Love Facing by Safa Plenty

aqua and red

This piece titled, ‘Love Facing’ is a meditation on the intergenerational dynamics of family violence and our need to move beyond labels in order to understand the complexities of American violence. It begins with a narrative critic of spanking as a corrective measure and its propensity to escalate into other forms of violence. The poem continues with reflection on how male privilege and power impact the disempowerment of women and girls. It signals forgiveness as a possible means of understanding intergenerational trauma and stress, however.  The piece advocates an understanding of male privilege and dynamics of power and control, as a means of empowering women and children, affected by family violence. Furthermore, it examines our societies failure to raise healthy men and boys, who are comfortable openly expressing their emotions. In the end, the poem signals our human need for unconditional love, respect, and honor and need for religious and spiritual practice imbued with compassion, mercy, and kindness, or feminine attributes of the Divine.

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” ― Jimi Hendrix

Sometimes a label is
just that a label, other times it is
a compulsion that cause us
to react in anger,
there is a shattered wall
above a basement
staircase, where  a mother
tried to protect her child
from being spanked by his
grandfather who then,
threatens to beat her, how does
a childish mistake made
by a seven year old
lead to a senseless act of
violence, now she is left
wondering, “O God
how do I love
in the face of such violence?”

Sometimes a label is
just that a label, other times it
is an acceptance that aid us in
process of forgiveness,
to understand an aging, ailing
man’s inability to apologize
for the physical and emotional
anguish that he has visited upon
his family, his voice and actions a
manifestation of his internal wounds
that never healed,
his anger a testament
of his unnurtured brokenness,
when did it become
right for a woman’s voice
to be dismissed, her gentle
nature looked upon as a
weakness, a reality that has
left many women confused
about the value of their
feminine selves in relationship
to man’s brute strength,
so they are left pondering
“O God, how do we love in the face
of such violence?”

Sometimes a label is
just that a label, other times it
is a definition that give us
the courage to stand up,
a woman, heart racing,
stands between a balling child and
his grandfather after he bumped
his chest against hers
when she asked him
not to stand over a crying child
taunting and chiding him for
expressing his emotions,
when did it become okay
to show our little boys
that being a man is exerting
outward force and control
over women, so she prays,
“O God, how do I love
in face of such violence?”

Sometimes a label is
just that a label, other times it
is a conviction that allows
us to accept another’s
brokenness, to uphold
an elder’s right to respect
and dignity, and a child’s right to
unconditional love and open
expression of his emotions,
When we have faith that
this is how to love
in spite of violence,
God opens 7,000
valleys in our hearts through
the love of the Beloved,
and we are made able to love
in spite of it, “O God
increase our honor,
protect us,
and bless our
sages and prophets
and their gentle kind.”

Safa N. Plenty, educator and mental health counselor, who is planning to pursue a doctorate in Theology with a focus in spiritual formation and peacemaking. She holds a Masters of Social Work from Columbia University and an undergraduate degree in interdisciplinary studies with a minor in Africana Studies. For the past three years, she has worked as a K-12 educational contractor,  assistant counselor at a local community college, and a mental and spiritual health counselor. Her research interest include Sufism, Attachment to God, indigenous metaphysics, particularly Native American and Australian and  Somatic psychology. She is also interested in religious mysticism, mindfulness practice in Buddhism and the role of feminism and religion in cultivating a peacemaking capacity among young Muslim women. She is currently working to develop a faith based healthy relationships program for Mothers and daughters. She enjoys writing poetry, research, and contemplative practice in art and sewing.

Categories: Abuse of Power, Aging, Ancestors, Children, communication, Domestic Violence, Family, Gender and Power, Healing, Human Rights, Love, Motherhood, Poetry, Poverty


10 replies

  1. I am so so moved by this. I saw my grandfather and me (only little). I saw all those who stand up and say NO. Who invite our men, little to big, to cry. I remembered being 10 and watching my jovial dad cry at his mom’s wake. “Oh. Grandma is his MOMMY” I took in for the first time! Thank amina…. yes, “monkey see”…. Bless you. The divine feminine is coming to us all and slowly we are awakening to her understandings and making them our own. Thank you again.


    • You are most welcome! I really enjoyed reading your reflection. Tears are beautiful in joy and sadness. I’ll have to check out, Amina’s article on, “Money see”. Yes, I believe this is true. Thank you, Love & Light!


  2. so powerful! thank you for sharing.


  3. I hear your voice better in your poem than in your prose.
    Thanks for sharing.


  4. Safa, thanks for sharing your poetry. It’s beautiful and needed.


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