September 20, 2001
Very seldom do I plan my days. I simply go about each task with an inner openness to taking care of whatever needs to be done. As the work comes forward, as it appears, I take it on as long as I have the energy or know what to do with the problem. If there is a big job that lasts over many days, it moves up to the front of the list and stays there until it is done. But when that job is done, as with finishing LYNX the other day, I move on to the backlog of mail that has piled up in the meantime. And yesterday was that kind of a day.
I found the latest Sea Shell Game #45 had been judged and was waiting to be posted. About a month ago, Richard Watkins of New Zealand had offered to take over the job of judging the contests because I had gotten so very behind (some entries are over a year old). Working with Richard has been very pleasant and I am deeply grateful to see those rows of entries being slowly eroded away into winners. As I read over his comments of the 45th game, ever more eager to find out which of the haiku he would pick as winner, I finally skipped to the end just to find:
plane ticket stub
tumbles in the streets
This poem had been submitted in July! and now it comes forward into our consciousness with such force. Sometimes it seems everything is truly happening at once.
One of the results of my listening so much to the radio is that I was out of the yarn that I use to crochet potholders when I am in a state too nervous to read or write. Even The Loft in Gualala was out of my usual natural colored cotton thread so I had to go to town myself to find a substitute. Usually the 15 parking spaces before the grocery store are full and one is considered lucky to find one empty. Today there were only five cars. The dust on their back windows declared them all to be local. I realized then how much of our population are tourists. The town was so quiet under the heavy clouds of high fog.
As Mervina handed me the sack of yarns with her thanks, I replied, "I hope it keeps me out of the loony bin." The other female customer added, "That is why I am here shopping for something to keep my hands busy." How women cope with tragedy.
In the mail was something that upset me very much. It was a thank-you card from my granddaughter Ashley. In August she had sent us a letter saying she had raised a sheep, named Oscar, for her 4-H project. She described how she fed him grain, kept him in a barn with a fan on hot days and was training him to be shown at the fair in September. She asked if we wished to either buy him or contribute money toward his keeping. Not quite understanding what we were being asked, I called her and she explained that on the last day of the fair Oscar would auctioned off. As her voice trailed off, we both finished her sentence, "to be slaughtered" in our minds. In the ensuing silence, as asked her if she was okay with this.
"Yes," she said. "I knew from the beginning that this would have to be. If I want to be a veterinarian I have to learn to separate myself from the animal."
"Do you think you can do this?"
"I do not yet know." She answered so honestly I was shaken.
"Can I buy Oscar and give him to Hans to let him live with the Chance, Caitlin’s horse?"
"I don’t need for you to do that. I know what is coming." her voice was filling with cracks that threatened to let loose the damned tears.
"Ashley, I would take Oscar, but too many people leave their dogs run loose here. A tethered animal would not be safe from them. Also, I could never eat the meat from your pet."
"It’s okay, Oma, I am okay with him being . . . becoming meat."
I realized my conversation was only making things harder for her, so we moved to talk about the costs she had incurred with raising him. I was astounded to find that these 4-H projects cost more than the sheep will bring at auction. I was profoundly disturbed that these Future Farmers of America are trained to raise an animal in a way that loses money. Government subsidy now came from Grandma. I did not mind the money, and any amount that helped the child of my daughter was there for her, but I wondered about the wisdom of this program that trained kids in this manner.
In September, Ashley called to tell me she had gotten two ribbons for showing him. Her voice was so proud as she explained what she had to do and how well he obeyed her after all her training. After the show, after the fair, a friend of the family bought Oscar and that same day, he was butchered. Ashley said that she and her brother would take Oscar (as meat) down to Frank. I was so appalled I could not listen any longer and had to hang up.
Then today came Ashley’s thank-you for the check we had sent to help her with the expenses. Her round, childish printed script touched me very much. But I just cannot think of how she signed her letter - Ashley and Oscar.
cinnamon and silence
embroidered quilt leaves of vowels
her favorite walks
too loud for soft sheep's offering
apart in the garden of damp decay
September 19, 2001
Each day that goes by without American bombs falling somewhere in the world gives me faith that our nation, our government and governments of our allies are taking seriously the lessons the terrorist action gave us. With the passing time’s ability to let us think, it seems each of us have more and more ideas of how we want our leaders to act, what to do and what not to do. And it is right and good that we let them know our opinions, but yet at a personal level we know that we individually have very little control or influence. In the face of the horror of the tragedy, this insignificance is what makes people raise their voices in argument, organizing meetings, even sending around ‘good’ emails.
But before we completely cover the wounds with the scar tissue of our routine work, I am thinking of what I as an individual can do to change the world. Again, comes the idea that to change the world, I can only change myself. The events of last week have changed us and ourselves as a nation, often in the crippling and frightening ways of terror and war. These are involuntary changes which we make as an automatic response to fear.
