From Toni Morrison's "Beloved" (1987)
For the previous "Beloved" posts, go here, here, and here.
In the silence that followed, Baby Suggs, holy, offered up to them her great big heart.
She did not tell them they were the blessed of the earth, its inheriting meek, or its glorybound pure.
She told them that the only grace they could have was the grace they could imagine. That if they could not see it, they would not have it.
“Here,” she said, “in this place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don’t love your eyes; they’d just as soon pick em out. No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it. And O my people they do not love your hands. Those they only use, tie, bind, chop off and leave empty. Love your hands! Love them. Raise them up and kiss them. Touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face ‘cause they don’t love that either. You got to love it, you! And no, they ain’t in love with your mouth. Yonder, out there, they will see it broken and break it again. What you say out of it they will not heed. What you scream from it they do not hear. What you put into it to nourish your body they will snatch away and give you leavins instead. No, they don’t love your mouth. You got to love it. This is flesh I’m talking about here. Flesh that needs to be loved. Feet that need to rest and to dance; backs that need support; shoulders that need arms, strong arms I’m telling you. And O my people, out yonder, hear me, they do not love your neck unloosed and straight. So love your neck; put a hand on it, grace it, stroke it and hold it up. And all your inside parts they’d just as soon slop for hogs, you got to love them…More than your life-holding womb and your life-giving private parts, hear me now, love your heart. For this is the prize.”