Thursday, September 22, 2011

She ain't heavy.......

If you're anything like me you've heard the phrase "the weight of the world" at least a million times. You've likely felt it. Lying across your shoulders, slapping you in the face and possibly even permeating your dreams. You fight it, resist it's pressure....but ultimately it wins. It always does. What is it about our everyday happenings that can cause this enormous burden to settle in like an unwelcome houseguest...intent on staying, draining our resources, giving little if anything in return and with no clear view of vacating the premises. 
The weight of the world moved in with me recently.Trust me when I say I am diligently attempting to locate and punish it's last landlord for evicting it and causing it to kick in my door. It came in rather loudly-it always does-and knocked the very wind from my lungs. I was ill prepared for its arrival. I had no snacks on hand, no fancy drinks and certainly hadn't cleaned in anticipation of company. Yet into my dirt and clutter it stomped. Pretty sure it has had its mail forwarded ,too. 
First came the news that a dear,longtime friend and former classmate appears to be losing her valiant battle against another horrid squatter named Oscar. (His given legal name is cancer but we choose not to acknowledge him as such.) This woman is the strongest woman I know. She has inspired more people in the past year than I could hope to encourage in a lifetime. In her darkest of moments there was still the brilliance of her incredible smile. She doesn't just light up the room-she illuminates the world. And there is the weight. The weight that shatters the fragility of life.....that causes irreparable damage to the heart and renders us speechless when we want nothing more than to scream. But there is no one to scream at. And so the weight sits.......
Second came the awareness of the struggle of a beloved family member. The weight was literally thrown at him without indication of its pending impact. An impact that no doubt left his entire family grasping for that life preserver to take them to calmer waters and pull them from the riptide sucking them under. A weight that appears immovable for even the strongest of lifters. 
Third was the shrill scream of the phone in the pre-dawn hours. On the other end the hysterical and fear induced ramblings of a young man who had first been attacked, beaten and then incarcerated without question. The weight dropped in and has setup residence with no intention of relocating soon. It knocked the breath from my lungs and caused all rational thought to cease in that moment. 
I am heavy now. I am walking slower, with shorter and more labored strides. I am breathing more shallow and with less efficiency. The weight is taking over. The weight is making each movement painful and each thought exhausting. The weight is causing each second to tick by much slower....extending the day into what seems like an eternity. The weight is winning. 
But I will continue to lift. Although my arms are now jelly....I will lift. Through the fire in my lungs as I force each breath into them....I will lift. I will lift because if I have learned nothing from those who are bearing the brunt of the weight that now ecompasses my day...I have learned that when we lift through the pain, through the tears and through the sleepless nights....the weight becomes lighter. It begins to lose. And if we continue to lift in the losing ....... life will win out. Perhaps not as we would like or with the result we would desire. But it wins. 
And so.....I lift. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Somber Holiday

Yesterday our country sat in remembrance of an event that changed our lives and the lives of our children. It was a somber holiday. There were church services,memorials,parades and dedications. Government officials,dignitaries and celebrities honored all those who lost their lives and those who miraculously survived. Yesterday was a testament to the survival of The American Spirit and our sense of unity and dedication to protecting our freedoms. There was something else that struck me about yesterday. 
The most prominent phrase that seems to be associated with this date in our history is "Never Forget". You'll see it posted and hear it touted. Sadly-it isn't upheld. We have forgotten. 
Yes,we honor the fallen. Yes,we hold ceremonies and donate to charities and volunteer all in the name of September 11th. But we have forgotten. We have forgotten our promises to remain unified against the enemies who attempted to destroy our country and remove our freedom. We have forgotten to respect the very freedoms our soldiers have died and continue dying to protect. We have forgotten to teach our children about the very values the terrorists loathe. We have forgotten. And it saddens me. 
As I pondered all of this I went to an envelope that I have kept since that day ten years ago. In it are copies of several poems,letters and emails that held some meaning for me back then and still hold meaning today. I want to share a couple with you all. The words are no less true today than they were ten years ago. Ten years ago I prayed that the events of that day would unite as a country and a people and teach us the TRUE meaning of the freedoms we claim to love so deeply. I am still praying for that day to come. 

Sept. 13, 2001
First of all I would like to say how blessed I feel that everyone I consider to be my family and friends----all of you---seem to be alive and well after the horrible acts of violence which have befallen our nation. I love you all and coannot imagine any of you not being a part of my life. That being said-I would like to ask each of you to please take time out of your day to both pray and remember those who have not been so blessed in this time of crisis and to remind yourselves what an impact they have on your daily life as we never know if there will be time to do so tomorrow. 
We must be very careful in this type of tragedy. There will be much false information and reports that will be distributed to the masses as fact. These are intended to incite panic and division in an already fearful and vulnerable people. We cannot allow those who would plot to destroy us see this nation as anything other than a united and strong people. We need to remain calm and logical in this time. Take time to reflect before taking action. Imagine if you can the fear that many in this country are experiencing at thie time. Not just we as Americans in fear of these cowardly terrorists who know only to fight behind a shield of countless innocent people.....but the fear that those of other religious and cultural decent living in this country must be experiencing. We need to keep in mind that not all Islamic or Muslim or Middle Eastern people are crazy nor are they all fanatics who would blindly follow a demented leader who tells them the only way to free themselves as a people is to kill those who are TRULY free. 
We are ALL Americans regardless of our decent and we cannot begin to single those people out who are different from ourselves in any way and point the finger of blame. We must reserve the blame and burden of responsibility for those who truly deserve it. Otherwise we appear in the exact way the terrorists would like us to appear....divided and scared of our own shadows. This makes us even more vulnerable to further attacks against our freedoms. Please-be strong, be calm and let's present the picture of a nation that is standing together, hand in hand against whatever forces may attempt to penetrate the freedoms that so many of our fathers, brothers, husbands and sons have given their lives to protect. 
I love you all....

