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Posts Tagged ‘perspective’

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.

Yet.

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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When I was 5 years, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life. (John Lennon)

 The young Beatle-to-be obviously didn’t have nuns as teachers. He would have been knocked down a step or two, or three, or four. With or without a cracking ruler.

If only happiness didn’t need to be pursued. I tell my grandchildren they are important often. Sure, action and discipline remain necessary. The-world-owes-me makes a sad goal. However, a happy-to-be-alive everyday life isn’t easy to achieve.

“You need to live to be 138,” one grandchild told me recently. “I’m going to need you that long.”

Sweet. Yes. And yet a potent message. A need to be assured remains powerful.

The little things. Always the little things. How well or poorly are they set together?

 

 

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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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Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So, go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you. (L.R. Knost

I wonder if the world has ever been more broken. Perhaps it has. Before mass communication replayed horrors in an infinite loop. My granddaughter Ella brings relief. With humor. A grin. One pretend-game after another.

She cooks. On a real stove. No heat. Most ingredients remain imaginary. Moose stew. The moose is invisible, hidden inside olive oil poured from a capped bottle.  Ella grabs blueberries and tomatoes. Okay. A little different. The molasses and sugar? Thank goodness our guests will be stuffed animals.

We bake a cake. No clean-up is necessary. An unopened bag of flour is easily returned to the shelf. A cake can be baked in three minutes. No hot pads needed for oven removal.  

Perhaps nothing of tangible worth was created. Then again, my heart found laughter. Needed to brighten dark places in the outside world.

Thanks for bringing simplicity into our home, Ella. We needed it. The light that is you.

 

 

 

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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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separated smilesThe way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain. (Dolly Parton)

“Put a smile on your face.” A quote. Made by almost any parent. Well-meant perhaps, but misleading. First, the smile needs to be placed in the heart. It isn’t an accessory, like a hat or sweater.

As a teenager, I recall fussing about my thin, flyaway hair. I tried to make it look like someone else’s.

“Pretty is as pretty does,” my mother said with a face that stated, “And you are not pretty in appearance or deed.” That notion could have been restated. “This may seem important to you now. I can show you a better way.” I am glad I eventually discovered a new mirror.

The illustration pictures separated smiles. Without the rest of the person, they appear strange. The completed faces that belong to these mouths, have blessed me. One belongs to my sister. Another to my daughter-in-law. The baby’s grin belongs to my growing, youngest grandchild.

Sure, I’ll put on a smile. A smile that comes from the heart and soul. Not to a command. Sadness is real. It doesn’t need to be fed, but it does need to run its course.

Perhaps joy may take some time. Like waiting through a pandemic. Like hours of labor before birth. Like the negative space that gives lace and art its beauty.

The picture is metaphorical. I have heard all three of the voices attached to these lips, felt their presence, even if that physical touch was distant. These voices speak love.

The past can’t be changed. I offer my mother no advice. However, I have plenty to tell me. I don’t advise someone else about how to feel. I do tell them they have value, then give them space to discover it for themselves.

 

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Cherish your human connections, your relationships with friends and family. (Barbara Bush)

 Jay’s cell phone rings. “Hi, Dakota!”

Our grandson has his own phone. He is calling to help this senior citizen. He called my phone first. Someone else answered. My buddy is taking care of me—he knew before I did that my smart phone had left its less-than-smart user.

I call from our land line, grateful that we still have one. The response? “The owner of this phone left it at Kroger’s.”

I laugh, and then don my mask again to make another trip out of our cave. Jay drives. I am pleased with his company.

Amazing how folk have become dependent upon a hand-held rectangular device. Unfortunately, the phone must have fallen from the side pocket of my purse. Some kind, honest person returned it to the desk.

I am grateful. My connection with the world found. Now, to find connection with me, that old lady I see in the mirror. That old lady who longs to play with trucks on the floor with her grandson.

Time now to call someone else who needs to hear a voice that doesn’t come from a TV set. A phone. An amazing invention when used for providing kindness.

 

 

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Everybody’s talking about people breaking into houses but there are more people in the world who want to break out of houses. (Thornton Wilder, 1897-1975)

 Thornton, you were ahead of your time.

 I am reviewing my four-year-old-child skills. With the same lack of finesse. Making a mask from one of my husband’s old shirts. The mask I have pulls my hearing aids out, and the silk scarf I tried for the grocery store, slid off as if I’d smeared my face with bacon grease.

 Now, I model my newest creation. In cotton, St. Patrick’s Day green, designed for social distancing wear.

 Take an old T-shirt. Cut off the bottom, as wide a space as needed to tie around the face. Then cut out a square on each side, leaving enough room to tie above and below the ears.

 This version took a few minutes, with scissors that have cut a lot of paper. And numbed the cutting edges. Something like chewing celery without teeth.

Yes, I do have artistic ability. And no, I didn’t use any of it here. Genuine creation takes time. All I want now is a walk. Outside. Where the air moves a farther distance than a furnace fan can reach.

Slipshod work is good enough. A little fabric glue between the layers later will complete the project.

And—my husband and I—we are in the sun. Vitamin D, I’m ready to soak you in.

 White clouds and blue sky, may I never take you for granted again.

 

 

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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)

 Unstable weather. Tornadoes. Sun, wind, rain take turns crapshoot style. While a novel virus spreads like something from a horror movie. And yet, somehow, love hasn’t died. My sister-in-law drops off an Easter lily. Neighbors check on us. We pass our blessings on. As news channels broadcast possibilities—none of them definite.

 A friend calls. She’s lonely and wants to visit. It hurts to tell her, “not now.”

 Our birdfeeder is empty. The feed will come. Eventually. When we can get to a store.

 Love. It’s so imperfect.

 My husband and I follow YouTube aerobics in front of our picture window. Our performance is below par, at best. Yet, our relationship deepens during this homebound time when human faults could tear a couple apart.

Are we better people? Good glory, no! Just lucky. We discovered a few life tools, crapshoot style. Sure, the tension could get to us at any time. We could forget. Let aches and pains tell us we need to be center of the universe, or at least the household.

 What is important? Now. A house that sparkles or a home that welcomes change, life as it is? The presence of a husband who thanks me for everything I do. The goodness of a neighbor who cuts our grass as I type. I pray to see blessings. Speak gratitude. Often.

 My husband has a unique skill. When he knows I’m irritated about something, he makes me laugh. I don’t want perfect in a mate. Not really. We would have nothing in common.

 Spring appears with open blossoms. A beginning. Always another beginning. Yes, there will always be an ending. In between are other days.

 

 

 

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