Showing posts with label Hope. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hope. Show all posts

Sunday, October 08, 2023

Life in the Balance

In the heartland of Mexico, where azure skies stretch over vast, rolling fields, a way of life has been intricately woven with the golden threads of corn. Our village of San Pedro Ixtlahuaca is on the outskirts of a worldwide cultural capital: Oaxaca. Our home is surrounded by corn fields that are planted in the beginning of the wet season that lasts from June through September. For generations, small farmers have depended on planting their corn crops, nurturing them with dedication. These farmers, often with weathered hands and faces etched with stories of perseverance, understand the dance between the heavens and their fields. Their hopes, dreams, and sustenance spring from the corn they sow. Yet, if the rains prove unkind during the critical growing season, these dreams are shattered, leaving behind daunting uncertainty. 

This year all looked good and I could look out over the green rows of corn and breathe in the vibrancy. Two companions of corn are sown among the corn⏤pole beans and squash. 
Then in mid September the rains stopped prematurely. It did not take long for the stalks to begin to wither. Unfortunately, now there is not much to harvest, and most of the fields will be fed to cattle. 

The delicate balance upon which the lives of our neighbor farmers depend is fragile. The rhythm of their existence is dictated by the capriciousness of nature, specifically the rainfall during the growing season. If rains prove to be scant, the corn crops suffer. The once vibrant emerald green fields wither under the scorching sun, and the once-promising stalks stand stunted, bearing the weight of dashed hopes. In these moments, the very essence of life as they know it hangs in the balance. 

In rural landscapes of Mexico, small-scale agriculture is not merely a livelihood; it is a heritage passed down through generations. Families rise with the sun, hands calloused from tending the soil, planting the seeds of their hopes within the nurturing earth. Among these seeds, maíz holds a special place. It is not just a crop; it is a cultural icon, a symbol of resilience, and source of sustenance. In the fields, the very essence of Mexican identity is rooted.

Not long ago, before climate change, more fields existed. Now, with all the uncertainty, land is being sold in lots, called “lotes.” As Amy and I drive to town, we see a plenitude of signs vending lots for sale. Already numerous lots have been sold around us. 

Small farmers, with unwavering spirit and deep connection to the land, continue to plant their seeds, nurturing the fragile promise of a better tomorrow. But, perhaps new techniques are needed to continue production of the sacred maíz. Hope must be found, rising like a resilient sprout through the hardened cracks in the parched Tierra Madre, our mother, the Earth.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Plants Communicate

Our little garden is teaching me. It talks and I listen and hear. Plants communicate.

For years I cultivated the earth where I lived. Then, after the death of my oldest daughter, Naomi, I lost interest in many things, divorced, and began years of traveling alone. I did not feel attached to places or things. 

Now, only in the last two years have I begun gardening again—albeit on a small scale. Amy and I share the enjoyment.

The goal in gardening is to bring a plant to fruition. That may be for flowers, vegetables or fruit. Some public gardens are decorative, with full time staff and entry fees, others are on family farms. 

I have begun longing for a life where most of my time is spent communing with nature. Cultivating, listening, then responding appropriately.

Unless native and wild, plants need tender care from beginning to end. The soil must be fertile and able to hold moisture and convey nutrients to the roots that feed the stems, shoots and leaves. Proper light is necessary for photosynthesis. Too much sunlight and heat can damage some plants. A gardener has to watch carefully . . . the plants show what they need by the way they grow. 

Pumpkin growing on a vine

People need similar loving care from beginning to end. 

Like plants, people need from the beginning shelter from storm and drought, loving nutrients to the roots, appropriate sunlight of guidance and education, space and training . . . states of being that promote growth and fruition. Contrast that to conditions too often seen in our world of humanity; barren circumstances, neglect, no “sunlight”, pests and attackers. 

Our problems are mostly of our own making. 

Lettuce and spinach under shade tent

When will our society become the beautiful garden it is meant to be?

Sunday, July 01, 2018


The nineteenth anniversary of the death of my nineteen year old daughter Naomi is nearing—July 5, 2018.

After she died I thought of the meaning of the number nineteen. It is made of the numerals 1 and 9; the beginning and end of all single digits. It includes all the rest of the numbers, so symbolizes unity. Adding one and nine makes ten: 1 + 0 equals one. Oneness.

It was not an accident that Naomi completed her life at nineteen. I often thought she was burning through lifetimes rapidly. Like a shooting star, she shone brilliantly through intense experiences, shedding brilliant light in a short burst before suddenly disappearing. Naomi burned the dross of existence through intense suffering and redemption. She said, “Hardship is something that will make us stronger. I don't know if I have complete evidence of this, but I think that in every situation there is good in it.”