I’ve been thinking I cannot force warring nations to make peace, as much as I hope their leaders will do so, but what I can do is to make peace starting with myself. Which individual have I treated like an enemy? And why? and is it time for me to make peace with others with whom I have had disagreements? These small personal changes will change nothing (probably) internationally, but at least in my small life, but it will make a difference to me and that person with whom I have re-established a relationship. I had patched up one broken off relationship last month and now today I want to do the same with another. Life is too short to waste with anger and hurt.
I am not sure how the feelings above fit in with my dream, but here it is.
It was market day in our poor, small town and I was especially excited. I had heard the rumors that a certain young man was about to ask me to marry him and today seemed to the day this could happen. I had known the young man all my life and his family was fairly familiar to me. He was not much to look at and I was not in love with him, but I was eager to have a family again. Both my parents were dead leaving me nothing but debts and many unhappy memories. It was autumn and I did not yet know where I would be spending the winter. If I did not marry, I knew I would have to offer myself as a servant in someone else’s house. Today, marrying seemed the better option.
As I was thinking about him, the young man did show up, and asked me to walk a way from the market stands. Stuttering and sweating he asked me to marry him and gave me bottle of vodka as pledge of his good intention. I was a bit surprised that he had been able to obtain a whole glass bottle of such an expensive drink and wondered where he had gotten such riches. I had thought him too poor to have such a possession but hoped it meant the family was richer than I had thought.
When I went back to my stall in the market, I realized that as a lone woman, my having this valuable bottle, made me vulnerable to robbery, so I immediately went to the head of the village. I told him how I was now pledged to the man, and had been given this vodka as betrothal gift, but was afraid to keep it with me in the hurly-burly of the market place. He agreed I was wise not to keep it with me and took the bottle to hide it among his things confident that no one would take it from such a strong and authoritarian person. He then explained to me, since I had no parents to instruct me, of what I was expected to do as proof of my willingness to marry. I had to gather up the spilled grains and refuse around the market and to make an altar out of it to my coming marriage. I had seen other altars but now understood that I was to make one. Even as I walked back to my place, I was planning where and how I form my display.
Only a short time later there was a big ruckus among the stalls. I heard loud shouting and screaming at the far end. As I listened attentively, the noise came closer and closer to me as it gathered by-standers attracted to the noise and fury. To my dismay I saw my husband-to-be coming toward me. Behind him, screaming in a furious rage, was his much bigger and stronger sister. She had his arm twisted behind his back and was striking him with a stick every step of the way. I was so embarrassed when they stopped before me and the sister’s screams of abuse switched from the man to me. It seemed she was furious that he had taken the bottle of vodka to give to me. She had evidently not been in agreement that he marry and especially not that he marry me – the poorest of the poor in the village. In her rage she let me and anyone within the sound of her screaming know my status and what she thought of me. She accused me of seducing her brother (which I did not think I had done) but she described my alleged acts in a descriptive gutter language which delighted the whole crowd – putting them securely on her side.
As she began to run out of rage and breath she demanded I return the bottle of vodka to her. Telling her that I no longer had the bottle in my possession only made her more angry with me. When I saw how she treated her own brother, I got a fair idea of how she would treat me as his wife, and getting out of this marriage and family suddenly seemed like a very good idea. So I agreed to release the man from his pledge and told her I would help her claim the bottle back from the head man of the village.
She was wise enough to know that I had to go with them to tell him myself to give her the bottle so she began screaming abuse at me to hasten my footsteps leading them to him. She was not content with my good intentions but continued to beat the man and say terrible things about the both of us the whole way there. Fortunately the head man had now gotten wind of the ruckus and was coming toward us. Only he was able to shut her up and to force the crowd to step back from us. Calmly he asked what was going on and the sister began screaming and beating her brother again. He quickly made her stop and then asked me if I wanted out of the marriage pledge. In the quiet expectant sunshine I felt my whole life draining away from. Here was my hope of a secure winter, a degree of companionship and a family and I was agreeing to giving it up. But I saw as I looked around in the crowd that I was truly alone and that I really had no options, so I nodded that the head man should give her the bottle back.
When I then looked at the young man, I saw he had tears in his eyes. I felt very sorry for him in the midst of my own sorrow as well as feeling sorry for all of us. It was very hard to go back to my stall with all the people around me talking of the incident. I wished I could just disappear. I thought of just packing up my stuff and leaving even though I really needed to sell more of my vegetables to get through the next week. Finally I could not stand the jeers and crude jokes of the others. I felt too vulnerable and too alone. So when I made no more sales because my head was so bent in shame, I did pack up my things and walked out of the market.
