Memorial Day Weekend

I’m reading “We Came, We Saw, We Left: A Family Gap Year” where a family of five travels together for a year.  I’m paused now where they are in Stone Town, the capital city of Zanzibar and a World Heritage site.  When they visit the small museum, they learn that slavery created this cross-cultural outpost.  

“Slaves were captured in the interior of Africa, brought to Zanzibar, and then exported to the rest of the world.”

“At the height of the slave trade, sixty thousand humans were trafficked through Zanzibar every year.”

“The exhibit that packed the most emotional punch was on the lawn outside: a full-scale sculpture of several women with chains around their necks looking up from a pit in the ground.”

I had to stop reading to absorb unimaginable numbers and pain.

I always find this an odd weekend to navigate.  It began as a way to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers.  

On May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery James A. Garfield said: 

“We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.”

After he spoke, 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who are buried there. After World War I, Memorial Day was established as a national holiday to honor all those who’ve died in American wars. It’s a weekend to remember as we move forward to change.

Look for the Gull skimming the waves

Rising with the Moon

The moon symbolizes enlightenment to Buddhists, and you may have noticed the brightness of this full moon.  It was a bright light both in the evening and in the morning.

Yesterday was the Day of Vesak, a day to celebrate Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death.  Since I was at the ocean last week, I’ve continued to feel the waves in the oceans in me, the continents, the always moving change and flow.

Mark Twain wrote: 

 I am an old man, and I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.

I’m with that this morning, laughing with the twitter-tweeting of birds.  I’m eating my first cherries of the season, and yes, my life is a bowl full of cherries as I offer the pits to the yard wondering if one or two will choose to sink into the ground and rise as a tree.

Morning Moon
Low tide in the Bay

Transformation

Today I learned from Writer’s Almanac that it’s World Turtle Day and we’re meant to dress either in green or as a turtle.  I’m in blue today so I am choosing to be the water that supports turtles and life.  Watching the ocean this week allowed me to feel even more fully how we are the ocean and the wave, and how each wave is precious especially as it curves and curls to bow and meet the ground.

Thich Nhat Hanh: Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible. If a grain of corn is not impermanent, it can never be transformed into a stalk of corn. If the stalk were not impermanent, it could never provide us with the ear of corn we eat.

To celebration of change.

Fog pours over the ridge today

Presence

Eckhart Tolle: When you are present, you can sense the spirit – the one consciousness in every creature – and love it as yourself.  

Evening

Cypress Trees
Rose in my Garden
Texture
At the Zoo
Getting Along

The Ocean

I spent the day with my 18 month old grandson, and then drove over to the ocean to Half Moon Bay for the night.  What a gift.  The sound of the ocean – the waves – all drops and rolls in trust and ease.

How appropriate are these words by Lynn Ungar for me today..

And you–what of your rushed and useful life? Imagine setting it all down—papers, plans, appointments, everything—leaving only a note: “Gone to the fields to be lovely. Be back when I’m through with blooming.”

Sunset
Morning

Morning Walk

Empathy

In both my book groups we’ve read Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson.

What has most stayed with me is a Black girl’s suggestion for punishment of Adolph Hitler.  Let him be Black in the United States.  

Years ago, I read Hannah Arendt’s book on the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichman, one of the architects of the Holocaust.  She titled the book  Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.

In his introduction to Arendt’s book, Israeli journalist Amos Elon writes:

[Arendt] concluded that Eichmann’s inability to speak coherently in court was connected with his incapacity to think, or to think from another person’s point of view. . . . He personified neither hatred or madness nor an insatiable thirst for blood, but something far worse, the faceless nature of Nazi evil itself . . . aimed at dismantling the human personality of its victims. The Nazis had succeeded in turning the legal order on its head, making the wrong and the malevolent the foundation of a new “righteousness.” In the Third Reich evil lost its distinctive characteristic by which most people had until then recognized it. The Nazis redefined it as a civil norm. . . . Within this upside-down world Eichmann . . . seemed not to have been aware of having done evil. 

I sit with that today as I consider these words of Albert Einstein.  “Mankind invented the atomic bomb, but no mouse would ever construct a mousetrap.”

Of late, I’ve been blessed to spend time with my grandson.  At 18 months old, he is pure joy, an enchanting dance and song as he explores and discovers.  The books he “reads” are about community and generosity, empathy and feelings.

As he grows, may the world become more kind and empathetic.  

I have mixed feelings on zoos, though I understand it’s a way to teach and study and even help endangered species reproduce.  It’s a fun place to be and the children’s playground at the SF Zoo is pure delight. The Sculpture Learning Plaza is a fascinating way to learn.

http://www.sfzoo.org/animals/exhibits/sculpturelearningplaza.htm

Recently I was by the bay and saw Canadian Geese parenting their little ones.

A Bald Eagle caged and sitting on the ground at the zoo.

Sea Shanties

On Sunday, my grandson, his dad, and I are journeying to Angel Island. Realizing it is grandson’s first sea voyage, I thought I should check out some sea shanties, and came across Fisherman’s Friends. Enjoy!

Trust

Yesterday I walked along the marsh with a friend.  We saw red-winged blackbirds and egrets.  I took no pictures as we were discussing serious subjects, friends dealing with serious health issues and end of life.  I came home tired, and went to bed early but then woke at 3:30 from the most amazing dream of strength, beauty, and trust.

I sit here now, and though it’s still dark, I feel the day coming to light, and then, I hear the first gobble and caw, and now the tweets.

Live according to your highest light and more light will be given.

– Peace Pilgrim

Movement Waves in Our Depths

Still Honoring Mother’s Day

We have a day to honor mothers and one for fathers and yet I sit here today feeling enveloped by my mother who passed away in February 2005.  She is here with me, in me, with her sweet smile and desire always for peace.  

I used to think she should be stronger in judgment, or what I preferred to call discernment, but now I understand.  There is a place of letting go, of gentle strength, the Mr. Rogers type of strength.

I revel in her knowing these words of Nipun Mehta.  

Surrender isn’t a sacrifice of the known but rather a celebration of the infinite.

There are many cars on the train we are on, and we can’t see and seam them all at one time but my mother is here.

Multitudes in One

The Gift of Scent

One of my Mother’s Day gifts was a bottle of perfume from Powell’s bookstore called “Eau de bookstore”. 

I’ve missed being in bookstores.  Browsing them is one of my favorite things to do and with the pandemic, that was out, so there the books were shut up inside, and I, on the outside looking in.  

Of course my house is filled with books but there’s something about a bookstore, the arrangement, exploration, discovery, and excitement that I’ve missed.

Before I opened the bottle, we discussed what the smell would be. Would it be musty or filled with light? I sprayed the scent, and yum. The smell was pure delight.

The blurb says: “The riveting scent of books, with subtle hints of wood and violet, come together in Powell’s by Powell’s. Wherever you are, experience the comfort and nostalgia of Portland’s most iconic bookstore.  You won’t be able to put it down.”

It’s true. I inhale and exhale the enchanting smell of wisdom and connection shared over the years!!