Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Still Snowing Here / Birds Still Singing / "... C the ocean ..."

If you have time, listen to the nephew of one of my oldest friends from college days:

"... C the ocean ..." (Matthew Cohen)

Monday, February 11, 2019

Near the end the winter of 2019 (mostly taken through my window due to the cold weather) / Teach Your Children / My Father's 105th Birthday

(video inspired by the link on roger's post)

In order to open my porch door this morning, I had to push against a few inches of snow.  I love seeing bird tracks in the snow on my porch.

If my father were still alive, he would be celebrating his 105th birthday today.  He was born at home in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a few months before World War I started.  He was the third of five siblings.  His youngest sister is alive and well at 96 years old.  Here is my father in his first year of life:

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Birds singing on a cold day / The Endless Further / David Riley, Dharma Teacher

David Riley endeared himself to me when he posted the above composite photo on his blog with the words "Whitman and Dylan, together again."

Yesterday this Facebook post was brought to my attention: 

For those who followed David Riley and his blog, I wanted to let you know that he passed away 9-7-18 peacefully in his sleep. Thank you for following his blog and I will leave this site here for the time being.

His stepbrother Bill

Although I knew that David Riley had Stage 4 cancer and looked forward to his always enlightening posts, when no posts appeared after last April, it never occurred to me that he had died.  A local friend of mine was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, and it has since gone into remission.

David Riley's blog, The Endless Further, is no longer accessible.  His was a blog that I discovered while looking for information about St. Francis of Assissi.  David Riley was a dharma teacher and his Facebook page shows that he lived the last words of the Buddha:

"Behold, O monks, this is my last advice to you. All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation."

Our blog friends are dear to us.  I hope that some of you can see what he posted on his Facebook page.  It gives a good idea of what he posted on his blog.

This is what I read when I first found David Riley's blog a little over 2 years ago: 

“Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that have received--only what you have given.”
― Francis of Assisi

Here is his Facebook profile picture:

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Complexity / "There are times when dreams sustain us more than facts." (Helen Fagin)

A Velocity of Being: 100-year-old Holocaust survivor Helen Fagin reads her letter about how books save lives from Maria Popova on Vimeo.

It was startling to learn that the experience of reading Gone With The Wind in the Warsaw Ghetto gave hope to Jewish children who could not have known from reading that book that the lives of African American people during the American Civil War were much more complicated than that book portrayed and who certainly would have empathized.

The picture is complex.

With a little bit of Googling, I found another Jewish perspective, the perspective of a white woman on re-reading the book as an adult, a perspective from the Irish Times, and an African American perspective.  As far as I know, the world of Gone With The Wind contains absolutely no mention of  Indigenous people or any of the formerly invisible people of the U.S.A, non-white and white, who now have voices.  It is a work of fiction, of course, written from the perspective of a white woman from the American South, presenting a strong and ambitious fictional woman, Scarlet O'Hara.

Helen Fagin's story is moving in that it does show that a dream world, with all its limitations, had something to bring to young and vulnerable Jewish children.

From Helen Fagin's story from Warsaw Ghetto times:

"... I had spent the previous night reading Gone with the Wind — one of a few smuggled books circulated among trustworthy people via an underground channel, on their word of honor to read only at night, in secret. No one was allowed to keep a book longer than one night — that way, if reported, the book would have already changed hands by the time the searchers came.
I had read Gone with the Wind from dusk until dawn and it still illuminated my own dream-world, so I invited these young dreamers to join me. As I “told” them the book, they shared the loves and trials of Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara, of Ashley and Melanie Wilkes. For that magical hour, we had escaped into a world not of murder but of manners and hospitality (am's note:  It confounds my heart that a work of fiction could erase so much and thus create a dream world that gave respite and "new vitality" in another terrible time).  All the children’s faces had grown animated with new vitality.
A knock at the door shattered our shared dream-world. As the class silently exited, a pale green-eyed girl turned to me with a tearful smile: “Thank you so very much for this journey into another world. Could we please do it again, soon?” I promised we would, although I doubted we’d have many more chances. She put her arms around me and I whispered, “So long, Scarlett.” “I think I’d rather be Melanie,” she answered, “although Scarlett must have been so much more beautiful!”
As events in the ghetto took their course, most of my fellow dreamers fell victim to the Nazis. Of the twenty-two pupils in my secret school, only four survived the Holocaust.
The pale green-eyed girl was one of them.
Many years later, I was finally able to locate her and we met in New York. One of my life’s greatest rewards will remain the memory of our meeting, when she introduced me to her husband as “the source of my hopes and my dreams in times of total deprivation and dehumanization.”
There are times when dreams sustain us more than facts. To read a book and surrender to a story is to keep our very humanity alive. 