At the edge of town I heard running footsteps behind me and turned to see I was being followed by the young man who had wanted to marry me. He was carrying the bottle of vodka in his hand! He told me he had convinced his sister that he did want to marry me and that if I would still marry him, he wanted to give me the bottle with his new pledge.
I had been so sad about seeing my marriage disappear and was so worn down with ridicule and my fight to maintain myself respect. Now to have this possibility of refuge in marriage reappear made it very attractive to me. Also I had discovered some feelings within myself for the man as I watched him weep. I knew that in accepting this gift I was also getting the angry, uncontrolled sister, but somehow the hope of the two of us together gave me the thought that we could overcome whatever she dished out to us. So I accepted the bottle, and there in the autumn dusty road, pledged our troth.
This meant that I must return to the market place to build my altar today. The thought of going back to ask the head man to keep the bottle again was just too embarrassing to think about. So I decided to put it in the deep pocket of my full heavy skirts instead of taking a chance of someone stealing my vegetables would be getting the bottle, too. I hid the vegetables as well as I could off the road and returned to the market.
When the people saw me gathering the scraps and leftovers, they knew what I was doing and why. Somehow, they were busy closing up and had no time or desire to make fun of me. I was able to go about my tasks. There was not much left lying around so I felt very lucky finding a whole ear of corn which had been dropped in the mud of animal urine. To this I added scraps of damaged vegetables which had not sold and were not worth carrying home, and even grains which I picked out of the dust. All the rest of the afternoon I knelt down gathering up the tiniest bits of foodstuffs. With branches and vines I built an altar where the market stalls had been and arranged the things I had found in the most attractive way I could. As I worked my eagerness for hope in my new life with someone gave me energy and ideas, happiness and hope.
Near sunset I was finished and just then the sister and the young man, along with the head man of the village came to see my work. Now was the time for me to give back the bottle which would pay for our wedding. As I pulled the bottle from my pocket I felt how damp my skirt was and with a sinking heart, how light the bottle had become. As I pulled it out, everyone could see the tiny hole in the corner which had been dashed against a stone. The bottle was empty and my dream was over.
September 18, 2001
President Bush urged Americans to return to work, to their daily routines; for once I was glad to obey him. All morning I was somehow ‘waiting’ for 10:30 to go to the studio. Before then Werner asked me to help him to get his email to send. For an hour and a half I was on and off the phone to mcn. trying this and that and then that with this and maybe this with that or even that for this. Finally mcn. simply stopped taking my calls so we gave up and had lunch instead.
As I started driving up the ridge (which is about 1,300 ft. elevation) the fog that had hung around our house and our hearts all week began to thin. With great joy I found the sun shining on the tall redwoods along the road. How complete, whole and perfect the world seemed. The past week receded back into the gray fog of a no longer sharp memory. The warm sun light gave texture to the smallest thing, modeling trees and even weeds back into life with their individual shapes. There was almost a noise of aliveness as I whizzed, more and more slowly, into the majesty of the forest.
Pulling in under the big bay tree already felt like a place for me in the cosmos. Even stepping on the autumn crispy leaves there seemed to be a silence waiting for me or something I would bring. I unloaded the dried clay pieces from the trunk to carry in the studio barn. No one was there. I walked in the dusty room and for a second I let myself own the whole place. I let the universe give me the gift of owning this place. While I was still moving outwardly to occupy this space, a car drove in. I assumed it was another student and went about unpacking my dried mud offerings for the fire god of kilns.
When I looked up I realized that the blonde haired woman hesitantly looking in the door was familiar to me but not in this setting. Face to face we both tried to place each other. She asked if I was Kaye. No. Was I Kim? No. Just Jane. She, being younger, remembered more quickly we had met at the Sharon Doubiago poetry reading. Then I recalled she was Edie, the author of the big new book on Ceylon and that just a week ago she had gotten married. (Oh, I just tried to find the copy of the ICO and it has evidently already gone the way of all trash.) She had come to inspect the meeting area upstairs in the barn as a possible place for her to hold a writing class. With a delightful sense of proprietorship, I showed her the stairs around at the back.
When she came back, she stuck her head in the door and asked if she could look around. The only thing I truly owned in that room was the dried bits of mud in cardboard boxes, but as she looked at the wheels, the kilns, the tables, the shelves of clay things, it was all mine. This was enough. Just this feeling. I did not really want to have this place or to take it from Kaye, but I could let it be also mine. The studio I once had merged with this reality. I cared for every thing in the room as if it was truly mine. Such a connectedness spread out from me, it became almost like a net of a living being.
My ego loved showing her my newly fired angel candle holder and the little people pot. And I loved getting her compliments on the way the two figures reflected each other. And finally I was able to see the delight on another face as I blew into a bubble of clay to make the warm warbling tone. The little ocarina worked! It passed my pleasure on to someone else. She paid me the highest complement and then wondered if she had said the wrong thing when she suggested that these would sell very easily! I was glad to be old enough to enjoy her words without feeling I really did want to make flutes all day long.
