Sunday, May 31, 2020

A Marvelous Garden of Humanity

I take solace in the little garden Amy and I have in our front yard. The plants need care each day to establish themselves. The soil is poor by nature in these parts, the sun can be brutal, and to add injury cutworms and other pests arrive to attack the tender stems. 

I have a personal relationship with each plant. I have nurtured and supported each one, so when a death occurs I grieve a little.

The turmoil in our world today grevious. Covid-19 virus causing worldwide destruction, many wars and conflicts have killed and displaced populations, corrupt governments are in power while desperate dying people languish . . . and now in America the racial divide is coming into sharp focus with the video taped murder of a black man by a police officer in Minneapolis, MN, USA.

All these issues are cathartic—but hopefully will lead to healing.

As my beloved daughter Naomi said when she battled her terminal illness at age 18, “Hardships can make us stronger. I don’t have complete evidence, but every situation has some good in it.”

My wife Amy particularly has been staying tuned to events in Minneapolis where severe rioting broke out in the aftermath of the police killing. She lived there from 1983 - 1992, was very involved in the community and had great success as an artist. Her sons are raising their families there now. Amy knows the neighborhoods that have burned.

I have lived in a city where race riots raged and buildings burned. In 1968, when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, swaths of downtown Washington DC had storefronts broken, then looted and burned to the ground. Black radical leaders were enraged and called for armed insurgency against an America that had double standards for black and white citizens. 

I was in high school then and in a neighborhood far removed from ghettos. Still, I felt the rage nearby.

Now, 52 years later, disparities remain.

Like plants, people need the same tender care from the beginning of life. They must have fertile soil to grow in, have equal protections against disease, blight and pestilence. Each must be watered according to their needs; some more some less. Then we will see a marvelous garden of humanity, resplendent in color and form, shedding its grace in the universe in which it thrives.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Tonight a Wind Will Come

A young man, Agostin, dreamed of discovering a new land. His thoughts so compelled him that he gathered his belongings, packed them into his sailboat and set out to sea. At last he was free, on his voyage of discovery. The broad, limitless ocean bolstered his ambitions and he felt certain to achieve great discoveries.
When night fell, he sailed under the starry heavens with a sliver of moon offering its beacon of light. After such an eventful and arduous beginning to his sojourn, Agostin tired and fixing his rudder to hold a straight course, bundled up, lay down and fell into a deep sleep.
The little boat sailed silently onward. Then, from the fathomless ocean came a wave that caught up the vessel and engulfed it, carrying it into timelessness. 
When Agostin woke he stood upon a broad shore, his boat resting high upon the sand. He had aged considerably and thought, surely I am an old man.
Gazing to his right and to his left, he grabbed his hat and through it in the air—thankful for his health and discovery. Then he set out walking. 
The land was rocky, with sparse shrubs and small trees. Occasionally he saw a butterfly, and a bird or two flew by. Soon Agostin came to a trail and began walking on it toward the western horizon. Reaching a hilltop he could see a village in the distance. As he followed the trail, a man with his wife and child appeared, coming toward him. They all held bundles and when they met, told Agostin not to go further. “There is a plague in that village! So many people dying . . . better if you turn around and go back to where you came from.”
Agostin knew he had to go forward, for this is where his fate took him. Soon, he came to the village walls, and knocked at the gate. The big door creaked open and young man stood gazing and asked “What do you want? Don’t you know strangers are not allowed here?” Agostin stood firm and said, “I have travelled from afar, I need somewhere to rest and eat. Perhaps I can help.” The young man, who looked feverish, said, “Go away old man!” and shut the gate. There was nothing to do but stand there. Agostin stood, praying to be shown a path forward, and also how to help the people. Suddenly the gate opened.  A girl looked intently into his eyes. Behind her was an old woman, her grey hair falling disheveled over her shoulders, gazing quizzically. The old woman spoke: “You came to me in my dream last night! The ancestors have sent you to help us. Come in!” 
From the moment Agostin stepped in the village , he could see clearly what had happened and what needed to be done. The streets were lined with poor dwellings. Further on, bodies were being loaded upon carts to be taken for burial. An eerie quiet permeated the air. Not an animal or even bird was to be seen. Above the hovels, stood a castle and gated homes. There too, bodies were being tossed upon death carts. 
Agostin saw in his minds eye a month of strong winds, carrying small particles of toxic red dust. He also saw how the kingdom had become lost, isolated, forgetting to thank the ancestors or make offerings to them. A drought had come—then the red winds.  
A crowd surrounded Agostin. “Tell us who you are!” shouted the young man who had opened the gate. Agostin knew the people had lost hope. “They must believe,” he thought. Grasping his cape with one hand, he twirled it over the ground. Lifting his arm and the cape, a blooming flower stood on the spot. Everyone gasped. Now with the villagers full attention, Agostin spoke:
“I have been sent by your ancestors, who take pity upon you. My voyage here has given me the vision to help you. Each home must have a shrine, to bring ancestor spirit back.”
The king and his court had now arrived. Waving his cloak again, an ancestor appeared beside Agostin, and spoke: “We have seen the misery that has come here. The earth became tired of your footsteps and nature has turned her bounty to dust as a warning. You must make a council from all the people. This council will be for the good of all, and call the Creator into its chamber during consultation. Men and women are to be considered equal, wealth to be share equitably, worship will commence and the good of all considered at all times.”

The ancestor looked directly at the king. At this, the king bowed and knelt with his knee to the ground. “I swear by my life, I shall be the instrument of your message. Thank you!”
The ancestor looked around him into every face, then said, “Tonight a wind will come and lift the scourge that has beset you. It is time to begin anew, remembering to give thanks and keep your hearts pure for the new days ahead.”

With that, the ancestor vanished . . . and so too did Agostin.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Tell Her I Love Her

Today I wish I could call my mother and say hello, and tell her I love her. She is gone. I write now, and I realize she has only stepped ahead, joining my father, and my daughter Naomi. I have an impression of her great happiness . . . and this is what I can look forward to when I cross the threshold of this world to join them in the next.

I could have asked her much more about herself while she was alive. I know her childhood was eventful and traumatic—she was put in foster homes twice. 

Mother never spoke resentfully of her childhood, rather in a matter-of-fact way, and with some happiness. I long for more stories and facts. 

Thankfully, I have many wonderful memories of life with her. She bore five children and I am the oldest. For some reason, it is all flooding back . . . today is Mother’s Day.

I send her love and a bouquet of celestial flowers.

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Sunday, May 03, 2020

Plans for the Future

It was an intangible experience when my oldest daughter Naomi, who left this world twenty years ago, came to me while I was resting to give me the encouraging message that my youngest daughter and only surviving child, Sarah, would recover from the coronavirus. 

Although I heard no words in my ear and did not see a doctor’s report, my deepest self knew what I was being told was as true as could be. Six days later Sarah texted me that she had recovered. This is the finest springtime gift I can imagine. 

A few days ago, I wore shorts and went outdoors barefoot for the first time since last autumn. One of my happiest delights is getting my hands in the earth and coming up with wriggling worms. Years ago, I traded one of my paintings for a barrel of worms that was delivered to my home so that I could have the best compost for my garden. 

The seedlings I put in the ground a month ago are coming up as plants. Here in the high desert of Santa Fe, the earth usually is rocky so it has to be amended. The worms make the best  compost from vegetable scraps we throw into a pit.

We have some flower pots with blooming plants that have only begun flourishing. Our lilac shrubs have begun perfuming the air at our back door.

The other incredible sight is seeing the seedlings of elm trees falling through the air. It can be like a snow storm—blanketing the earth. 

Nature always plans for the future.