Last week I had decided to try to do something about asylum seekers and the upcoming winter. Rather than get on a plane and travel to Europe, and incur the wrath of family and friends, I looked for ways to help here.
I came upon a local organization in Denver: the ACC, the African Community Center. They are a sister organisation to the Ethiopian Development Council founded in 1983 as a response to the Ethiopian famine, and a warm and welcoming center for refugees and asylum seekers. Please see http://www.acc-den.org.
Today the world around me and the mood about refugees and asylum seekers sadly seems to be changing and not in a positive way. I think about my own family arriving in the USA in 1961, where we were received with open arms. Or my grandparents escaping hunger in Ireland and arriving in Buenos Aires in 1889 where they were warmly welcome. And the many who came through Ellis Island to seek a new life and found it in the loving arms of this incredible country.
So I have to admit I am a bit shell shocked by last week's horrible events but even more by the backlash in the US. Just a few minutes ago, the House approved tougher screening for certain refugees, when our screening process is the toughest in the world. But I will not allow violence and terror to confuse me, make me afraid, or have me believe that one refugee is different from another.
If this is the new normal, then the poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty needs to be done away with.
But don't worry: I am not giving up. We are all victims of terror if we step back in fear, in anger or in despair.
I think we can do something here and I am asking for your help: ACC in Denver is in need of some items, namely children’s winter coats, used or new, new children’s shoes, and car seats for babies. Also, dry foods such as rice and beans.
Would you look in your closet and in your pantry? I did, and was not surprised to find “too much” everywhere I looked. I counted five or six winter coats, and heck! I am kid size so off they go!
I can be the collection point and easily pick up any extra items you want to donate. If you have no “in kind” donations, I can take monetary donations through my paypal account (firstname.lastname@example.org) and shop in the local thrift stores.
Easier yet, I ask that you consider making a direct financial contribution to ACC, most especially during Colorado Gives Day, as there is an additional boost for the participating organizations including ACC. Please see https://www.coloradogives.org/index.php?section=organizations&action=newDonation&fwID=27246. Please note that you can give today in advance of the day.
Please consider even a small, recurring donation. I was the CFO of a huge non for profit and our biggest source of funds were very small recurring donations from grandmas all over the world who contributed as little as $10 a month. Please don’t back off because you think ten dollars is nothing! And remember that if you work for a corporation with a matching gift program your donation is doubled.
This world is one. We are all the same. We are at war, a war against all that is decent and loving and compassionate. A war against the very fiber of humanity. A war we must win because our enemy favors prejudice, because it assumes it is their way or the highway, and because it does not consider the evils committed by both sides.
We are a beautiful kaleidoscope of people. I am proud of my background as an immigrant of Irish Italian Argentine heritage. I love the jig and spaghetti and empanadas, and still have the same hope in my heart that I did when I landed in this great country in 1961.
We can only win this war with love. I choose love. Won’t you help?
“The first step in the evolution of ethics is a sense of solidarity with other human beings.”
I have always celebrated birthdays, loved birthdays, loved to embarrass my kids and myself at a restaurant by blowing out candles. Make special cakes in the shape of anything the kids ask.
Tomorrow is one of those special days. Was. November 18, my mother’s birthday. The first after her death. I am on quicksand here, not knowing if it is a special day anymore. Because she’s not around, flashing her smile, acting surprised that you remembered, opening the box with the silk scarf.
Many people wish their loved ones Happy Birthday in heaven. I just don’t know about that.
Mom always said that every day was Mother’s Day, dismissing the “Hallmark Day”. So I say now that you’re gone, every day is your birthday. Every day is a day to celebrate your life, your influence on all of us, the mark you left, the things you taught us and all of what you left behind that we continue to practice and pass on to our children.
So happy birthday mami, tomorrow and for the rest of my life.
Siempre me gustaron los cumpleaños. Me gusta celebrarlos, soplar las velas en un restaurant para avergonzar a los chicos, o hacer tortas especiales con cual sea la forma que me piden los nietos.
Mañana es uno de esos días especiales. Era. El 18 de noviembre, el cumpleanios de mami. El primero después de su muerte. No se, me siento como sobre arena movediza porque no se si sigue siendo un día especial. Porque ella no esta, con esa sonrisa deslumbrante, esa cara de sorpresa que te acordaste de su día, abriendo una hermosa caja con un pañuelo de seda.
