What time is it on the clock of the world?

Taken at NDSG 2013

Taken at NDSG 2013

I first heard this question out of the mouth of Grace Lee Boggs in July 2010 at a People’s Movement Assembly on “Another education is happening” at the US Social Forum in Detroit. But it did not soak into me until I had the chance to visit and meet several people in the Boggs community over the next few years to follow and as I sat on a long bus ride between New York and Vermont reading The Next American Revolution.

In the weeks since she died, I’ve found the question coming often and have even offered it up in two circles of committed educators, organizers, and movement builders.

Ten words that hold a hundred years of insight.

It pushes me to think beyond myself and directly at myself.

It calls me to wrestle with the present moment and all that has led to it or is contained within it.

I hear the pragmatic edge of her thinking - the cold and even calculating analysis.

I also hear the big and visionary and warm enthusiasm of all that is possible.

I read into my own questions of purpose and what my family, my friends, my values, my promises, and my own knowing ask of me.

It moves my thinking beyond a simple binary 1/0 and reconciles me to the humility of both needing to answer this question and that no one person could or should.

It breaks me of many illusions while awakening my own agency.

I really only had two direct conversation with Grace. I cherish each of them. Both her words and the kindness and knowing in her eyes. And I have been so graced by the friendship, support, and teaching of many in the immediate community that she both nourished and that nourished and supported her and Jimmy.

I won’t list each person here. You know who you are. But when I think about what #GraceLeeTaughtMe - your faces, voices, words, thoughts, and spirit are what arrive. And for me that means Grace taught not just one question (or hundreds) but the practice of living them out as human beings with all the courage we can at this time on the clock of the world.

Her life and thinking and her community changed mine. Still does. Still will.