The day we went to a doctor and he gave us the terrible news that she had Ewings Sarcoma, a virulent cancer, I realized this world is shifting sands and not permanent, yet I wanted with all my being to know we could trust her life would continue here on earth. It seemed impossible to think otherwise.
Knowing she had cancer that most certainly would destroy her, the first thing Naomi did on arriving home from the medical clinic was to make a beautiful drawing using colored pencils. A serenely peaceful figure garbed in a beautifully embellished blue gown seems to be listening in meditation. A halo is around her head and her hair streams in rivulets like sun rays in all directions within the orb. A SPIRIT being stands upon a butterfly wing at her shoulder within the halo, seeming to talk to her. A necklace around her neck holds a feather. Behind, two seedlings are growing and blossoming. From below, a tender green shoot with leaves and tendrils grows up and out of the top of the picture. No sign of fear in this artwork, only peace, light and signs of Divine guidance.

And this is what Naomi became before kissing life goodbye and embarking on her journey in the next world.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Seed of Life

It was a spring Saturday, I was sixteen years old, my father and I were out on the front lawn, pulling dandelion weeds out of the grass. During our casual conversation, I confided I had yearnings for happiness. His response startled me: “Why should you be happy when so many people are suffering in the world?”.

My father, Richard Boone, who died two years ago, was a social scientist—a problem solver determined to bring about justice and a better world. His entire adult life was devoted to action in the social arena. He was instrumental in empowering and improving the lives of masses of people in America. He invented the term "maximum feasible participation" and used it like a mantra. A close confidant of Robert Kennedy, he helped develop President Lyndon Johnson's war on poverty and the Food Stamp program, initiated the Foster Grandparent program, uplifted disenfranchised southern black people to vote and gain representation . . . started an organization called Citizens Crusade Against Poverty, became executive director of The Field Foundation, helped found the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington DC and much more.  He did not believe in God, and quoted Karl Marx: “Religion is the opiate of the masses.” He told me that too much was made of Mother Theresa. She helped the poor and sick in India but did not attack the root social causes of their plight. He liked Mahatma Gandhi more.

Sometimes I am shocked to tears by news of what happens on our planet. As calamities grab the headlines I see my father’s perspective.

Enlightened beings tell us to accept sufferings along the way in life, but be happy in our closeness to our Creator. Our human side suffers, but finds mercy and light in the spiritual realm.

The other day, I heard a news story of a conflict in Africa. A village had been caught up in hatreds. A woman told how her father was tied to a tree, then had his throat cut. Next she was raped in front of her children.  How does this woman now find “happiness”? She must forever live in a broken, haunted world.

During my youth, I did summer work in the inner city in Washington DC. One day I was tasked with spending time in a school office, helping a troubled boy from the ghetto. As he sat next to me it was obvious something terrible was within him. He had no emotional animation, was crushed and could not conceive lessons. A heap of abuse scarred him from his earliest days. Though in a physical form, he seemed gone . . . liked a bombed out building that stands but is charred and desolate inside. All I could do was make simple lines on a sheet of paper and have him copy as best he could. He did that with great effort.

Bahiyyih Khánum (1846 – July 15, 1932) was the only daughter of Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith. She was given the title of "Greatest Holy Leaf". A saintly woman, she is regarded as an immortal heroine in the annals of the Baha'i Faith. Because of the persecutions of her Father, much of her adult life was spent as a prisoner or in exile.

During her darkest hours, she wept:

“O God, My God! 
Thou seest me immersed in the depths of grief, drowned in my sorrow, my heart on fire with the agony of parting, my inmost self aflame with longing. Thou seest my tears streaming down, hearest my sighs rising up like smoke, my never-ceasing groans, my cries, my shouts that will not be stilled, the useless wailing of my heart.
For the sun of joy has set, has sunk below the horizon of this world, and in the hearts of the righteous the lights of courage and consolation have gone out. So grave this catastrophe, so dire this disaster, that the inner being crumbles away to dust, and the heart blazes up, and nothing remains save only despair and anguish . . .
O my Lord, I voice my complaint before Thee, and lay bare my griefs and sorrows, and supplicate at the door of Thy oneness, and whisper unto Thee, and weep and cry out.”

Before she died at the age of nineteen from cancer, my daughter Naomi endured the utmost pain, misery and heartache. During the last two years of high school, she had a tube, called a port, dangling from her chest. It went into her heart for administering chemo.  At one point the drugs were administered in such great doses as to destroy her bone marrow. She was a Make-A-Wish Child, and modeled fashions on a nightclub runway in New York City. A talented artist, she was accepted to a prestigious art college but died the year she was to begin. When times were the worst for Naomi, she dug deep and wrote in her journal: "Show up and be lovingly present, no matter what it looks like out there or inside of yourself. Always speak the truth of your heart."
The day before she died, Naomi remarked to a friend, "I love my body, it has been so good to me.”

I believe God is nearer to us than we are to ourselves. And this is why when terrible things happen in life we carry on . . . we continue to "show up." Just as a forest that is burned down and obliterated leaving only charred earth is able to regenerate because the seed of life survives beneath the surface holding the blueprint of renewal, so too, every human being has a pureness within that is beyond destruction.

