For the Children

Bida and her children, Morocco, 2019

FOR THE CHILDREN

The rising hills, the slopes,
of statistics
lie before us.
the steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
go down.

In the next century
or the one beyond that,
they say,
are valleys, pastures,
we can meet there in peace
if we make it.

To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children:

stay together
learn the flowers
go light.

– Gary Snyder –

Yes, for the children
young and old,
inner and outer,
near and far,
who are suffering
the loss of
home, safety, culture, familytoo many to list
to fires, floods, earthquakes, political oppression, disease, povertytoo many to list

May we stay together.
May we pray together.
May we play together.
In the flowers.
In the light.

Thinking of the peoples of Afghanistan, Haiti, Bangladesh, Turkey, Greece, Sicily, France, Canada, United States, Germany, Belgium – too many to list.

Give-Away Song

GIVE-AWAY SONG

This is my give-away—
            not because I don’t want
                  it anymore,
            not because it’s out of
                  style or
                broken or
                useless since it lost
                its lid or one of its buttons,
            not because I don’t understand
                the “value” of things.
This is my give-away—
            because I have enough
                  to share with you
            because I have been given
                  so much
                    health love happiness
                    pain sorrow fear
            to share from the heart
            in a world where words can be
            meaningless when they come
            only from the head.
This is my give-way—
            to touch what is good in you
            with words your heart can hear
            like ripples from a pebble
            dropped in water
            moving outward growing
            wider touching others.
            You are strong.
            You are kind.
            You are beautiful.
This is my give-away.
     Wopida ye.   
          Wopida ye.
                Wopida ye.

– Gwen Westerman –


Arriving in my inbox this week from the Academy of American Poet’s “poem a day” feature, this poem needs to be given away, again and again. So I share it here, to “touch what is good in you” and in me, too, during days when I need to remember this, and maybe you do, too.
(Typically I format a poem on the centre of the page, but here, I chose to preserve the author’s original, off centre formatting.)

A New Moment

“I keep having variations on the same conversation with friends and strangers and colleagues. How extraordinary it feels, for those of us in places of the world that are opening up, to do ordinary things like hug people and walk unmasked into common spaces and even just be at the office. Yet: how strangely, puzzlingly unnerving it all also can feel.”

Krista Tippett, The Pause, July 17, 2021

Yes. Yes. Yes. How extraordinary to hug my friends; to dine out last night inside a favourite restaurant, one buzzing with the energy and enjoyment of patrons at every table. Yet strange, puzzling and unnerving. Yes.

I continue to vacillate between wanting full out engagement (in my introverted, socially anxious way) to remaining cocooned in my backyard. The once ordinary still suspended, not yet settled. Last night we were shown our table, the only one remaining, positioned at the entrance, one I would have typically refused for its situation on the threshold between its comings and goings. However, it had the most space around it, wasn’t as noisy, and oddly enough, provided comfort consistent with my lived experience of the world on a threshold, between its comings and goings.

A lesson in this for me: that what I had previously relied on and looked for – both out there and in here (I type, pointing to my body) – for comfort and confidence, to have capability and competency, for helping me to show up well in my life, is now up for review, reconsideration, and revision. That there’s an invitation in the subtle discomfort arising from being and doing that no longer feels quite right.

“We are, on many levels, in a new chapter — following on the multiple chapters of the past 18 months. This is a time of transition. It’s a liminal space emotionally, psychologically, physically, institutionally, relationally.”

Krista Tippett, The Pause, July 17, 2021

In the past few weeks, since my province “opened up” and relaxed all public health restrictions, I’ve had several anxious filled dreams each with the theme of identity – lost, stolen, awakened – from being confronted on the “conflict of interest” within myself and with community; to having my wallet with my driver’s license and health cards, and my passport stolen; to having my home overtaken by technicians and researchers, there to rewire it and me.  This, as my country awakens, yet again, to its history and horrific impacts of the identity “theft” and “rewiring” of its First Peoples via the Indian Act and residential schools. This, as our world awakens in the aftermath of the life altering pandemic.

“Part of what we need to do now is rest, as we are able. To let ourselves fall apart, perhaps. Throughout the pandemic, it’s been hard to fully articulate what was happening inside us and how that was ricocheting between us. Now, we are in a new moment, called to feel what we need to feel, to find words and new intelligence of practice in all the spaces we inhabit and work in and relate in. To acknowledge what we’ve survived, what we’ve lost, what we’ve begun to learn.”

Krista Tippett, The Pause, July 17, 2021

In the past few days I have been incredibly tired. Perhaps a run of nights of fitful sleep under a “heat dome” is finally taking its toll. Too, I have been filled with sadness beyond plausible attribution. While I have been pretty good at processing throughout the pandemic – here, in my journal, and in conversation – as the once immediate focus on covid is wrestled away by staggering climate catastrophes near and far, and other innumerable violence and tragedies, grief – in all its spaces and places – continues to seek my acknowledgement and its expression.

To help me find the wisdom in this liminal time.
To shape anew myself, my relationships with others, and with my world.
To do so without quite knowing how.

“Grief is not so much a process that we “make it through” and come out the other side fully intact, but a non-linear, purifying midwife of the unknown.”

Matt Licata, personal blog, June 16, 2021

Another one of these posts that pauses to simply notice and somewhat name.

Much love and kindest regards, dear friends.

Sweet Treats

Last week I posted on Facebook: “It’s legit. I am a writer. Got my first paid contract as writer for EdmontonEats.yeg, and my first publication. Penning the words of my next life chapter. Thank you.” Below is my first story for EdmontonEats.

SWEET TREATS

“Sweet Treats” Box

Safely distanced, masked and gloved, we gathered on a beautiful spring day in Bannerman community to assemble the latest offering from EdmontonEats. The “Sweet Treats Box” – a colourful combination of cookies, cakes, nuts, and dates traditionally prepared for Eid Al-Fitr, the Islamic feast celebrating the end of Ramadan’s month of holy fasting – was chosen by the Cultural Hosts to be a perfect gift to celebrate Mother’s Day.

Lucie Vadaro’s Cards

Standing in a circle, introductions made, and duties assigned by founder Maureen Murphy-Black, this small group of mothers and daughters folded boxes, carefully placed the assortment of goodies – each made with an equal portion of love and care by Cultural Hosts and Chef Cindy Lazarenko – topped them with a menu card, tied up with ribbon, bow and a Mother’s Day card handmade by local artist, Lucie Vadaro.

Afaf Bayoud of EdmontonEats

With Afaf Bayoud’s presence, one of three bakers for this event, we learned about the treats and  what went into making them. The first fifty boxes finished, we broke for coffee, sitting in the sunshine and sampling from the tasty broken bits, feeling most fortunate for this preview of goodness!

Mother-Daughter Helpers

The next fifty boxes went like clockwork, each of us settled into our role, working seamlessly. Circling up for goodbyes, we remarked how much we enjoyed our time together, and recalled times when women traditionally worked together – in quilting and sewing bees, cooking and canning – to share the labour and our stories, and make community.

In those few hours, we experienced why EdmontonEats exists – connecting people through the celebration of food, culture and community while providing economic and social capital opportunities for Edmonton’s immigrant and refugee communities – and it tasted sweet.

I appreciate the time you take to read (and-or in some cases, listen via my podcast) to my posts. Your comments – both public and private – help me become a better writer. Thank you.

Much love and kindest regards, dear friends.

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