Dollar Snow-Cone

The August summer heat would not relent as she defiantly arched her elderly frame to rise from the cracking concrete stoop in this ignored part of the city.

I walked up the block with a crumpled dollar bill for the ice – without the syrup.  Sweat scattered from my hairline.  My face and neck burned scarlet.

The makeshift plastic table was wobbly-arranged for quick sales anticipated from the two buses of people who visited for a mere afternoon, scheduled in to clean up the neighborhood through a service agency.  All in the name of peace and solidarity.

A battered aluminum urn, dented from years of use, held ice that would shave pieces into a forbidden Styrofoam cup – a cheap fix.  A neat row of glass bottles with plastic pumps each waited with their blaring color of sugar syrup attentively for its snow-cone debut – chartreuse mint, tangerine orange, bright violet grape – nothing known to Nature.  My only wish was the frosty shavings to melt my dusty, gritty throat.

She rose from the stoop as I smiled deeply breathing in front of a torn plastic umbrella, offering some shade.  Her cocoa-colored skin clenched hard onto muscles whose strength was all but gone from years of sacrifice.  Her knotted, ebony hands buckled from years of toil…fields, factories, mills?  I couldn’t imagine.  This heat would not stop her today.  Nope.  No way.

“Just ice please.”  I handed her the dollar bill.

She pulled the black plastic lever to shave the ice into slivers of cool relief.   Gently she extended her arm giving me a cup filled with ice shavings and started to count out change – one worn quarter, one dime and three nickels.  Her hand trembled as she counted and then my eyes rested on her wedding ring encircling the on her left hand.

The simple band was of thin gold, but the worn beveled edges reflected the mysteries of a previous life filled with more joy than today brought.   The pattern of the bevel was exactly the same as the wedding ring belonging to my grandfather which I wore in the middle of my right hand.  I had asked for it and wore it every day without fail since his death.   Nonu’s hands were the worker’s hands of a turn-of-the-century Italian immigrant – massive, skilled and unfaltering.  They could crush rock, melt brass or graft five different apples on to one tree for autumn pies Noni would make each year.

I reached for her left hand with my right so she would see my ring as I touched hers.    She slowly lifted her eyes to meet mine.  Her heavy blink under sagging eyelids gave way to a weakened smile as time and space held us united in some unexpected enigma made for this day.

“No change”, I said, “and God bless.”

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Solitary Love

The grass had been replaced by moss which had grown painstakingly around the trees in the shaded grove. My friend, with whom I agreed to take a ride “out East” needed to talk with several of the residents so I took a stroll in the silence while she discussed. Three swans floated on the lake in-between occasional surface plants that broke the ripples of the water. I felt the presence of Nature as She breathed with me in synchronism on Her Path. I walked to the gazebo and the swans glided towards me. Unbelievably, I felt enveloped, cared for and loved in solitude without anyone nearby.

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Hold on, baby, Hold on…

e pluribus unum

When the cubbies are bare and there seems no one to care, how long do I tell him to continue to believe?

Hold on tight….

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As time often does, just when you feel you’re out of the woods and on a secure path to somewhere, something happens that leaves you scrambling for higher ground. The system that is in place is radically changing – they tell us for the better, but my doubts still nag somewhere deep inside. So, as we are still part of the system, we continue to be counted as a playing participant. When prices rise, we pay them. When leaders sell out their constituents for their own stash of the cash, we demonstrate, write letters and the laws still pass. When standards change, we grumble and have to accommodate them at work and in schools. When leaders talk about “hard work” and the dreams, I wonder why then much of the 99% invest, making their money work for them instead while they jet off to tropical islands, golfing tournaments or polo grounds for their “entertainment”. (Keeps them busy.) When experts rattle on, we listen and either turn off or argue with the television. We tell kids in school the same – work hard, play by the rules – but they see much too much contradiction in money buying innocence, and poverty securing guilt in a broken legal system.
In all of this experience of fraying ends, I find the squirrel in my backyard, immobile, clutching onto an immense tree as he’s contemplating which way to head next – straight up, sure, but which branch?
Take a moment’s pause, hold on, say a little prayer…and help will be on its way! Cliche’? Maybe full of them, but as you’re grasping for dear life with every shaking nerve, it helps to know that this too shall pass!

Sharing the bounty

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From Woodstock to Wall Street, what would it take for all those who “have” to take a moment and share their blessings with those who struggle? It can and does happen every day. “Look up to the sky and “see”…”choose to see, choose to share, choose to give and find how life is transformed.

Willful Destruction of Olive Trees leaves No Olive Branches

palestine olive trees  October 19, 2013. (AFP Photo / Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

“Hungry and thirsty, their life was wasting away within them.” A lost people, besieged with few resources they attempt to develop being destroyed…restricted access to food, crops, work, water, movement in their places. Hunger, thirst, hopelessness from freedom repressed.  Is it so difficult to “see” and understand the consequences and results from this brand of treatment?

October 19, 2013. (AFP Photo / Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

 

 

Freedom’s Call

 

 

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To live in a land of freedoms is truly a blessing.  Yet with every opportunity, a responsibility to fully understand, grasp and authoritatively act upon those freedoms becomes incumbent upon a rational use of the limits and powers that those freedoms offer.   When those qualities are glaringly absent, the result is merely a conglomeration of chaotic, aggravated idiocy with each faction spewing its own self-absorbed demands.

 

 

 

For the Love of the Other

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What’s his name?  Where’s his birth?  How much is his portfolio worth?  Is he black, red, brown or white?  Does he live in fear or die with might?

As a woman, man or child, who has the right to take his smile, to withhold water, to take his land, to judge his soul among the damned?

All life belongs to you, to me, all children ours, our humanity.  No time to listen?  The time is NOW! No planning, thinking of just how…just open your eyes, just “learn to see”, just open your hearts, just  let Love be….“To the least of these,  you do to Me.”

A Child’s Solution to The Game

flashback fotos 155This morning while children were playing at a summer enrichment program, I began a conversation with an 8 year old girl who noticed, as I did, that the young boys increased their animation, raised their voices and their gesticulating during group play together when they couldn’t agree. Before their ruckus, she had been quietly concentrating, engaged in illustrating new vocabulary words, painstakingly with a bright array of colored and scented markers.  I thought I would ask her a few questions regarding our observations.

Q.  What do you think is the problem?

A.  First of all, they shouldn’t even play that game if they don’t know how to play.

Q.  What happens when they don’t know how to play the game they chose?

A.  They start making their own rules.

Q.  Is that good or bad?

A.  Well, it’s good because they’re using their brains.  But it’s bad because they can start arguing about the rules.

Q.  What happens when they argue about the rules of a game they know nothing about?

A.  They get loud, noisy and get into a big fight.

Q.  If you were their “teacher” what would you recommend for those who are fighting?

A.  They have to work together; either agree on one rule or find out about how to play that game the right way.

Q.  What would you do if they can’t agree on one rule?

A.  They can play different games that they all know how to play.

Wisdom from a growing girl to an age-old problem that the leaders of the world just can’t seem to resolve.  Just sayin’….

Blessed Be the Little Children

Blessed Be the Little Children

What we see as global leadership fails miserably as men in business suits make excuses on all sides  much like adolescents who cling to bravado, gang-mentalities and extinction of the other.

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