Glaring Dare

SummerHaze DvoraFreedman

Photo: Dvora Freedman

 

In the midst of what glares

Too-hot stares

Reckless dares

Everywhere,

Find a moment to spare

Take a breath, be aware

Of the beauty

The air

And the hope

That we share

If we care

To embrace all that’s there

And declare

No despair

As we pledge

No warfare

And instead

Seek repair.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

Elemental Moment

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Photo Credit: A. Asif

 

This photo taken by a family member during an extended trip, captures all the elements of life for me: The water that laps at the stone hearth; the dirt and rocks upon which the fire burns; the wood the earth had allowed the growth of; the small sample of water that the fire warms up to cook with other products of the earth – of water, air, light, and earth – to feed, fuel, and maintain the breath of those who walk upon it; the wisps of smokes blown by the breeze like tendrils of exhalations. And time … in the brief anticipation of a meal, the eternity of cycles of all life, the waning light of day, the push and pull of tides upon the water. Also relationships – the connections that sustain and maintain us – the meal soon-to-be-shared, the basking in the calm rest that follows a day of hard hiking. A completeness of a moment, and the story it tells of the moments that preceded and the ones upcoming.

 

For The Photo Challenge

What is Friendship?

 

 

Today, July 30, is the International Day of Friendship. The day is designed to bridge the gaps of race, color, religion, nationality, and other factors that keep people from forming and enjoying friendships with one another. It is meant to encourage dialogue, acceptance, and understanding between people of different backgrounds. Friendship matters. It can prevent war and promote peace. Research shows it can keep people healthier, happier, and living longer.

Having friends is a good thing. However, what defines a friend? What is friendship?

To me, friendship is a word as big as all relationships put together, yet as unique as any human pairing. In some ways “friendship” is as clear yet as ambiguous as the word “family”: Do you count only siblings or also cousins and nephews? Second cousins? Grand-nephews? In-laws? Third cousins thrice removed? Different people list family differently. Some define “immediate family” and “close family” versus “distant relatives” while others see all kin as kin. Can one argue that one person’s definition is more or less valid than another’s? Who decides who is or isn’t “family?”

Similar variability may be true for friendships, with different ‘kinds’ and types and closeness all jumbled under one rather all-inclusive word.

There are the friends you grow up with. The children of your parents’ friends, with whom you were ‘forced’ to spend time and sometimes had grown close to. The classmates and groups assigned by teachers. The bunkmates at camp, the teammates at sports. There are the neighbors you’d spent time with because they were the ones closest to toss a ball or take turns on the bike with after school. Among all those, some may have become your friends, some might have turned enemies, and a few may have grown to be as close as your own siblings. Maybe more.

Then there are the friends you make during life-changing matters: Military buddies you’d trust your life to; illness buddies who you know understand what other friends may not; the co-worker who had your back when a boss was unkind or another co-worker was out to get you; the neighbor who stepped up when the roof leaked in the middle of the night or who’d offered a safe place for you when they suspected you weren’t so in your own house.

There are also the passing friendships that may or may not continue beyond the moment of circumstance: Like the people you’d met on the cruise or were stuck in the airport overnight with during a storm. Or that single mom you’d helped give the bottle to the baby when the toddler had a tantrum and she hadn’t nearly enough arms for both. You got to talk, and sat together, and then exchanged numbers and never called each other but you still find yourself looking for her anytime you fly, and see her in every single mother flying with small children. She had become a friend. Inside your mind.

And friendships that turn into something more: Like the elderly man across the street on whom you checked after a storm and found out that he had no one to help him change a lightbulb and could no longer climb. And so you had, and stayed a moment longer while he shared a story from his life, and then you invited him over for dinner and he came wearing a suit and holding flowers from his garden … And he now comes to all your family’s holidays and get-togethers. Because he’s a friend now. Of the family.

And, of course, one cannot speak of friendships without those friendships that ARE family. The sibling who is also a best friend, the cousin one is close to, the partners one makes a life with and become both family and best-friends-for-the-real-forever.

So what are friendships? Maybe they are anything and everything we make them. With humans, with your furry friends. How we define them may shift and change, but the connection is recognizable.

How would you define friendships? What is a friend to you? If so inclined, will you comment below?

And on this day of international friendships and on every day: may your friendships be as fruitful and plentiful as you wish them to be. May they fill your life and heart with joy and meaning. May it be so and more.

Satisfaction

boy with dog

Photo: Atara Katz

 

My niece took this photo of a boy and his dog several years ago in Charleston, North Carolina. Then and now, it feeds my heart and gladdens my soul. The ageless, timeless, wordless friendship it conveys, the togetherness that needs no explanation, the calm connection of this shared experience, the gentle trust. I can almost feel the soft undulation of the water under the bow, the relaxed balance of both child and canine, the subtle breath of breeze, the deep contentment of the moment, the beauty of the day.

 

 

For The Photo Challenge

Heart Tethers

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Photo: Osnat Halperin-Barlev

 

There’s a tether that connects the hearts of care, the souls of kindness. It is tangible. It is sublime. It has a quality of light which bridges time and place, happenstance and circumstance.

It is not about words. Or at least not exactly. It is the way one can be seen: if known by name or face or only by the recognition of a shared humanity. It is the way one can be heard: by action or response, reflection or emotion, by prayer and by thought. It is the way we all are one, essentially, affected by the pains and joys that grip even those whom we may not know, and yet are part of us, in one way or another.

There is a tether that fetters heartbeats to the expressions of another. It is seen in young and old as mirror neurons and empathy weave the tapestry of wisdom and pulse with compassion.

