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Life Lived to the Fullness

June 18, 2012

John and Vera Mae Perkins

John Perkins’ presence was one of the powerful gifts during our recent summer institute.  I’ve heard John speak dozens and dozens of times over the past 30 years, and I’ve never heard John so introspective.  He didn’t talk about accomplishments but about his mother’s death when he was an infant … about his son Spencer’s death in 1998 … about caring for his wife Vera Mae as her health has declined … about his encounter with the love of God leading to his Christian conversion in the late 1950’s.  And in his last talk John did something I’ve never seen him do.  He read a poem, Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”

Deeply moved by all this, Sarah Durfey of the Abolitionist Network in Boston wrote the following poem, perhaps getting to the heart of what John was driving at.


Tears welled up in my eyes as he, choking back tears quoted “…i’ll fly away!”

A life lived for Justice

sold out for all God would do in and through him nearing the end and excited, sad, thankful, tearful leaving us.

Passing the baton…

But can we carry this on?

A spark reignited


My heart leaps to the call

is hungry for more

Don’t go!

The brokenness is so vast

so dark

the weight is crushing and tears flow down my cheeks I am willing to be used I long to be used but i feel i am pressed down blown out wet blankets come flying from… where?





I know I’ve been called, but i feel numb

But then slow and steady, low and gravely, “I know why the caged bird sings…”

A life lived to the fullness of God’s glorious, challenging, painful calling to beloved community speaks fire into my heart and awakens my soul again.

The pain crushes but i feel.

I weep.

The hope we are striving towards is real It can hurt and cost our lives But this is the Hope Surprised by reconciliation an interruption an inconvenience?!

Struck by beauty

by sacrifice

by inspiration and a flame restored.

I cry but i rejoice to know

Reconciliation to what end?

Dancing in hope together against injustice.

“The caged bird sings… of freedom.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. Paul and Kay Rader permalink
    June 19, 2012 11:25 pm

    Just so moving and beautiful.

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