Today is my birthday and I feel the best way to celebrate is to share the story of my birth. I posted this poem in August and received some comments that it was a sad story. In a way it could be seen that way, as at the time it happened my mother she was sad. But, Mama always had a back-up plan. She left Reno and went to Las Vegas to join her high school sweetheart who was stationed at Nellis Air For Base. So it is that I became an only child with seven brothers and sisters.
I wrote this poem when I was working as a secretary for the Linguistics Department at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. As I looked through a dictionary of slang, written by one of the professors, I came across very interesting expressions for the actions involved in conception and a child born out of wedlock. By that time, the three sisters I grew up finally knew I had a different father from theirs. And I had lived with my dad and met my three brothers and one sister who had not known about me. I feel blessed to have all of them in my life and it wouldn’t have happened any other way.
So, I hope you will now enjoy watching me perform this ballad with the sense of joyous humor in which I wrote it.
In November the talented writer, Uzoma, nominated me for this award. I was grateful and flattered and intended to accept it by abiding by the rules:
1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
2. List seven random things about yourself.
3. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award
It just took me longer than I thought to finally complete the rules. So, again thanks Uzoma. Check out his excellent poetry and stories.
Seven random things about me:
1. I was a professional dancer and performing artist.
2. I am an only child but have seven brothers and sisters.
3. I have a collection of international dolls.
4. I make dresses from old skirts and blouses.
5. The spider is my totem.
6. Riding in trains is my favorite mode of travel.
7. In my life I’ve taken singing, piano, djembe, and wooden flute lessons.
Selecting 15 Lovely Blogs was a challenge – but here they are, writers, artists, photographers, and travelers from around the world. Visit their blogs if they are new to you.
When my husband said we were going to watch Fahrenheit 9/11 my mind, seeking entertainment, thought he was referring to the 1966 François Truffaut feature Fahrenheit 451. When I saw that we were watching Michael Moore’s documentary, I didn’t want to watch it because we had seen it in the theater and I knew it was depressing. The movie opens with the sad fact that witness after witness explained that the Florida election results were stolen from black voters, not one senator stood up to contest the results. All that was needed was one senator to have prevented the cascade of deaths and economic waste that began with Bush’s inauguration in 2001.
Also we’ve been watching Oliver Stone’s, “The Untold History of the United States.” This documentary reminds us that this country’s history is marked by one war after another. Founded by war, the American Revolution, then the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Mexican American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Iraqi Wars, and now Afghanistan. Ironically this country, which began through a revolution, in addition to all of the above wars, as Stone’s documentary points out, has made a consistent business of interfering with other country’s revolutions for freedom from despots.
Once again, the cries for another “pre-emptive” strike on a sovereign nation is rising up against Iran. We were tricked once with Iraq, are we going to allow ourselves to be “fooled” again? Are mothers going to be tricked into sending their sons to a foreign war to “protect freedom,” only to end with the sons questioning what they are doing and the mothers crying in grief? As W. E. B. DuBois wrote almost 100 years ago, “. . .until you and the Mothers speak, the men of the world bend stupid and crazed beneath the burden of hate and death.”
This burden is called karma. As long as the USA continues its violent course, it will reap the results of its karma in senseless mass murders of innocents. So, today, I intend to intensify my efforts to create peace in the world. As a Buddhist, I know that effort begins with me practicing peace in my daily life with the people I encounter. It means watching my anger and impatience, practicing kind and compassionate speech even when feeling vexed,wronged, or tired. Because I know that it is all of our little angers that ripple out in space to create a national hate and anger that leads to war.
If peace is your mandate, I invite you to join the efforts of groups like PeaceAction, Arms Control Association, and others. Anyone can be an internet activist by signing every petition to end the war in Afghanistan now, to end nuclear proliferation, to approve international arms treaties, and to refrain from attacking Iran or any country that has not attacked this country.
May this year lead more of us to make the intention to create peace within ourselves in order to create peace in our world.
This morning as I was reflecting on this story, I thought of the children and adults who died on December 14. My prayer, from the day of this sadness, has been for these children and adults to be quickly reborn to share the grace and light gained from their sacrifices. Suddenly, I saw clearly that unknown to their families, these children and adults chose to be born to sacrifice their lives. As a Buddhist I believe that we are reborn until we attain enlightenment, which is freedom from all that causes suffering. In Buddhism people can choose to be Bodhisattvas, beings dedicated to returning to physical existence until all sentient beings attain enlightenment. And Buddhism is filled with stories of Bodhisattvas making sacrifices, including their lives, for the benefit of others.