All too soon for me and my happiness she had to go. While I was putting my pieces on the greenware shelf, Justin arrived and began to glaze his many dishware pieces. Now there was nothing more for me to do but to face the wheel. Since the first day of the class I had worried about how this would go – getting back on the wheel after over thirty years. Would I have to go through the frustration of collapsed and twisted bowls all over again and again? Would I be reduced to being the newest of the newbies? If I was going to have to relearn this skill I wanted no one else to see my uncentered failures. I was eager to get this test over with before more students arrived. I bowed to my clay as I wedged it (and probably over-wedged it, if this is possible). As I worked I noticed a rainbow on the table that moved across to my hands. I took it as a sign my efforts would be blessed. I thumped and plumped the clay into a ball that came in from far away.
It took a bit of examining to find the switches on the machine because they were so covered with clay. I sat for a long time over the electric wheel and just letting my hands rest on the spinning circle to feel the centrifugal swing – the thud and bounce of the motor. I tried to get the bat to stick to the slick surface. Why didn’t this wheel head have those old-fashioned pegs to hold the bat fast? I tried again and again to use plugs of clay to stick my bat to the head. Finally, I swallowed my pride and asked Justin. He lifted off the bat. Someone had left a bat already in place. UNDER it were the pegs I had sought. Duh. Lesson Number One. This is the wheel head. This is a bat. See the difference?
A deep breath and again I positioned the ball of clay and wet my hands. The gray clay was a seed of a possible form. The clay began to spin so fast I felt dizzy. As my hands began to grasp the spinning circle something left and was replaced. The old woman crouched over the electric motor was flung off into outer space and replaced with the strong experienced hands of my youth. There were moments when lumps appeared out of the uneven control, but hours on the wheel quickly remembered how to collect them, how to nudge the clay into a centered entity without force but perfect determination and will. Still the mound knocked slightly, but now I was eager to get my thumbs into it. A bit more water and I was slipping inside the mystery of a pot that had not yet formed. What a holy moment! I stayed here just rejoicing in my return to a world that I had abandoned so long ago.
Finally I felt ready to shape the bottom and this did not go well. The pressure for the grace of smooth and slick was too hard and ridges formed and folded. Again and again I did the bottom until it was smooth and right. Then began the magic of growth of a sleeping substance. It crossed my mind that I had no form in mind for the pot to become but I was so busy keeping both hands coordinated with the spinning clay that I could only follow the something deep within that knew what to do. Within minutes I was surprised to see my oldest ‘teapot belly’ vessel. Automatically, I finished off the lip; without debate or hesitation. Hmmm. It stood. It was round and it had a full and pleasing form. I had found my way back to my hands of those many years ago. The spinning wheel had stopped time for me.
Elated, thankful and awed I set the bat aside. Eager for another miracle, I cut more clay and wedged it. Could I do it again? I flexed my shoulders to relieve the tension and proceeded with new courage and resolve. Even faster the various stages of making a pot ran under my hands. I sang, the rainbow moved over the wheel and I knew a deep and satisfying happiness. What a surprise when this pot manifested itself. The two vessels were alike as peas in a pod. This was my shape. It had not left me. It was like finding a poet’s voice in clay. This was me and I almost laughed as I knew that my physical shape was very similar to these pots.
As the class filled up, I was glad to scoot away with my joyousness. I did not want anyone to talk to me about ‘tragedy’ or ‘World Trade Center’ or ‘terrorists’. I just wanted to sail within the sunny weather of my delight. As I walked into the house the phone was ringing. It was Bambi, my middle daughter. My happiness continued as we chatted for an hour and a half. I talked to Dorje, got the latest news from Utah, made arrangements to get together before Christmas (by train instead of plane). Lots to look forward to. Sailing, sailing through the fog.
In the evening, I listened again to KGO talk radio and again it was Shawn Nixx and again she had guests who were advising that we stop and think before following President Bush’s urgings to "smoke them out of their holes" "Bin Laden, dead or alive" with immediate military action. Werner was listening to KQED and called me up to listen their talk show which was on the same subject for a change. We went to bed with more hope than we had had all week.
unaware of winter
low lavender still blooms
into a purple sun
on such days my heart
thinks I'm still a young girl
September 17, 2001
After doing my blog yesterday, I found this message in my e-mail from C.:
"I thought today would finally be a day without tears. Then after coming to a red light coming west on Turquoise in PB, I detoured off through the residential streets running parallel to La Jolla Boulevard through Bird Rock. Nearly every house had an American flag displayed somewhere. Before I got to the end of the second block, tears were streaming down my face. I'm tearing up now remembering. That's it. Just wanted to share with you the quiet back streets of La Jolla. Love you."
