Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’

acrylic painting I made recently based upon a photo of a birch in Acadia Park in Maine

There’s a lot of difference between listening and hearing. (G. K. Chesterton)

The scene is a circle of young women. In the distant past. I am among the women as I admit I am close to despair.

“Look at the beauty of the trees in the yard,” one member advises. She spreads her arms as if she were Mother Nature enjoying her handiwork.

The scene she describes doesn’t lift me. I feel censured for embracing a less-than-perfect place. And the blue rug where I sit opens. Or at least it seems to open. I fall through. Hidden inside.

Later. Much later. I realize I couldn’t accept the glory because it wasn’t mine. It belonged to someone else. I’d been given a simple answer to a complex situation. An accepting nod would have been better.

Strange. I understand this after my ears needed amplification to catch the most uncomplicated conversation.

It is also strange that I am grateful for the depths because now I can recognize a natural gem and celebrate its worth.

The news advertises fear. With or without facts depending upon the source. A friend calls about her confusion. I don’t have answers. I listen…



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You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one. ( John Lennon)

Fog, Sun, and Hope


Bare, black trees stand out inside a low cloud. Fog.

Headlights hide the vehicles they guide


until the cars arrive close enough to be

seen by other drivers.


In political fogs fact and factoid blur. Alternative facts,

lies that wear well-constructed masks. Fear wins.


Each lie repeats often enough to be used as beams for

followers. The mask asks people to scoff non-believers.


And the non-believers respond with taunts, point out stupidity,

lack of logic, inconsistency. A no-win war begins.


In the natural world, sun, blue, and clouds reappear.

Dead trees remain leafless. Headlights become optional,


a choice. Drivers can now see without them. Can eyes open

and human roots join for change? Must fog live in all seasons?


Or can sun live despite fog? As headlights point out need,

can drivers carry hope and respond with an ear instead of censure?


Yes, I hear where you stand, those who would

destroy the poor and give to the rich, but I disagree.


Peace for the world.

 Eventually. Please.


originally published in For A Better World



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There is no us and them; it’s an illusion. We are all human beings, and we all have a responsibility to support one another and to discover ways of wresting the power from the very, very few people who control all the cash and all the property. (Roger Waters.)

Amazing how lost I can feel even though I know exactly where I’m turning left and right. Three errands. Each simple and specific. And yet my thoughts travel as if my brain synapses have no connections. I want to save the world. It isn’t going to happen.

A red car turns ahead of me into the parking lot as a small boy sticks his head out the window. He is a handsome child. Mocha skin. Hair shaved to reveal a perfectly shaped skull. He returns inside immediately. I imagine the voice of the driver, probably a parent. “Get your seatbelt on right now, young man.”

Then I see the identical shaved hairstyle of a smaller boy. He is seated in the middle of the back seat. The red car is no longer a vehicle in a line of traffic. It is its own world. A mini-community that turns toward another part of the shopping center.

I don’t know the family. And yet a scene hits me. The earth from a distance. Made from easily delineated parts. Water. Land. And everything is blurred as if it had no mountain, valley, creatures, or specks of dust.

When one group of people has never interacted with another, notions develop without dimension, fact, or touch.

“I’m not prejudiced,” an unnamed white woman announces. “I just think all lives matter.” The rebuttal comes, “But is your life being threatened? Has it ever been threatened because your pale-peaches skin has too many freckles?” And the response is a cold stare.

Us and them. May these words become pronouns again and stay out of the judgmental realm. They are too easily used as weapons.

A wider worldview. It may be the only solution. Yet not an easy one.


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True forgiveness is when you can say, “Thank you for that experience.” (Oprah Winfrey)

What can’t be accomplished in reality, sometimes can be faced through poetry.


Facing the Darkness Under the Bed


As I sweep under my bed and touch

the darkness below the frame

I imagine going back into time


and watch my mom as her mother lies

on another bed. Twelve-year-old Mary Ann

cooks then washes dishes.


