To read previous journal entries, please go to: Journal
1 archive 2/25-3/24/00, Journal
2 archive 3/25-4/24/00, Journal
3 archive 4/25-5/24/00, Journal
4 archive 5/25-6/24/00, Journal
5 archive 6/25-7/24/00, Journal
6 archive 7/25-8/24/00, Journal7
archive 8/25-9/24/00, Journal
8 archive 9/25-10/24/00, Journal
9 archive 10/25-11/24/00, Journal
10 archive 11/25-12/24/00, Journal
11 archive 12/25/00-1/24/01, Journal
12 archive 1/25-2/24/01, Journal
13 archive 2/25-3/24/01, Journal
14 archive 3/25-4/24/01, Journal
15 archive 4/25-5/24/01, Journal
16 archive 5/25-6/24/01, Journal
17 archive 6/25-7/24/01, Journal
18 archive 7/25-8/24/01, Journal
19 archive 8/25-9/24/01, Journal
20 archive 9/25-10/24/01, Journal
21 archive 10/25-11/24/01, Journal
22 archive 11/25-12/24/01, Journal
23 archive 12/25/01-1/24/02, Journal
24 archive 1/25-2/24/02, Journal
25 archive 2/25-3/24/02, Journal
26 archive 3/25-4/24/02, Journal
27 archive 4/25-5/24/02, Journal
28 archive 5/25-6/24/02, Journal
29 archive 6/25-7/24/02, Journal
30 archive 7/25-8/24/02, Journal
31 archive 8/25-9/24/02,Journal
32 archive 9/25-10/24/02, Journal
33 archive 10/25-11/24/02, Journal
34 archive 11/25-12/24/02, Journal
35 archive 12/25/02-1/24/03, Journal
36 archive 1/25-2/24/03, Journal
37 archive 2/25-3/25/03, Journal
38 archive 3/26-4/24/03, Journal
39 archive 4/25-5/24/03, Journal
40 archive 5/25-6-24/03, Journal
41 archive 6/25-7/24/03, Journal
42 archive 7/25-8/24/03, Journal
43 archive 8/25-9/24/03, Journal
44 archive 9/25-10/24/03, Journal
45 archive 10/25-11/24/03, Journal
46 archive 11/25-12/24/03, Journal
47 archive 12/25/03-1/24/04, Journal
48 archive 1/25-2/24/04, Journal
49 archive 2/25-3/24/04, Journal
50 archive 3/25-4/24/04, Journal
51 archive 4/25-5/24/04, Journal
52 archive 5/25-6/24/04, Journal
53 archive 6/25-7/24/04, Journal
54 archive 7/25-8/24/04, Journal
55 archive 8/25-9/24/04, Journal
56 archive 9/25-10/24/04, Journal
57 archive 10/25-11/24/04, Journal
58 archive 11/25-12/24/04, Journal
59 archive 12/25/04-1/24/05, Journal
60 archive 1/25-2/24/05, Journal 61 archive 2/25-3/24/05, Journal 62 archive 3/25-4/24/05, Journal 63 archive 4/25-5/24/05, Journal 64 archive 5/25-6/24/05, Journal 65 archive 6/25-7/24/05, Journal 66 archive 7/25-8/24/05, Journal 67 archive 8/25-9/24/05, Journal 68 archive 9/25-10/24/05, Journal 69 archive 10/25-11/24/05, Journal 70 archive 11/25-12/24/05, Journal 71 archive 12/25/05-1/24/06, Journal 72 archive 1/25-2/24/06
To read my current journal, please go to: windchime walker's journal
*Now that I have a
digital camera, journal entries may be linked to related photos.
Download time should be no more than 5 seconds. The easiest way
to navigate going back and forth between photo links and journal
text is to click on your "back" button at the left of
your tool bar.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2002
Tomorrow morning youngsters at the Dearborn school where I volunteer start classes again. It seems like Susan and I were just wishing them a happy summer out in that noisy hall with its mixture of tears and glee! But much has happened in the last three months. I feel I have grown and changed; it will be interesting to see how they have grown and changed too. Actually I won't see them until the Tuesday after Labor Day. Susan said the first week is just setting rules and such; she recommended I start back the second week. So on Labor Day night I'll lay out my first-day-of-school clothes just like I did over fifty years ago. Has it really been that long?
Today was another in my
series of write-festi-journal 2002 days. I completed Friday,
August 16. Only two more days to go! In a way I'm going to
miss it when I finish. Writing about the festival day-by-day brings
it so much to mind. It's as if I'm actually there. A week ago
tonight was my last night on the Land. Hard to imagine it's been
a whole week. Time is such a funny creature. The seven days at
festival feel like a lifetime, where "normal" days pass
like sand through my fingers.
MONDAY, AUGUST 26, 2002
"Today, the Executive Branch seeks to take this safeguard away from the public by placing its actions beyond public scrutiny. Against non-citizens, it seeks the power to secretly deport a class if it unilaterally calls them 'special interest' cases. The Executive Branch seeks to uproot people's lives, outside the public eye, and behind a closed door. Democracies die behind closed doors. The First Amendment, through a free press, protects the people's right to know that their government acts fairly, lawfully, and accurately in deportation proceedings. When government begins closing doors, it selectively controls information rightfully belonging to the people. Selective information is misinformation. The Framers of the First Amendment 'did not trust any government to separate the true from the false for us.' Kleindienst v. Mandel, 408 U.S. 753, 773 (1972)."
The above is a quote from today's unanimous ruling by the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of the Detroit Free Press, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee), and three other newspapers, and against the Department of Justice. The Department had contended that it could hold secret proceedings against Rabih Haddad, who has been held for over nine months without charges being filed; the US Sixth Court of Appeals ruled otherwise. They said, in what the New York Times calls "stinging language", that his hearings must be open to the press and the public. This significant ruling will surely have an impact on the hearings of all persons being detained as Rabih has been detained. At least the Justice Department will now have to offer proof case-by-case that a hearing must be closed to protect the national security, rather than being able to impose the blanket secrecy they have insisted upon for all INS hearings of persons of Arab descent since September 11.
I expect this ruling to be appealed by the government and to end up in Supreme Court. And we all know whose side they usually take. But, even so, this is a momentous decision, one that indicates the slumbering Judicial branch of the government just might be waking up. And that is good news!
It is the perfect day for over 100 of us gather in front of the Monroe County Jail in a show of support for our brother, Rabih Haddad. Our rally was planned before today's ruling is announced, which only makes it better. We also hear that Rabih's request has been granted that tomorrow's asylum hearing be postponed until his brother can return from Lebanon. He is a key witness in Rabih's case.
The only damper is that the guest of honor is not allowed to join our party. Apparently when the first supporters appeared in front of the jail this afternoon, Rabih knocked on his slit of a window (second from the left corner on the top floor) and held up a piece of paper. The guards immediately whisked him out of his cell and put him where he could neither see nor hear us. But he knows we are here. And we can feel his presence.
For me it is particularly powerful because this is the closest physically that I have ever been to my brother Rabih. After more than nine months of thinking about him, telling his story wherever I go, writing/calling/emailing on his behalf, attending every hearing both inside and outside the courtroom, getting to know him through letters, becoming like family to his family and friends, it feels like we are in the same room, greeting one another as sister and brother. I trust he feels this too.
As always happens when I'm with this community, whatever help I need is graciously offered. For instance, Miriam and Leena help remove Ona my scooter from my car and assemble her. Then Bilal, disassembles and puts my scooter back in the car after we're done. I believe all of these young people are former students of Rabih's. Bilal says he was the best Islamic Studies teacher he's ever had; I've heard similar sentiments from other students.
Of course, Rabih's wife Sulaima is here, as are their two eldest sons, Rami and Sami. Rabih's being spirited away from the window is hardest on Sulaima who so wants him to be able to see and hear the support that has grown rather than diminished during his nine months of imprisonment. She keeps looking up at the jail windows hoping to see some indication that Rabih is there someplace. And Sulaima isn't the only one searching those window slits for a sign of our brother; we all do at one time or another. But for the most part we walk back and forth, carrying our signs and sometimes chanting. We conclude with a rally where folks are invited to share stories about Rabih.
I guess for me it's always the children that touch my heart. Mothers with toddlers, little boys carrying photos of Rabih and young girls doing the same. Youngsters with signs that make powerful statements. Just the innocent beauty of these children.
But it isn't only the children. I'm touched by the sign carried by one of the leaders of Ann Arbor's Arab-American community. It is his son who is carrying the sign about Rabih being a loving dad. And this juxtaposition of powerful signs about due process and civil rights. Happily, we've already had an answer to this sign about ending secret trials. , but the final words on his sign lie at the heart of our struggle--"Release Rabih Haddad." And many others have a long way to go, like this one that calls for an end to unjust detainments, and again, the one that speaks to why we are here--"Free Rabih!"
We will not stop gathering
like this, making signs that are carved on our hearts, and standing
in support of our brother Rabih and all our brothers of
Arab descent who are languishing in US jails and prisons with
no charges against them and in many cases, with no lawyer to defend
them. This is America, darnnit, and we will do everything we can
to see that this government begins to act as our Founding Fathers
and Mothers intended it to act. We will not give up the struggle
until truth prevails and justice--true justice--is done.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 27, 2002
Imagine! Two days in a row without a new entry from my festi-journal 2002! I don't know where the day went but it was not spent writing my Saturday, August 17th journal entry. However, I did prepare the 25 photos that I'll be using for that day. I plan to work on the Saturday entry tomorrow. If you check back in the evening, you should be able to spend another day with me at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. It was a very FULL day, so hang onto your hats!
I wrote Rabih this morning, telling him all about yesterday's demonstration at the jail. It occurred to me that when he's released from jail, he will be able to "attend" every hearing, demonstration and gathering of supporters that I've written about here in my online journal over the last nine months. It makes me even more grateful that I use digital photos to show as well as words to tell my stories. I went out to mail the letter at 1 PM and returned home to a letter from him waiting in my mailbox.
It's hard to hear this man, whose life has always been an adventure, say that "One day pours into another in a soul wrenching monotony." In the six months that we've corresponded, Rabih has rarely expressed anything resembling anger. Actually I've often wished he would ; it seems so appropriate to his circumstances. But today I heard definite signs of irritation, healthy signs in my opinion. He told of the jail authorities censoring the mail he receives, specifically not giving him a flyer opposing the war in Iraq that was sent in a letter by a friend. As he said, "You see, the mail I receive is my window to the outside world. The lungs by which I breathe and these people are suffocating me, pure and simple and it's got to stop."
I again invite you, my friends, to write Rabih if you feel so inclined. If you're like me, you avoid snail mail as much as possible, but in this case, it is a gift you can give someone who needs the breath you blow his way, the breath of freedom. His address is:
100 E. 2nd Street
Monroe, MI 48161
What I've been doing lately (with Ed's help) is printing out pictures from my journal that I think he'd enjoy, and then writing my letter on the the white space around it. Or sometimes I send a copy of one of my pen-and-ink drawings. Rabih is a poet and artist who appreciates beauty in any form. He says he pastes these images on the walls of his cell and never tires of looking at them. Small things for us, dear friends.
