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.”

boards baltimore

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?

A Weekend Lesson of Gratitude

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It was a weekend of looking back into a past I had lived with others – bittersweet, remote yet familiar. Another life passed in time in which random molecules of myself still reside. As I drive South on Sunday, this time the traffic flows freely compared with the double-time it took to return to my past on Friday. The lesson? Live Life in our present in our gratitude for all that It offers. Emerge from the shadows of our past with Life in the present and Love as Much as We Can Forever. Thank you Mary.

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

dr mads norway gaza

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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This evening, I sat through a CSN Concert in Connecticut which brought me back to the hope of the 60s, when music said something and where three part harmony blended with forceful words which spurred us to action, to beliefs, to movements.

Then I check my email from Our Journey to Smile – Afghan youth seeking non-violence in their lives.  I see genocide in Gaza, parties choosing death over truce, hatred from all sides, children fleeing for their lives into where they believe is hope for a better life and being met with jeers and ignorance, hatred and a horrible breed of people.  Politicians and corporations in collusion promoting profit margins over personal advancement of a vast number of children in their warping of education.  And ill-spoken demanding people of minimal common sense or virtue who spout off about their rights to possess automatic weapons while their responsibilities need not be even questioned.

What has happened to our dreams, our reason, our beliefs?

 

“We can change the world, rearrange the world, 

if you believe in justice, if you believe in freedom,

let a man live his own life, rules and regulations who needs them?  

Open up the doors!

Chicago – CSN