Her history textbook is opened

on the kitchen table. Ancient war dates fade,

battles with human losses,


each its own variation

of an untold Pyrrhic victory.

She hears a different kind of battle.


My mother as a young girl

longs to soothe the endless

cries of her mother


in labor for forty-eight hours.

Mama survives but delivers a

second dead baby. Mary Ann learns


to bury hurts as well, cover them

inside forgotten dreams. She leaves

the darkness under her bed


with the dust. Imagination,

it may be physically impossible.

Yet, I reach for the hand


of the twelve-year-old girl who will one day

give birth to me, and allow her

the gift of forbidden tears.


Perhaps then I can give

me full permission for

releasing mine.




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Play is the highest form of research. (Albert Einstein)

A Blue Bike


One 1950’s variety blue,

second-hand bicycle, no features

peddle-power only.

Balance, I’d mastered it.


A classmate begged to ride.

She sped down the hill,

made a squealing brake,

and met the concrete with her nose.


“It’s the bike’s fault,” she claimed.

Tears fell into the blood on her face

while she stared me down.

My parents said nothing.


Alone, I stepped into new shades of balance.

My peer seemed to choose a

shift-the-blame ploy. As a reticent child,

inaction was my norm. I hadn’t yet learned


when to be silent, when to speak.

I was mute out of fear. Balance

and courage took me years to develop.

To move from a fragile ego into integrity.


A new goal reaches into my horizon, to focus

less on blame than on the pain. How can I help you?

To be aware of both ploy and hurt. Neither

accepting nor giving censure. Not easy.


Balance includes more than gravity. To

maintain real-life love without being a jerk,

without giving more than I have.

One 2020 old lady moving forward, into peace.


published in For A Better World 2020

pic made from public domain image



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Freedom is never given; it is won. (A. Philip Randolph)

The sixteen-year-old creator of this sidewalk art has requested anonymity; her topic speaks for itself.  A close friend told us that this beautiful girl’s work would not be as well accepted in his neighborhood. He is glad it is approved in ours.

The rain has faded some color. The intensity of the message remains. If only it could jump from its enclosed space. If only history books in the entitled communities could be edited. If only ears could open long enough. To hear. To see.

Lynching was once celebrated. On postcards. Sent in the mail next to the birthday cards and wedding announcements. I see the outside of those who have struggled. I am humbled to admit how recently I learned about the horrific postcards and other hidden historical facts.

The artist who painted the work in front of my house has beautiful dark hair. However, you can use your imagination to surmise her skin color. She has grown up in an integrated community. Her friends come in many colors. She sees the shades. As unique parts of each person.

She told me about a foster child she knew. Recently adopted. His sparkling personality. I discovered his skin shade after she showed me his picture. Not the same as his adoptive parents. His color is important. Yet secondary to who he is as a human being. Fill in the blanks, the skin colors of the characters in this tale. In this hypothetical sense only we see all as equal.

Unfortunately, on the everyday scene equality hasn’t arrived.


It will never arrive in denial.

Or silence.

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We’re capable of much more than mediocrity, much more than merely getting by in this world. (Sharon Salzberg, Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection)

A Child’s description of a YMCA pool. “Nothing like the ocean…deeper even at the beginning.”

Two brothers enter the pool. I hear the younger boy say to the other, “This water is eleven feet deep. But it is nothing like the ocean. The ocean is deeper even at the beginning.”

I smile at the child’s innocence. His simple joy. The boy has his green wrist band now. So, he can plunge into the deep end. With confidence. Swim tests completed.

Unfortunately, during Covid19 days those times need to be reserved. Socially distanced. Limited. Nevertheless, I watch the family interact. Enjoy. Celebrate. As I tread water. And reality. As well as I can.

“You have a delightful family,” I finally tell Mom. She smiles. A camera slung around her shoulders. Pictures captured inside.

She is an attractive lady. Black hair almost to her shoulders. Smooth skin the color of dark chocolate. The boys are a tad lighter, with a chestnut tinge. Lean. Active. The father, attentive. Smiling. He doesn’t see me. I smile anyway. To a beauty that I recognize inside him.

