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Peace is

Be the peace you wish to be. (Martin Luther King)

“There’s a police car in the parking lot. With its lights on,” someone in our spiritual group calls.

No sirens. Nevertheless, I’m jolted from the sweetness of our gathering.

I see a young man with dark skin and long hair. He hides beside a parked car. He runs next to the beige walls of a church and squats down, then runs again. I don’t know what happened, or why he hides.

With no chaos, no noise, and no gunfire, the police drive away. With the young man inside the car. I hear nothing of a forced encounter. I don’t see the capture at all. The beginning or end of a story. I see part of a scene from a silent play in progress. No ticket to follow its progress.

Later, the moment replays in my mind. And heart. May peace and justice meet without bias. May no violence be a sign of a reasonable outcome.

I recall simpler situations. The lady in front of me in the checkout line at the grocery. She’s uptight over the way a young man bags. I have her pegged. Yet, this could be just a sideways reaction on a difficult day. Even if my assessment is accurate, does it need to alter who I am?

Be the peace you wish to be. Okay, Dr. King. If you can do it, anyone can.

 

Juneteenth Begun

Let’s stop believing that our differences make us superior or inferior to one another. (Don Miguel Ruiz)

Juneteenth. I was in my seventies when I heard about the event. And the real-person images of human beings sold like cattle, fill my mind.

Have you seen my husband, brother, and child? an old letter reads. The question remains from the day when slavery ended. Legally. An end to the practice came later in name only. Loss remains. Law could not outlaw bigotry and hate. 

I think about how blessed I am to live in a multi-cultured neighborhood where I see color. The way I see the beauty inside a rose garden or a watercolor pallet.

Centuries-old black and white pictures appeared before the day approached. Without moving text. History. In words. Inside the eyes of a captured individual is a fear that must stay hidden. A numbness that was mistaken for ignorance. Stay inside the master’s rules, young man. Consequences can be fatal.

Now. Freedom has come. Listen. Juneteenth. I hope for a time when equality will move with the in-and-out breath of all living creatures. Taken for granted.





Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone. But it is also securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that they are. (Hafsat Abiola)

Peace Recipe
Set spirit temperature at warm.

Forgive. Inside and outside
the home receptacle. Sprinkle awareness.
Listen for minor changes and slow cook.

Watch the product, not the clock.
Peace can be both served and recreated
as ingredients intermix. 

Add truth and blend it with patience,
an uneven, unpredictable process.

The mixture is as necessary 
for an effective final product
as oxygen for breathing.
Water for life.

Allow contents to simmer, open-lidded. 
Take care. Hate enters and boils 
when placed in a closed pot on high flames. 

When the recipe is
denied by someone or something, 
begin again. Vent excess heat
in a safe environment.

Practice the recipe and serve daily 
without expecting instant satisfaction.

Peace development can take many forms.
It can be the yeast in bread dough
in another family’s house. 

Let it rise where it can.
And know you are part of the core
of world change. 
 

published in For A Better World 2022

from one hand to another

If you feel pain, you are alive. If you feel other people’s pain, you are a human being. (Leo Tolstoy)

Emotions. Tricky. And universal. I had an experience lately where I was attacked on public media for disappointing the cause. Anger exploded. I pretended to process the experience prematurely. Something like jumping from an airplane without training. My reply was sweet but vastly inadequate. After all, the cause was against violence.

Fortunately, an understanding friend intervened. Privately. Why begin a war over a misunderstanding?

No. I am not relaying details. No point to it. I prefer to focus on what I decided. The beauty of listening, recognizing the heart of the other. In my own life. It is not possible during a shouting match.  Sometimes genuine evil is formidable enough.

I think about how difficult it is to live personal life inside the polar political realm. To look deeper at who gains and who loses. To look from the inside of those most likely to be hurt.

Peace. Eventually.

 

The silence often of pure innocence persuades when speaking fails. (William Shakespeare )

I wrote this song while Ella was in the neonatal intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital. Twelve years ago. At birth, she weighed three pounds and three ounces. The song created positive energy while I waited for Ella to grow and heal.

