Posted in Music, Niamh Clune

We Are the Voice, 2019 – Children’s Anthem to Save Mother Earth

If you are viewing this from an email subscription it’s likely you’ll have to link through to the side to enjoy this moving video.

We Are The Voice: Children’s anthem to save Mother Earth. This song written by Niamh Clune in 2002 for the World Summit in Johannesburg. We have re-recorded it with singers from six Surrey schools. The song launches our children’s plastic awareness campaign.
Find us on Spotify HERE: https://open.spotify.com/album/2Y66pe…
and I tunes HERE: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/we-…
app=itunes&ign-mpt=uo%3D4.
Join our campaign: https://www.wearethevoice.org.uk

Posted in General Interest, Guest Writer, Imen Benyoub, Music, Peace & Justice, Poems/Poetry

Music, Language of the Soul: the second in a series from Imen Benyoub on music in the context of war and occupation

The first post in this series is HERE.
10423604_519811371480762_878196538_n
Music, the language of the soul
The cultural Intifada*…From stones to musical instruments.
The story of Ramzi Abu Radwan.

They impressed the world
And all they had in their hands were stones
They lit like lanterns, and came like messengers
From “children of the stones” Nizar Quabbani (1923-1998), Syrian poet and publisher

The first Intifada is the Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation that started on December 1987 in Jabalia** refugee camp and spread throughout the rest of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It lasted six years until the signing of Oslo Accords in 1993.

It was an unarmed, spontaneous yet exploding uprising, men with their faces covered with keffiyehs***, women and children with nothing but stones, slingshots and Molotov cocktails faced tanks and live ammunition of well-trained, heavily equipped Israeli soldiers.

10423556_519811321480767_1963506964_aOne of those children, a kid wearing blue jeans and a red jacket whose picture reached the world newspapers became a legendary symbol of the Intifada, a skinny kid throwing stones at an army jeep, his eyes welled with tears, on his face a mixture of anger, fear and defiance. This kid, whose picture was reproduced in posters all over the world as an icon of the uprising, never knew that his destiny will change forever and he will become a visionary artist.

This was Ramzi Aburadwan, born in Bethlehem in 1979, he spent his childhood and first teenage days in a refugee camp in Ramallah where his family was forced to live after the Nakbah****, his best friend died on their way home from school during a military operation, he was eight when a journalist took a picture of him hurling stones and was later called “the iconic child of the Intifada”.

Ramzi was introduced to music at the age of 17, when a woman invited him to attend a course, he immediately loved it and this was the beginning of his journey with music.

After a year of study in the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music at Birzeit University, he received a scholarship to study in a Conservatoire in France; on 2005 he went back to Palestine after graduation with dreams and promises of a brighter life for children.

640px-StainerThe multi-talented Aburadwan founded Al Kammanjati*****, a nonprofit organization that offers children especially from refugee camps music lessons, its aim is to keep them in touch with their cultural heritage, develop and nurture their skills and create an intimately entertaining atmosphere away from the violence and frustrations of their daily life under occupation. It gave them a precious chance to travel, play with different orchestras and meet young musicians from all over the world. Classical music is also introduced as a valuable weapon in the so called “the cultural Intifada” a peaceful way of resistance to save Palestinian culture and identity through letters, art and musical notes, something Palestinians began to understand with time because of Israeli policy of extensive judaisation of the land and fierce attempts to bury and distort Palestinian history and heritage.

He takes part in the West Eastern Divan Orchestra directed by Israeli-Argentine born conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim who said about him:

“Aburadwan has transformed not only his life, his destiny but that of many, many, many other people, this is an extraordinary collection of children all over Palestine that have all been inspired and opened to the beauty of life”

Al Kammanjati was honoured by “prince Klaus award” from the Netherlands in 2006.

* Intifada: Arabic word for “uprising”-Bethlehem, Ramallah: Palestinian cities in the West Bank.
**Jabalia: a refugee camp in the North of Gaza.
***Keffiyeh: a traditional black and white Middle Eastern cotton scarf, later considered a symbol of Palestinian nationalism and solidarity
***Bethlehem, Ramallah: Palestinian cities in the West Bank.
****Nakbah: Arabic word for “catastrophe” refers to the mass expulsion of more than 750.000 Palestinians from their lands in 1948 and creating a state of Israel on the occupied land.
****
*Al Kammanjati: Arabic word for “the violinist”

Trill_example_ornaments

A concerto for stone and violin:

The story of this generous musician and fighter inspired me to write this poem

A Poem for Ramzi Abu Radwan

The meditation of stone
In my hand
Is my song of freedom
That even your bullets
Can never pierce

Look at me
I am the child of the Intifada
These Palestinian hands
That were uprooted from my village
Like olive trees
And grew up in a camp
Small and scratched
will braid another song
From strings of a violin

Years pass
And the weeping violin
In my exiled soul
Will always remain
My song of freedom
That even your oppression
Can never silence

– Imen Benyoub

 

A portrait of the man:

The man’s music:

© 2014, essay and poem, Imen Benyoub, All rights reserved; Photograph (1) Ramzi Abu Radwan, adult and child, courtesy of Mr. Abu Radwan and ramallah cafe; photo of violin courtesy of Frink54 via Wikipedia under CC BY-SA 3.0; musical notations courtesy of Sprouls via Wikipedia under CC BY-SA 3.0.

pictureIMEN BENYOUB ~ is a multilingual, multi-talented writer, poet, and artist from Guelma, Algeria. Imen currently lives in East Jerusalem. She is a frequent guest here on The Bardo Group blog and with On the Plum Tree and Plum Tree Books Facebook page as well.