C’s letter made me think that even though I have critical thoughts about the way our government makes some foreign policy, I am proud to be an American. I love this country and when I think of Americans as a group I am glad to be considered one of them. I am proud of the people who have who have poured themselves into helping others in this disaster, even at the risk of their own lives. I feel sadness for those who mourn and for those who cannot mourn. I find those who are involved in these (and other) acts of terrorism to be the lowest of the low. I pray that all may see that killing (of any body) must stop. And yet, I want America to stay the home of the free and the brave. And I want to show my admiration for my country.
In my neighborhood I had only seen one flag, one who flies it on every holiday, so I began to plan to go to town to buy one. Then I remembered hearing that many stores were sold out. But first I should call to see if our local hardware / clothing store had any. No, even here on the fringe of the continent, fellow citizens had bought them all.
I began to go through my baskets of fabric thinking that I would do the Betsy Ross bit and make my own. And I found a perfect blue, some white pants that I could cut up and a red with a fine unobtrusive print. I even carved a star so I could stamp the white stars on the blue. But I needed a pattern to see how the fifty stars were arranged. Then I remembered that when I was designing stamps for the Hello Doll-ez line, I had made a rubber stamp of an American flag about the size of an index card. So I dug deeper into my closet and found the box of samples and models that never made it into that line of stamps. There was an American flag which I had quilted with hand-stitching. Lying with it was a wooden knitting needle. The perfect flag pole. I sewed the little flag to the needle as tight as I could. Then as I was admiring my work, I realized that the flag needed to be lowered. As I tugged and pulled, twisted and turned the fabric and thread to get the flag to half mast, the sadness washed over me again at what had happened to America and to Americans.
On the porch, on the table is a pot of succulents called hen &chicks. From this flies my tiny flag.
what I can do I will
the things we thought we should
among the flowers
remembrance has a rear and front
the tint I cannot take is best
September 16, 2001
I am seeing that my view of the ‘wrongs’ committed by our government is greater than I had thought. This week I only saw the tip of the iceberg as exposed by the talk show hosts of the one radio station from which I get 99% of my news. Last night, Shawn Nix had as guest, a professor of foreign policy. Though he was afraid of being labeled as unpatriotic on this day when the President Bush has declared "We are at war!", he spoke of country after country in which our policies, our military actions, have murdered innocent people. Most of the ‘incidences’ I had heard of with one ear over the years. I had buried my conscience with the feeling that "that was far away" and "what could I do?". As I listened to his list, my horror at ‘our’ at our actions rose so rapidly that this morning, I cannot even accurately list which country has taken what assault from us. I hope some expert will compile such a list so that we individuals may keep this before us. I see that my statement the other day that the lives lost on Tuesday was a gift to the nation of Israel was wrong. That idea was too small and said from my lack of knowledge and lack of acknowledgement of the many other places our government policies have been wrong.
This morning as I was saying, "forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us" my prayer fell apart in my mouth. I could go no farther with the familiar words. And here I am stuck. The enormity of the task of accepting what we have done to others and what they have done to us is so great my mind refuses to circumference it. I cast my thoughts about but there are no edges where I can enter an understanding. In addition, the reality that somehow someone has to stop this circle of retribution and reprisal as we spiral outward with even greater weapons floats around in my head asking questions which seem to have no words. I feel confused and insecure.
I can accept that our country now sees itself at war (though I cheered Barbara Lee of Oakland for being the only person in our Congress to disagree) and that we will have to live with a greater military presence than we did before (as odious as this may become). I say ‘yes’ to the protection of our borders, and to the sensitive areas of our land and to our people. What I have real trouble agreeing to is any blanket bombing of other lands. This may seem a comfort for helplessness and anger we feel as a people, but more useless killing of civilians is not the answer. Hunting down the persons who organize terror is our job and needs all of our resources. I hope we do not fritter away men, machines and resources on useless actions only because of feelings of frustration or that we must unite behind common causes and actions.
Also, I realize that the world is bigger than my understanding. I see that my making political statements only reveals the smallness of my expertise. It is very embarrassing and I am sorry for what I have said.
As I sit here before my computer, there is to my left on an easel a book I had made earlier in the summer of the first lines of Emily Dickinson’s poems which I put together into a sense that reflected something within me. I have been, in my spare time, typing these into a file. Not wishing to continue this painful confession, I turned from this screen to begin to read this opened book. How surprised I was to turn a page and find:
by such and such an offering
a world made penniless by that departure
I meant to find her
she dealt her pretty words like blades
some arrows slay but whom they strike
September 15, 2001
I have mourned and I am mad. I am now mad, as in angry.