After writing this entry,
it occurred to me that it was time to put up a web page devoted
to the story of Rabih. I call the page, My
Brother Rabih Haddad.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 28, 2002
Almost done! Only one more day to write about in my festi-journal 2002, and that one has very few photos. Today's effort--Saturday, August 17--on the other hand, is photo-full and rich in experiences. I often think that keeping this journal is more of a gift to me than to anyone else. I get to savor moments that rush by so fast the first time that I miss a lot.
Well, I say that the journal benefits me more than my readers, but today I heard from a very special reader to whom it means more than I can know. Bassem Haddad, Rabih's brother, wrote thanking me for my kind words and for shedding light on his brother's case. His email began, "I know I have not met you, but through your journal I feel like we grew up together." I have no words to express how much it means to me to hear from him.
By the way, I didn't spend all day glued to my computer! At 4 PM I scooted down to the park to swim laps. There were very few people in the pool so I could go into the altered state I love. My 20 lengths of the crawl passed quickly.
After a shower, I headed over to the concession stand for another piece of Patricia's pizza. I'm happy to report that this was the last piece, so Dick will surely feel comfortable ordering me another veggie pizza next year. I then scooted over to the beach and watched a brother and sister dig a deep hole in the sand. When I asked if they would take a photo of it for my web site, they gave the camera to their mother. Here's the picture she took of Riley standing in the hole they had dug. It turned out to be the same family I'd taken a picture of at the beach last September 5. A coincidence, I'd say.
The pool will stay open until Setember 15 and then I'll have to move indoors. These are precious days, these last days of summer.
It is now 2 AM and I have
just heard of the death of a wonderful woman of song, Kay
Gardner. She was with us, as she has been for years and years,
at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival where she facilitated "Singing
In Sacred Circle" all week long, led the chanting at Sunday's
Healing Circle, and played
her glorious flute at the Opening Ceremonies and at the final
Candlelight Concert on Sunday night. She will be missed in ways
that I cannot begin to imagine. I am reeling from the shock and
sense of loss.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 29, 2002
So much has changed since I wrote last night, but the change is mostly within myself. After hearing of Kay Gardner's death in the wee hours, I tried to sleep but couldn't. Finally I slipped downstairs into my sweet Eddie's bed where his comforting presence helped me finally fall asleep. It was probably 4:30 AM by then. Dear Kay was with me in every dream throughout the night. She comforted me.
But before dropping off, I determined that if Kay's death had taught me anything, it was to seize the moment and be with those I love. The one who came strongly to mind was my Mom. Coincidentally, I'd received an email last night from my sister Carolyn updating me on Mom's cough and cold. Apparently lab tests showed pneumonia even though she seemed to be doing better. I decided not to put off the visit I was planning for mid-September, but to do it now. So on Monday afternoon, instead of attending the final day of Detroit's annual Labor Day Weekend jazz festival, I will start off in my little red Neon for Washington, DC. I'll stay overnight in Cranberry, PA as Pat K. and I have done on our trips east, and arrive in Maryland Tuesday afternoon. All going well, I plan to leave on Friday and return home Saturday afternoon. It is a 10-hour drive, so doing it alone in two days doesn't feel heroic. When I called to tell Mom I was coming, she said with delight, "Oh, how wonderful!" That makes everything worthwhile.
Family. I am seeing how important family is in the emails I'm receiving from Rabih's brothers. Where yesterday I heard from Bassem who lives in the US, today I heard from Mazen who is currently in Lebanon visiting their mother. His email expressed with great tenderness his appreciation for my support and for the journal entries that he puts on a disc to share with his mother. He said it took him an hour to read about Monday's vigil at the jail because he kept having to take time out to compose himself. Although he does not usually cry, he said he wept when he finished reading it. Well, he's not the only one; I sobbed after reading his email to me. How could we be so close and yet have never met? Some things are not ours to know. But how I value the family that Rabih has made mine as well.
Today I have good news about my Fuji Fine Pix 2800 digital camera. After Ed drove to heck-and-gone to get it fixed, it turns out it wasn't broken at all. The problem was that I'd put carbon batteries in it at festival, and digital cameras won't work with carbon batteries; they need either alkaline or preferably nickle-based batteries. Live and learn.
So today I have a few pictures from my favorite camera
of a lovely flower,
a creatively landscaped yard,
and a rosebud bursting into bloom
It's now 11:30 PM and
I'm feeling ready for bed. I think I'll sleep well tonight.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 30, 2002
It is now 2 AM and I've just finished downloading today's pictures onto my computer. Today was the first day of the annual International Ford Detroit Jazz Festival and Pat K. is spending the next few nights here so we can totally immerse ourselves in our favorite music. Needless to say, keeping up my journal this weekend is going to be iffy at best. But I have lots of pictures and will catch you up to date when I can.
By the way, I completed my Michigan Womyn's Music Festival journal just before we took off for the jazz fest this afternoon. Life is just one festival after another! You can also access my festi-journal 2002 off my Music Festivals web page.
Have a great labor Day
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2002
I have time for a brief hello and then we're off to another glorious day of music down at Detroit's riverfront Hart Plaza. This year's Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival is positively wonderful! Since it began on Friday, the weather has been perfect with sunny, blue-skied days and comfortable short-sleeved nights. The music, for jazz-lovers, is head-shakin' good. Branford Marsalis and the music jam he got going on Main Stage last night practically blew us away. Maybe you saw it--it was televised live on a nationwide hookup. The crowds are wonderfully friendly and diverse--jazz cuts across any barriers of age, race, economic or educational background, sexual orientation or country of origin. All it takes to be part of this family is to love jazz. Thousands of folks are showing up early and staying late every night this weekend at what is billed as North America's largest free jazz festival. How grateful I am to be here!
I will be taking off tomorrow
afternoon on on my l-o-n-g drive to see my mother in Washington
DC. Please keep me in good travelling energy. I'll write from
DC on Tuesday night.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2002
All is well. I arrived here in Maryland just outside Washington, DC about 2:30 PM after an easy drive from Cranberry Township, PA. From the Red Roof Inn off of Exit 3 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike to be exact. Yesterday's drive had its moments, like when I had to pull over to the side of the Ohio Turnpike and let the torrents of rain settle into a drivable shower. But I passed through the wet stuff within about an hour, so that wasn't too bad. Actually the whole drive, all 570 miles of it, went wonderfully well. And I have D.D. Jackson on acoustic piano, Ugonna Okegwo on acoustic bass and Dafnis Prieto on drums and percussion to thank for much of its delight!
I just have to tell you about this amazing trio I heard and saw at Sunday's Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival! They go under the name of the D.D. Jackson Trio and are, without doubt, without exaggeration, THE MOST EXCITING JAZZ GROUP I'VE EVER HEARD! So there. If you have any kind of an ear for jazz--some folks don't, my dear Eddie being one of them--I encourage you to go to your record store, preferably in your neighborhood but online if need be, and buy their newly released CD, "Sigame". I'm listening to it right now, after having listened to it in the car much of today and yesterday. I don't think I'll ever tire of it. Having said that, I also recommend D.D. Jackson's earlier CDs, one of which I have also practically worn out in two days of driving. The one I bought is called "Anthem" and if you are ever in a blue funk and want to be pulled out of it in hurry, just listen to the last track on this CD, the piece titled "Anthem". It was amazing how hard I could shake my booty while driving a car!
Go to D.D. Jackson's wonderful website--another of this man's many talents--and read his thoughts/articles/diary/bio/itinerary/etc. By the way, ALL the music D.D. performs and records is original. This week he's in Guelph, Ontario, conducting workshops on his in-progress jazz opera, "Quebecite", that was commissioned by and will be premiered at the Guelph Jazz Festival in September 2003. By the way, dear Canadian readers, D.D. Jackson is one of your own. Congratulations!
On Sunday in Detroit, D.D., Ugonna and Dafnis had the crowded Waterfront Stage audience literally screaming from the first number through the encore. Not only is D.D. something to behold on the piano, but all three of these musicians are as good as they get. I gather Cuban-born Dafnis is currently taking New York by storm, and Ugonna has incredible elegance on the acoustic bass. I had a chance to talk with them a bit after the performance and found them to be friendly and unassuming. They even let me do my "groupie" thing and take their picture. I actually feel it turned out very well. Who knows, maybe it'll turn up on the cover of their next CD! You never know.
I'll stop dithering now about the D.D. Jackson Trio, but let me just say that they may be new to me but when I read D.D.'s website, it makes me wonder where I've been.
My Mom is great! She looks and seems better than last May. She has a little roundness to her cheeks, abundant enthusiasm and delight in life. She is very with it as long as one accepts that her mother and daddy are still alive and she talked with them last night. Actually they're staying at our old Falls Church house (sold in 2000) and are feeling quite well.
You know, I used to try to do the old social worker's "reality testing" with Mom, but now? Heck, if it makes her happy, let her think whatever she wants. She's obviously creating the reality she wants and what is wrong with that? Sometimes I wish I could do it too (as in global affairs, wars against Iraq, etc.).
I'll close by patting
myself on the back (as Eddie says, don't twist your arm!). Thirty
years ago when I was young and able, I would never have
considered driving to Washington, DC on my own. So here I am,
60 years old, disabled and, dammit, I DID IT!!!
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2002
It's late and I need to get to bed. But before I do, I have to tell you about the moment in this day that just cracked me up. It was late afternoon and I'd just finished making my sign to take to demonstrate at the White House/Congress tomorrow ("Who will suffer and die in a war on Iraq?" with drawings of an old Iraqi woman, a mother and baby, and two children). I said to Mom, "You liked it when I sang to you on my last visit. Would you like me to sing for you now?" She smiled and said, "Yes, I'd love that." So I sang my little heart out for perhaps twenty solid minutes. As I sang, Mom smiled and seemed to enjoy it tremendously. When I stopped, she turned to me and said, "Whoever told you you could sing?"
Out of the mouths of babes
and old women who say it like they see it...
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2002
No one wants this war on Iraq, except the few who pull the strings.
I took my sign to the White House today, met up with my friends Don and Conchita at the Peace Camp (circa 1981) across the street, demonstrated for a short time but soon realized this was not the place to make any kind of impact. There were few tourists, and because the street is blocked off to traffic, no one just happens by. I took my activism over to the Senate Office Building instead.
Now these folks can have some say (hopefully) in what happens in the next few months. I first went to visit both of my Michigan senators--something I have never done in all my years in this city. I just have to feel like I've done everything I can to try to stop this madness before it starts. To speak out for my sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, children and grandchildren in Iraq--the invisible ones--takes priority over most everything else for me these days. I feel fortunate to have this opportunity.
At Senator Debbie Stabenow's office I talked with her Staff Assistant, Katherine Knauf. I found her to be receptive, informed and actually very much on my "side." She was so moved by my sign when I unrolled it to show her, that she wrote the message down with descriptions of the drawings to share with the Senator. Carl Levin's office felt a bit more "establishment"--of course, he's been in office for over 20 years--but, even there, I felt a kindredness in their not seeming to want war. I hope my perceptions were right since Senator Levin is the chair of the Senate Armed Forces committee and was one of the eighteen Congressional leaders Bush met with yesterday. In both offices I was told that they are being inundated with phone calls from persons who do not want to go to war against Iraq. That's encouraging.
It felt odd to move through these halls of power. I didn't have my sign out but my scooter flag has a painting of the peace symbol, so my politics are pretty obvious. Although I saw some persons of color and a number of women, this is obviously a white man's club. They dress alike, walk alike, talk alike and have such an air of importance about them. Actually, I couldn't help thinking of boys playing games. Which I guess is what they're doing; it's just that the stakes are pretty darn high.