And I think about how the ocean seems deeper, even at the edge. A long way between shores. A deep space between peoples.

“Have a blessed day,” I say to the woman as this group’s assigned time ends. As the staff prepares to clean. To keep the space safe during a pandemic virus.

Safe. Such a short word with such an expansive unsaid meaning.

Peace. For all.

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Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost. (Erol Ozan)



The directional app on my phone

remains mute, while the road twists

and my mind twists with it 

into places where I am lost, again.


Memories explode bully-style inside

my brain synapses, creating panic.

No sound, but an arrow on my screen says

turn left at the next corner. I remember


the shop with the worn yellow sign.

And space in my head and heart opens.

I know to move through uncertainty.

Celebrate my detours. Consider


the possibility that others hide pain

behind strange, sour, surly behavior.

May peace be made from pieces,

one imperfect turn at a time.


published in For a Better World 2020







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by Sharon M. Draper

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”  (Alice Walker)

 “Nine robed figured dressed all in white. Heads covered with softly pointed hoods.” And Sharon M. Draper sets a scene with two short sentences. Not soft. Or safe. She writes the novel to honor her own grandmother. Her heritage. Yet, it embraces a larger truth. Heart. Courage.

 Human creatures wear skin color. Stella and Jojo, silhouetted on the cover of Stella by Starlight, are amazing human individuals. With a story. Skin color is only the cover, the beginning.

 I lost count of the number of times I have read Chapter Eleven: Truth. Two pages. Written in the main character’s handwriting. Prose poetry. 

To find truth in my life, I ask my mirrored reflection what I see. Beyond wrinkles. Beyond the piece of spinach caught between my front teeth.

 Am I more than today’s limited experience? Can I speak out, reach out? Admit failure. Try again. I can’t tell my darker friends I know how they feel. I don’t. Except in an empathetic sense. Listen? Yes! Care. Definitely. Stand for what is right? Of course.

The character, Stella, epitomizes power, seized when it was needed. However, the power of the oppressed can never be found without allies. Peace. May as many people as possible join. Now.


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Know you what it is to be a child? It is to be something very different from the man of to-day. It is to have a spirit yet streaming from the waters of baptism; it is to believe in love, to believe in loveliness, to believe in belief; it is to be so little that the elves can reach to whisper in your ear; it is to turn pumpkins into coaches, and mice into horses, lowness into loftiness, and nothing into everything, for each child has his fairy godmother in his own soul. (Francis Thompson)

 Instead of a rant about racial prejudice, I reprinted this long-ago blog from March of 2011. I will let the children in the scene speak. May their innocence win.


A two-year-old girl at the Museum Center in Cincinnati protects one of the Children’s Center’s naked dolls as if it were her own. Her mother laughs. “I wonder how we are going to get out of here without it.” I watch as it becomes clear that she only wants this brown doll, not a nearly identical pale one she picks up by mistake. The little girl has ivory skin and wisps of honey hair, but she gravitates toward color.


 Funny, more of the pale dolls appear abandoned on the floor of the toddler room than darker-skinned ones. I smile, then laugh when I see my granddaughter Rebe making the same choice. “Baby” goes down the slide with her, takes a trip to the grocery in a miniature grocery cart, and explores the sandbox. Sometimes the doll is held upside down, but Rebe is visibly upset if “Baby” disappears into the arms of another child.


 Fortunately, I find another. Lots of pale faces lying around. But Rebe is not satisfied with the Caucasian version. As soon as the doll she wants is left for a second, she adopts it, with the speed of a hawk diving for prey.


True, Rebe has grown up in a mixed racial community. So did her father. But it seems that another awareness is involved here, on an innocence level lost long before adulthood. I think of the number of adjectives that describe darker skin, from mocha to mahogany to ebony. I can’t think of anywhere near as many words to describe fair and olive-skinned folk. 


Little people don’t need words. They go to the essence of a beautiful reality without it.

The photo is created from a simple colored penciled public domain photo, designed to mimic innocence. 




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