Thursday, September 3, 2020

Unexpected Gifts: Kumbaya 2020

An unexpected gift this morning. By definition, gifts generally lie outside the range of expectations, otherwise they wouldn’t be gifts. 
It seems as though I should understand this by now, however I was somewhat startled when an unknown person … a friend of a Facebook friend I’ve never met … asked permission to use my poem Kumbaya 2020. I gave it freely without really knowing who she was nor understanding the use she had for it. Then, promptly forgot about it.

Today I received a copy of the work and I think it has changed my life perspective, so I want to share it.

Fran Dummett produces and hosts an inspirational meditation program sponsored by The Village in Howard, an independent living community in Columbia, Maryland. In these days of Zoom-everything, I rather expected the normal Zoom workshop environment. While it may have started out that way, Fran then creates a YouTube experience that is informative, experiential, and powerfully moving.

Part of the program is a carefully paced reading of Kumbaya 2020. Rather than just reading this poem, however, she prefaced it with a discussion of the history of this African-American song that has been part of social movements for decades, and followed it with a simple, piano performance of the song that made me weep. Watch the video here.

 Fran has brilliantly created a program that engages the mind, body, spirit, and emotions. This episode titled, “Behind the Mask,” invites the audience to explore this metaphor for today’s world as well as the timeless metaphor of identity, hidden and known. She reveals, through her own poetry and conversation, her anxieties and feelings about masks, and invites us to think about it in terms of our own lives.

I am so honored to be part of this series and encourage everyone to watch this episode and subscribe to her YouTube channel… as I just did.

I’ve included the Kumbaya 2020 poem and wish peace and safety to all of you.
I want my rose-colored glasses back.
I want to stand in a circle and sing kumbaya. 
I want to sit on the lap of the kindly grandfather god I once believed in.

I want to look at the people around me and not wonder which is a pustule ready to burst.
I want to behold our forefathers with reverence and gratitude and not see the long shadow trailing behind them.
I want to believe in the truth telling of doctors, lawyers, ministers, senators and presidents.
I want the dodo birds to waddle back to a green earth.

I want to drink tea unmasked with my pollyanna sisterhood.
I want to see a beating heart on every sleeve.
I want to hear the peaceful ripple of an untamed stream.
I want discussions of color to be about lavender and rose.

I want superglue for all the broken places.
I want a world without children in cages.
I want full bellies, warm hugs, and a belief in tomorrow.
I want what I thought we had but somehow let slip away.

Oh Lord, Kumbaya 
-- Joyce Wycoff


  1. Joyce, You started it all and your words have spread to the East Coast. Your powerful words have consumed our souls. What an amazing thing this thing called life is!

    1. Amazing indeed. Life is the ultimate gift ... sometimes harsh, painful, hard ... but always a gift.

  2. I, too, live in Columbia, Maryland. What a small world. I'm so glad Fran incorporated your beautiful poem.