After my visits inside the buildings--there are three connected Senate Office buildings--I scooted outside the Dirkson Building and set up my own individual demonstration. More like a silent sign-holding presence than a protest. The responses were mixed. Many folks walked by without looking at me or my sign. Some glanced my way. Others carefully read what I had to say. Many had blank expressions on their faces, but a few smiled and maybe six gave me a thumbs up. The one that tickled me the most was the suited fellow who was with two other suited men. As he passed me and my sign, he put his arm behind his back and discretely flashed a thumbs up.
It felt like a worthwhile bit of activism.
On the way back to the Capitol South Metro stop, I saw two buildings that had meaning to me. The first was the Supreme Court building. What I noticed were the words engraved above the pillars: "Equal Justice Under the Law." How I wish that were true for my brother Rabih Haddad. The other building was the Library of Congress. Believe it or not, that is where I used to research term papers in high school and college. It was common practice among the locals. A pretty impressive resource!
When I got over to Mom's--I'd been on the road from 9 AM to 3:30 PM--she was delighted to see me and to hear about my adventures. As I'd been making my sign in her room yesterday, she had been very supportive of my plans to demonstrate today. She kept saying, "You're really something!" After sharing my stories, I curled up on the recliner chair in her room and fell asleep. We both napped until 6 PM. She then let me help her with her dinner and stayed alert while I read aloud portions of her beloved Washington Post. Here is my sweet Mom, and here is Muriel, one of her wonderful caregivers.
Tomorrow morning I'll
check out of the motel, pack up the car, visit Mom for a couple
of hours and start off for home about 2 PM. I plan to stay overnight
again in the Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania Red Roof Inn, and
finish the trip on Saturday. Wish me well.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2002
It's only 4 PM and I'm home safe and sound. The way I figure it, if my very worst moment was when some idiot in the car behind me honked his horn because he thought I was taking too long getting my toll ticket at the Pennsylvania Turnpike this morning, then the trip was a huge success! Another open door to freedom and independence. If I have no problems driving 1150 miles by myself, it feels like the world is my oyster. Where shall I go next?
Yesterday--my last morning with Mom--was sweet. She told me over and over how much it meant to her that I'd come. In fact she said, "You're amazing!" When I asked what she meant, she said, "Well, driving here by yourself for starters!" She seems pretty darn with it these days. Of course the "bad man" was still on the wall marking the beat as I sang--yes, I dared to sing again--but his presence didn't seem to bother her. I just nodded my head as she described what she was seeing. Hey, who knows? Maybe I'mthe one who's missing something.
Here's a picture of mother and daughter. We're certainly chips off the old block, as they say. And here's a picture of a delightful family whom I met on the elevator going down to our cars. I learned that they had been visiting their grandmother/great-grandmother who has the room beside Mom's. When my mother had seen John, the two-year-old, playing in the hall outside her room, she'd grinned and said, "Oh, I love it when they visit. Now look, very soon he'll be on the floor!"
Soon I'm going to lie down for a nap. At 6:30 PM our next door neighbor Jenny is getting married. I called from Washington, DC, to let them know I had made an unplanned trip to see Mom. When Jan, Jenny's mother, heard I would be driving back today (Saturday), she recommended I miss the wedding and just show up at 8 PM for the reception. She said with a laugh, "But that doesn't mean we're not expecting Ed at the wedding!" They know him too well. Of course they should; we've been next door neighbors and friends for 28 years! I'm happy to report that today is an absolutely lovely warm sunny day. Just what you'd want your wedding day to look like.
It's good to be home.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2002
I guess my regular readers won't be surprised to hear me say I'm finally running out of steam. It's now 11 PM and I'd intended to tell you all about today's absolutely GLORIOUS first gathering of the Canadian and American women who will be part of the Carolyn McDade-inspired "O Beautiful Gaia" CD project, but by the time I'd gone through the digital photos I'd taken and found there were 37 I wanted to share, I knew I'd best allow my weary body/mind/spirit to get a good night's sleep first. Tomorrow I'll be able to give this important journal entry the fresh energy it deserves. But let me just say that on this day 44 women came together with open hearts, deep commitment and reserves of creativity to begin the sacred work of building an international Great Lakes Basin community dedicated to transforming our vision and understanding of this planet we call home. Nothing is beyond us now!
We met at 1 PM in a Windsor, Ontario high school library. Our circle was so large we really had to speak up to be heard, but when we sang everything came together. And we did a lot of singing! I took a ton of pictures and don't really know how to share them in a reader-friendly way, so maybe I'll just start by taking you around the circle during one of our singing times. Unfortunately a few women close to me did not make it into this set of pictures, but every one of them shows up later. From left to right, here is view #1, view #2, view #3, view #4. Nancy Nordlie graciously accompanied us on the guitar for many of our songs.
The day began with Pat Noonan lighting a candle in the center of the circle. The candle was soon surrounded by the objects each of us had brought from our lives, an object that represented our feelings about the part of the world that we call home. As the circle continued to sing, women came forward and placed their object on what became our altar.
Our two coordinators--Joan Tinkess from Ontario and Penny Hackett-Evans from Michigan--greeted the 44 Canadian and American women who had come together to add their voices, hearts, minds and spirits to Carolyn McDade's visionary CD project known as "O Beautiful Gaia." They explained that,
"This project will take place during the moons of four seasons beginning now, in the fall of 2002. During the course of this project a double CD will be created. It is the intention that this will be a deeply reflective experience weaving singing, ritual, study and experiences on our land. Each group--Atlantic Canada (the Maritime Provinces), Atlantic New England and the Great Lakes Basin (us)--will ground in its bioregion for the reflection, singing and recording of their portion."
But the most important message was sharing the vision that is at the heart of our work:
"In the deepest recesses of our being we have heard the call...the first call, the deepest call, the one in no way complete or brought to satisfaction...the call of Earth...through waters and winds, forests and farmland, inviting us to become one again with all that lives."
How we will manifest that dream, how we will answer that call is for each community to discern together. We know the CD will be part of it, but expect much more to emerge during our time together. Perhaps a quilt, a book, a web site, political action, a commitment to join with land conservancy groups...who knows where we will go. As I wrote last night, nothing is beyond us now.
Our circle, that we already expect will swell to 50-60 women, is made up of women of two countries, some from urban and others from rural areas, women ranging in age (today) from 16 to over 80. We are students, retired, employed outside the home and employed inside the home. Our gifts and talents remain to be seen, but judging from today, we are richly diverse and open-hearted in our willingness to share.
One way we shared with one another was when we broke into small groups to discuss what we have fallen in love with here in our bioregion, for what we would give our lives. After deep conversations, one member from each group wrote some of what was said on large sheets of paper that were then posted around the room.
Another way we shared was when Nancy invited us to create new verses to "O Beautiful Gaia", the chant that has given the CD its name. So many of our circle responded with loving words and images that the song sunk deep into our bodies and began to beat there like a communal heart.
Since some of the women had never met nor sung with our sister, Carolyn McDade--who will be with us on October 5 to launch the project--our planning committee wisely showed the video of Carolyn and her music that Marcia Gleckler produced in 1999. It always brings tears to my eyes.
In addition to singing and sharing, we had some nuts and bolts decisions to make. For instance, what would be our scheduled meeting times during the year. We came to an amazingly quick consensus to meet from 9 AM-4 PM on the first Saturday of every month. We know that we will be recording our portion of the CD in June 2003, but will not have that date until we find a local recording studio that can accommodate us. Another issue was finances. Our financial coordinators projected a certain amount that we will need for this project and instead of deciding how to raise it, a number of women recommended we just pass the hat and see where that left us. Within ten minutes we had raised over $1000 U.S. and another $1000 Canadian. Are we committed to this project, or what!
Different members of the planning committee (each month the planning committee will change, being made up of Canadian and American volunteers) spoke on different subjects. Mary White told us about Land Conservancy groups and what is happening up in Northern Michigan where she lives. Carolyn McDade has a dream that through our reflection, study and singing will come a desire to join such groups and commit to preserving acres of land for the generations to come.
If it sounds like we did a lot of talking, let me make it clear that song was the thread that wove everything together. We sang and sang and sang and sang.
When it got close to 5 PM, Elaine Carr invited us to take back whatever object we had brought for the altar, and to take it home and hold it as sacred as we hold the women in this circle. Two moments of this process will stay with me: one, when a lovely woman named Johanna danced around the circle blessing each of us with her willow branch; the other was when Peg Case and a woman from Ann Arbor joined the two bouquets--one from Canada and one from the U.S.--into a blended whole. To me, both actions symbolized what our "O Beautiful Gaia" Great Lakes community project is all about.
Afterwards, a number of us went to one of Windsor's wonderful restaurants, Shin Shin's, for dinner. Here's Julia actually eating while the rest of us seem more busy posing for pictures, sharing stories and appreciating said stories. By the way, I wasn't the only photographer at the table, Penny was doing her fair share. You might be interested to know she and I own the same Fuji Fine Pix 2800 Zoom digital camera...happily, I might add.
This day has shown me
that whatever is going on among leaders of nations, whatever wars
they are planning, whatever greed and arrogance might be behind
many of their decisions, there is still hope for the future and
that hope often comes in the form of women coming together with
shared visions and commitment to change whatever needs to be changed.
We do not need to look to leaders or governments or nations to
show us how to reclaim our power to be transformative agents in
today's world. Often all we need to do is come together and sing
our way into the heart places where all life meets and connects
as one. That is what happened today. And this is just the beginning.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2002
It's all in placement, in where you place yourself. I'm learning this lesson the hard way. After 31 years of looking out our kitchen window, my upstairs bedroom window, my bathroom window and seeing green, now all I see is a huge wooden wall. Our neighbors two doors over decided to build a larger garage to house their multitudes of vehicles. I knew it was coming. What I didn't know was that this "new garage" was going to be two stories high, have a peaked roof and be as long as another house. When I'd left for Washington, DC, it was already an eyesore but when I returned five days later it had turned into a monstrosity. On Saturday night, even after my long drive and the evening wedding, I couldn't sleep. All I could see out my formerly-green bedroom window was a white structure glaring in the night sky. It made me sick to my stomach.
Ed has been a real champ about this. Although it doesn't bother him like it does me, he's been doing everything he can to help me adapt to this new reality. Before I'd gone on my trip, he'd moved things out of the kitchen so I could put my chair in a different position so as to see some green again. That little nook at the kitchen table has long been my favorite place to read downstairs, but its new view of what I call the Berlin Wall had destroyed its beauty. Ed helped me re-place myself so it was again a happy place to sit. But my response to the view from my bed was more visceral.
I've always loved the sense that I was up in a treehouse surrounded by green as I wake and sleep. When that was taken away, I felt bereft, actually more like betrayed. The thing is we love these neighbors. They've been in that house and raised their three wonderful kids there for at least 22 years. We feel like part of their extended family. What was toughest for me to take was the hostility I felt toward them every time I looked at that new building. Feelings like that make one sick and are toxic to the environment.
As I said, Ed knew how this was affecting me. He had tried to warn me while I was still in DC that they'd put a second story on the addition and that it was pretty bad. Even so, the reality hit me like a ton of bricks. But that dear man stayed with me as I spewed my venom from my unhappy bed late Saturday night. And then he moved my bed, light, desk and redirected the window fan so I could stay cool as I tried to find some way to recapture my treehouse view. And it worked!