The next day I wrote this letter after watching what was unfolding on the news......

Sept. 14th,2001
Yesterday morning I wrote a letter to all of family and friends...regarding the state we as a nation are in right now. Shortly after I sent that letter I was watching more of the coverage on the events that have transpired and continue to unfold with each passing minute. I once again became so completely angered and enraged by the events I saw and heard on the broadcast. 
In Tyson's Corner,Virginia on Wednesday evening a high school student of Middle Eastern decent was approached and verbally attacked by a large group of "Americans". These people shouted at this young man calling him a terrorist and demanding he and his people pay for the attacks on our country. This young man was BORN in the USA.....HE IS AN AMERICAN>
In Chicago and Texas several groups of mourners were attempting to go to local mosques to pray and mourn the victims, families and honor the survivors of these horrible attacks. They were also attacked and several were beaten and bloodied in the name of patriotism. THESE MOURNERS ARE AMERICANS. 
I am outraged....saddened....sickened. WHY? Why in a nation that proclaims itself to be one of peace, freedom and liberty is there such violence, oppression and intolerance? Have we not seen enough destruction in the past few days? Must we behave in such a barbaric manner? When we as a people single out, blame and attack those we percieve to be different or not "American" we lower ourselves to the same level of civility and humanity as those who have perpetuated this horrific attack against the freedoms we take for granted. 
I would like to pose a question to all of you. Answer it honestly. Ask your friends, family and co-workers to answer it as well. What is it that makes you or me MORE American than the woman in your office who is of Iranian decent? Or the man at the bank who is of Arabian decent? What about your son's teacher who is of Albanian decent? How about the pediatrician you rely on to care for you know, the one of Syrian decent? 
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor our government imprisoned thousands of Japanese-Americans in the name of protection and patriotism. These people were US Citizens whose only crime was being of Japanese decent. Shall we now do the same thing to anyone of Middle Eastern decent? If so.....why?
We call ourselves Americans. We claim to be a free and compassionate nation accepting of ALL and tolerant of differences. Yet we turn on our brothers and sisters because they pray differently, dress differently, speak a different language or live by a set of beliefs that differs from our own. 
Have you answered the question yet? What makes us more American? The answer is simple.....we aren't. If you trace your family history how many generations have even actually been born in this country? Most of us can pinpoint the exact time in history when WE were foreigners and did not belong in the country we now call home. 
Let us not forget that our ancestors were terrorists in their own right. They arrived in a country in search of something better for themselves and their children. A place to be FREE, to be who they wanted to be. This country was inhabited by a people that we did not understand. These people looked different, dressed different and spoke a language we could not interpret. Their way of life was incomprehensible to us. We befriended them when it suited us and massacred them when it didn't. We obtained the nation we call our own by use of coercion, deciet and force. And we now attempt to protect it by use of the same weapons against those we PERCIEVE to be different or unworthy of its liberties. We should instead be uniting with ALL Americans.....our siblings.....and standing united against the TRUE enemies of the freedoms and liberties so many generations have died protecting. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Where are you from?

      How many times has someone asked you this question? My guess lost count. It's a common enough question and the answers are just as common and usually consist of a single word answer. Whether we name the town,village,city,state or country of our birth the reply to such a request for information seldom involves much reflection or explanation. 
       Why is that? 
       Think about the question.....where are you from? Really. Not the name of the city you were born in or the state you grew up in. WHERE are you from? WHAT has helped shape you? 
      Why am I wondering about this you might daughter. My oldest daughter is a beautiful and brilliant young lady. I have always known this. Even though I never doubt these aspects of her life every now and then she does or says something that just reinforces my amazement and belief in her and the mark I KNOW she is leaving on this world. Today was no exception. 
     After doing her homework she came to me and asked me to proofread something she had written for English class. I read it and it literally sucked the air from me for a moment. Not in a bad way. It was is amazingly stunning. And I want to share it....share her and her beauty....with all of you. Enjoy.

Where I'm From

I am from the resevoirs
The winter snow and summer sun
I am from the happy laughing
I am from the dragonflies
The gladiolas in the yard.

I am from The Pumpkin Show and getting out of school
From Grandma Houston and Grandma Lutz
I am from the bedtime songs and simple lullabies
From you look just like your mom and look at those blue eyes
I am from the church songs
The puppet shows and Bible coloring pages

I am from the backs and forths
The ups and downs the all arounds
From the family gatherings
The holidays

I am from my family
Unique in every way
Never one quite like another
but all somewhat the same.