I keep thinking about the complexity of perspectives that converged at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on January 19, 2019, and the innumerable perspectives of those throughout the world who witnessed those events due to the power of cell phones.

I am reminded that there is a book that no one can write -- a book that shows the world from all points of view.

Suddenly I hear Bob Dylan singing:

And she winds back the clock and she turns back the page Of a book that no one can write Oh, where are you tonight? The truth was obscure, too profound and too pure To live it you have to explode In that last hour of need, we entirely agreed Sacrifice was the code of the road
(lyrics from "Where Are You Tonight? (Journey Through Dark Heat), 1978)

Interesting that whoever posted that Bob Dylan song used images of Edgar Bergen (Scandinavian) and Charlie McCarthy (based on an Irish newspaper boy) from the 1950s to accompany it.

Speaking of dreams:

Coincidentally, this began playing directly after the song above:

"... You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one ..." (John Lennon and Yoko Ono, lyrics from "Imagine.")

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Saltwater Beaver / Repairing the World / "Once They Were Hats"

A friend brought Hakai Magazine: Coastal science and societies to my attention today.  The article I read was engaging and enlightening and heartening and included splendid photos, videos and a webcam clip.  Here's a link to British Columbia's Hakai Institute.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

January 30, 1969: "... It's a love that lasts forever ..."

Thanks to NPR for reminding me how good it felt to be 19 years old and in love.

Early sign of spring, with snow showers predicted

A flock of Canada Geese arrive at Scudder Pond every year around this time.  Some years I hear their loud honking overhead as they arrive from the south.  This year I only heard their honking after they had arrived.  Listen for the sound of a Red-winged blackbird at the end of the video.

Snow showers are predicted for next week.  The temperatures at night have dropped to freezing, and the sky has been so clear that the snow-covered Canadian Cascades have been fully visible in the last few days.  Bellingham is 25 miles from the border that separates Washington State from British Columbia.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Context Meditation / Indigenous Vitality

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee by David Treuer

“An ambitious, gripping, and elegantly written synthesis that is much more than the sum of its excellent parts—which include a rich array of Native lives, Treuer’s own family and tribe among them–The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee brings a recognition of indigenous vitality and futurity to a century of modern Indian history.” 
— Philip J. Deloria, Professor of History, Harvard University 

Above is the Covington Catholic High School Mascot, The Colonel.  As far as I can tell, this mascot gets its name from Leonard Covington who served as a Captain in the Northwest Indian War (1785-1795) and later became a Colonel.  He was a United States Army Brigadier General and a member of the United States House of Representatives. I'm struck by the resemblance to one of the students of Covington Catholic High School:

A few days ago, I listened to Nicholas Sandmann speaking on the Today Show.  He did not look like the same young man the whole world saw in the photo above.  To me, he looked drugged as he stared fixedly and spoke in a monotone voice.  Although he relaxed somewhat as the interview progressed, he appeared to me to be someone in profound shock.

The closest he came to an apology was when he said, "...  I respect him.  I'd like to talk to him.  I mean, in hindsight, I wish we would have walked away and avoided the whole thing ..."