"Have patience - wait, but do not sit idle; work while you are waiting; smile while you are wearied with monotony; be firm while everything around you is being shaken; be joyous while the ugly face of despair grins at you; speak aloud while the malevolent forces of the nether world try to crush your mind; be valiant and courageous while men all around you are cringing with fear and cowardice. Do not yield to the overwhelming power of tyranny and despotism. Continue your journey to the end. The bright day is coming." ~'Abdu'l-Baha,

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Rain On The Parade

Hare Krishna people, chanting in downtown Denver, Colorado
Life is seldom what we expect. For instance, I packed my artwork in my van and drove for one day to arrive in Denver, Colorado for an art festival. Typically, I make good money selling paintings. This time, the morning of setup it was raining, and although it stopped by the time the festival began at 4 PM Friday, it was drizzling on and off. This is an outdoor event and I had two tents. The first evening I made good contacts for possible large sales. The next day was miserable with cool air and torrential rain that became hail. Parts of the field became flooded, and my booth as well. More bad weather is forecast and the art buyers are absent. I am leaving at day break to pack up and depart early Sunday. My hopes and expectations were rained upon, and I lost money not to mention my time invested.

After I shut my booth mid-afternoon Saturday, I went back to the hotel, and then the sun came out for  a little while. A big rock music festival raged downtown, and I mingled in the crowds, people watching, taking photos, and feeling joy while realizing how easy it is to be happy when I lose barriers and become one with the world. I love the streets of the planet, where I witness and record the parade of humanity.

I pay my dues being an artist, but I am addicted to the life.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


“Oh God, protect that child.” I said this to myself as I left a coffee shop I frequent. It is a friendly place and serves coffee that is roasted in-house and served strong. A man had been in line ahead of me with his two young boys and ordered a cup for himself and to my surprise, one for his boy, who barely was as tall as my waist and could only have been six years old. As I was leaving, I smiled at the child in his baseball cap, holding his coffee in both hands. “You like coffee?” A slight, shy, smile crossed his face as he looked up at me and then he quickly looked down without a word.  His father smiled and said, “Yeah, he likes it.” I knew the father loved his boy, and I thought of the strong black brew I held in my hand, and then for some reason I had the thought of protection for the child’s innocence. As I walked to my truck, I thought, “And God, protect other people; like the protestors in Libya who are fighting for their freedom and getting shot.” And then I wondered, does prayer matter? I remembered an incident I wrote about in my book, A Heart Traced In Sand. In Kentucky, a group of young women had arrived early to gather for Christian prayers at their high school. As they stood close, praying, a deranged boy approached, pulled a gun and began firing, leaving three of them dead. The episode is stunning and received national news coverage. See: Heath High School shooting. I have reflected and thought, “God was listening to their prayers, but He also knew what was in the heart of the boy and could see what was coming. What protection did He offer?”

People pray for all manner of help. Prayers are said for healing, assistance, prosperity, salvation, justice, and freedom—the list goes on and on.

I pray frequently during the day. It is communion, and a way to offer my thoughts up in consecration. I sense that my thoughts go into the universe and are received. Furthermore, I sense that higher beings record the impulses and confirm them. If I think positively, positive confirmation comes back.

Maybe, in the end, there is very little protection in the world. As my dear daughter Naomi said while she struggled with cancer, “Life is not fair.” During her lengthy ordeal, the only other complaint I remember her saying was, "I do not want to die a slow, painful death." Despite continual prayers from all sides, fate handed Naomi a slow, agonizing death. In the end, with her bones breaking, and suffering slow suffocation, some of her last words were, "I love my body, it has been so good to me."

And it is true, life is not fair, it is really about struggle.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Shift Has Occurred

A shift has occurred in the year since I have been away from the United States. When I left, I sensed an unrest and dissatisfaction leading up to the presidential election and also a hopefulness and determination. Now, a month since my return, it seems despair and gloom is in the air, with constant news of calamity and hardship. We have a new president who is tackling the immense problems, and even he is saying not to expect too much quickly. I see the change clearly, because I stepped outside the unfolding drama for 50 weeks and now have returned to it with a fresh outlook.
My studio sale of exotica from afar has begun, and I can see that people are timid about spending. I wonder if I was crazy buying over 200 objects. On the other hand, the items all have more value than I spent, and will not decrease in worth, and even in some cases, such as the oriental carpets, continue to appreciate, even while financial markets spin downward.
A shift has occurred in me as well. I am positive all my hours. Occasionally I get angry; for instance if I break something nice or lose my keys and I am in a hurry to go somewhere. But the upset passes and then is gone for good. THE DREAM has so much to give me, and like a child I receive the gifts and embrace wonderful life. The material world is not where my treasures are saved, but Spirit gives me all that I need and my investment is safe there. I stay thankful, and I am not worried about the future because it will be rich in experience and give me what I need.