Many cultures see the death of babies and children as signs that these were special souls returning for a brief time to fulfill some greater spiritual purpose. And in Christianity, the one whose birth this holiday season celebrates, chose to make his life a sacrifice.
This story, an African interpretation of the birth of Jesus, has him offer to sacrifice his life, as God’s small son, before he is born on earth, to save people from God’s anger. I trust that the gentleness of this story may bring some comfort to those missing the presence of their most precious loved ones.
Click on the link to hear the story.
As the snow falls here in Northern Arizona that holiday feeling wraps with warmth. Today I share with you two of my favorite holiday stories for your listening enjoyment as you sit around the fireplace or relax on the couch. Just click on the link below and turn your volume high.
I didn’t celebrate Christmas for many years, after I left my parent’s home, until I moved in with Brian, my husband. We never bought a big tree, like his family, but we had fun finding perfect little gifts to pile under our small tree. The tiny wooden carving of an African dancer he gave me that first Christmas still dances in front of the window in my room.
This time I’d like to hear from you. Please share your favorite Christmas memories.
Storytelling CD Holiday Sale
In the most ancient of times, when the heavenly gods and goddesses descend to earth, the Mother of Rain, finds her mate in a wise Zulu warrior. And in the land to the west when the Osage people seek to choose their symbol, the Sky Clan Chooses Spider who weaves webs of story and gives other powers. A Wife’s Portrait pushes a humble Japanese man to bravery. A Lion’s Whisker teaches the patience of love to an Ethiopian woman. In England an old woman experiences the magic of the Hedley Cow while an old Russian man share’s wisdom with the simple words, We’ll See. Now in the USA, the daughter who wrote The Ballad of Mama Queen shares with many children the American story of a little boy who proudly wears The Cap My Mother Made Me. The storyteller learns from a West African tale, The Cow Tail Switch, what keeps a person alive. And knowing that secret, she shares the most important knowledge held in The Beautiful Heart.
As you celebrate this holiday season, share these stories with those you love by buying the Skywalker Storyteller CD for the special holiday gift price of $3.50 USA and $4.50 outside of the USA. This price includes shipping. Order today, supply limited. Click the link below to get your CD before Christmas!
The sweet smell of Thanksgiving began early with the delicately fragrant, smooth taste of egg-nog. Mama opened a carton of egg-nog a week before Thanksgiving. I relished the smooth, soft, spicy sweetness of this holiday drink. Slowly I savored each sip of the small cup Mama gave me. Every holiday brought the same special sweet-sour feelings, the warmth of everyone being at home, enjoying ourselves inside against the Minnesota cold outside.
On Thanksgiving day, delightful smells flowed through the house, pumpkin and sweet potato pies, cookies, roasting turkey, dressing, candied yams, greens, and baked bread. The day began as it did every year, everyone sitting in the living room watching Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade on T.V. Now, everyone was watching a football game. I hated football. So I roamed through the house, feeling alone. I returned to the living room and absently looked at the T.V. Men looking like over stuffed bears banged into each other. Every once in a while Daddy shouted. Mama sat next to Daddy, looking like a queen, gracefully holding a cigarette in her long, brown fingers, and listening to Shevawn. Sherri and Lisa sat in a corner playing. I started toward them but my younger sisters were so involved in what they were doing they didn’t notice me. So, I went upstairs to our attic bedroom and played with my dolls for a while. Soon, I became restless, as I often did, wanting to do something, but not knowing what.
I walked to the dining room and sighed, thinking what a mess, as I looked at the table covered with dirty plates, and glasses, and milk spills on the table cloth. I decided to clean off the table. After taking the dirty dishes and silverware into the kitchen, I placed the candles in a chair. Then I put two pies on chairs and the third pie on the floor near the chairs. With a damp cloth I carefully wiped off the tablecloth, scrubbing milk and coffee stains away. While the cloth dried, I washed dishes.
Now, the long, lacy off-white table cloth made the dining table look pretty and the candle holders sparkled. I picked up one pie from a chair and placed it beside one candle. As I stepped to get the second pie, my feelings sank with my foot into a soft ooze. I knew what had happened but couldn’t stop it. My foot was in the middle of a pumpkin pie. Tears rolled down my face as I held onto a chair and slowly lifted my foot out of the pie. I just wanted to make everything look pretty, I thought. And now I’ve ruined a pie. “Why can’t I ever do anything right?” I slid into a chair and pulled off my shoe. I used the dish rag to wipe off the pie mess as more tears rose in my eyes.