I now wake and sleep nestled again within my beloved trees. I even have a delightful spot to read where all I can see is green leaves and blue skies out the surrounding windows. The reality is the same, it's just that I've placed myself in a position so that I see it differently. I wonder if I could apply this technique to more serious issues, like for instance President Bush's determined plans to attack the people of Iraq? Where could I move my line of sight so as to continue being a voice of dissent but not give myself over to the toxic responses it can engender in me? I'll have to think about that.
This evening I wrote my
account of yesterday's gathering. You can find it by scrolling
down to the Sunday, September 8 journal entry.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2002
My children. That's how I think of these youngsters I'm privileged to spend time with at school. Actually they're more like my grandchildren. Today was my first day of school. The kids and Susan, their art teacher, had started two weeks ago but my trip to Washington, DC had delayed my joining them.
Let me tell you, it is amazing how much children aged 6-10 can change in a short three months! Last June's first graders were now grown-up second graders, the third graders were becoming-hormonal fourth graders, and last year's fourth graders now ruled the school! Those were the grades I saw in today's five art classes. I got hugs, handshakes, high fives, "Hi, Ms. Patricia!"s, shy smiles, and quizzical stares from children who'd never seen me before and wondered what this white-haired woman was doing in their art class. What an utter delight to be with them again!
As I'd done last year, I simply sat with the kids at one of the art tables--named Frankenthaler, Nevelson, Escher and Rockwell--and did the same assignments they did. Today that included the following projects that had been carried over from the first week of school: 1) to make a drawing with your name and three of your favorite things, being sure to color the whole paper; 2) to put your name and a drawing on your Artist's Passport (we'll be going to different countries in our projects); 3) to create a cover for this year's art notebook with your name in large letters and any drawings you want to put around it. As Ms. Briggs (Susan to me) said, "Remember, you'll be using this notebook all year so take your time and make it something you're happy with." I took her at her word and spent five class periods creating my "masterpiece." Actually, I got so engrossed that I didn't even notice when two fourth grade boys sitting beside me started to draw on each other--even on their faces--with magic markers!! What a great teacher's helper!
Happily, I was with it enough to have some wonderful conversations with my assorted tablemates. A fourth grade boy touched me deeply when he said, "Do you ever go places that bring back memories? Like when I went to the bus stop this year, I got all 'tingly' with memories of how I'd met my best friend there when I was little. I feel tingly now just thinking about it." This same youngster told me about his Dad's new apartment that he has moved into "because Mom and Dad got mad at each other", and how cool it is with a pool and a clubhouse "where you can go if you want a quiet place to read or something." Then a fifth grade boy told me about his home in Lebanon and how beautiful it is. He showed me his drawing of his favorite things and it included Lebanese food like pita bread, falafel and domas. He said he lives there in the summer and here when it's time to go back to school. A lot of our kids spend their summers "at home" with their extended families in the Middle East. Then there was Jorge with whom I practiced my limited Spanish. The Arabic-speaking kids then taught me how to greet people in peace: AsSalamu alaikum. I learn so much from my young teachers.
And it wasn't just the
kids I was happy to see. It was so good to be with my
friend Susan again and to have the privilege of watching one
of the best art teachers around. How I wish I'd had her when I
was young, but it's never too late. I can't wait to see what we're
going to do next week!
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2002
I cannot sleep on this night-growing-into-the-morning-of-September 11th. It reminds me of a night one year and one day ago when sleep eluded me as well. For many in my country, this date will be remembered in a pre-packaged way, with television and newspapers telling them what to think and feel. That is not true for me. Since September 11, 2001 I have spent very little of my time with either television or newspapers. What I feel and think come from sources deep within myself, almost on a cellular level.
I remember the iridescent eyes of a fox lit up by my car headlights at 11 PM that painful Tuesday night. I remember the sobbing relief that overtook me in our garage five minutes later when Ed told me our niece Carolyn was not dead in New York as we'd feared. I recall days and nights of alternating rage and sorrow, rage at this country and its leaders whose violently arrogant choices had bred such a hatred among Arab people that something like 9-11 was bound to happen sooner or later, and sorrow that it actually had happened and that so many innocents had suffered and died unnecessarily. My rage and sorrow was tinged with fear, not fear of terrorists but fear of my own government and what horrible means they would use to punish the world for this tragedy finally coming to our supposedly inviolate soil.
So many memories.
And now. What I feel now is horror at what has happened during this past year and despair over what is to come. It is not that I am ready to give up, it is just that I am sick and tired of always having to fight. Fight for what we imagined was ours--rights and freedoms, privacy and a sense of liberty. Illusions, as it's turned out. Ask Rabih Haddad and Sulaima Al-Rushaid about liberty, rights and freedom. Ask university professors, politicians and other public figures who have dared to question the government's decisions and actions this past year and see if they think we still have freedom of speech.
As they say, things changed forever on September 11.
Yes, change has come but is all of it bad? When I am with like-minded sisters and brothers in gatherings like last Sunday's "O Beautiful Gaia" CD project circle, or when I am writing my brother Rabih or marching with his family and friends in front of a jail or a court building, when I receive and send emails offering alternative views, when I read of the groundswell of global disgust with the US government's actions and policies, when I see the creative fire of young activists, when I hear from readers of my journal thanking me for saying what they are hearing no place else but are feeling deep within their own hearts, then I know that as bad as the change has looked from the top down, that is how good it has actually been from the bottom up. This is a movement that will not die; it will never give in to so-called "public pressure." We are here to stay and our numbers are growing. This is the change that I hold close to my heart on this sleepless night.
Life goes on and we do what we can to help it take paths toward new life not more destruction, at least the people I count as my sisters and brothers do such things. Being human was never easy but it is all that we can aspire to be. Human in the truest sense of the word. Human meaning living lives that benefit not only ourselves but all that share this wondrous spinning planet we call home. Our work is never done, but neither is our joy. And even in the midst of the darkest struggle, we can find joy. Pockets of blazing, glorious, dancing joy.
I will not give up the struggle to become more human and in becoming more human to help bring a sense of humanity to all around me. I will speak, sing, write, dance, cry, rage, shout, laugh, whisper and stand tall in my scooter or with my walker. I will not give in to the despair that wants to shut me down. No, I will remember the gleaming eyes of a fox, the healing rush of tears, the tender song of the cricket, the majesty of a midwestern summer storm, the comfort of friends, the arms of my Ed, and the daring-do that is my legacy.
September 11ths will come
and go. We will never forget what happened on this day in 2001
but we will not stop there. We will move on into a future that
can be brighter and more sparkling than we can imagine. We will
continue to be voices of truth wherever we go, and we will make
it. Yes, we will make it into the new reality we know is possible.
It may seem small at first but don't be surprised when all these
bonfires catch the winds of freedom and blaze up into a raging
forest fire that spreads across the globe bringing new consciousness
and life in its wake. It will surely entail suffering but what
of value doesn't? We may not see the flower that grows from the
seeds we plant but what seed ever does? Just keep doing what you
do and all shall be well, as a twelfth century mystic used to
say. All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of
thing shall be well.
My email inbox is filled with heartfelt messages of appreciation and solidarity today. Before finally going to sleep at 5 AM, I put up the journal entry that had kept me awake and sent a group email with the same message to my listservs and friends. I have received two poems in response that I would like to share.
The first is from a wonderful friend and singer/songwriter, Harmony Grisman, whose words and music always cut to the core of our communal truth and shared humanity. She prefaced the poem with these words: "Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings on this deeply troubling day. We need to hear from our collective wise ones in whatever way we can...to counter balance the media world that has become our culture. Here is the poem that called to me on this day for you and all of us."
Yours is the light that
breaks from the dark
The good that springs from divided hearts
The heart that opens out on the world
The love that calls from the battlefield.
Your gift is a gain in
the midst of loss
The life that flows through the caverns of death
Yours is the heaven that lies in the dust
And when you are there for me
You are there for all of us.
The second poem was sent by the poet himself--a man from whom I have never heard before--who is obviously my brother.
Faceless with sweptback
wings you slice into the flesh of my dreaming
The fierce fireball of our joining is your personal warning
To the random recruits, deadly personal.
But they are collateral damage
Your message was for the composite me only.
The gossiping world watches with electronic eyes as I choose my executioner,
Free fall sudden pavement
death rather than slow burning fire.
Belching a storm cloud of glass, bones, blood and stone's dust
Confettied with forms in triplicate and overdue notices
The hated symbol of my dominion descends sickeningly to the canyon floor,
Searing in your master's heart terror and fear forever more.
Your anger is hot, pure
A sufficient fuel for your own funeral bier and mine.
A colossal twisted wreck,
Moldering tomb for the most recent recruits to the hall of injustice
Sits burka-like on the distorted visage of my city
Shocked by your violence and the foul smell of my dying.
I clamor over the rubble searching for the faces of fallen friends in vain.
No breath...nothing whole remains.
On this vacant, hopeless
land a name settles
Like the dust from a voiceless volcano,
It claims nothing, gives nothing, solves nothing.
It merely hides what lies below.
Zero land, ground zero.
I weep and wonder, "Why do you hate me so!"
Yes, I know I have
ignored you over the horizon, faceless.
Always wishing you well, vaguely,
As you wander in the heat of sand dune nations
Amid the precious black flowers
That seep up under your feet and burst
Into flames that my merchant adores.
Greedily I feast on the
fruit of your dusty dunes
As I ply my asphalt shores;
In chariots drawn by unseen steeds
Drunk on hardly anything per gallon
Gulping down the amber elixir in a failure of frugality.
Truthfully, my merchant
sold me your sweet sweat,
Gathered the dark dew neath your sweltering plains
And sent it to me in great ships water tight
That tossed upon a careless sea beyond my sight.
Nothing personal you understand.
It was business.
You were a profit center, a resource for my energy lust.
You understand I trust.
Markets have no scruples.
I did not want to see
With your family about you,
I did not want to have to care
Whose black blood I had transfused.
You were faceless, best
keep it like that.
I shaded my eyes I looked away
Your Princes had all been properly paid
For all your collateral suffering.
I stuck my hose deep into
And took what I wanted...
Again and again I paid my merchant
To lie in your sweltering bed.
You were so exotic so vulnerable
With pungent dark black flowers in you hair upon your head
And sweet dark oil upon your lips
I did not care the price
was not fair
And of course my CIA intentions were dishonorable
While you were IM force malleable.
The State Department will disavow any knowledge...
This poem will self-destruct in 5 seconds Mr. Phelps.
My daring duplicity was entertaining to me only.
Now that your ancient
anger has pierced my world
My fragile freedoms wither under the freshly fallen fear.
Oh that terror that you lived with all those years
Has piled up everywhere.
Now every heart is a ground
Now every car burns blood.
No one is innocent and
None are safe
From red, from fire from 'fuelish'.
A flag is drawn across your face and mine.
Now my merchant makes
and sells a wish
From red, from fire from foolish
The richest bombs fall on the poorest
And we are no more safe,
But we are yet more dangerous.
The world teeters on the
From red, from fire from foolish
It's getting very hard to think
Senators say my choices are all ghoulish.
