Enlivened Truth by Safa Plenty

aqua and red


My joy is rebellion, and so is my passion,
my excitement, and even my sexuality,
but only here where truth is kept secret.

Where joy exploding in my vocal cords
and coursing through my limbs is
silenced or censored looked upon as foreign
in this house haunted by sad spirits.


Where my passion rising above the lull
of everyday existence, more in tune with
childlike exuberance is drowned out by
the endless buzz of television noise.

Where my excitement for learning is
relegated to four walls of my blue bedroom,
and conversation and connection propels
me from our first floor to my sister’s
basement apartment.

Where my sexuality is cloistered inciting
fear that even its refined expression would
lead to some mythical disaster in which
men would prey on my delicate femininity.

Where my mind has constricted from being,
asked why I can’t force myself to be satisfied
with a linear spiritual existence or someone’s else
fears and expectations for my life.

My joy is rebellion, and so is my passion,
my excitement, and even my sexuality,
but with love as my fuel, I will be
a rebel with a cause and that cause
will be enlivened truth.

Safa N. Plenty ©2014


As an American Muslim women of African Caribbean, Native American, and European decent, this poem is a reflection on the remnants of both historical trauma and being partially raised in an ultra-conservative community . An experience I am still continuing to heal from. In essence, this is a deeply personal and poetic reflection on my own experience of how intergenerational trauma is often compounded by the practice of literalist interpretations of religion, particularly in my case, Islam. I am continuing a ten year journey in rediscovering my true cultural and spiritual heritage that had been partly denied me.  In writing this piece, I hoped to gain clarity on my path to heal and becoming a healer through a more fluid engagement with my own faith, while learning and benefiting from other faith traditions. Through a full engagement with  Sufism, an integral part of Islam’s sacred tradition, also known as the science of purification (Ihsan), I hope to continue on my journey of spiritual renewal and healing and to aid the world in healing from the fear and numbness that plagues us as moderns.

Safa N. Plenty is an educator and mental health counselor, who will be pursuing a Ph.D at Claremont Lincoln School of Theology with a focus in spiritual formation and peacebuilding.  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 two years, she has worked as a K-12 educational contractor and assistant counselor at a local community college. Her research interest include Sufism, Attachment to God, indigenous cosmology, particularly Native American and Somatic psychology. She is also interested in religious mysticism, mindfulness practice in Buddhism and the role of feminism and religion in cultivating a peacebuilding 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.


Categories: Community, Family, Feminism and Religion, Gender and Sexuality, General, Islam, Muslim Spirituality, Patriarchy, Spirituality

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8 replies

  1. Beautiful poem and all power to you in your struggles. Funny I was just writing about the impact of for colored girls who have considered suicide on my life. So many of us have been there…and you write eloquently for all of us too.


  2. This is a beautiful poem. I like to think of my own joy as being a rebellion. Thank you for the illuminating thought!


  3. Gorgeous. And while I cannot connect, obviously, with the very real historical trauma (being on the other side of that….family fought for the Confederate Army I found out not long ago), I do connect on the other fronts. Deeply so.


    • Thank you Laury! I believe all Americans are impacted by their own experience of historical trauma due to the heritage of slaves and/ or other forms of oppression i.e. sexism, classism, interracial racism. The nature of oppression is such that even on the other side, you to are affected by historical trauma. I believe our trauma is directly related to the rate of mental health and chronic illness among Americans in general, although the numbers and impact are much greater among people of color due to ongoing structural injustices.

      Thank you Laury! Light to you!


  4. I enjoyed your poem very much.

    I know it has specific historical elements in it, but as I was reading it, I felt I could relate, even though I am, not by a long shot, similar to your background. (Well, who knows, maybe we could be blood donors?)


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