photos by Susan Lambert and Steve Uzzell
With an authenticity and grace that shines through all of Belvie’s work, she recalled her visit to El Mina slave dungeon on the Cape Coast of Africa five years ago, where she found herself hand-in-hand with Dedan at the “Door-of-no-Return,” the portal through which millions of men, women, and children began the journey into slavery over a period of nearly 400 years. At the time, Belvie was overcome by grief at that amount of suffering humanity has endured, unaware the giving herself to feel fully, while remaining open in her heart, would open a new doorway – one leading to new dreams and unimagined possibilities. As they sat in the wake of their time in El Mina, Dedan asked Belvie to consider a question: “What would healing look like?” Allowing herself to dwell in the question and to listen inside herself for the answer, Belvie witnessed lines of poetry, echoes
of ancient wisdom, and images of the natural world moving through her, from which the vision of brining communities together to talk openly and honestly about our history and our common humanity, and to turn the soil, began to take shape. In addition to poetry from Alice Walker and others she heard on the beaches of Africa, at the close of her presentation, Belvie shared a quotation from Shah Nazar Dr. Seyyed Ali Kanfar’s Seasons of the Soul, in which he writes: It is the heart that shapes the human being in the image of God The potential of the heart is the potential Of the seed that creates the whole tree.
Belvie expressed that she felt deep resonance with these words, finding them to speak to her experience, and to call her into the space of her own heart, where she connects often Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 1