There is a tether interlinking who we each are with who we can be. It exists in sharp relief to whom we might become if we risk the loss of that which nourishes what ticks within.

“It is a chain to care,” some say, reluctant of obligation. “A leash. A hindrance to independence.”

Not so, for it is not restraint, but rather a foundation. A cornerstone of interconnection. We are none of us truly an island, and all part of a shared future: the air, the earth, the water, the resources, the young and old, the hearts and minds.

 

 

For The Daily Post

A Little Closer

vugust on tumblr

Photo: vugust on tumblr

 

“Granpa is no here anymore,” he stated, morose, “he go back to very far.”

The little boy raised impossibly long-lashed honey eyes to me but I didn’t think he was looking at anything in the room. His eyes were seeing through the walls and out to where a presence is not constrained by oceans, mileage, and topography.

His little face was pinched in a sad frown and he fingered the edge of his shirt, before taking in a long breath that seemed to fill not only his lungs but also return the sparkle into his eyes. He pointed a small finger at the center of his chest. Exhaled. Took another breath.

“But Granpa no really faraway,” he declared, the last two words blended into one in a sing-song. “My heart think so he only little closer very far.”

 

 

For The Daily Post

Champion Compassion

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Champion compassion, not judgment.

Hold close kindness rather than disdain.

Treasure connection over hierarchy.

Prize intention above gain.

Cherish empathy, for it will nourish.

Uphold truth …

Remember

Learn.

Protect hearts, and peace will follow.

Defend the weak, and they’ll be strong.

Nurture hope, and it will grow sturdy.

Safeguard the Earth

Where

All

belong.

 

 

For The Daily Post

Elixir of Hope: The Recipe

elixir

In one heart, mix equal parts:

Pearls of connection, words of caring, acts of kindness, steps of courage, hugs of comfort, breaths of peace, paths of truth, smiles of joy, touches of compassion.

Brew with gentleness till ample Hope forms.

 

For The Daily Post

Above all, Love.

Breathe now

The light

That dances on the pavement

Filters between branches of bare trees

From winter sky.

Breathe now

Because the truth

Remains

In spite

Of images

Or imaginings

Of misplaced

Amplified

Fear.

Breathe …

Because above all,

Love.

Of life

Of nature

Earth

All babies

Freedom

Oxygen and gravity.

Love of

Heart strings and connection

Of compassion

And

The ties that bind.

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Photo by A.Katz

 

For The Daily Post

Unfiltered Illusion

interconnectedness-by-deificusart

Image by DeificusArt

Until not very long ago, people lived under the illusion that their small corners of the world were separate entities somehow disconnected from the remainder of the Earth. Their lives focused on the immediate surroundings and the people they had met or known or who shared their close environment. Other places were ‘far away.’ Unseen worlds where things happened to ‘other’ people; as alien as Mars; not our concern.

We know better now. Or should.

The reality that all of us are huddled on a marble hurtling through space is indisputable. The reality of our deeds impacting the survival of another is a fact, not fiction. Humanity is interconnected. We all are children of the same ancestors. The ‘others’ aren’t really any different than our own.

It is one planet. We’re all roommates, essentially.

Our actions and inactions impact everyone, this way or another, whether we follow the threads of our choices responsibly, or kick the can, turn off the light and pretend the mess we left is someone else’s to clean up.

You toss a plastic bag into the trash and the next thing you know it tangles fishing lines thousands of miles over and kills the fish that feed the children there. You drill the depths for oil and gas and the next thing you know it spills and blocks the sunlight from the reefs, confuses the navigation of oceanic animals, pollutes the very bed of life we all depend on, the very food on your plate. Someone grows hate in faraway ‘over there’ and it oozes onto disillusioned youth ‘here at home.’ It feeds on itself and on the fear and anger that spews from it. You make war and it kills people in concentric circles of misery that span the globe, physically and otherwise.

Ripples in the water. One vast system.

We’re not separate. Separation is made up.

Borders are man made lines of convenience and power. They contain no values of their own. They aren’t filters of morals, merit, or ‘type of person’ for who is or is not worthy of respect or life or empathy or a home. It’s an illusion to think that other countries are somehow disconnected, unaffected, un-affecting, irrelevant, less than. It’s an illusion to pretend that one’s borders make one a better person, or make the ‘other’ a lesser. It is blindness to believe that all we need to do is tend to ‘here’ and that the ‘there’ is for someone else to care for. There is no ‘here’ and ‘there’ on a shared sphere.

What we spit out, flush out, frack out, drill out, spill out … how we treat each other, all life, and everything on this planet … is an immediate reflection of who we are, a shared future. We all use the same water, air, resources, and atmosphere.

Filters of religion, race, location, finances–they are all artificial.

One planet. One species of humanity. One biosphere.

It is time we filter out division. It is time we hold a sieve to separate false-views of qualitative value that puts one human’s worth above another’s. It is time we catch the flotsam and jetsam of bigotry and misogyny; apprehend the debris of religions used not for tolerance and acceptance but for divisiveness and pseudo-hierarchy; dismantle outdated beliefs of patriarchy and other pretended superiority that use lies and fear-of-other to justify all kind of war.

Because when all that artificiality is filtered out, when layers of man-made pretense are taken off and we see life for what it is and not the ‘alternative facts’ some want to force into pseudo-reality: It becomes clear.

In the core of real spirituality in all traditions, it always was:

The truth.

We are, and always had been, one.

One planet. One climate. One. Interconnected, intertwined

No walls can change that.