Mucha gente les desea feliz cumple en el cielo a sus seres queridos. A mi no me convence. Mami siempre decia que “todos los días son el día de la madre”. Por eso digo que ahora que no estas mas en la tierra, todos los días son tu cumpleaños. Todos los días son días para celebrar tu vida, la influencia que has tenido sobre todos nosotros, la marca que nos dejaste, las cosas que nos enseñaste y todo lo que nos dejaste que continuamos a compartir con nuestros hijos.
Asi, que feliz cumpleaños mami, mañana y por el resto de mi vida.
Like a blast of peppermint on a hot Summer day.
Como una explosión de menta en un día cálido de verano
a tender frost covers the grass this morning
the rose bush lost yesterday's bright green
a tender frost that came stealthily
in the silence of the night
by the light of Venus
a tender frost
the grass feels cool to the touch
and my steps make a crunchy sound
the orange leaves in front
have taken a whole new hue
surrendering to the snows to come
i wish for a tender frost to cover my own heart
make it less red
surrendering to the snows that passed
i wish for my heart to stop bleeding
for my mom’s death
for little Maya’s scary birth
for my kids' pain
for little Linden's premature death
for the immigrants and the homeless
for the hungry and the elderly
for those who are dying
for new love
and for old love
i wish for the frost to stop
and the dreams that wake me up at night
that tender frost
el pasto se viste de una tierna escarcha
el rosal desnudo del verde brillante de ayer
una tierna escarcha
que se acercó a hurtadillas
en el silencio de la noche
iluminada por Venus
una tierna escarcha
se siente frío el pasto
y mis pasos suenan crocantes
bajo mis pies
las hojas anaranjadas
de la puerta de casa
han tomado un color diferente
entregadas a la nieve que se viene
necesito una tierna escarcha que cubra mi corazón
que lo haga menos rojo
las nieves que pasaron
deseo un corazón que deje de sangrar
por la muerte de mami
el difícil nacimiento de Maya
la prematura muerte de Linden
los imigrantes y los homeless
los que sufren de hambre
los viejos abandonados
los que se están muriendo
que deje de sangrar por el amor
el viejo y el nuevo
busco una escarcha que congele
y las pesadillas que me despiertan
esa tierna escarcha
I've been thinking a lot lately about the idea of unconditional love. Maybe it is the most difficult notion of love, if you really think about it and try to apply it to your everyday life. I'm looking for the kind of love you feel as a child - the love which I always held in my own heart for my cousin Pelusa, above.
Most of us try to find fault in others, from the little things that bug us, to the great big issues. I like him, but. "She's a good friend, but. I'm in love but. I wish he she they were a bit different, a bit more like what I want them to be."
In the last few months I have tried hard to love/like everyone in my life without any conditions. Try it. The friend with the bad table manners, the lover who snores like the dickens, the adolescent in your life, the inconvenient phone calls at the wrong time, the persistent bark of the neighbor's dog, the friend who never returns your calls and the others who always seem to complain about everything. What if we just started loving them, period? What if none of our comments about any of our loved ones had a "but" to follow. What if we accepted each and every person who crosses our path as they are? No holds barred.
This attempt, not always successful, to love, period, has opened up my world. Has brought me peace. Has made me realize that it was only from my own imperfections that I judged others.
From now on, get ready for a different kind of lunalove.
He estado pensando mucho en el amor incondicional. Me parece que puede llegar a ser la noción mas difícil de amar/querer, si lo pensamos bien y tratamos de aplicarlo a nuestra vida diaria. Busco ese amor que siempre sentí por mi primita Pelusa, en la foto.
La mayoría de nosotros tratamos de encontrar faltas en los otros, desde las pequeñas cosas que nos molestan, a los factores enormes. "Es una buena amiga, pero...Estoy enamorada, pero...Me gustaría que fuera un poco diferente, mas como yo quisiera que fuera".
Durante los últimos meses, he tratado de querer a todos en mi vida sin condiciones. Los desafío a probar. El amigo que no sabe comer, el amante que ronca como una bestia, el adolescente en tu vida, las llamadas telefónicas que llegan a una hora inconveniente, el ladrar del perro de la vecina, la amiga que no devuelve tus llamadas, y los que siempre se quejan de todo. Y si nos ponemos a quererlos de verdad, punto? Que pasaria si nuestros comentarios sobre amigos, amores y conocidos no siguieran con un "pero". Y si aceptamos a todos los que cruzan nuestro camino así como son?
