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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Take Time

Take Time

to remove yourself from the frenzy, chaos and demands that seem to be placed upon you. Whether it be in company or, if necessary, alone, choosing the ‘pedestrian path’ may quiet your mind so as you walk without the usual … Continue reading

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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.

From Carnival to Ashes

From Carnival to Ashes

After the festivities have dissipated through the night, it becomes time to reflect on our lives. Which is the greater of the two…giving up candy or embracing a life of peace and non-violence for 40 days?

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Being borderfree

Being borderfree

Afghan Peace Volunteers seek to live a life of non-violence amid the devastation of war and the material poverty of global economic inequality. So many amenities we take for granted, they do not possess, yet their spirits exude an unfathomable … Continue reading

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Non-violence  = the Way of the prophets

Non-violence = the Way of the prophets

Kindred spirits identify and seek living non-violence worldwide. In war-torn Afghanistan, Afghan Peace Volunteers dedicate their lives to studying, understanding, trying to practice non-violence, the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, jr. and Gandhi, independent of government, religious alliances.

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New meaning for “life-long learning”

New meaning for “life-long learning”

Children learn English at a school begun by the Afghan Peace Volunteers, under duvets made by hand by women learning the seamstress trade to earn their livings, the program also begun by Dr. Hakim and the Afghan Peace Volunteers. These … Continue reading

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Acts 10, 34 – 38

Acts 10, 34 – 38

As I listened to today’s words of the Second Reading, I thought of the significance of our judgments and how little we practice this understanding of Peter’s: – “In Truth I am understanding that God does not make preferences in … Continue reading

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cold winters in kabul

cold winters in kabul

Afghan Peace Volunteers distribute free duvets made by a women’s seamstress cooperative with surplus materials to keep people from usual freezing winter temperatures. Their continuing story can be found on the web at: our journey to smile.

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