The Scent of Home

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Child Refugee – Photo by UNICEF

The scent of home that she no longer has.

The spices, baking, the aromas

Of togetherness

And family

And love.

The scent of grandma,

Gone,

Killed by bombs.

The scent of ugliness

And war.

The scent of mornings

Blurred by smoke.

The scent of sea, now tainted

With the stink of gasoline

And sick

And worry.

The scent of tent

And mud

Hunger

Cold.

The scent of hope

Faint but held

In Baba’s handkerchief —

He said he’ll find them

One day

In Wherever Land.

The scent of fear

In mother’s arms

Trying to filter comfort through her own terror

Devastation. Loss.

The scent of home that she no longer has

Wafting away

In search

Of someone

Who will help

Her

Make a new one.

Speak up, Live Truth.

no wounding

Replace your fretting with a voice.

Speak up

About your truth.

Resist the wish to curl up under pillows

To avoid

Unpleasantness

Conflict

Misunderstanding.

Push against the wish to look the other way

When humans

Someplace ‘other’ than your home

Flee injustice.

Replace apathy or indifference

With empathy.

Replace a narrow vision

With expansion of your heart:

There is no ‘us’ and ‘them’ unless you choose to emulate

Those who seek to divide and control

Instead of heal.

Replace your fear of the unknown

Your terror of the ‘stranger’

Whose lives, religion, culture

You don’t understand …

With the wisdom that we are

And never stopped to be

First and foremost human

And our children are as

Precious

As those born in other lands.

Replace the need to marginalize,

With the understanding that the only margins are those

We choose to accept

Or follow.

Replace the lumping of the ‘other’

Into warring words and baleful messages,

With actually seeing the individuals:

They are no different than you,

No less in need of help in times of crisis

They are no more inherently capable of hate

Than you.

Reject rhetoric that equates your safety

With the deprivation

Of another.

Replace it

With the facts:

We are stronger together

Than we ever can be

In division.

We are better together

Than we ever can be

In isolation.

We are safer in compassion

Than we ever can be

In prejudice or xenophobia.

We are all that we will nourish.

Speak up.

Let us help those who do not yet know truth,

See it

Hear it

Understand.

 

Pause

pause_-_chocolat

 

Before you lash out in righteousness to put down someone else,

Pause.

Before you cling-wrap your views against dissent or protest,

Pause.

Before you rush to justify hurtful decisions others’ made,

Pause.

Before you call ‘your’ God the only ‘right one,’

Pause.

Before you claim your nationality inherently superior,

Pause.

Before you blind yourself to others’ pain in a show of pseudo-legality,

Pause.

Before you seek to follow those who leave others behind,

Pause.

Before you point out others’ hate as ‘causing’ yours toward them,

Pause.

Before you rate some lives more worthy of respecting or protecting,

Pause.

Before you stand behind those who object injustice by inflicting it,

Pause.

Before you turn your back on instability you’d contributed to but now blame on others,

Pause.

Before you shrug off bullying, rudeness, disrespect, as “saying like it is,”

Pause.

Before you pack away the sway of facts, veracity, science, reality,

Pause.

Remember,

None of the above need be automatic.

None are the only way,

To live with some decisions you have made

Yet elect to look away from

Now that push has come to shove.

You are better than that.

Your soul will recall compassion.

It still remembers how,

If you just pause.

 

 

Unfiltered Illusion

interconnectedness-by-deificusart

Image by DeificusArt

Until not very long ago, people lived under the illusion that their small corners of the world were separate entities somehow disconnected from the remainder of the Earth. Their lives focused on the immediate surroundings and the people they had met or known or who shared their close environment. Other places were ‘far away.’ Unseen worlds where things happened to ‘other’ people; as alien as Mars; not our concern.

We know better now. Or should.

The reality that all of us are huddled on a marble hurtling through space is indisputable. The reality of our deeds impacting the survival of another is a fact, not fiction. Humanity is interconnected. We all are children of the same ancestors. The ‘others’ aren’t really any different than our own.

It is one planet. We’re all roommates, essentially.

Our actions and inactions impact everyone, this way or another, whether we follow the threads of our choices responsibly, or kick the can, turn off the light and pretend the mess we left is someone else’s to clean up.

You toss a plastic bag into the trash and the next thing you know it tangles fishing lines thousands of miles over and kills the fish that feed the children there. You drill the depths for oil and gas and the next thing you know it spills and blocks the sunlight from the reefs, confuses the navigation of oceanic animals, pollutes the very bed of life we all depend on, the very food on your plate. Someone grows hate in faraway ‘over there’ and it oozes onto disillusioned youth ‘here at home.’ It feeds on itself and on the fear and anger that spews from it. You make war and it kills people in concentric circles of misery that span the globe, physically and otherwise.