And yet I believe if I
saw your face
And you saw my heart so cluttered
That we might together find a place
Where plans for Peace might be uttered.
Let fall the flags that
hide the face
Of our humanity from each other.
Let ground zero be the place
Where we build tomorrow together.
Let us find the courage
to see each other's faces.
Let us dare to share our heaped up hearts,
Let us strive to lift all children from the dust of hatred
And heal their nightmare fears
That they've lived with all theses years.
A colossal twisted wreck,
Sits burka-like on the fallen face of our cities
Shocked by our violence and the foul smell of our dying.
We clamor over the rubble searching
For all fallen faces in pain.
A deep and tender wound remains.
On these vacant, hopeless lands a name will settle
Like the dust from all the roads we will travel in its pursuit.
It will not hide what lies below,
But will cherish those who perished
In the West and in the East.
The name that can settle on grounds zero
Could be Peace.
Or we could fall prey
From red, from fire from foolish.
The turning point is near
The path to Peace is clear
I can hear the clarion
The road to war lies waiting
For more faceless recruits to fall
On more zero grounds
Not just for yourself
But for the faceless future pray
Whose children inherit the wealth
And the poverty
Of our spirits on this day.
- By Lawrence LaVerdure
© - 8/13/2002
For widest distribution possible, no commercial use please.
I am now in Ann Arbor
getting ready for a September 11 Candlelight Vigil for Remembrance,
Reconciliation and Peace co-sponsored by the Ann Arbor Ad Hoc
Committee for Peace and the Muslim Community Association of Ann
Arbor. It feels right to be with my sisters and brothers with
whom I have demonstrated and vigiled for the nine months that
our brother Rabih Haddad has been unjustly held in jail. We will
be meeting at 8 PM at the corner of State and Liberty (appropriately
named!) to receive candles and signs. How fortunate I feel to
I was in exactly the right place tonight, among the people I needed to be with, commemorating this tragic day in a way that resonated with everything I believe in and work toward. And over 500 of my sisters and brothers--Muslim and non-Muslim, youth and elders--were at my side. I even "happened" to stand beside a group of women with whom I sang during the whole vigil. They are called Women With Wings West, and are an offshoot of Kay Gardner's singing circle in Maine! How could anything have been more perfect?
When I got to the corner of State and Liberty at 7:45 PM, there was already quite a crowd forming to receive signs and candles. There were folks passing out leaflets to passers-by, leaflets that quoted the One Year Later statement put out by the September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, a group of individuals who had lost a loved one in the tragic events of September 11, 2001. This vigil was about remembering in sorrow all of those who had perished in the twin Towers, the Pentagon and in the mountains of Pennsylvania. It was also a plea that there be no more innocent victims anywhere, whether Afghani, American or Iraqi. It was a plea for peace not war. Our signs--that vigilers pinned on their shirts--said such things as "No more victims anywhere", "Our grief is not a cry for war", "Remembrance, Reflection, Peace", and the trued-and-true peace sign. Later in the night I discovered what radical statements these might be to some "patriotic" Americans.
I saw many familiar faces including Phillis Engelbert, the indefatigable Ad Hoc Committee for Peace staff member, my Muslim sisters Miriam and Leena, Rabih Haddad's son Sami, my drumming friend Lori Fithian, and lots of people with whom I've demonstrated and vigiled on Rabih's behalf during these nine long months of his imprisonment. I met new friends like the singing women, a boy named Daniel, a gentle-spirited "street man" named Lester, and Cynthia who recognized me from my group emails to the Women In Black. By the way, my singing friends from Women With Wings West have invited me to join them to sing in Ypsilanti the last Thursday of every month. I plan to be there.
After pinning on our signs, we received white candles in protective paper cups. The children seemed particularly enthalled with the idea of being able to be "fire-holders." When our candles had been lit, we were asked to form a line down Liberty Street. It was a stunning to scoot down this line taking pictures and seeing our wonderful diversity in age and national origin. By 9 PM we reached almost to Main Street, five long blocks away.
While we stood there, some folks were silent, others drummed and my sisters and I sang. A moment I will not forget was when Lester came upon us as he walked down Liberty Street. I sang and smiled warmly at him and received a kiss on my cheek and the joy of having him stay to sing with us. After timeless time, the line began to move down Liberty Street toward Main. We stopped at the Federal Building where we gathered together for a brief rally. We heard from a number of individuals including Nazih Hassan of the Muslim Community Association and Phillis from the Ad Hoc Committee for Peace. In closing, the Women With Wings West led us in song. Another moment I will hold close to my heart was when all 500 of us lifted our candles high as we sang of keeping our light of peace shining throughout the world. That moment came strongly to mind later in the evening.
After we'd completed our vigil, I scooted over to the Diag to join the official University of Michigan 9-11 Remembrance Ceremony. Beside me in the crush of thousands of people were Rodolfo and Melissa who had also come from the Liberty Street vigil. I was in time to see the flag lowered to the sound of a bugle blowing taps. Rodolfo and Melissa and I got to talking and decided to walk/scoot closer to the center of the now-emptying Diag. We were still wearing our signs and figured we might be a presence of a more peaceful way of looking at things.
Once at the center we saw candles blazing in the shape of a heart on top of the Big M. Within a heartbeat, an older man who was wearing a stars-and-stripes vest, came up to me and asked in a southern drawl, "And just what do you think we should do with those terrorists? Just let them kill us?" What followed was my first face-to-face encounter with the patriotic zealots you read about. Rodolfo and I tried to have a peaceful dialogue with Jim, but he was having none of it. It quickly became evident that this was not the time nor the place for any reasoned discussion, so I clasped his hand and said, "Jim, I think we see things very differently. Maybe this is not a good time for us to try to talk." He agreed and went on his way with the parting remark, "All you should care about are Americans. I don't give a damn about those foreigners." Whew.
September 11 obviously
triggered a lot of different responses in people and was therefore
remembered in different ways across this country and across the
world. I just feel grateful that I was able to remember it with
people who shared both my sorrow and my ever-deepening commitment
to peace and justice.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2002
It is now 2 PM and I'm in my room at the Michigan League waiting for a visit from my sweetie. It feels like our courting days! After yesterday's big day, I decided to treat myself to a low-key day and night here in Ann Arbor. As it happened, the League had a room cancellation just this morning so I was able to stay one more night.
Some days are tinged with magic and this was one, especially after Eddie joined me here in Ann Arbor. Of course, it didn't hurt that it was another of those perfect September days with clear blue skies, sparkling sun and comfortable temperatures.
After visiting here in my room at the League, we walked around campus, bought a veggie dog with sauerkraut and mustard for me and a regular dog for Eddie, ate under the trees in the Diag, then treated ourselves to a cup of blueberry cheesecake frozen yoghurt. We stopped and sat by a beautiful Holocaust Memorial that we'd never noticed before. While there, I took this picture of Ed that I like very much.
On our way back to the League we happened upon a reception to meet Mary Sue Coleman, the new University of Michigan President. I was quite impressed with her. She was totally present to each person she met, down-to-earth, intelligent, forthright and friendly. Besides she's a woman. Yippee! After taking our turn to welcome her to Michigan, Ed took his turn at being photographer and posed me in front of the fountain with the Michigan League in the background. We then went back to my room for a little lie-down, and while there, called our friends Liz and Frank to see if we could interest them in going out to dinner. They readily agreed.
We met at a Japanese restaurant that Ed and I had discovered back in the spring, and had an excellent meal of fresh sushi, fried oysters and scallops. Although the restaurant doesn't usually serve guests outside, they let us sit at a table on the sidewalk so as to enjoy the last hours of sun. Liz and Frank ran into old friends of theirs and I ran into a new friend Peggy, with whom I'd sung at last night's vigil. Ann Arbor, though a true global community, is still a small town.
Ed was going to drive back home after dinner so he, Liz and Frank walked me over to the Performance Network where I stayed to watch a play. Tonight was the preview performance of "Defying Gravity" written by Jane Anderson and directed by Johanna Broughton. I found it to be one of those magical evenings of theater where you come up gasping for air not having known where you are or how you got there. Happily, I was able to share my responses with the director and some members of the cast afterwards.
It is now after midnight
and I still haven't told you about yesterday's vigil. I'll try
to find a quiet corner on campus and write it up for you tomorrow.
I know, I said that yesterday. But I was too busy making new
stories today to stop and share my old ones!
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2002
After another full day in Ann Arbor, I am finally back home. It feels good to be here.
Much of today was spent working on my laptop in an Ann Arbor cafe at Main and Liberty Streets. I felt like a student again. Actually I was writing and putting up my photos of the Vigil of Remembrance, Reconciliation and Peace that I'd attended on September 11.
Then at 6:30 PM I drove over to the Ann Arbor Islamic Center to hear a lecture titled "September 11, One Year Later; an Islamic Perspective." Not only was it interesting to hear someone finally saying, "It's time we stopped focusing so much attention on the question of who did this terrible deed and started looking at why it happened. The speaker proposed that it had a lot to do with the United States history of foreign policy in the Middle East. It reminded me of my initial response on that horrible day one year ago.
The mosque was filled with a good mix of Muslim and non-Muslim men and women. A number of folks got up to ask questions and/or make comments following the presentation and the time for prayer. I didn't speak but if I had, I would have said, "September 11 certainly brought much pain and suffering but it has also brought changes that I value. The one that means the most to me is being enacted here tonight--the very fact that we are together dialoguing and getting to know one another as members of one human family. Would this be happening had it not been for September 11th?"
I must say that I have
never met a more welcoming community. Before I'd even gotten out
of my car, five different individuals had come up to ask if they
could help me. And when I got inside, folks were practically tripping
over one another getting me Arabic sweets and helping me get my
shoes off and put away. I ran into two friends--Kristine (Miriam
and Leena's mother) whom I've met at numerous demonstrations and
vigils for Rabih, and Cynthia whom I'd met for the first time
at the 9-11 vigil. Apparently Cynthia has been reading my web
site since meeting me on Wednesday and wanted to share her responses
to it. She said that how I've reacted to being disabled is quite
unusual. Her words were," It's as though you've been given
a different instrument to play but your song remains the same."
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2002
Here I go again, saying I'll put up this journal entry another day, but when you hear what this day entailed I think you'll understand. The No War On Iraq demonstration started at noon and was over by 2 PM. From there I scooted two blocks over to the Detroit Festival of the Arts, our annual community celebration held in the Cultural Center by Wayne State University and the museums. I didn't return home until 10 PM tonight...and I intend to go back tomorrow.
I'm only going to give you a few teasers from my collection of photos. I'll write up the whole weekend next week.
The unbelievable aerial-dancing troupe, Bandaloop, put on two performances on the outside wall of the Scarab Club. I had seen them dance on the wall of the new San Francisco Public Library six years ago and had never forgotten it. Today's performance was even more stunning, perhaps because it was accompanied by a violinist sitting on the roof, perhaps because they were dancing on the wall of a building I've known for over thirty years, perhaps because I've changed and deepened myself. Whatever the reasons, I will try not to miss one of their performances this weekend. Through them I fly.
Not all performances were so formal. Street theater happened wherever you looked. This African troupe of stiltwalkers and drummers were in the children's area delighting us children of all ages. And the children were making their own spontaneous art in many locations, one of them being in their own sand sculpture area next to the professional sand sculptors.
