scrolls on the side and a quote that I didn't read right away because I was just drawn to that particular box.  I didn't look at anything else.  She told me that she was taking a short vacation to see someone she loves very deeply.  I could tell by her eyes and the tone of her voice that she was already at her destination holding that person in her arms.  The lingering memories of her last visit kept her going.  Long distance relationships are truly transformational experiences.

She wrapped my box for me and told me it was a gift.  I hugged her deeply and thought how much I liked my new unexpected friend.   I was then on my way out the door with my special bag in hand.

I got in the car and wanted to examine the box and it read, “We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.”  The quote was by Hilare Belloc.

Though I didn't tell her about my run for City Council At-Large.   I think she knew that my travels through city government and all of its intricacies were about to begin.  I smiled as I ran my hand over the box.  The bond I had created with my new friend has been more fulfilling that I had ever thought.  Our new friendship is based on mutual respect and she is someone that I look forward to learning about more in the future.

In the bag there was also a brochure that read:

Surrender Box:  Let go of worries, fears, plans and dreams.  Trust your Highest Self with the outcome.  By holding on and trying to control the situation, we may be delaying the realization of our dreams and goals.

Write down what you need or want to happen, what you're worried about, what you fear.  Place the note in your Surrender Box.

This action alerts the universe that you need help and are willing to let universal energy work for your highest good.

I thought to myself, “Wow, I will need this as I embark down my City Council path.”

I decided that I would open up the Bible and pick the first scripture that I saw into my box.

The first message in the box states: 

“Paul's words to the church in Rome: 'If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.' 

My enemies are eating all my food and drinking all of my water.  God, can you do something if they have no remorse?  I need an answer soon.”


Rina Risper

P.S.  I have been allowing others to put messages in my Surrender Box.   It’s always good to share those things that have been given to you. There have been interesting comments to one word notes like “Balance”.

Yes, we all need balance and we need to find it in our own appointed time.  It’s up to each of us to keep ourselves in line with everyday living and the universe.

P.S.S.  The Committee to Elect Rina Risper will be having a kickoff fundraiser  on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Tavern on the Square.  The address is 206 S. Washington Square, Lansing, MI 48933. The suggested donation is $50.00. For more information

Our second fundraiser will be on Thursday, April 9, 2009 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Gregory’s Ice and Smoke at 2510 N. MLK Jr. Blvd., Lansing,(located across the street from Pro Bowl) 517-323-7122,

Thank you for your support and kind words.  We have a lot of work to do. 


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