Ripples in the water. One vast system.

We’re not separate. Separation is made up.

Borders are man made lines of convenience and power. They contain no values of their own. They aren’t filters of morals, merit, or ‘type of person’ for who is or is not worthy of respect or life or empathy or a home. It’s an illusion to think that other countries are somehow disconnected, unaffected, un-affecting, irrelevant, less than. It’s an illusion to pretend that one’s borders make one a better person, or make the ‘other’ a lesser. It is blindness to believe that all we need to do is tend to ‘here’ and that the ‘there’ is for someone else to care for. There is no ‘here’ and ‘there’ on a shared sphere.

What we spit out, flush out, frack out, drill out, spill out … how we treat each other, all life, and everything on this planet … is an immediate reflection of who we are, a shared future. We all use the same water, air, resources, and atmosphere.

Filters of religion, race, location, finances–they are all artificial.

One planet. One species of humanity. One biosphere.

It is time we filter out division. It is time we hold a sieve to separate false-views of qualitative value that puts one human’s worth above another’s. It is time we catch the flotsam and jetsam of bigotry and misogyny; apprehend the debris of religions used not for tolerance and acceptance but for divisiveness and pseudo-hierarchy; dismantle outdated beliefs of patriarchy and other pretended superiority that use lies and fear-of-other to justify all kind of war.

Because when all that artificiality is filtered out, when layers of man-made pretense are taken off and we see life for what it is and not the ‘alternative facts’ some want to force into pseudo-reality: It becomes clear.

In the core of real spirituality in all traditions, it always was:

The truth.

We are, and always had been, one.

One planet. One climate. One. Interconnected, intertwined

No walls can change that.

Ten Day!

ten-from-etsy

Photo: Etsy

 

She’s turning ten TODAY!

No more single digits. A two-number age from now till the foreseeable horizon of life.

She’s excited.

She is giddy.

She is a tad hesitant about transferring into a group that possibly puts her in the same category with ‘old people’ like her Momma and Papa, or me, or even — gasp — her Nana, whom she loves but is oh-boy-so-very-old …

She is turning ten TODAY.

A birthday like none prior. No turning back now that she takes the one-way step into two-digit life.

She’s shiny-eyed.

Happy with a chance of maybe.

Her mother is a little teary. “She’s growing up. I’m glad and I am sad …”

She’s turning ten TODAY.

A cake with two handfuls of  candles. A dinner of her choice. A celebration. A row of little gifts. Perhaps one for every year.

She’s pleased.

She’s shy.

She is a little frightened.

“What if I don’t like being older?”

I smile at her sweet honesty.

Her mother sighs. “… Welcome to the club.”

Her Whole Life in a Plastic Bag

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Photo: threeoclockbears.com

 

Tamina attended first-grade in a Harlem public school. She was homeless most of that year. Her mother lost the apartment after she lost her job. Sometimes they stayed with relatives but mostly Tamina, her mother and her sister slept in shelters where they could never stay very long. They carried their belongings in thick black garbage bags, protection from the weather. Tamina used to have a teddy bear, but it got left in a shelter and her mother was ‘too tired’ to go back for it. Tamina never got it back.

Tamina had very little. Other children had a home, their own bed, place for their stuff, more stuff. So she stole. Mostly small things: erasers, crayons, hair-pins. Things she could hide in her pockets and later in her black garbage bag. If confronted, Tamina would furiously demand it “was always hers.” I suspected she often believed it and wondered if some items resembled things she once had and owning them was a link to a time when life was less overwhelming. Beyond an overall language delay, Tamina seemed confused about concepts like the difference between possessing and owning: in some shelters cots were ‘first-come-first-serve’ and while you had it, it was ‘yours’ even if it did not remain so for long. You had to ‘watch’ your stuff or have it disappear. Why could an unattended eraser not be ‘hers’?

 While children often crave things that are not theirs, Tamina’s stealing was possibly about unmet needs. Her mother was “always mad and cussing” and Tamina could not rely on her for support. Children whose ‘hungers’ are neglected seek other ways: become secretive, dissociate, numb themselves with substances, steal, hoard. These behaviors often further distance them from care and social support, when they in fact communicate confusion, loneliness, anger, loss, and shame.