Now I need to get to bed so I'll be ready for tomorrow. How fortunate I am to live in such a vibrant city as Detroit!
This wonderfully long day began for me on the corner of Warren and Woodward near Wayne State University and Detroit's Cultural Center. Our peace community gathered 200 strong to protest the proposed war on Iraq. We were men and women, young and old, of European and African heritage, Arab and Asian. We were veteran protesters and those for whom it was our first time out on the streets. We came from the suburbs, apartments and houses in the city, university campuses and co-op housing. Our signs raised a multitude of issues but our voices were united (mostly) in calling for an end to war. When I say "mostly", I'm referring to one young man who came to our corner with alcohol on his breath and a propensity to yell negative remarks. But, according to an email I received from a sister protester, even his voice changed. Let me allow Nancy to tell the story in her own words. Just so you can see who is speaking, here's a picture I took of Nancy with her daughter Susannah.
"I wanted to share something with you that you may not have noticed on Saturday, because it happened while many people were clustered in another direction. Remember the poor drunk man who was so annoyed by our protest, yet curious? A photographer was taking pictures of my 15-year-old Susannah with her sign, and this young gentleman came around, yelling, "What about me? Are you going to take my picture?"
"The photographer replied, 'You don't have a sign! I'm taking pictures of people with signs!'
"It was clear then that our noisy friend was looking for leadership, because he began to glance around for a stray placard. Without missing a beat, Susannah, at her first peace rally ever, handed him her sign that she'd worked on so hard that morning, the blue one with the big multi-colored peace symbol and the words, 'Peace, Please.' The man was delighted, accepted it gratefully, and began to pose 'for all the girls on Woodward' as the photographer, part of this little miracle, began clicking away.
"Then our friend returned Susannah's sign to her, thanked her several times and added, 'God bless you!' Now, he was on the team. He stopped yelling at people. I didn't notice if he stayed or if he left, but he did quiet down.
"I am sure other people were nice to him as well... it seems that was all he was looking for, in the end... but I did witness my daughter's kindness, and I was exceedingly proud and moved by it. What a great demonstration of peace. She downplayed her involvement: 'Mom, he just wanted to have his picture taken, too."
No, I had not witnessed this tiny miracle but am deeply touched by it, as I was touched by the radiant spirit of Susannah on Saturday.
The demonstration started at noon and when I arrived about 12:20 PM, most folks had already taken off walking with their signs toward the more populated Detroit Festival of the Arts three blocks away. I stayed put with a few others. But we were soon joined by more and more people so we eventually looked like a true anti-war demonstration. For me it was like old home week. I saw lots of friends, among them John, Pauline and Doris (with Kim, Pat K.'s friend). When the marchers returned, our numbers swelled and so did our enthusiasm. We even had some drumming and a little chanting. Toward the end of the demo, I joined friends from Peace Action and the Detroit Peace Community for a time of sharing around the Peace Pole.
As always, I took many pictures of our signs. Here are some of them:
War Is Terror...carried by two different
Pre-emption = Terrorism & No War for Oil
A Single Standard for Human Rights
War Does Not End Terror; War Is Terror
No More War
No Blood for Big Oil& Hands Off Iraq
End the U.S.-Backed Occupation of Palestine
Negotiate for Peace
End U. S. Aid to Israel Now
Each Month U.S. Sanctions Kill 7000 Iraqi Children
$$ for Jobs, Education & Health Care, Not War
And the sign that said it all:
It Doesn't Have To Be Like This
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2002
If you were to go around the Medicine Wheel according to the Plains Indians, where would you say you are at this time? Where do you feel you need to go next? Those were the questions Carole Eagleheart, a Seneca-trained Unitarian-Universalist minister/singer/songwriter asked the First UU Church of Detroit congregation this morning. I was there at the invitation of Carole and my friend Jan, both of whom I'd seen at yesterday's Festival of the Arts. As you know, I am not normally a church-goer, but I'm glad that I was today. I very much needed to hear these questions.
According to Carole's descriptions, the East is the place of light and illumination. The animal associated with the East is the eagle, the one who soars overhead seeing both the big picture and having such keen vision as to spy details like the movement of a rodent in the grass. It is the place of the visionary. The South is the place of the heart, of touching and being touched by those around us. It is the relational place where we allow ourselves to be connected and vulnerable. The animal that lives in the South is the mouse. This small creature scurries around touching everything and everyone within its range. The West is the place of looking within, of solitude and quiet. The element connected with the West is water and the creature that lives its lessons is the bear. It is the bear that knows enough to hibernate when winter comes. The North is the place where we stand strong and grounded in the earth. The animal associated with the North is the buffalo. As Carole said, if you've ever actually seen a buffalo up close, you know how strong and large they are, how much they appear to be a part of the earth on which they stand.
So where are you now? What place feels the most comfortable? And where do you need to go next? What makes you a bit uneasy and reminds you of ways of being in the world that you might have forgotten?
If you're a regular reader of my journal, my answers to these questions will probably not surprise you. I feel very at home with the eagle, and much less so with the bear. The mouse also resonates with me, and not the buffalo. What I hear in this is the need for me to take more time apart, more time of "doing nothing", more time of looking within. My activism--my eagle--must be balanced by solitude, and my relational energies must have a deep groundedness for me to stay strong. Especially now. In times of war--and that certainly seems to be what we are quickly approaching--those who have eyes to see the truth of what is happening to all peoples in all places must have their feet planted solidly on the earth or they will fly into the sun and be burned to a crisp like Icarus. And those who relate and connect in a heart place with the feelings of pain, loss and hatred that swirl around such times of crisis must know when to pull back into their protected "self" place and find there the nourishment and inner strength to feed their never-ending struggle for justice and peace.
If I got nothing else from my time at the Detroit Festival of the Arts beyond meeting Carole Eagleheart yesterday and hearing her reminders this morning about the wisdom of the Medicine Wheel, that would be enough. But, of course, I received an abundance of gifts this weekend! Tomorrow I will start to share with you some of these glorious experiences and the many photos that I took. For now, I will show you with just three pictures. They are of me and my friends Nancy and Sooz having a high old time together at today's Festival.
By the way, when I shared my learnings from the Medicine Wheel with Eddie at dinner tonight, and in doing so, went through the list of my activities during the past two weeks, he said I should put them up on the journal. Here goes...
I don't see a hint
of a bear or a buffalo anywhere, do you? Very mouse and eagle-like,
I'd say. Got to find some balance.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2002
To understand is not to excuse, but without understanding, our differences degenerate into unthinking criticism and negative judgements of one another. It has been too easy to look at the current President of the United States, George W. Bush, and see him as weak, unintelligent, a tool of his advisors. We liberals, especially, have mocked, made fun of and derided everything he has said and done. We call him "shrub", "junior", and "daddy's boy." Few of us have taken the time to look deeper and try to understand what things might look like through George W. Bush's eyes. Few of us has seen him as a fellow human being who deserves respectful understanding. We have demonized him as we complain he has demonized others.
This morning I started my "bear time" of reflection by reading in a favorite book by Jamie Sams, The 13 Original Clan Mothers (Harper San Francisco: 1993). I found myself drawn to read the chapter on the clan mother of the third moon, Who Weighs the Truth. After reading the story associated with this clan mother, George W. Bush came to mind, not as a misguided President but as a man who carries wounds from childhood. Many of us are saying that his proposed war on Iraq is simply an attempt to finish his father's unfinished business. That may be true but do we stop to look deeper than that? Do we consider what life has probably been like for this elder son of a powerful man? Do we stop to feel in our hearts the pain and striving George W. must have experienced when he was unable to keep up intellectually or educationally with the high expectations of his father who had likely struggled to live up to his own powerful father's unreasonable expectations? Do we see that George W.'s probable-dyslexia must have hindered him every step of the way? Is it any wonder he became, as they say, his mother's boy? I imagine his father was home very little and when he was, I can see little George W. trying in every way possible to gain his father's approval...and failing miserably.
So now he is in a position of power himself, a place where he finally has the capacity to do something significant that will please his father. From what I've read, George Bush Sr.'s one regret as former President is that he didn't "take Saddam Hussein out" when he had the chance. I understand he blames General Colin Powell for recommending restraint. Why are we surprised that his son, George W. Bush, now wants to do what his father failed to do? How good it must feel to be in a position to give his father this gift. And there may be a bit more to it than that. I'd imagine there would be deep satisfaction in going beyond what his father managed to do, to "one up" him, so to speak.
I am not saying that these are our President's conscious motives. No, I trust that he sincerely believes that Saddam Hussein is Evil Incarnate, has the potential for blowing the world to Kingdom Come, and Must Be Stopped. The oil issues are certainly there, but I do not believe George W. Bush puts them at the top of his To Do list. No, I feel we are seeing the actions of a deeply wounded child of a probably wounded father. I feel sad for him. It must be horrible never to feel that you are good enough, smart enough, powerful enough. No wonder finally having such power has pushed him beyond his ability to think clearly and act with restraint. Even as he wants to lead a war that will bring death and destruction to defenseless, already-suffering people, a war that will surely destabilize a region of the world that is already at great risk of blowing sky high, even with all of this, I feel deep compassion for George W. Bush, the undervalued son of a man who has already done grave damage to these same people. When folks say "like father like son", these are not empty words. They deserve to be lamented, not shouted in blame.
But understanding does not bring approval. I can never approve of decisions that bring war, death and destruction to any people or place on this planet. Even as I feel compassion toward my President, I will fight his wish to attack Iraq with every ounce of my strength. It's just that I will no longer see him as bad, stupid, evil or worthless. George W. Bush is my wounded brother and I will do all I can to help him heal.
It's so easy to look at
government leaders as persons who determine policies and guide
their countries according to information that is too high security
for us normal citizens to know. We can imagine reasoned discussions,
intelligence briefings and high-level meetings where things are
hashed out and all sides heard. I have come to see that those
who have power make decisions based on their own personal issues,
just as we all do. How mature we become and how reasoned our thoughts
and actions depends on how diligently we have grappled with our
own hidden agendas, often leftover from childhood. It's hard to
see that a war that can so devastate untold numbers of people
and do irreparable damage to our earth could start because one
small boy did not feel loved or appreciated by his father, but
there it is. If George W. Bush insists on the United States attacking
Iraq, family dynamics are as much to blame as anything. Let us
stop adding to his feelings of inadequacy; it is death to do so.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2002
Even as I do my best to show President George W. Bush human compassion, I must stand up and say, "No!" to his latest attempts to steamroll over Saddam Hussein's unconditional acceptance of U.N. weapons inspectors back on Iraqi soil. After attempting to justify this proposed war on the grounds that Saddam Hussein "might be" developing weapons of mass destruction, the Adminstration must now backpedal mightily and say, "Well, that's not really the issue." If that isn't the issue, what is? And what's all this about, "Well, you can't believe them. It's just another of Saddam's games."? Why not try it and see if he's for real? But, of course, that would mean losing the momentum that our President and his advisors depended on, momentum that his speech to the U.N. last Thursday set in motion. After having only Tony Blair and the unwilling British people on his war wagon, now Saudi Arabia has jumped on with offers to let their country again be a military staging area, as it was in 1991. AlterNet.org sent an email to its readers today saying that the Adminstration is riding a roller coaster toward war. So how do you stop a roller coaster? Derail it?