I stood on the beach to sing my prayers and my songs. I beat the drum until the skin on my hand grew as hot the drumhead hide. I took my salty tears back to their home in the sea where I wept until I was empty. The sky was heavy with a dark fog.
Gulls screamed. And one ate a starfish.
Phrases formed in my mind. Only a stub of a pencil was in my pocket. So I wrote my poems, inarticulate as they were, on the smooth stones of the beach. As the blackened stones piled up around the silver driftwood log, I realized the poems were the only thing of mine I had to give away to the souls cast off from earth. So calling out the names of the uncounted dead, I threw the stones back into the sea.
And today. Where am I? Why am I living and those innocent people who deserved to continue enjoying life are not? And why are families in a world-wide circle grieving? What are we doing that is so wrong that so much unhappiness surrounds us? And what needs to be changed in our lives before the next event of terrorism?
We pray. We light candles. We send messages over the internet urging each other to non-violence, for strength in believing in the goodness of life, in the light, and in compassion and love. I found it interesting that yesterday there were seven email messages on my computer calling people to prayer, to mourning, to forgiveness, to joining together in peace and light. Only one message, from a male, misquoting the New Testament, was intent in urging retaliation. Is this an indication of the numbers of people believing in the ways of peace and love? or is an analysis of my mail skewered by the way I pick my circle of friends? I hope not.
I hope that as our shock and terror and mourning recedes, we have the energy to rethink what we as individuals and as a nation have done. How our use of our military expertise and our money has been spent in the support of a centuries-old battle between two cultures whose leaders and vocal majority show no interest in finding ways of peace. I applaud our government’s efforts in trying to lead these two nations to a peaceful life, and you know I am referring to Israel and Palestine. What is wrong in our government’s action, I believe, is giving military hardware and software, and money to either side. We have, with taxpayers’ money, and now citizens’ lives, paid for a battle in which we have no obligation to be in. Yet through our actions we are here.
I can understand that in America are many Jews and many persons from Palestine who wish to support their people and they, individually, have the right to spend their money and their lives in any way they wish. And our elected officials, who have told us they will follow certain policies when in government, will surely follow their own inclinations when they have been voted in. But what we need, and as fast as our wake-up call was loud, is people who say bombing and killing, revenge and retribution are wrong. We need people who will give those of us against such government policies someone for whom we can vote. This process is slow and may be too slow for an even larger number of Americans. But we have to begin with each of us saying, "War and killing, revenge and bombing is not our answer."
It is puzzling - America has been called a Christian nation, and our President professes himself to be a Christian, and yet, in the interest of money, in the interest of his oily friends, he forgets about being a peacemaker and does not listen to the messages of love and compassion as taught by Christ as he pushes bombs and bombers to act. Christ came to the world, not in India or South America, but to the country that needed to relearn lessons of life about love. This was one place that needed to learn how to give up old ideas of revenge and ‘an eye for an eye’. That was two thousand years ago, and yet the loudest voices still have not taken to heart the message.
In President Bush’s every weakening voice, he cries out that we should bomb those who harbored the terrorists. If we take this threat seriously we would begin bombing Florida and wipe out that School of Aviation – all of which I hope you realize, as I do, is utterly ridiculous. Does he want to bomb the offices of MasterCard and Visa who have loaned these people money or rented them cell phones? Would this ‘help’ the dead? Would this make the mourning easier? Bombing in Pakistan or Afghanistan is equally as ridiculous. We have been attacked and wounded but we need not be foolish.
Those who are presently in our government must see that Tuesday’s wake-up call is to them to change their attitudes toward our use of our present military power. Surely they see how useless it is either as a protection or a retaliation modus. What can we do? We can immediately withdraw our support for Israel, especially in the light of their most recent refusal to negotiate for peace. That government needs to see that we as a nation will no longer accept their position dragging with it our opinions, money and lives. Immediately Jews in America and abroad, will say we cannot make this bold step or war will break out there is we are not there to protect Israel. Maybe and maybe not. Maybe there are enough people who have taken the brunt of killing to be willing to forgive and forget – to start anew. I would hope that they could come to this without a bloodbath, but if that is what they want, they should get it and not us.
My opinion does not mean I am anti-Semitic, pro-Palestine, against President Bush or wish to destroy our military. I am against anyone who takes the life of another, anyone who threatens to do this, or urges others to do this. And I accept that in the wide and mixed cultures of our land, there will be individuals will wish to support people of their cultures in their previous homelands. This is an individual decision which they may follow but must not be force their opinions upon the people of America's government. Our government should be for America and not fighting wars in which other governments have the control of the peace. That is where we are going wrong. We give them aid and arms but have not the fortitude to make them use our strength for peace. It is no wonder we have two blacked spots in our fair land.
ashes speak of fire
death leaves behind a homesickness
on a quiet day
there comes an hour begging stops
though lame it lay in brambles
September 14, 2001
No blog today. I want to spend the rest of the day in prayer and mourning for a world of sadness.