[The above is an excerpt from “Communicating Trauma” Routledge, 2015]

Communicating Trauma-Yehuda

Homelessness does not necessarily mean neglect, but the realities and causes of homelessness pose many risks, especially to children. In addition to loss and grief, there are increased health and safety risks, along with reduced access to care. Children without homes suffer insecurity, and their caregivers may be too overwhelmed to attend to their emotional needs. Depression, posttraumatic stress, illness, disability, poverty, domestic violence and other life-crises are all too common among parents of homeless children. Any one of these factors can overwhelm a parent and reduce their availability, let alone when such factors combine.

Having no place to call home–in all the forms it takes–can be distressing and occupying. It leaves children anxious and unavailable for learning. Homeless children are often wary and worried, angry or withdrawn. They are three times as likely to require special-education, four times as likely to drop out of school, and almost nine times as likely to repeat grades.

Homelessness devastates. It is crucial we work together to appbetway必威亚洲官网 and resolve it as well as support families in crisis and address risk factors before they reach a loss of home, hearth, and heart.

 

 

All Packed

beyondtherack-com-cupcake-backpack

beyondtherack.com cupcake backpack

 

She packed a snack, Baby Bear, her rainbow blanket. She stashed a book and some crayons, last week’s (slightly stained and missing a corner but still meaningful) drawing of butterflies and “maybe aliens.”

She added a half-eaten cookie, a seashell, a necklace (you just never known when you might need one). She tried to squeeze in her pillow but it “won’t go.”

She put her shoes on (wrong feet, still fit).

She zipped the bag and pulled her hat on. Splayed the coat on the floor, pushed her arms into the sleeves, and flipped the whole thing over her head just as she’d learned. The coat slid on but tugged the hat off as it went, sending it to lodge someplace between her shoulder blades.

She paused in apprehension, then shrugged, jumped in place … ‘birthed’ the hat from under the hem and victoriously repositioned it on her head.

She nodded in satisfaction, reached for her bag and hoisted a strap over one shoulder. Squirmed and wriggled to get the other arm through the second strap.

“There.” She breathed. She looked around.

Frowned.

Being ready was nice but actually leaving was less enticing. All those hours at preschool before she got to see Mommy again.

Her shoulders slumped. So did the bag. Her lip quivered.

A moment passed. She brightened.

“Mommy!” she called. “Can you pack me a hug?”

 

For The Daily Post

“I tried and I tried”

Everything is harder for this little one.

Her body doesn’t quite know how to calm itself. Her hands don’t always know the extent of their reach. She trips. She falls. She bumps into. She upsets the cup, the plate, the markers on the desk. It takes her longer to climb up a flight of stairs. She needs help tackling them going down. Her mouth doesn’t quite make sounds as easily as others’ can: words come out jumbled, not always the right sounds or meaning, often in a mismatched grammar and word order. Food gets messy. Swallowing’s tricky. She gags. She coughs.

But she tries.

Oh, boy, she tries.

And tries.

And tries.

She’s a perfectionist, too.

Indomitable.

Determination personified.

Everything requires repetition. Still she tries again. Again. Again. She shakes her head at any suggestion she accept the unperfected.

“I do more time,” she insists, sometimes in tears but with no less conviction.

And she does. ‘More time’ and time again and then again and then some.

And slowly, sometimes out of the mist of helpless frustration and gritted teeth and hugs and endless patience — she succeeds.

A circle that closes. A list of items in a category. An idea expressed. A multisyllabic word with no sounds missing. A full sentence with all words in attendance. A coat pulled on without assistance. A triangle traced. A tower of blocks. A pattern of beads. A banana that peels without the insides getting mashed. A sip of apple juice from an unaided cup, no spill, no cough.

“I tried and I tried,” she beams. Each time anew. Sometimes with tears still glistening from the last attempt that didn’t quite get up to her own standards. Each time there’s fire in her eyes.

“I told you I can!”

Indeed you had.

Indeed you can.

Hats off, little one.

Every. Single. Time.

drseuss-determination

 

For The Daily Post

 

Un-Hide

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Photo Credit: O.A.

 

You do not need to hide

Your pain

Your worry.

You do not need to stash away

The dreams

The stories.

You do not need to hold your tongue

Pretend away your feelings

Ignore what you already know,

Just to be

Someone you are not

For me

For show

For others.

You do not need to wrap parts of yourself

In secrecy

Or silence.

It is okay.

Un-hide.

I understand.

Even if some do not know, and

May need more time,

To see

How you’re the light

Within the deepest darkness.

 

 

For The Daily Post