My dream remains that a conversation will take place between Nathan Phillips and Nicholas Sandmann.  If anyone could help Nicholas Sandmann open his heart, it would be Nathan Phillips.

My perception remains that Nathan Phillips lives by principle and has much to teach all who care to listen.  I keep wondering if Pope Francis will have anything to say to Nicholas Sandmann.  Who knows what the long-term results will be of the unexpected meeting of Nathan Phillips and Nicholas Sandmann on January 18, 2019?

"Actions often ripple far beyond the immediate objective and remembering this is a reason to live by principle and act in the hope that what you do matters, even when results are unlikely to be immediate or obvious."  
-- Rebecca Solnit, from the essay, "In Praise of Indirect Consequences," from Call Them by Their True Names, page 173)

When our local library buys a copy of David Treuer's book, I hope to be first in line to read it and learn more about the historical context in which Nathan Phillips and Nicholas Sandmann looked into each other's eyes in a historical moment.

"Until the US accounts for its history at every level of society, this scenario will play out relentlessly, in endless configurations."

Sunday, January 27, 2019

An American Family Meditation / Expanding the Context / Against All Odds

More that has been brought to my attention from a friend who is on Facebook:


Below are Shoshana and Nathan Phillips.  Shoshana died of cancer in 2014.

Below are Nathan Phillips and his daughter, Alethea.  Nathan and Shoshana also have a son named Zakiah.

May something good come of the events of January 18, 2019, in Washington, D.C., during the Indigenous Peoples March.  My hope is that Nicholas Sandmann will someday meet Nathan Phillips in an expanded context and understand what Nicholas couldn't possibly have understood on January 18 -- that Nathan Phillips is a man of peace who is willing to forgive, as Nicholas Sandmann's teacher, Jesus, did.  May common ground be found.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Indigenous Peoples March Meditation

Thank you to Sabine for the link to the Democracy Now! interviews with Nathan Phillips, Chase Iron Eyes, and David Treuer.

An hour in three parts, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries of history.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Nathan Phillips Meditation

(screen shot from AJ+ video on Facebook)

It has occurred to me that if Rosa Parks had taken a seat in the front of a bus during an administration like our current political administration, she could well have experienced what Nathan Phillips experienced and been discounted in the way Nathan Phillips has been by our current president and that dwindling portion of American citizens that stand with him.

Below is what I transcribed from captions of the video by AJ+, "Nathan Phillips on Racism," that was posted on January 23, 2019, and seems to only be available for viewing on Facebook.  I am not on Facebook but am grateful that this video was brought to my attention.  I hope that you can view the video and witness the integrity with which Nathan Phillips speaks.  I have watched the complete YouTube video footage that gives the context in which Nathan Phillips stepped forward, and I continue to respect him and meditate on what occurred. 

Nathan Phillips:  This is America. The dream of freedom, of pursuit of happiness, hurts me. The history we have as America, the genocide against the Indigenous people, the enslavement of the Black people.

AJ+ Narrator:  Nathan Phillips has been fighting for the rights of Indigenous people for decades.  The 64-year-old attended the Indigenous People's March, thinking he would highlight injustices that Indigenous people face. Instead, he was in the media spotlight for intervening in a standoff between anti-abortion students and Hebrew Israelite activists and for Nathan, the experience has left him scarred for life.

Nathan Phillips:  That was what I was seeing.  I was seeing this clear as black and white ... racism, bigotry, hatred etched in my mind.

AJ+ Narrator:  The Indigenous war vet (am's note:  This is a misunderstanding that has been cleared up.  Nathan Phillips is a Vietnam-era veteran, not a war vet) has witnessed injustices against his people for decades.  

Nathan Phillips:  I was taken away from my family and put in a foster home.  It was a time, in this country, they called assimilation.  It was a period of time that they, America, [in] terms of their Indian policy -- Indian problem.  During that time of assimilation, they took away hundreds of thousands of children away from their parents, separated us, put us in foster cares, put us in boarding schools.  A lot of those children that were taken away, never got home.