Thank goodness there is at least one world leader who is having none of it. Today I received this article by email (what would I do without the internet in times like these?):
Mandela slams U.S. scepticism over Iraq offer
JOHANNESBURG, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Former South African president Nelson Mandela slammed the United States on Tuesday for its sceptical response to Baghdad's announcement that it will allow U.N. arms inspectors back into the country.
"What right has he (U.S. President George W. Bush) to come in to say that offer is not genuine? We must condemn that very strongly," Mandela told reporters at his home in Johannesburg.
"That is why I criticise most...leaders all over the world of keeping quiet when one country wants to bully the whole world," the revered African statesman said.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, under intense world diplomatic pressure backed by the U.S. threat of military action, agreed on Monday to allow U.N. weapons inspectors back without conditions after an absence of nearly four years.
He is accused of developing weapons of mass destruction.
The United States, whose declared policy is Saddam's removal, treated the move with disdain, saying the Iraqi leader could not be trusted and vowed to work for a tough new U.N resolution on Iraq.
Mandela, who has condemned what are seen as U.S. attempts to act unilaterally on Iraq, said those who had benefitted from U.S. support in the past should not let that stop them from speaking out against its actions.
"I have got assistance from the United States...I am grateful for that...but I'm not going to allow what they have done for me to shut my mouth. I will speak when they're wrong," Mandela said.
09/17/02 05:48 ET
Copyright 2002 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
Well, you can be sure that Nelson Mandela and South Africa will not be on the receiving end of U.S. aid for at least two more years, but that only makes his willingness to speak up strongly and say what needs to be said all the more impressive. The U.S. is not a good country to get on the wrong side of these days, but leaders of conscience must risk this superpower's displeasure or lose their sense of integrity and self-respect. A man like Nelson Mandela has paid his dues. Twenty-seven years in prison teaches one what is important and what is not. He obviously feels this is important or he wouldn't speak out so forcefully as the lone voice of reason among world leaders.
By the way, when I wrote yesterday of George W. Bush the wounded child, I was not referring to his advisors. I believe it is these men who present things to our President in language that they know will stir him to action. You can be sure my assessment of his needs and wounds are well known to those who have his ear. That is the danger. Unhealed leaders are not dangerous in and of themselves, it is how their woundedness can be used by others that puts us all at risk.
I just think it's important
that we keep our eyes and ears and minds open during these next
weeks especially. This is a good time to exercise our powers of
critical analysis. Even if the government goes ahead and attacks
Iraq, let us not buy into the propaganda and warspeak that fans
the flames of our fears and insecurities. See things for what
they are, speak out loud what you are seeing, and stand firm in
your convictions. If it happens, this war will not just be against
Iraq, it will be against the integrity of the American people.
Don't become a war casualty.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2002
Last night I received an email from Sulaima with the heading, "Great news!" And it was. A federal district court judge here in Detroit, Judge Nancy G. Edmunds, ruled yesterday that Rabih Haddad either be released in 10 days or have a new hearing open to the news media and the public with a different immigration judge. Rabih's lawyers had argued that the first immigration judge had been "tainted by the secrecy of the case." And Judge Edmunds obviously agreed.
I was ecstatic last night but had to keep it to myself because I didn't know if it was public knowledge yet. When Ed showed me the article in today's New York Times and I started getting emails and phone calls from friends across the country, I knew it was not only public but considered significant news. It pleased me no end to hear from journal readers who forwarded news accounts from England as well as the U.S.
What will happen next is uncertain. The very best would be if Rabih were released, outright or on bond. But even if he isn't, having another immigration judge is good news. Judge Elizabeth Hacker has not shown the sense of fairness one expects in a judge. I'm glad to have her off the case. Of course, the government will probably appeal this decision as they have appealed every prior decision that went in Rabih's favor. It might even go to the Supreme Court. If it does I hope they remember the words I saw carved on the facade of their building in Washington, DC, "Equal Justice Under Law."
Rabih's story has shown up not just in the media of late; it was displayed on the bulletin boards of the Willkie Dorms on the campus of Indiana University as part of a diversity-awareness series called, "What is an American?" Emily Roth, a wonderful woman whom I met at the National Women's Music Festival last June, became aware of Rabih through reading my journal. As CUE (CommUNITY Education Program) diversity student educator for her dorm, Emily came up with the idea of highlighting "possible violations of civil liberties and the targeting of certain groups" since September 11. She collaged material that showed how Muslims have been treated in this country since 9-11, using examples from her own campus, national newspaper articles, and information about Rabih Haddad. As she said, "The boards were not meant to take a political stance, but rather to encourage students to talk, question, and think analytically about our country's response to Sept. 11." Student response to the bulletin boards has ranged from support to defacement and harrassment of Emily. The Vice President and Chancellor of the University have supported Emily's CUE bulletin boards from the beginning. They both showed up at a program held last night in Willkie Dorms to provide a forum for students to discuss their feelings. It was called, "Can you be proud to be an American without excluding those who aren't." You can read about it in a front page article in the Indiana Daily Student newspaper online.
And who says today's students are politically unaware? I am so proud of Emily I could bust!
Today was a lovely low-key day...just what I needed. I wrote Rabih and went next door to mail it before the 1 PM pick-up. It was such a beautiful day that I just kept on scooting down to the lake. It had been weeks since I'd been by the water and I found its unique smell utterly delicious. I scooted over to Ed's office, visited with him briefly and then scooted back home. As we agreed, these bare-armed, bare-footed September days are precious.
This evening was my monthly women's book group meeting. We met at Pat N.'s apartment in Windsor, ONT and, as always, had stimulating discussion with lots of laughter and good listening. Our book was Carol Shield's novel, Unless, and our assessment was unanimous--we loved it! Bright, exceptionally well-written, touching, true and thought-provoking, Carol Shields shows in this book why she is one of North America's most respected authors. Penny told us of an interview she'd heard in which Carol Shields described her concerns in this novel as looking like an elephant. She said she saw its four legs as 1) goodness, 2) gender, 3) women's writing, and 4) mothers and daughters. Keeping all four feet grounded and in balance was her task. We feel she did so with grace and power.
Coming home I had an uncharacteristically
(since September 11) pleasant encounter with a customs agent on
the U.S. side. He asked the usual questions: 1) Citizenship?;
2) Why were you in Canada?; 3) Are you bringing anything back?
My answers were the usual: 1) U.S.; 2) To visit friends; 3) Nothing.
After I'd said "Nothing", this young man grinned and
said, "Promise?" And out of my mouth came something
I probably haven't said in 50 years..."Cross my heart and
hope to die if I tell a lie!" He laughed and so did I, and
he sent me on my way.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2002
Our summer is going out much as it came in, with warm humid air hanging heavy in the sun. My windows are open and the window fan is on. I'm in a sleeveless dress with my bare feet stretched out comfortably under the computer table. Outside the open window to my right, I hear a stop-and-go symphony of cicadas and the hum of the police department air conditioner next door. But the volunteer elm tree that planted itself between our downstairs bedroom and the lane many years ago is no longer summer-green. It is now a mix of yellow and green, with its crisp fallen leaves spread like a carpet across our flat bedroom/porch roof. When breezes blow, the leaves skitter across the roof rattling like a shakeree.
All seems idyllic until I remember what is happening today in our nation's capitol. While summer's last days and full moon nights grace our country, drums of war beat strong and hard in the halls of power. Preparations for war take attention away from the need for better education, health care, housing, jobs, protection of the environment, protection of our most vulnerable. All eyes are turned toward that big white house on Pennsylvania Avenue where one man holds the future of the earth and its people in his hands. What will he do? Will he go ahead and attack a defenseless country on his own or will he continue to try to bargain with other world leaders to back his war? Will the women and men whom we voted into Congress listen to our voices or will they listen to voices hidden behind closed doors?
I call my Senators and Representative again today and say what I have been saying for months, NO WAR ON IRAQ. Katherine in Senator Debbie Stabenow's office remembers me from when I visited her office and said the same thing on September 5. Both she and Senator Carl Levin's aide say their phones are ringing off the hook and everyone is saying the same thing, NO WAR ON IRAQ. I send another in a long series of group emails begging my friends and sister and brother activists to call their Congressfolk. I give them the phone number--1-202-224-3121--and ask that they call TODAY not tomorrow. Tomorrow may be too late.
I do what I can.
And then I start my own preparations for war. I know myself well enough to know that if I don't have things in place before the first bombs drop on Baghdad, I will be lost. The Gulf War taught me that much.
I get out my drum and put it at the ready by my bedroom chair. I prepare an art desk in my bedroom with Prismacolor pencils and the journal Penny lovingly made for my 60th birthday in June. I open the "O Beautiful Gaia" notebook we received at our September 8 gathering and turn to "Among the Many...An Anti-War Song for Earth Community", Carolyn McDade's song that always fills me with strength and longing. I look with gratitude at the futon, my favorite napping place. I reflect on which books I want beside my reading chair and am content to see Mary Oliver's poems on top of the pile.
My preparing for war does not mean I assume it will happen. No, I prepare while I still have hope and knowledge that one man could change his mind in a heartbeat. That one man could save hundreds of thousands of lives and our earth's health and integrity by turning his head just a tiny bit and seeing things through his two good eyes. He doesn't have to be blind. He can choose to see. But if he doesn't, I will be ready.
And so I sing,
"So wars must cease
and peace must gain
and love awake a new tomorrow
where all to Earth are bound in dwelling
and take their place
among the many"
Copyright © 2002
by Carolyn McDade
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2002
I woke up early this morning--5 AM--and dropped a pebble in a pond causing ripples to spread from shore to shore. My first pebble was emailing a Letter to the Editor of the New York Times. I have just heard that it will probably be published tomorrow, September 21. I then read a wonderful anti-war statement written by Grace Lee Boggs, a 87 year-old Detroit activist whom I admire greatly. It was in an email put out by a women's organization in Germany. There is great power when women speak out against war. Her statement prompted me to send the following message to my listservs and friends:
Subject: Women speak against the US war on Iraq
When a woman writes against war, it is her heart's blood that fills her pen. I encourage every woman who receives this message to add her own statement, letter or words and send this composite peace proposal far and wide.
May women's voices be heard!
in peace & sister
and Actions: NO to war on Iraq
Date: Thursday, September 19, 2002 5:03:04 AM
From: email@example.com (Women and Life on Earth)
To: womenandlife@t-online-de (wloe alert list - E)
VOICES: A number of women and women's groups around the world are working on statements of opposition to the threatened US war in Iraq. This draft came to us from Grace Lee Boggs, well-known activist in Detroit. (See her work at: http://www.boggscenter.org) You can copy or add to it, pass it on to your friends, and send petitions to important persons of your choice. Let us be heard.
Women United Against War
ìAs women embracing life and peace we oppose all US military action against Iraq. We reject the cynical manipulation by the Bush administration of the grief of our people to justify his aggression.
ìWe believe this is a defining moment in the life of our country. We will either take our place in the family of nations as seekers of peace and justice or we will start down a terrible road to war, unleashing the fury of generations to come on our land.
ìWe oppose this war. We oppose all elected officials who support this war. There is no other issue greater than the cause of peace. No past stand or history can be called upon to overshadow the imperative to stand today for peace. We, as women acting to shape public life, dedicate our energy, resources, and hopes to those who establish peace.
ìThere will be no war in our names."
