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Posts Tagged ‘respect for all people’

 

open door

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them. (Ernest Hemingway

In 2012 I wrote a journal during Lent when memories of trauma ate through the present. Today I survive, as imperfectly as everyone else. I decided to reread an entry or two. This story appeared on an ordinary Wednesday when I was babysitting two of my granddaughters. Rebe was four and Ella was a toddler:  

I’m rinsing breakfast dishes as the doorbell rings. Jay is busy with Ella, so I answer. Outside a young girl stands sobbing. She asks to use our phone.

     “Who are you?” I ask.

     She doesn’t answer. Instead she tells me her boyfriend beat her up, and she wants to call the police.

     Jay is standing behind me by now. He holds Ella. I don’t know what else to do. I don’t want this girl standing out in the cold. I let her in and get her a glass of water, then finish the dishes as she calls from our living room.

     When I get back, Ella blows kisses to her and the girl smiles and tells me she has a one-year-old child.

     “How old are you?”

     “Eighteen.”

     The girl’s skin is a flawless ebony. I would have guessed she was much younger.

     While I don’t watch the clock, it seems like a long time until two policewomen arrive in two separate cars.

     We leave the room. I need to change Ella’s diaper anyway. On our way into the bedroom we hear one of the officers ask, “So why do you stay with him?”

     Apparently this is not a first-time event.

     After the girl leaves with bus money we provide, one of the policewomen comes back into the house and chides us for our kindness. This girl’s live-in is trouble. It is her choice to remain in jeopardy. Drugs are an issue.

       We should have called the police and made her stay on the porch. Twenty-twenty hindsight. (Although, an addition added to this entry in 2020, I doubt I would have followed her advice. After all, an abused eighteen-year-old girl is a child in need.)

Ella as a baby

       I am relieved later while Ella and Rebe watch Caillou, a children’s cartoon show, where a lost toy dinosaur is the only problem. Two little girls wrapped in the discovery of a stuffed toy and the loving concern of Caillou’s father.

     Real life isn’t always that sweet. I have been fortunate. My flaw today was trust. Yet, I pray that our little Ella’s blown kisses can be a blessing into the soul of this lost girl. A seed, perhaps. One that can grow someday, even if I never see it blossom.

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Hygge is about having less, enjoying more; the pleasure of simply being… Louisa Thomsen Brits, The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Living Well

Hygge time. A Danish concept. Moments when we are grateful and aware of the now. Not yesterday or tomorrow. Snow falls while Jay and I sip coffee.

He tells me about someone he met at the pool. “I killed two kids,” the man told him.

My first thoughts are DUI or an accident, but this is my time to listen. The man is a veteran. He followed the command to shoot. Children sometimes carried explosives. The dead are not people; they are the enemy. Saved by the military.

Jay tells him it wasn’t his fault. He did what he was told to do. The man answered, “But I pulled the trigger.”

Now that moment explodes through the man’s head. A mantra called PTSD, created by the battlefield. Guilt with no place to go. He wants someone to apologize for the command. Jay can only listen, a powerful tool for the moment. Not an immediate answer.

The man left the pool.

I had been looking out our front window and watching the lines formed by the houses in our neighborhood. The homes. I look for the focal point I have been discovering in art class. As a student at age 73.

Even a simple line remains true and honest, then easily misunderstood by point of view. A tilted camera. An I-already-know attitude. In the photo I didn’t want a picture of my car, the house across the street. I didn’t want the half-iced street. This tilt is obvious. Not every slant is.

In the picture I know the difference. In real life, perception can be blurry in ways that have nothing to do with eyesight.

The whiteness won’t stay. Neither will ten o’clock on a February Saturday morning. However, I hope the integrity inherent in a few moments on an ordinary couch, remains and grows into whatever I need to be now. Into tomorrow. Into each giving opportunity as it opens.

