THE SPIRIT LIVES
Celebrating the “Spirit of Dr. King” on January 16, 2023
By Barb Jennes, Poet Laureate, 2020-2023
When the woes of the world set us to worry, set us to wonder,
if all goodness is gone, we need only to look around.
The spirit lives in Ridgefield.
Dr. King said, “Not everybody can be famous but everybody
can be great, because greatness is determined by service.”
That spirit lives in Ridgefield.
“You don't have to have a college degree to serve,” he said.
“You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve,”
“You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
That spirit lives in Ridgefield.
And didn’t Dr. King have the audacity to believe
that “Peoples everywhere can have
three meals a day for their bodies,
education and culture for their minds,
and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits?”
That spirit lives in Ridgefield, too.
We’re small but mighty.
Angels1 often come that way, you know.
Take 11-year-old Ruby Weiner, who built pop-up pantries
all over town. They’re shaped like little houses—
the kind that invite you in to give what you can,
take what you need.
And what about that small-but-mighty diner2 that’s served
nearly 6000 meals to those in need?
That’s hardly a “hollow” achievement.
Or those meals that come on wheels3 365 days a year.
Or the mobile pantry4—a veritable grocery-store-on-the-go—
that welcomes all come fill their cupboards once a month.
Three meals a day for their bodies,
and no mind can be hungry here either,
not with our warehouse of words and wonder5,
where ideas and knowledge are yours for the asking.
All you need is one small-but-mighty card.
And when it comes to “dignity, equality,
and freedom for their spirits”
there’s a better chance6 here in Ridgefield—
a place of great prospects7, a home of great pride8,
a sphere9 of love and inclusion,
including that lion of a lady we honor today.
The spirit lives in Wendy10.
We are neighbors helping neighbors11–just ask
the very moving man12 who delivered Thanksgiving meals
to scores of families and helped an elderly Ridgefielder
move to her new home, never stopping to ask
for a red Ridgefield cent.
Or that mean green man13 who delivers toys and smiles to kids
each holiday season, turning fun into needed finances,
sure as a grinch getting its wings.
Isn’t he proof that the spirit lives in Ridgefield?
That the spirit thrives in Ridgefield?
That the spirit IS Ridgefield?
Which is why the spirit lives in me.
“I am what I am because of who we all are.”
And “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”
So be audacious. Make the spirit live in you.
“You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
All you need is “A heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
Footnotes refer to:
1 Angel of Ridgefield
2 Wooster Hollow Diner
3 Ridgefield Meals on Wheels
4 Ridgefield Social Service’s CT Foodshare Mobile Food Pantry
5 Ridgefield Library
6 Ridgefield A Better Chance
7 The Prospector Theater, which hires developmentally disabled adults
8 Ridgefield PRIDE
9 SPHERE (Special People’s Housing, Education, Recreation, and Employment)
10 2023 Spirit of Dr. King honoree Wendy Lionetti
11 Neighbors Helping Neighbors
12 Ezra Zimmerman of EZ Moving
13 The Ridgefield Grinch, a special project of the Ridgefield Father’s Club