Just last week I was playing with Shevawn and caught her finger in the toy truck. The more I tried to get my baby sister’s finger out of the truck, the louder she cried. I said, “Don’t cry Boo-Boo. Don’t cry.” But even calling Shevawn her pet name didn’t stop her tears. Finally, Mama came and showed me how to open the truck so it didn’t hurt Shevawn’s finger. I remembered the time I washed the dishes and broke a knife and was afraid to tell Mama. But, I didn’t have any choice this time. Mama would miss the pie, no one else might, but Mama would.
Suddenly little fairy people appeared. With fluttering wings and graceful gestures they magically cleaned my shoe. Then they flew and sang over the pie and waved their little wands until it looked as if it had just come from the oven. I sighed as I finished wiping off my shoe, picked up the destroyed pie, knowing those fairies weren’t going to come in real life, and carried the crushed pie into the kitchen.
Mama was checking the turkey when I entered. Gently she said, “What happened sweetie?”
Once again tears filled my eyes. “I was cleaning off the dining table and ran out of space on the chairs. So, I put a pie on the floor, but forgot and stepped on it. I just wanted to make the table look pretty.”
Mama smiled and put the pie on the counter, then she gave me a warm hug and said, “Don’t worry, baby, we have plenty of pies. But, next time, don’t put food on the floor.”
“I’ll never do that again.” I said as I hugged her tightly. Then I went back to the dining room.
I placed the two pies on each side of the candles, and the the fruit bowl between the candles. Then I set the table with the napkins and fancy silverware Mama kept in the cabinet.A smile brightened my face as I stood by the window looking at the perfectly laid out table. Just then Mama stepped in with Boo-Boo.
Before I can begin to celebrate Thanksgiving I am compelled to send out a cry for peace, again. Two peoples who share the same God, the same blood lines, and the same land have begun to fire missiles and rockets that kill and wound children, women, and elders who carry no arms. Not only does injustice and violence rise its ugly head between Gaza and Israel, but also in Sudan, Congo, Syria, Pakistan and India, and here in the USA citizens in every state have signed petitions for secession.
When will people recognize that these continuing conflicts serve no purpose? When will those who claim to believe in higher powers recognize that all great spiritual traditions teach that the way to eternal happiness is through compassion, kindness, generosity, humility, and non-violence? The Dalai Lama says repeatedly, every human being shares the same needs and desires for happiness and a peaceful life.
I feel it is very important that those who believe in world peace use every avenue to stem the tide of violence, war, and hatred erupting again in Israel. Already I have seen the number of wounded in Palestine far exceeds those in Israel – and this has been the sad reality in recent years. Please use the tools of prayer, visualization, and political petition to enable this arising conflict to end immediately.
For those who did not listen to “Of the Children of Peace,” by W.E. B. DuBois, I end with his cry.
And you must answer, Children of Peace, you must answer! . . ./”The cause of War is Preparation for War.”/”The cause of Preparation for War is the Hatred and Despising of Men, your and my Brothers.” /”War is murder in a red coat.”/”War is raped mothers and bleeding fathers and strangled children.”/”War is Death, Hate, Hunger and Pain!”/”Hell is War!”/And when you believe this with all your little hearts;/And when you cry it across the seas and across the years with all your little voices –/Then shall the Mothers of all dead Children hear;/Then shall the Sisters of all dead brothers hear;/then shall the Daughters of all dead Fathers hear;/then shall the Women rise and say:/”War is done.”/”Henceforward and forever there shall be no organized murder of men, for the children we bear shall be the Children of Peace, else there shall be no children.”/Amen!/But cry, little Children, cry and cry loud and soon, for until you and the Mothers speak, the men of the world bend stupid and crazed beneath the burden of hate and death.
The Writings of W.E.B. DuBois, edited by Virginia Hamilton, 1975, Thomas Y. Crowell Co., New York
Do you know why Veteran’s Day is observed on November 11th? At 11:00 on November 11, 1918 the Allied Nations and Germany signed an armistice ending World War I.
In its resolution to recognize November 11th, in1926, the U.S. Congress wrote “. . .it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.”
The group of Veterans who continue to observe the original purpose of remembering November 11th are the Veterans for Peace.
Their statement of purpose is : “To increase public awareness of the costs of war : To restrain our government from intervening, overtly and covertly, in the internal affairs of other nations: To end the arms race and to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons: To seek justice for veterans and victims of war: To abolish war as an instrument of national policy.”
After World War I, W.E. B. DuBois, the civil rights leader and sociologist, wrote a story that reflects the purpose of veterans devoted to achieving peace.
Click on the following link to hear – Of the Children of Peace.