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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To the Nay-Sayers….

I met a gentle man at the U.N. Conference on August 28th who made me cry.  This excerpt from his blog and his book confirm that his journey can be no less painful than any others…especially those who sustain all the hate in the world…and efforts of peace as futile..

“At the age of eight, I buried my Father, Mother and four other family members. As a war orphan, I searched garbage cans to survive in Japan’s family-centric society. I was a reminder that Japan lost the War, and I grew up in an atmosphere of contempt, shame and guilt, fighting an icy society that shunned me, a fatherless child. A proud Number One Son of a samurai family, I vowed to avenge the death of my Father and I came to America to fulfill that vow.”

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http://www.hiroshima-forgiveness-tanemori.com/

 

 

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.”

Fun, redefined

Fun, redefined

Today, it was an 8 year old boy, waiting patiently in line.  Each day during this summer enrichment program, we begin with a word of the day, usually one the children know.  Then there are directions to alter the word … Continue reading

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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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