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Posts Tagged ‘respect for all people’

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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Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods. (Aristotle)

Ann and I share peanut butter sandwiches and listen to music. We sing along and fake the lyrics. It doesn’t matter whether we know the words or not. The sky promises rain. Inside we celebrate sun. Ann couldn’t see blue if it did suddenly break through unexpectedly. My friend is blind. Her eyes don’t work; her heart-vision does.

She often takes an Access bus to visit a friend in a nursing home. It cheers him up.

“How long can you stay?” I ask.

“What do you need to do today?” she answers. “I don’t want to overstay my welcome.”

The kitchen floor needs a scrub. I have edits. Always. However, I suspect I need the presence of a friend. A shared awareness of a moment that exists now and won’t return.

Ann has the uncanny knack of knowing how I really feel. The last time we were together I’d been upset, and she sensed it. Today is better. We celebrate in simple ways. I could wear a shirt one tear away from the rag bag; she wouldn’t know, or care. She cherishes more lasting values. Who a person is, an ability to give, to care.

The television is off. I’ll face the world scene later. After I accept the fact that both good and evil exist.

Ann and I blast out the words we recognize in old songs and hum when the lyrics don’t get through to our hearing aids.

“I’ll be your friend forever,” she says.

Forever is more than I can grasp. A lot has happened since time began. However, Aristotle was onto something centuries ago. Friendship has tangible value.

May you always have friends you can trust.

 

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I dwell in possibility… (Emily Dickinson)

As I sweep the kitchen floor my head sweeps through thoughts about something tinier than dust particles. The article I am reading in National Geographic says an ape’s DNA is 99% the same as a human being’s DNA. And the pages expand into names for genes. Specific numbers. Symbols for magnificent, infinitesimal differences.

And possibilities.

The facts debunk the notion that race is any more significant than skin color. I live in an integrated community. Move? Not after 43 years. With neighbors willing to help my husband and me, obviously older folks. What shade is their skin? Anywhere from peach to ebony.

A wave across the street. A hug. Come by for coffee. My husband may offer a beer. If only I could transport the experience to other parts of this country. Sometimes I don’t realize how blessed I am.

Do I see their different colors? Of course. The same way I see the color of the tulips before the deer eat them, the variations of color inside my husband’s favorite Columbine in spring. Depths both inside and outside.

Possibilities? There are many.

I vote for peace.

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We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days. (Jane Austen)

Sure, anyone who has stepped beyond kindergarten knows the kiddie pool closes when summer ends. I suspect most of us cherish the daydream about an escape route, a charmed life—long after planned recesses end. Bullies, putdowns, and early traumas. They unsettle the water early and intensify a longing for a smoother ride ahead.

When I grow up…

I’ll tell the kids who called me Ziggy the niggy

they need a good eye doctor and some listening ears as well.

Ziegler, my family name, is German and means tile mason.

Hardly aristocracy. As if that mattered.

And my skin is pale to match

eyelashes and hair color common in Ireland.

A connection unknown if connected at all.

The insult you intended is learned ignorance.

You see, human refers to a wholeness.

Of body and spirit.

Dark and pale outsides can hold spirits made of sun.

And I revel in the possible housing color of spirits:

Chestnut, cinnamon, charcoal, peach, olive.

Perhaps I speak only to my own written word.

To a long-gone past.

You are busy with your own agenda.

Yet, I speak to you with respect.

Only love can make churning water

a place possible to maneuver.

Peace.

 

 

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Try to see things differently – It’s the only way to get a clearer perspective on the world and on your life. (Neal Shusterman)

Laundry waits inside a plastic, easily opened hamper. If it were viewed by the privileged, it would be dismissed, seen as mundane, too common to be noticed.

If it were given to a group with nothing, the people would open the lid and stare inside. They would gather and empty the contents. Find a use for every fiber.

It belongs to me. I take it for granted. Wash and dry. Watch the time as if I owned each minute.

Friends and I talk. I listen. We see life differently. Together, we cleanse one another’s thinking. Peace, please.

 

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I shut my eyes in order to see. (Paul Gauguin)

Umbrellas and I don’t get along well. I either leave them in the car or under the table at a restaurant. Several years ago, I published a poem on a For a Better World site, AEQAI, maintained by Saad Ghosn. I remembered some of those narrative poetry lines while I was driving today, rain falling, my umbrella in the trunk, my thoughts recalling the many broken people I know. Peace upon all. Without judgment.

THE BROKEN UMBRELLA

I find an old, bent umbrella

in the back of a closet,

and remember a story

about my great aunt,

the one who lived

with my grandmother.

I heard she refused to go to school,

rain or shine, without her umbrella.

Grandma laughed when she told me,

one of those tired adult laughs

I didn’t understand.

She never knew why

her little sister feared rain.

And I wouldn’t dare ask.

 

My great aunt talked about men

as if they were born as sooty coal

covered with flesh.

Genetically messy, crude, loud.

Sports without a soul.

Since I was her only niece,

my aunt sought my ear.

I tolerated her out of pity.

I pictured her as a child

at the turn of the twentieth century.

paired with her umbrella,

two closed slender shapes

surrounded by bullies

who gave fuel to her opinions.

She learned bitterness somewhere,

wore it as a badge of a holy crusade.

 

In the fifties Grandma took in a boarder,

a quiet man who ate corn flakes

doused with warm water.

My aunt latched her door at night,

and moved a bookcase

in front of it.

 

Then one night after Grandma died

I stayed overnight with my aunt,

gave her some company.

I recall her bony frame in dull, plain pajamas,

all femininity pressed out,

as she told me about an uncle,

or was it a cousin?

You won’t believe what he did to me?

By then I was old enough to guess.

But, not old enough to know

the burden of that knowledge wasn’t mine.

I remained silent.

Her secret stayed bound

within flannel and hate.

She died in a nursing home.

Alone.

 

I imagine a new scene as I discard

the useless umbrella from my closet.

What would have happened if

I could have borrowed a few years

of experience from my future,

risked touching the pain in her eyes,

and asked, what happened?

 

My old umbrella’s hollow spiked bones stick out

through torn, split fabric.

I can’t fix it. Yet, strange,

I feel an odd sadness for all things

that no longer have a chance to recover.

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You cannot go around and keep score. If you keep score on the good things and the bad things, you’ll find out that you’re a very miserable person. God gave man the ability to forget, which is one of the greatest attributes you have. Because if you remember everything that’s happened to you, you generally remember that which is the most unfortunate. (Hubert H. Humphrey)

Inside the seed is the potential for a plant. My gardener friends may recognize the difference between a wanna-be green bean and columbine. My understanding remains in the metaphor realm. Internal beauty needs to fight through dirt to become real.

My fingers have become twisted with age and arthritis. A fractured metacarpal in my right hand permanently curved the middle finger. My music has been affected; my song has not.

Amazing as I realize that the cells of the body change continuously. My face doesn’t look the same as it did twenty years ago. I have an older, drier skin, memories locked inside the wrinkles. Yet, classmates from fifty years ago have recognized me. I have recognized them. The self remains. Hopefully I have changed inside for the better—losing track of the score and gaining interest in the game.

Have I reached perfection? Hardly. Sometimes I realize the condemning words I was told as a child have adhered to my spirit. They need to be pruned. With actions that prove them worthless.

For today I forget the past and begin again, accept who you are and who I am. In this strange, complicated world. May peace win. Somehow.

 

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