March 22, 2020

A walk in the spring sunshine. These days, I walk alone. The speed of change continues to astound me. Just two days ago, while keeping my promised six- foot distance, I was nonetheless privileged to join my daughter and my grandchild at the local park. I smiled to watch the little one swing high up into the sky, and do chin-ups on an overhead bar. Today, yellow tape surrounds the equipment, and a frightening silence has replaced the shouts of happy children. The simplest of things, a walk in the park with a grandchild has suddenly become a privilege, a moment frozen in time, a moment that may- or may not re-cur. Most definitely, a luxury to be cherished.

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Saturday, March 21, 2020

A new day, a new world. Having urged others to go within, I can do no less. I awaken, filled
with gratitude. For life. For the ability to breathe deeply. For the sight that greets me outside my window, whose drapes I never close. I want to awaken to the world, whatever it brings.

On this day, it is blue sky and sunshine, clearly visible through the bare branches of the maple
tree outside my window. I fling back the quilt, shivering pleasantly as cool air wraps its arms
around me. Reaching for a housecoat, I perform the morning ablutions, grateful for the very fact of having a bathroom. I grew up on a farm where indoor plumbing was an unimaginable luxury. How I used to hate dressing and slipping on boots and jackets before making my way along a path through the bushes to the two-seater shack that had been placed at some distance from the house, for obvious sanitary and olfactory reasons.

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Pandemic Poem

What if this is some kind of mad wake-up call
Forcing us to re-think issues large and small?

What might the universe be trying to tell
Those of us who are mercifully safe and well?

With distractions and gatherings all placed on hold
What’s bubbling within us that we ought to behold?

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Remembrance Day- Kristallnacht

November. Just days ago, from the front windows of my home, I marvelled to gaze upon the deep red leaves of a generous maple tree. Now, the starkness of its arms is etched against a grey sky. Barren. Stripped bare. Blasted by winds of change.

I too feel flayed as I contemplate the most joyless month of the year. I know well that my spirits will lift in December as I think ahead to holiday cheer, to festive greenery and lights.  To Christmas trees and Chanukah candles. To gift giving as expressions of love, as expressions of hope for peace on earth, for goodwill toward all forms of sentient life,  even the humble ox and the ass. Continue reading

Time to Become a Passive Spectator?

Recently, I was interviewed for a U.S. radio program. The moderator sent me into emotional orbit with an unexpected question:

Hasn’t your generation done enough damage to the world? Don’t you think it’s time you all took a back seat and let younger people steer us in a better direction?

Initially, my thoughts flew to the current Supreme Court nominee, and to the panel of white men, three of whom had heard similar testimony in 1991, the year of the Clarence Thomas hearing. The question of whether their views had changed in the past 27 years flitted through my head, along with the question of how many people ever shift from positions they adopted in early adulthood. Continue reading

A Birthday Gift

This week, just as I was preparing to celebrate my 82nd birthday, another “first” walked into my life. For the first time ever, to the best of my knowledge, I met a genuine Turk. A man born in Turkey. In Anatolia, he tells me.

In a hasty effort to compensate for my ignorance of the area and its history,  I rush to Wikipedia where I am greeted by a sea of names and cultures of which I know virtually nothing. Continue reading

In Search of Your Rainbow

Photo courtesy of Leslie Nelson

‘Tis a tale oft told, a tale that’s decidedly old
A legend for daring dreamers of every age
This concept that near the foot of each rainbow, there lies a pot of gold.

Wise folks seek not discovery of some golden gift
While dark clouds rage and hearts do break
They wait, knowing that eventually, every storm cloud must lift.

They reckon that reward comes to the watchful eye
To the one who dares to hope, to trust, and to seek
The magic moment when peace will return, and beauty will arch on high.

As we age, darkness and light sometimes seem poles apart
And yet they are linked, just as this photo reveals
Ever so sweetly, they beckon wise elders to make a fresh start.

And as I ponder the power of a rainbow to lift my spirits and fill my heart with wonder, I stumble upon this quote:

I labor in some whimsy on a treatise concerning the optics of rainbows. Yet it eludes me. Perhaps we who struggle much in darkness, as all thinkers must, may be forgiven for faltering at the contemplation of such a wondrous and unbounded thing as freeborn light.
Benedictus de Spinoza, quoted in The Weight of Ink,Rachel Kadish (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017) p. 508.

Reflections of an Elder: The Pipeline Protest

Tuesday at 5.30 p.m., along with hundreds of my fellow citizens, I attended a rally at the shore of False Creek, our local arm of the mighty Pacific Ocean. It was a beautiful summer evening, the warm sun bathing the grass where we stood or sat listening to numerous Indigenous speakers proclaiming that this is their unceded territory and that the federal government has no legal or moral right to ram through a pipeline without their consent. Continue reading