Eric Hauck, my incredible guitar teacher, provided professional backup and recorded the music on a CD. For a student in her mid 60’s. Hey, so I’m a late bloomer. Just a later-than-usual variety.

Recently, a beautiful young friend from the YMCA created a private YouTube video for me from that compact disc.

Ella loves to listen to her song. Now. As a real-life, almost-teenager. Someone I never could have envisioned from a tiny creature held together with oxygen and tubes.

Since I fractured a metacarpal in my right hand, guitar strings and I don’t get along as well anymore. However, music lives. I hope these two minutes lift your spirits.

cat on chair

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. (Mahatma Gandhi).

As the age of 76 appears in my too-near future, I study acrylic painting. Its layers. Its idiosyncrasies. I tend to find optical illusions without trying. See how this twig seems to come directly from the child’s arm, my teacher says.

Nope, I hadn’t seen that at all.

I take flat stripes of one color and blend them into another with or without water depending upon the stage of development.

White paint makes colors opaque.

Green should contain more than one syllable. College art courses teach about this elusive color. For an entire semester. And more.

A drop or two of black added to cobalt blue brings down its power.

I watch the May leaves on the trees with fresh enthusiasm. The power of reflective light working with shadow.

The power of light and shadow in life. Both real. A memory of intense fear strikes me. Unexpectedly. I don’t deny it, but don’t embrace it either. I add another memory.

My grandson and I are gathering rocks in a wagon. “You won’t live forever,” he says.

“That’s right. So, let’s enjoy the sun today and get some more rocks.”

“Okay. Want to go up the street and look?”

I smile. Why not?

We come back to paint our collection. My grandson blends every color in a messy experiment. Gray. I watch as he explores. Perfection is not the goal. Celebration is.

When we listen, we hear someone into existence.
Laurie Buchanan, PhD

What is Pretty? A Long-Ago Question

I rewrite a scene from my own ancient history.
Not to alter its reality or change 
what has already happened. Because
I have learned a kinder way to pass on
a response to children, fresh adults.

In my past I stand before a mirror
and criticize not-styled hair on an insecure 
head until the pain erupts into panic.
My mother replies in a razor-sharp tone,
Pretty is as pretty does.

A comb. A brush. Mundane tools.
I catch what my mother is implying.
Inside I am not worthwhile either.
Ten commandments on stone.
How do I release them into real time?

Much later I learned the gift of listening.
Touch. One set of eyes aware of another
person’s experience. You see ugly? Let me
tell you what I see. Let’s discover the beautiful inside,
said with a smile. Same message. Improved delivery.

The difference between a stagnant pool and a lake.
A lake was given space to exist and move.
Perhaps I understand because
I have tried to swim in both places.
And have learned love along the way.

Continue Reading »

Sound Unleashed

light through trees

If your ears are the only thing that’s listening, you aren’t hearing.”
Craig D. Lounsbrough

One bird calls-out to another. I don’t recognize its voice. Or the returned answer from a distant tree. A child laughs as he runs after a dog. A car with a radio cranked to what feels like 85 decibels, pauses next to me. Sound. It’s everywhere, simultaneous, yet disconnected.

I imagine what it would be like to be universal, capable of hearing every word, every sound. As it happens. In a small city neighborhood. As well as in a city, nation, and country in dire pain. Cacophony is a human experience. By definition it judges.

Human ears. Created for hearing. Not capable of discerning all that cries out. For good, evil, or ordinary ignorance.

I turn off the radio and listen to as much silence as possible. Try to recognize the beating of my own heart. Yet realize my spirit is far from alone.

No, I cannot catch every meaningful vibration. I can choose to realize this tiny space around me is not all that exists.

For many this season is holy. And that is good. May celebrations reach deep. Yet may the participants refrain from claiming that their sounds are central for all.





Sometimes the questions are complicated, and the answers are simple.
(Dr. Seuss)

The Bridge Called Life

A bridge not always named
because some know they cross it,
and others believe they own it.
The bridge called life.

One thing I suspect to be true.
The blind understands better than
the sighted. Hold my hand. And don’t let go.
We’ll learn along the way.


photo taken from a public domain pic used in a previous blog

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