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

lost in the moonlight

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while we are captivated by one event, there are millions of events happening simultaneously.  as one sage told me years ago, if you are dismayed by present events…”wait and in your interim, seek peace.”  change is constant.  your thoughts, your actions, your words and prayers will bend change towards the positive, regardless of that which you encounter in the moment.

At the Corner of Memory Lane

bloodmoon eclpise on memory lane

After 9, before 10pm….cars rev their engines as they drive down the block, zooming by catapulted by some strange energy on a Sunday evening when most are usually winding down the weekend before Monday’s workday morning.  Blood Moon Eclipse begins.  An historic weekend ends.  My prayers are stronger, more convincing and I feel I am witnessing part of a call like never before.

Urgent Care Sunday afternoon

urgent care

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?

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.

under construction

Steel scaffolding at St. Patrick's Cathedral in NYC impedes the normal Christmas traffic on a Friday afternoon.  There are still the homeless in the pews, there are still the mink-coated elderly women with blue-white, tight-curled hair holding long matches from bony fingers to light their candle of solitude and tourists from Kansas whose heads are turned upward in awe at the dazzling stained-glass rosette windows.  This nativity scene is also a work in progress, nestled precariously amid the steel tubing and oranged plastic snow fence to keep everyone just far enough away. With the polarization taking place in our world today, with the fresh spirit of Francis I  curtailing the over-emphasis of pomp and circumstance, there is a need to refresh, renew and revise the meaning of Christmas.  Renovations are merely the beginning.

Steel scaffolding at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC impedes the normal Christmas traffic on a Friday afternoon. There are still the homeless in the pews, there are still the mink-coated elderly women with blue-white, tight-curled hair holding long matches from bony fingers to light their candle of solitude and tourists from Kansas whose heads are turned upward in awe at the dazzling stained-glass rosette windows. This nativity scene is also a work in progress, nestled precariously amid the steel tubing and snow-white, wax candles, burning so many wishes and blessings of a spirit that seems all but lost in America. With the polarization taking place in our world today, with the fresh spirit of Francis I curtailing the over-emphasis of pomp and circumstance, there is a need to refresh, renew and revise the meaning of Christmas. Renovations are merely the beginning.

The Night of the Mantis

2014 sept miguel n laundry room 009

as summer ends and autumn begins, the prayer of the Night Mantis soars to heaven that it may be heard even amid the destruction.

FATTI SENTIRE – Make Yourself Heard!

http://www.ilsoledentro.it/

I had the pleasure of meeting Director Paolo Bianchini and Producer Paola Rota in Rome, who have made an Italian film of substance – Il Sole Dentro. The film recounts the story of Yaguine Koïta (born September 25, 1984) and Fodé Tounkara (born April 6, 1985) stowaways who froze to death on a Sabena Airlines Airbus A330 (Flight 520) flying from Conakry, Guinea, to Brussels, Belgium, on July 28, 1999. Their bodies were discovered on August 2 in the airplane’s rear right-hand wheel bay at Brussels International Airport, after having made at least three return trips between Conakry and Brussels. The boys were carrying plastic bags with birth certificates, school report cards, family photographs and a letter. A letter, written in imperfect French, was widely published in the world media. “After several days,” recalled Paolo, “the media no longer told the story.” Their deaths and hopes to make a better world had become old news. Paolo decided that their sacrifice should not be forgotten and not be in vain. He and his team therefore set out to make an adaptation of the story and bring the plight of today’s youth to light once again. But this time, coupled with a movement to spur youth to action. “FATTI SENTIRE” (in Italian) means, “Make Yourself Heard,” and it is here where Mr. Bianchini and Ms. Rota plan to encourage youth to become more aware, become more involved and to make concrete efforts to effect change. Find them on Facebook. Understand the depth of their thoughts and concrete actions that can take place when people of like mind and heart work together for a common good, a common cause. And possibly let’s hold hands …across cultures, across languages and across countries…hold on to dreams, actions, hopes..our world awaits us.