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Archive for July, 2018

 

 I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, “Mother, what was war?” (Eve Merriam, poet and writer)

As Ella moves through a dusty playground area, I watch the children’s interactions. Some of the kids are wild, climbing over one another on the slide. They laugh even when their bodies’ positions are obviously uncomfortable.

Other youngsters appear less aggressive. I notice the essence of both peace and war in scaled-down forms.

One bright, talkative little girl tells me the story of a skunk that appeared one evening on one of the softball fields. She is animated yet assures me no one was sprayed. Her spirit speaks peace. Another little girl and her younger brother race against Ella for a bouncy whale and dolphin.

Ella stands too close to the two children. She begs for a turn. I can tell the siblings are determined to maintain a battle over the sea mammals because they gesture to one another as Ella walks away. I lead my granddaughter in another game.

“Ella, I’m swimming, but I’m not very good at it. I need a lifeguard. Will you be my lifeguard?”

I move my arms in an awkward mock swim motion.

“Sure,” she answers.

The distraction works—at least until the two kids are called by their dad to go home. A simple solution. At least for the moment.

Mine. Mine. Mine. A universal problem. Ella also wants to help her grandmother. Play is serious learning. She doesn’t grab the dolphin until at least ten minutes after her antagonists leave.

War. It has lived since ancient times. Now, news travels faster through social media, television, the Internet. Stories appear slanted, tainted, unverified. And violence continues in various forms as TV watchers eat dinner.

Suddenly, I have indigestion.

Shadows. They have multiple meanings. Reflected images born from the sun. Shady areas. Loyal followers. Hidden flaws. Metaphors.

Find the kindest kind of shadow…

Illusive at best. I can only seek the goal I see and love to the best of my ability. Love is war’s antonym.

Attending a protest in front of an ICE facility in my home town was a recent choice for me. You bet I was frightened. However, no one ever said love was going to be easy. Yes, immigration control is necessary. Cruelty, especially against children, is not. Fortunately, the event was as peaceful as it was intended.

Some shadows need more attention than others.

Peace to all.

 

 

 

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One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things. (Henry Miller)

Sunday begins with a new look at death. Since most of the members of our church group have passed the mystical, magical, well-lined age of 65, we know we are no longer middle-aged. Mary Grace Manera from Home Funeral Alliance, comes to talk to us about saying our final goodbyes at home. Not a new concept. Before funerals became an industry, final goodbyes were held at home. No concrete linings. No embalming. In another century Grandma could be buried in the backyard next to the marigolds.

Burial without a funeral director is possible in most states except Indiana. The Art of Natural Death Care, a vimeo, shows how this can legally be accomplished.

My husband and I already have faced our mortality. We sealed the green burial deal over pizza at Spring Grove Cemetery.

This afternoon I bury my plans to write for hours. Family is in town. My granddaughters want me to join the party. I realize the headache I had this morning has disappeared. And I am grateful for this moment. Gray. Rain in the air. Wash spinning in the dryer. Blood running through my veins. I am alive and appreciated by people I love.

Life is far from perfect. I fear for the current government, for the tolerance of greed, dishonesty, cruelty to people from other races and nations, especially the children. I can’t run from what is wrong; I fight against it. Yet, I continue to care for the people who see the world differently—far more difficult than facing mortality.

How do I see reality? What do I choose to focus upon and study with a magnifying class? What must I avoid? Reactions like hatred and retaliation become like gasoline thrown on a forest fire. Another form of war.

I pray for peace, one step at a time. One simple vision found inside a complicated world, followed by another step. Then another… May the ending close a worthwhile story.

 

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I have come to believe that giving and receiving are really the same. Giving and receiving—not giving and taking. (Joyce Grenfell)

“Do pebbles grow into rocks?” my young step-grandson asks as he gathers odd-shaped stones and places them inside a cardboard treasure box. The box rides inside a red wagon.

I smile and tell him rocks are more likely to break into pebbles. I smile, but don’t laugh. His innocence warms me. He finds a tiny lock on the side of the road and adds it to his collection. Then, he puts it inside his pocket, to take home.

For him, all of life is a collection of serendipitous learning experiences. The tracks left by a bulldozer, a dusty trail made by the thin wheels of the collapsible, fabric wagon. The dusty wheels create mud after the wheels travel through a deep puddle.

The thought strikes me that rocks and keys may not be the unique metaphors I imagined them to be in my series, The Star League Chronicles. Black rocks act as weapons for the Malefics, the evil League. Chase Powers, the main character, operates an ancient, rusty, magical key. Sometimes, the key knows more than he does.

Sometimes play teaches me. And I haven’t been a child in a long time. My teacher-key contains no magic. Often its key is no more than a realization, a prod to notice a beauty I hadn’t noticed because I’d been stuck inside ubiquitous bad news forecasts.

This little boy trusts me. A breeze cuts through the afternoon heat. I am at peace despite that fact that I have an approaching deadline—and more words to write and edit than I want to think about. Right now, I could be pecking away at the non-magical keyboard-keys (pun semi-intended.) With the hope of creating magical scenes.

Instead, I follow a red wagon into a child’s imagination and allow my love for this boy to expand.

Work challenges will continue tonight…and tomorrow…weeks after. Until the story fits into a whole.

For now, I give and receive experience. And hope to remember this beautiful day in the middle of July.

 

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There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met. William Butler Yeats



When some people hear the word travel, their eyes light up Christmas-tree bright. Mishaps slow eager travelers’ tales long enough for a comma’s breath. These individuals could spend a week in an airport, then fall off a camel unharmed. They have the stamina of a million-year-old rock.

I scarcely know my right from my left and have turned the wrong way inside a restroom. Airport Terminals One and Two could be different continents. I would rather be in a guillotine line than a queue for customs.

Once I enter the plane, I see the goal with reasonable clarity. However, getting that far doesn’t always seem worth it.

For me the possibility of meeting friends makes the decision a worthwhile gamble.

The Best of Ireland Tour, sponsored by Trafalgar, could turn me into one of those irritating globe travelers. Okay, once I get beyond the irritating places. Maybe. No one can claim a win from the starting line.

Our tour guide acts as an expert social catalyst. She has a sense of humor. I laugh. And sing. With ease. The song doesn’t need to have Irish roots; it needs to be sincere and come from my heart. This group knows the difference.

The history of Ireland suddenly becomes mine even though my ancestors came from Alsace-Lorraine. Irish history is human. The story of oppression. The story of one ruling group taking over another as if farmers and their families were things and potatoes were commodities, instead of the only food the people had.

Beautiful land and impressive castles seem to sanitize the past. Yet, memory and memorials hold the truth.

In Dublin the colors of the doors stand out: blue, red, yellow, or white. Our tour guide explains. When Prince Albert died, Queen Victoria declared that all the doors of the kingdom be painted black in mourning. The Irish rebelled. The brightness remains.

Time to leave. My husband and I pack our bags, larger now with gifts for our family. I struggle, but not for long. Both fellow coach travelers and world travelers help me lift my load.

I pray kind action be contagious. Simple, yet powerful. One gesture to help rather than center on self, me-only. Peace. A long-term goal. Yes. Yet worth the effort.

 

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