 

 

 

 

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Ah, how the seeds of cockiness blossom when soiled in ignorance. (Steve Alten)

DUBIOUS ADVICE

 

Take one opinion;

call it the whole.

Shout your words

with venom if necessary.

Cover your home,

your car, every space you touch

with bumper stickers, clever words,

succinct, biting,

so obvious, transparent,

you mimic a peacock flashing

your message across a zoo.

Then, well satisfied,

flick on the television,

curl up in your favorite chair,

or lie on a distant beach,

and revel in the comfort of your truth.

Relax, with food and wine within reach,

your part completed.

 

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(photo of the two children taken by Alice Zeiser)

I choose not to place DIS in my ability. (Robert M. Hensel)

Buddy Walk Day. The Saturday after Labor Day brings

A sea of shirts in bright colors. Yellow this year. Thousands.

One day without any uninformed person

dropping both eyes and mouth into parallel

frowns and an I’m-sorry. Down syndrome isn’t sad.

Apologies come after simple happenings.

Spilled water—nothing a napkin can’t handle,

or an it-took-me-forever-to-find-a-parking place.

Smiles follow. My granddaughter takes her cousin’s hand.

Or does he grab hers? It doesn’t matter.

This group knows we are all one.

And celebration comes naturally

when our common space is love.

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If we have no compassion it is because we have forgotten we belong to one another.
(Mother Teresa)

 

The Neighborhood, Delicatessen, and a Baby Squirrel

 

I hold my delicatessen number as if it had first-class boarding-pass value.

No neat queue waits for meat and cheese sliced as if

a thousandth-of-a-millimeter difference per slice mattered.

Customers stand scattered.

The woman with the number before mine

buys one slice of bologna. I wonder if that is all she can afford.

Her cart holds one marked-down loaf of generic white bread.

 

My thoughts wander to a neighbor.

Yesterday he asked my husband for a small loan.

This man performs chores for sub-adequate fees.

I want to contact him, give him a small job,

call the score even, then give him a tip.

 

I know the cashier. She rescued a baby squirrel after a predator

snapped off his mother’s head. I ask how he is.

Died on Monday, she answers. She continues to scan my purchases.

I tell her she did her best.

 

And we agree we can’t save the world

yet can’t stop trying.

I notice her silent tears but don’t mention them.

A neighbor’s phone number

is pegged on my home corkboard. Earlier, when I called

to offer him a gift, some loaves of bread,

more than what we needed,

his number had been disconnected. I nod.

We can’t stop trying.

 

originally published in For A Better World 2015

 

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Our deepest wounds surround our greatest gifts. (Ken Page)

Enough

Enough, such a curious word

to ponder on a solstice day.

Enough light, dark, pain, success,

orchids, and weeds. Illness and health.

Does enough thrive on my dinner table

or include food for a child I will never meet?

Does enough stop at my ego or begin there?

Perhaps, this is not a question to answer.

But, a journey to live.

 

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After I’m dead I’d rather have people ask why I have no monument than why I have one. (Cato the Elder)

Sometimes a story needs to be told anonymously because it could create unnecessary fuss when names are introduced. Especially when fault isn’t the point. A good friend of mine was kicked in the chest at work—by someone who was too mentally challenged to understand anything but an immediate angry reaction. This individual had nothing against my friend.

She was asked if she would return on Monday. She didn’t pause. “Of course.”

She understood what measures needed to be taken to prevent another scene. She lives compassion for others. She knows instinctively what her charge needs and what creates fear.

Angels appear in jeans and gym shoes more often than glowing gowns and wings. Folk don’t hide from people in ordinary clothing; heavenly appearances tend to be a tad freaky.

Thankfully, goodness can be as close as a next-door-neighbor or family and friends who show up when needed most.

Simple love. It looks easy-smooth on the outside but is more precious than jewels locked behind glass. Nonjudgmental love can’t be assessed.

It can be appreciated. Evil hasn’t won yet and won’t provided some good-all-the-way-through folk continue to be who they are.

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