Este esfuerzo, a veces con exito, de amar, y punto, ha abierto mi mundo. Me ha traído mucha paz. Me he dado cuenta que es solo a raíz de mis propias imperfecciones que juzgo a los otros.
e ahora en mas, prepárense para otra forma de lunamor.
There she is! Maya. My latest grandchild. The one who came to teach, like five others before her. There she is, her soft and spotless skin next to abuela’s lived-in hand. Her breath, soft as a spring breeze, her profile so much like Patti's that it is almost too painful to behold.
There she is, radiant, full of life.
I can’t write about the other part. Not yet. The rush to one hospital, then another, with Maya unabe to breathe on her own. The look on my Patti’s face, a new mom unwilling to grasp the “what could happen”. The fear that had clutched my heart, the darkness that tried to swallow us all. I can’t write about the seconds turned to minutes turned to hours that became days. The tubes coming out of her.
The look on Patti’s face.
And yes, there she is! Maya. My latest grandchild. She came to teach - a clear lesson. The fragility of life. The instant when light turns to dark. The family that wraps its arms around it all. The will to live. The chance at life.
And yes, there she is! Maya. Four weeks.
Abuela’s hand a lot older than four weeks ago.
Ahi está! Maya. La mas reciente nieta. La que vino a enseñar como los cinco anteriores. Ahi está, su hermoso cutis perfecto al lado de la mano bien vivida de la abuela. Su respiro, suave como un viento de primavera, su perfil tan igual al de Patti que me duele hasta mirarlo.
Ahi está, radiante, llena de vida.
Aún no me atrevo a escribir sobre lo otro. El apuro para llegar al primer hospital, luego al otro, Maya que no podia respirar por su cuenta. La carita de mi Patti, una nueva mamá reacia a aceptar lo “que puede pasar”. El miedo que se apoderó de mi corazón, la oscuridad que trataba de cubrirnos a todas. No puedo escribir sobre los segundos convertidos en minutos y las horas que se convirtieron en días. Los tubos que le salían de todos lados. La carita de mi Patti.
Y si, ahi está! Maya. La mas reciente nieta. Vino a enseñar una lección muy clara. La fragilidad de la vida. El instante cuando la luz se oscurece. La familia que te abraza. El deseo de vivir. La oportunidad de vida.
Y si, ahí está! Maya. Cuatro semanas.
La mano de la abuela mucho mas envejecida que hace cuatro semanas.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Are you Mary or are you Martha? I know have always been more of a Martha, hurried and rushed, busy in the kitchen making last minute preparations, grumbling that no one is there to help me. Inside. Making sure everything is “just so”. Table, perfectly set. Food, perfectly prepared. Wine, perfectly chilled. Candles perfectly lit. Behind the scenes. Away. Alone.
How much did I miss, hiding in the kitchen while others sat around the table “doing what was needed?”. How many sweet and tender conversations must have taken place between loved ones while I was putting the last touches on the creme brulee? How much did others learn about life and about each other while I was complaining that no one helped me? And how much time did I complain so loudly that my voice drowned out the touch of angels that had taken residence in my house?
Jesus was not saying that it is OK to let everything go to pot or to ignore our guests' needs. But he was saying that there are times to be in the kitchen and there are times to be sitting at his feet, taking a break, savouring his words, and comfort a friend in need. You see, Jesus’ heart was heavy, on his way to the final days of his life, with the dire certainty of what was about to happen, the inevitability of the suffering to come, the gripping sadness of all those who were about to turn their backs on him. At this moment, you see, Jesus needed his friends more than food, more than drink and maybe much more than his friends needed him.
As Mary sat at his feet - mind you, every time we meet Mary she is at the Savior’s feet — giving him the last hours of unconditional love and comfort he would feel on this earth, Martha was inside making chicken soup and complaining about her sister!
How many critical moments in your life have you missed because you thought you were doing the right thing when only one thing was needed?
Today, on Yom Kippur, take the time to be Mary. Sit at someone's feet. Listen. Love. Comfort. Do what is needed.