March 25 ē 06:33 AM

Kindred spirits with kindest voices

October 21, 2009
I've waited a long time for an occasion to share a favorite poem. Thanks to Nancy and Eugene Lottie the wait is over.

I've come to know the Lotties a little bit over the past month-and-a-half or so. They're a kind pair who've settled into their retirement years after raising six children and working hard all their lives.

Nancy, a lover of animals, begins feeding some stray cats—pets who were left behind when their owners down the road lost their homes to foreclosure. Soon a couple of strays multiplies into more than a dozen little furry creatures—none of whom asked for the lot they'd been given...all of whom feel things like hunger and fear. Nancy simply "couldn't be mean" to these helpless animals. She calls the paper in hope of finding homes for some of the strays. I share her story, her words, with the same hope. One thing leads to another and Nancy's kindness toward the animals prompts a wave of more kindness, and at last gives me an excuse to share this beloved poem.

The author is Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Born in 1850, Ella grows up in rural Wisconsin. A dreamer and true believer, she begins writing poetry at an early age. Later, she is known as a "popular poet," not a literary one. Some scoff at her simplicity of form, her naive world view and her forward thinking ideas on spirituality. She dies in 1919 at the age of 69.

Her autobiography 'The Worlds and I' concludes with this: "From this mighty storehouse (of God, and the hierarchies of Spiritual Beings ) we may gather wisdom and knowledge, and receive light and power, as we pass through this preparatory room of earth, which is only one of the innumerable mansions in our Father's house. Think on these things." How anyone can have a problem with that I don't understand, except to say it was a different time and thoughts like these were considered lunacy.

But Ella was not crazy, not in the least. Many of you already know her—she's the one who said "Laugh and the world laughs with you, Weep, and you weep alone;

The good old earth must borrow its mirth, But has trouble enough of its own."

The oft repeated opening lines are from Ella's poem 'Solitude,' which is first published in the New York Sun in February of 1883. She receives five bucks for the piece.

Beautiful Ella also says "Love lights more fires than hate extinguishes," something that resonates through the ages with all truly spiritual beings.

And then there's this, this beautiful poem that sits with me always, that I've longed to find a reason to share in this space. And thanks to Nancy Lottie I can:

The Voice of the Voiceless

By Ella Wheeler Wilcox

So many gods, so many creeds,

So many paths that wind and wind,

While just the art of being kind

Is all the sad world needs.


I am the voice of the voiceless:

Through me, the dumb shall speak;

Till the deaf world's ear be made to hear

The cry of the wordless weak.


From street, from cage and from kennel,

From jungle, and stall, the wail

Of my tortured kin proclaims the sin

Of the mighty against the frail


For love is the true religion,

And love is the law sublime;

And all is wrought, where love is not

Will die at the touch of time.


Oh shame on the mothers of mortals

Who have not stopped to teach

Of the sorrow that lies in dear, dumb eyes,

The sorrow that has no speech.


The same Power formed the sparrow

That fashioned man-the King;

The God of the whole gave a living soul

To furred and to feathered thing.


And I am my brother's keeper,

And I will fight his fight;

And speak the word for beast and bird

Till the world shall set things right.

Here's to kindness and to Nancy Lottie and to brother's keepers everywhere...

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