AJ+ Narrator:  Indigenous people are more likely to be killed in police encounters, 83% of Indigenous women have experienced violence in their lifetime and most perpetrators are non-Indigenous.  So what happened at the recent march is nothing new to Nathan.

Nathan Phillips:  I seen that, so I got scared.  Not so much for myself but for my future generations yet to come.  What kind of country are we going to leave that next generation? Just talking about Indigenous youth or Black or all our next generation.  Indigenous people don't believe we have time to be squabbling and bickering over race, religion.

AJ+ Narrator:  But he thinks things are only getting worse for Indigenous people.

Nathan Phillips:  We're seeing it daily in the news.  We're seeing this rhetoric that's being spilled by our leaders. Our lawmakers are saying horrible things.  As they were ripping at each other, it was ripping at my heart.  My country here in my land, my home, my America.

AJ+ Narrator:  Despite the standoff, Nathan still has hope.

Nathan Phillips:  I see a better future. I do see a better future here.  Not only here in America, but throughout the world.  There are a lot of people who are just realizing that if we don't do something now, it's going to be too late. I guess what I say to a lot of people: peace and love.  Put that in your heart and love for all humans.

"I am not afraid ..." (from lyrics by the Peace Poets)

A friend of mine who is 31 years old sent me the link to the above video on Martin Luther King Day.  As I understand, the Poor People's Campaign has been organized to continue the work that started during the years of the American Civil Rights Movement, led by Martin Luther King, Jr., with updated language to include those who weren't specifically mentioned, except perhaps as Gentiles, in the "I Have A Dream" speech in Washington, D.C., in 1963.  In 1963, when I was 13 years old, I understood that when Martin Luther King, Jr., said "black men and white men," he was not excluding women or young girls like me:

"... Let freedom ring ...
And when this happens, when we allow 
freedom to ring, when we let it ring
from every village and every hamlet, 
from every state and every city, 
we will be able to speed up that day
when all of God's children, 
black men and white men, 
Jews and Gentiles, 
Protestants and Catholics, 
will be able to join hands and sing
in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 
"Free at last! free at last! 
Thank God Almighty, 
we are free at last!"
If I were a person who joined organizations, I would join the Poor People's Campaign.  Those of us who do not participate in organized religion or even praiseworthy organizations like this one can still do our part to carry on the work begun by Martin Luther King, Jr., and the American Civil Rights Movement.  Even the smallest anonymous personal action can make a difference.

We are not alone.  We never were.  Some of us are organized, others unorganized.  Together, we do what we can.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Early Morning Meditation on Martin Luther King Day 2019: Nathan Phillips And The Significance Of His Drumming

Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race. Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shores, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society. From the sixteenth century forward, blood flowed in battles of racial supremacy. We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its Indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or feel remorse for this shameful episode. Our literature, our films, our drama, our folklore all exalt it.” 


Living close to the Lummi Nation, I have been fortunate to be able to attend numerous events in which I was moved by the presence of Lummi drummers, including at Martin Luther King Day celebrations.  Although it was clear to me and to anyone familiar with Native drumming, that Nathan Phillips was attempting to stop a charged situation from escalating by stepping in, playing his drum and chanting a healing prayer, that action was not understood by the crowd of Roman Catholic young men and perceived as an act of aggression to which they responded with edgy laughter, defensive body language and blatant disrespect toward a representative of the people who suffered so deeply historically in the Roman Catholic mission schools.  

To add to the complexity of the situation, Deb Haaland is Roman Catholic in the best sense of the word:

"This Veteran put his life on the line for our country," Haaland, one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress, wrote on Twitter.  "The students' display of blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance is a signal of how common decency has decayed under this administration.  Heartbreaking."

May this Martin Luther King Day shed light on these words:

"Revolution is never easy.  It is hard and messy and painful."
(Nylah Burton)

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final work in reality.  This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."
(Martin Luther King, Jr., from Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Olso, Norway, 1964)