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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The Universe Responds

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Last summer, I planted one Lemon Verbena in a hopeful butterfly garden without design along with three rose bushes.  Of the three rose bushes, one had totally died and only one is still left without blight.  This summer that one rose bush produces now for the second time copious, colorful blooms.  The verbena, without any intervention from my questionable green thumbs, have multiplied into an army of purple buds, attracting butterflies and bees.  Our wishes often arrive, not as we may have projected, but with work and desire, rewards can be just as satisfying.

Urgent Care Sunday afternoon

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Without hope, broken dreams, it ain’t worth livin’, life ripped at the seams.

My paper bag sits with a bottle of cheap wine, no one cares Lord, but I am still Thine.

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?

Every Color’s Purpose

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One secret pathway to happiness is discovering the colorful purposefulness in the work you do each day, however small it may seem to you. Work ennobles the soul and each effort you bring results in change. Let it be a change for good.

Be Open…to The Arts, to Progress, to Love

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Adelphi University, Long Island, NY has undertaken an ambitious initiative in a year-long, cross-curriculum endeavor to explore the Changing Nature of War and Peace. http://collaboration-project.adelphi.edu/initiatives/changing-nature-of-war-and-peace/

Thursday, September 4th, Dr. Cornel West spoke to an overflowing campus Performing Arts Center about the need and scope of arts in bringing awareness, understanding and “love” for others in fostering empathy. The Youth Choir – a few members as young as 3 yrs. old- of the Greater Allen Cathedral performed to a standing ovation. “EX-cellent” still rings in my mind! And the “acapella” Voices of Virtue inspired oh-so profoundly with their harmony and spirit! Groups like the Adelphi Music Department students and Kids for Coltrane brought notes of hope in realizing that without the arts and creativity, “spirit” remains elusive. And for the first time in a L_O_N_G time, I heard people admit that without spirit, we are less than human.

 

 

 

 

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)

 

 

Perspective

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Work ennobles the soul. Working with meaning makes your life rich with purpose. Your joy depends upon the realization that “you” are unique and purposefully make a difference, however small, in this experience called life.