This month, Acting in Faith will be featuring excerpts from the book, "Black Fire: African American Quakers on Spirituality and Human Rights," published in 2011 by Friends General Conference.  A collection of writings from African American Quakers throughout American history, the book is insightful, inspiring and challenging.

Our first post is a poem by Helen Morgan Brooks (1904-1989), a Quaker and a poet from the Philadelphia region.  Brooks was born in Reading, Pennsylvania and worked as a dietician and educator throughout her adult life.  At the age of 52 she became a member of Arch Street meeting in Philadelphia, and served on several boards and committees of local Friends organizations, including Pendle Hill and Friends Journal.

Daisies by David-O on Flickr Creative Commons

As the editor of Brooks writing in "Black Fire," Anne Nash writes in her introduction: “Helen Morgan Brooks wrote with emotion and from her experience…the poems that have been chosen for this anthology reflect the depth of her concern for the spirit and with human rights.” - Madeline

The Bus Comes

By Helen Morgan Brooks

There must be loving remaining.
I believe in love
In spite of things said
And deeds done or hate.
There must be love
In the space of things--
Worlds turning and fixed Stars burning.

Love does remain.
It is deep in a child’s eye in wonder at a pink ribbon,
water falling,
a china cup, a gold ring,
a healing kiss on the forehead.

Children know love
and flowers.

Love keeps the Michelmas Daisies
blooming beside the gas station door,
in spite of dust
and the oil splashed sidewalk.

Love is the fragrance
that lingers around the altar rail,
After the lilies and the carnations
have been taken out
to lie beside the new coffin.

Love lives and is vital
in the mien of those
who sit on facing benches
in quiet meeting houses,
Praying in silence,
in strong silence,
that reaches out and embraces
all gypsying thoughts
and gathers them in
to be blessed.

Love is the promise,
“I will not leave you comfortless.”
Comfortless in a deep shadowed crevice,
deprived of the newness of morning,
The arch of noon,
The purpose royal,
Surrounding the pin oaks at evening.

I must believe in love
As a testimony against madness
and war and broken promises.
I choose love.

The bus comes,
The train leaves on schedule
And love, arriving or departing,
remembers me