Tuesday, February 26, 2019

"... before the last revolving year is through..."

Thank you to Sabine for bringing this heartening photo to my attention:

"...There'll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty ..."

Birds singing in the early morning darkness:

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Varieties Of February Experience: An Extended Morning Meditation and Celebration of Life Lived to the Fullest

The previous photos were taken from February 12 through February 15, 2019.

The following photos and videos were taken on February 16, 2019, throughout the day that a dear friend of mine had died peacefully early in the morning at age 78 in her senior living apartment, surrounded by her loving family.  In the early afternoon of February 16, her three daughters emailed her friends to let us know that she had died and to let us know about the memorial gathering planned for February 23.

Listen for red-winged blackbirds and robins and crows, among others.

Joyce loved animals.  Her last job was as a professional petsitter.  After surviving several recurrences of cancer, she continued petsitting until the last year of her life.  She was fond of my cat, Oboe.  When I looked up from the yoga mat this morning, Oboe appeared to have a "halo."  Saint Oboe? When I tried using a flash to brighten up the scene, the result was comical and would have delighted Joyce who had a wonderful sense of humor.  It delighted me.

The slide show of Joyce's life at the memorial gathering was accompanied by the music of Keb'Mo' and Taj Mahal, including:

When her daughters asked the roomful of gathered friends, most of them sober members of Alcoholics Anonymous, if they would like to share an experience they had with Joyce, a sober alcoholic woman in her 70s in fragile health said that she and Joyce shared a love of the blues, and that she would like to sing one of Joyce's favorite songs.  That tiny woman proceeded to sing out loud and clear, as if channeling Janis Joplin, even to the cackling laugh at the end of the song, this:

When she got to the part where Janis asks everyone to sing along, the entire room sang the rest of the song with her!

Below is a photo Joyce shared from the last month of her life, walking with one of her daughters.  She walked into and out of the Grand Canyon several times in the latter part of her life.  Her ashes will be scattered there along with the ashes of notes written by friends and family at the memorial gathering.

Below is another photo, taken as she sat in her hospice bed in her senior living apartment a few days before she took that walk in the sunshine on one of those in-between-snow-and-ice days we've experienced this February:

This morning I read this:

You don't have to do anything to keep the mind calm.  Just leave it alone.  Let it be.  That's the song you sing.  Let it be.  So be it.  Amen.  (Sri Swami Satchidananda)

Joyce did not belong to any religion and neither do I, but she was able to let her mind be and that was the song she sang.  I can still hear her silent song of unconditional love, humor, and gratitude for life.

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.