September 12, 2001
I had planned that for today, with Lynx done, I could take the day off and just spend the day in prayer and meditation for the dead, the dying and the grieving. But I had forgotten that the chimney sweeper was coming to clean out the wood stove for winter at nine. The wood stove is about 7 feet from my altar (I do keep warm while praying) so I gave up that plan. The cat and I cloistered ourselves in the computer room and I did my blog and worked on an interview on why haiku is not treated as a valid form of poetry. In the meantime the about-to-be-a-neighbor just outside the window had a bulldozer digging and installing a driveway as close as possible to our boundary line.
When the men were gone from the living room, it seemed a way to escape the bulldozer’s screeching and roar would be to put on the earphones, to listen to the radio and try to keep one finger on the pulse of the world. Here on our remote coast the only ‘big’ station I can get is KGO from San Francisco. The ranting and raving of Ronn Owens, in his determination to convince the listeners that we had to get revenge on who ever had done the acts of terror the day before was almost worse than the bulldozer. I had the feeling I no longer knew the man whose voice I was hearing. He sounded frighteningly mad and seemed so determined that we all join him in bombing someone - anyone. Even when others called in disagreeing with his message of vengeance and retribution, he only made fun of them and cut them off most rudely. He only spoke with people who agreed with him that we should declare war on whatever nation had let the only suspected Bin Laden live within their borders.
This seemed to me as ridiculous as if a mad man had been born in Cleveland, lived in Chicago, and from there had masterminded the terrorist attack on New York and Washington. Would we begin to bomb Cleveland and Chicago to ‘get even’ with those people for permitting him to hide out in their cities? Owens kept equating Pearl Harbor with Tuesday’s attack but there was a fundamental difference. Pearl Harbor was the act of a nation against a nation. This time, it is a small group of probably persons of various nationalities who are united by a common goal and hatred. The actual perpetrators died so they have taken their own justice.
I am not a political animal and so I do not completely understand the motives of whoever planned this act of terror against America. But it seems the goals of the attack give some clues with where the anger is directed. It seems the policies of our military and of our commerce, and probably the president are what this group is protesting. Why should this alleged man or anyone be this angry with our course of actions? What have we done, or what has our government done to invite this anger? This dastardly act was not committed in Sweden, Japan or any other country of equal advancement. It is some aspect of our foreign policy that we do not share with any other country on earth. It is fairly easy for me to come to the conclusion that our support of Israel has invited this madman to our land.
I am not in a position to dictate government policy. But I do have the ability to think things out and to make some decisions for myself. Not wishing to take sides with either the Israelis nor with the Palestinians, I do wish to be against this concept of revenge, retribution and getting even.
When kids are hitting each other with plastic shovels in the sandbox, the concept is already ridiculous. When this escalates to schoolboys bloodying noses there is still no winner and as the years go by new boys continue the fights begun long ago. However, when this kind of thinking is given the weapons of guns, bombs and now flying airplanes, we see how truly destruction an idea can be. It all comes back to a belief that one person has the right (or even a religious obligation) to get even, to ‘pay someone back’ for a loss of life, of money or land. I think our weapons have outgrown our senses. We now have such weapons and ideas of destruction, that the only way to save ourselves is to understand that we must give up the idea of retribution. Already in place are belief systems based on love and peace, negotiation and compromise. We need men with the courage to follow this idea,
This does not mean that I wish to excuse whoever plans the acts of terrorism either here or abroad. I am sure there is enough energy and money being spent on seeking them out. But even if they are found, and even killed (with our sense of justice) will anything be solved? Around these people is a support group. As long as they have leadership and power, they will continue to get even with whoever manages to curtail their activities. Killing their leader will only be another excuse to plan the next act of terror. Killing does not stop killing.
This is the vicious circle of cultures that place their faith in retribution, killing and more killing. It never can stop unless this now-found false idea is replaced with one of peace and negotiation. Again and again we have seen how Israel and Palestine cannot agree to negotiate. What they can agree about is a common belief in reprisal, vengeance and retribution. Aside from any question of who of these peoples is right, I think we have to acknowledge that we have set ourselves and our nation up between these two people whose leaders wish to war on each other.
It is no wonder that their acts of terror have now invaded our land. Our government policies have asked for this. For several years now we have been warned that ‘something would happen to us’. We were too complacent. We let our government make policies, spend money and lend support to people who do not have peace in their hearts. We have entered their war. And it seems a vocal number of Americans wish to continue their war on our soil. But is this what the majority of us wants? I think not. I feel we Americans have just given the Arabs and Jews a huge gift of (yet uncounted) number of lives, billions of dollars, our security and our freedom. Enough is enough.