Grace Lee Boggs
Letter To the Editor sent to the New York Times, September 20, 2002
As the Bush Administration pounds the drums of war and members of Congress of both parties prepare to cave in to his demands to mount a pre-emptive war on Iraq, where are the voices of the American people? It is their young people who will risk their lives and bear the long-term consequences of this new National Security Strategy, a strategy that gives the United States, the most powerful nation on earth, the right to decide who should be in power in any country they choose and then use military force to ensure that choice.
Does this sound like democracy?
The words that swirl around President Bush's head, words such as "freedom-loving" and "human rights" and "liberty", have no meaning when used to justify unending war and pre-emptive attacks on defenseless people. Where will we find a yellow ribbon large anough to wipe away the blood of innocents from this country's hands?
Grosse Pointe, Michigan
But I wasn't done yet. I did a search of "women against war" on Google and ended up sending over 100 emails to groups and individuals around the globe...literally! As I said, I dropped a pebble in a pond and its ripples spread from shore to shore.
If it seems like I am driven, I am. When/if the US drops those first bombs on Baghdad, I need to be able to say to myself that I did everything I could to stop it. And I won't stop then, either. As long as this country-of-my-birth wages war on anyone, I will continue to shout "NO!!! There is another way!" as loudly as I can, using any means that I can. As I've said before, I'm in it for the long haul.
But activism wasn't all I did today. At 1 PM I was across the river at Leesa's Hair Salon in Windsor, Ontario getting a long-overdue haircut. While there I met Alma, a woman of age and outrageous good humour, who quickly climbed to the top of my list of "Women I Want to Grow Up and Be Like." Here is a picture of Leesa and Alma.
After getting a peach drink and a toasted "everything" bagel with herb/garlic cream cheese at Tim Horton's drive-through, I drove to the river, specifically to the Windsor Sculpture Park near the bridge. I wanted to take pictures of the Ambassador Bridge--our symbol of Windsor/Detroit friendship--to use on the Great Lakes Basin web page of the "O Beautiful Gaia" CD project web site. Jan and Katherine from the Atlantic Canada group--I think they live on Prince Edwards Island--and I are beginning the process of designing such a web site.
On the way home I had a hankering to visit the deer on Belle Isle, Detroit's public park. It had been too long since I'd driven onto the island in search of my gentle friends. There's a wooded area in the middle of the island that the wild deer seem to favor, so I headed over there. I soon came upon a gathering of fawns. But they were pretty far away from my car so I tried using the zoom. When I looked up from my camera, I was surprised to see a deer right in front of my face! The teenagers apparently have good feelings about people in cars--lots of folks come regularly to feed them--because this mule deer and his whitetailed companion came right up to my open car window as if to say, "So what have you got for me today?" I was sorry that all I had was a camera, but I put it to good use.
I have one more picture
for my animal-loving readers. On last night's walk/scoot, Ed and
I were delighted to meet Elvis,
an eight-week-old chocolate lab. What a sweetie!
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2002
So how did I use this beautiful last day of summer? Sitting at my computer. All day. But I learned A LOT...whether I wanted to or not. I won't bore you with the details except to say that I am the proud owner of new file transfer software, and more memory has been allocated to that FTP software (Transmit) and to AOL. Yes, Dorothy, there is ginko for computers and you can find it under "Get Info."
Anyway, you might want to scroll down and read Friday's entry because I didn't get it totally put up until about an hour ago (it's now 5 PM on Saturday).
Because I only got about five hours sleep last night--my computer woes kept me up late and got me up early--I'm going to lie down for a half hour before Ed and I go to his 55th high school reunion.
May I say that I feel good about my computer now, especially since I burned a CD with over 4000 files--most of them graphic-heavy--and was then able to delete them. Rather like cleaning out closets.
Tomorrow I promise to have something to talk about besides computers!
By the way, the New York
Times did publish my Letter to the Editor today. I've already
received one email in response to it from a woman (whom I don't
remember) that I went to grad school with back in the '60s. She
sees things very differently. But isn't that what you hope
such a letter will promote: a little dialogue?
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2002
Autumn arrived carrying its overcoat and muffler. Brrrr! When Ed and I bike/scooted down to a local restaurant for breakfast, I was bundled up pretty good. But, chilly or not, the roses and bees didn't seem to mind a bit. And for me, this one rose offered more warmth than my scarf, fleece socks, sweater and jacket combined.
Now I know I'm going to make it. With my singing sisters at my side, there's no power on earth that can drag me down. Unending wars, unending lies, unending greed and arrogance. No, nothing is going to drag me down.
Even though most of us are part of the "O Beautiful Gaia" CD project and will be gathering one full day a month to sing with that community, Notable Women, our Detroit-area singing group, unanimously decided today to continue singing together one afternoon a month. So now I can look forward to singing with wonderful women the first Saturday and the second Sunday of every month. And you can probably guess how I felt when we decided to focus on songs of peace, the earth and women. We'd like to have a small repertoire that would be appropriate for peace rallies, women's events, Earth Days and such. My choosing to stay home this winter feels so right.
And today we sang with full hearts, often accompanying ourselves on guitar, banjo, percussion instruments and even the clarinet. We chose songs like "Ain't Gonna Study War No More", "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream", "Circle of Peace" and "The Rest of My Life." As Deanne said, "This is what will save the world...song!"
Afterwards we went to our favorite Lebanese restaurant for garlic spread on pita bread, crushed lentil soups, taboulee and sauteed cauliflower/onions in tahini sauce. It's become a tradition that the wait staff lines up at our table and we sing one song for them. Tonight it was "Circle of Peace." As we sang, I saw a customer at a nearby table with tears welling up in her eyes.
Yes, political arguments
are important, but it is song that will save our world.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2002
Finally, a day marked by balance. Times of quiet reflection, making art, being with the earth and its creatures, starting a new creative venture, time spent with Ed, opportunities to sing and lots of exercise.
I'd guess that starting this day with my art journal is what helped everything else fall into place. I allowed myself to dream in ways I can only do through art. What came didn't really surprise me but it did give me strength. I learned that:
"I dream of a world
I dream of a planet unravaged.
I dream of one human family, united in love and respect.
I dream of endangered species flourishing again.
I dream of truth replacing lies.
I dream of a conscious people who refuse to follow misguided leaders.
I dream of nations' borders being erased and global connection overriding global corporate interests.
I dream of peace."
As I colored these dreams with Prismacolor pencils, I sang "The Rest of Our Lives", a song by Carolyn McDade...over and over and over again.
"The rest of our
lives, my sisters, must be lived
in the best of struggles, the best of struggles,
in the best of struggles our lives must be lived. 2x
"If the road should
we'll shake the dust from our feet and walk on." 2x
Copyright © 1988 by Carolyn McDade
This time of relection through art lead me to see that today's blue skies and puffy white clouds were exactly what I'd been waiting for. So I drove down to Belle Isle (Detroit's island park), parked my car and walked out to the southernmost shoreline to take photos of Windsor, Ontario, Detroit, Michigan and the Ambassador Bridge that connects them. I was still trying to find the perfect picture to use on our Great Lakes Basin web page for the "O Beautiful Gaia" CD project web site I'm helping to design. This picture is just what I wanted.
Of course, I couldn't leave the island without trying to see my friends, the deer. Well, today I hit the jackpot! A man was feeding the fawns right beside the road, so I stopped, got out of the car and started clicking away. I got such wonderful pictures that it was hard for me to choose which ones to put up...so here's a whole bunch:
of deer looking for hand outs.
Geese and deer with the same thought in mind...food.
A young doe who looked at me as if to say, "Got anything for me?"
Her deciding she'd best take care of things herself.
A tiny fawn trying to nap amidst the hustle and bustle.
A whitetailed buck grabbing a tasty branch.
The same young buck scratching an itch.
His white companion.
If you took the time to look at all those pictures, I think you'll see why I had trouble choosing between them and just ended up using them all. They are my best deer pictures ever.
While on the island, I thought I'd give you a few glimpses of what Belle Isle looks like. Here's one of the countless picnic pavillions. And two Belle Isle landmarks--the Carillon and the Albert Kahn-designed Conservatory. This island holds many sweet memories for me. I jogged my first steps on the track here. Ed and I used to play tennis on the public tennis courts. I organized picnics here for a children's organization back in the '70s. Ed and I trained here for our first double century (200 mile) biking weekend. I used to bring our dog Timmy down here for walks. I even did a little cross country skiing here. For years we belonged to the Detroit Boat Club where Ed had grown up, and we used to bring our 13' Boston Whaler motor boat across to the island from our high rise apartment across the river. Memories every place I look.
On my way home, I stopped at our local Subway restaurant and, as expected, found Eddie there eating his veggie sub. I joined him and had my usual...a round deli-roll with tunafish salad, lettuce and tomato, yellow peppers and black olives.
Once home again, I downloaded my photos and prepared them for the web. My next creative venture was beginning to design the "O Beautiful Gaia" web page for our Great Lakes Basin community. By playing around, I found a way to create my own background instead of having to download someone else's from the internet. I'm tickled with how it turned out.
By now it was 7 PM and time to get on my scooter to go six blocks to the indoor pool. It was my first time swimming indoors since last May and I was surprised at how pleasant it was. For one thing, Tim, the lifeguard, always gives me a lane to myself--a real advantage--and secondly, I'd forgotten how meditative it is to swim indoors. There's no noise or activity around you, no sky to look up into as you take a breath, just blue water and silence. Very relaxing. I swam 685 meters of the crawl and felt strong. It had been weeks since I'd been in the water and I'd really missed it.
I came home to an unexpected
gift from Ed--sushi! Just perfect for a late night supper. And
now I'm finishing my journal and I even expect to get to bed before
1 AM. Yes, a day of balance.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2002
I don't know why, but my creative juices are really flowing. I saw it today in school when the fourth grade kids and I worked on sketches for our Egyptian self portraits. Susan, the art teacher, had taken profile digital photos of each of us to use as drawing aids. She then encouraged us to create Egyptian backgrounds and maybe put ourselves in Egyptian dress. I wrote my name in hieroglyphics and dressed myself like Isis. I had such fun and dedicated so much time and energy to my sketch that Susan posted it on the bulletin board to help other kids see how to proceed. Gosh, I felt like a kid with a gold star on my forehead!
Then the fifth grade class made large outline drawings of the wildly-colored animal each of us had chosen for the New Orleans project. Mine is a red frog. Again teacher said she wants to use my drawing to show the kids how to do the next step, a torn-paper collage.
I just told Ed that I felt as proud of today's artistic successes as I felt on Saturday when the New York Times published my letter. Maybe more. Now, what does that say about me? Am I regressing or simply keeping things in perspective?
When I got home at 5 PM, instead of taking my usual nap, I continued working on the design for an "O Beautiful Gaia" web page for our Great Lakes Basin community. This is the first time I've ever tried to do web design for anyone but myself, and I'm having a ball! Yesterday I taught myself how to create my own background of the river, and today I taught myself how to design a creative border using a photo I made yesterday of a seagull. Here's what it looks like:
It's hard to imagine,
but that's an untouched photo of a real live seagull. On
the "O Beautiful Gaia" web page, the light aqua behind
the gulls disappears into the "river" background of
the whole page. It looks pretty cool, if I do say so myself. Besides,
it is such fun to play in this way. Might I want to explore doing
a little web design for money? Interesting option to consider.
© 2002 Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please use with attribution.