Do not fret yourself because of evil doers
do not be jealous of those who do wrong.
For they shall wither like grass
and like the green grass fade away.
Put your trust into goodness and do good
dwell in the land and feed on its riches.
Take delight in the compassion of the Beloved
and you shall be given your heart's desire.
Commit your ways to trusting the Beloved
and it will come to pass that
righteousness will be as clear as the light
and your just dealings as the noonday.
Be still before the Beloved
and wait patiently for fulfillment.
Do not fret yourself over one who prospers
or one who succeeds with evil schemes.
Refrain from anger, leave rage alone,
do not fret yourself; it leads only to evil.
And evil doers shall be cut off from true joy
but those who live with compassions shall shout.
In a little while the wicked will be no more
you can search out their place but they will be gone.
Then the lowly shall possess the land
as they delight in an abundance of peace.
The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash at them with their teeth.
Love laughs at the wicked with winds
because it is known their day will pass.
The wicked may draw swords and bend bows
to strike down the poor and needy as they
slaughter those who are upright in their ways.
Their swords shall go through their own hearts
and their bows will be broken to return to dust.
The little that the righteous have been given
is better than the great riches of the wicked.
For the power of the wicked shall be broken
while the Beloved upholds righteousness.
Let there be peace and let it begin with me.
September 11, 2001 - day 911 - World Peace Day
I am in the shock of silence one feels immediately after a crash. Those first seconds when one’s mind tests to see if the noise and vibrations have truly ceased. Will there be a second disorientating act of unknown violence? As the seconds of waiting for nothing more to happen, one begins to check one’s own body for injuries. If none are found (and most of us have none today) we began to check on those persons around us. Here a much larger circle of persons are finding that the earth is diminished by the absence of someone they loved or even knew. By phone and email, the checks go on as we try to establish that our circles of family and friends remain unbroken. Even as we rejoice in this fact, we are saddened and appalled by the losses others are experiencing.
Slowly we are forced to understand the enormity of the acts of terrorism our country has experienced. Even as we find we are not hurt by this act, the specter of another act, coming from the unknown, could ensnare us into the last seconds of our own lives. And we have no idea from where the danger comes or what we can do to protect ourselves or our loved ones. Having so little to do, having to listen to repeated accounts of the destruction of the World Trade Center and portions of the Pentagon, only wears our nerves to a dangerous edge. It does not help when newscasters and talk show hosts try to pick targets for our fears by espousing their racist agendas by telling us "now we know how the Israelis feel when their pizza deli or night club is bombed" (I do not think the comparison is accurate). Even more upsetting is hearing one radio announcer encouraging people to arm themselves with guns and ammonium against "a government that does not protect us." And the callers who take this opportunity to spew hatred for Arabs and Muslims are equally dangerous. The temptation of retaliation is still at its highest, and yet, individually, most of us have nothing we can do – except take control of our own thinking and to force ourselves to see clearly what to do.
Certainly protection is our first defense and each of us will do whatever we judge best keeps us from the possibility of being where the next act of terrorism can occur. And we will do this for a few days, a few weeks, a month, and then the urge to freedom will push us back into our old patterns. True, America will never be the same as it was yesterday and we each will have to give up some of our freedom for safety. From here, we cannot guess how much and where. We will be told; there is no doubt of that.
But what can one do today? Normalize as much as possible. Force ourselves to keep to our daily routines as much as possible. And if we must think on the destruction, and the incredible losses and if we are unable to lend bodily help, we can pray. Pray for the many persons who have left the planet, those who are wounded, those who have lost loved ones. Unable to reach out to them, we will light candles and incense, and bow our heads so that we are stilled in prayer. If each of us becomes a still, centered being of light, of positive thinking, united to others in the same attitude, we become a force, an entity larger than the one of evil which has brought this disaster into our midst.
For one who loves cursing; so will curses come
if one gives not blessings; blessings will depart.
Therefore let blessing become like a garment;
soaking into the body like a fine oil of anointment.
Let thanksgiving be a cloak wrapped around
and a jeweled belt that is worn continually.
Let the eloquence of imagination
be a gift to the Divine on all occasions.
Immerse your self in the thought;
"I carry the Truth of God within me."
and become a walking shrine.
You will become the truth,
not only to the other persons you meet,
but most importantly, for yourself.
Yes, the Divine Presence or the Beloved
is only an idea formed in the mind of humans,
But once you have experienced this concept;
all of your ideas will be changed.
Whether there is an entity with a name,
it makes no difference to the possibility
of the existence of such a being.
Continue reading at:
September 1 - 10, 2001
August 22 - 31, 2001
August 11 - 21, 2001
August 9 - 1, 2001
July 31 - 26, 2001
July 25 - 18, 2001
July 17 - 11, 2001
July 10 - 4, 2001