Posted in Joseph Hesch, Nature, poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry

Empty Nests

Raking up winter’s debris next to the house
I found the tiny basket, a fallen relic of lives
born, nurtured and winged off to make their own ways.
I almost overlooked it among the twists of twigs
and dry grass, but for the intricacy of its weave,
the palm of a hand knit to hold expectations.

Miniscule aquamarine mosaics peppered its walls, like
photos of a neighbor’s children, forgotten.
I plucked bits of fluff from within and
slipped them into my wallet between my
cracked but held-tight memories of little ones
who once cried and grew and flew here, too.

– Joseph Hesch

© 2014, poem, Joseph Hesch, All rights reserved

Hesch Profileproduct_thumbnail-3.phpJOSEPH HESCH (A Thing for Words) is a writer and poet from Albany, New York , an old friend of Bardo and a new core team member. Joe’s work is published in journals and anthologies coast-to-coast and worldwide. He posts poems and stories-in-progress on his blog, A Thing for Words.  An original staff member at dVerse Poets Pub website, Joe was named one of Writers Digest Editor Robert Lee Brewer’s “2011 Best Tweeps for Writers to Follow.” He is also a member of the Grass Roots Poetry Group and featured in their 2013 poetry anthology Petrichor Rising.

Posted in Niamh Clune, Writing

Why not write a poem about your mother?

img118April has been declared International poetry month and The Bardo Group* are celebrating with all things poetry. Plum Tree Books will participate in interNational Poetry Month by publishing a new anthology of poetry.

Because we love all things children and all things poetry, I would like to bring together two marvellous themes: International poetry month with the recent celebration of Mother’s Day. Our anthology will celebrate all things MOTHER! Would you like to write a poem for your mother? Are you a mother who would love to encapsulate the experience of mothering? Would you love to write a poem for your child that will live forever? Or maybe, you are a child who would love to send in a poem about your mother?

This anthology will celebrate the essence of mothering. Send in an image to accompany your work, if possible…(details below)

I am also calling on artists and illustrators who would like to participate by helping us to illustrate this anthology with original work. All copyright and acknowledgement will, of course, be accredited to all contributors. Submission automatically licences Plum Tree Books to publish your work for the sole purpose of this publication only, but you always own your copyright.

We will also promote you!

Please submit your contributions to: niamhclune@plumtreebooks.co.uk

This anthology will be published as an e-book first. Proceeds of sales will go towards seeing your work in print. This will make a wonderful coffee table gift, or to use for self-promotion.

Encourage your children to participate and send in their drawings too!I will also be looking for the perfect image for the book cover.

All submitted images should have full copyright permission and be in high resolution (At least 300 dpi’s). Images should be scanned.

Submissions by June 5th

Publication as e-book by July 5th

Help us make this a thing of beauty and a joy forever!

Best, Niamh Clune

* Editor’s Note: Link HERE for The Bardo Group mission statement. The Bardo Group – an informal noncommercial collective – and Niamh Clune/Plum Tree Books have a casual nonfinancial friendship based on a shared love of poetry and the humanities and a desire to encourage peace and understanding, individual creativity and appreciation for the arts.

430564_3240554249063_1337353112_n-1orange-petals-cover_page_001DR. NIAMH CLUNE (Plum Tree Books Blog) ~ is the author of the Skyla McFee series: Orange Petals in a Storm, and Exaltation of a Rose. She is also the author of The Coming of the Feminine Christ: a ground-breaking spiritual psychology. Niamh received her Ph.D. from Surrey University on Acquiring Wisdom Through The Imagination and specialises in The Imaginal Mind and how the inborn, innate wisdom hidden in the soul informs our daily lives and stories. Niamh’s books are available in paperback (children’s books) and Kindle version (The Coming of the Feminine Christ). Dr. Clune is the CEO of Plum Tree Books and Art. Its online store is HERE.  Niamh’s Amazon page is HERE.

Posted in Culture/History, Essay, General Interest, Priscilla Galasso

Good Gawd, Y’all!

Another school shooting hit the news yesterday. The impact seems dull. Repetition has begun to numb my response. The predictable media storm continues, but just as raindrops seem less penetrating after your clothes are soaked, I simply can’t absorb this horror. And that is rather shocking.

 I Googled “List of school shootings in the U.S.” The Wikipedia article’s chronology goes by decade, starting with the 1760s. There is one entry there. The next listing is 9 decades later. Two items there. The narration continues to list shootings for every decade. When we get to this millennium, the bullet points are replaced by a chart. From 2000 – 2010, there are 46 different shooting events chronicled. From 2010 – 2014 (n.b. Not even half a decade!) there are 65, including yesterday’s. And I may have lost count of one while scrolling down through the list.

Obviously, this storm is escalating. This is a flood. Our country is awash in violence being perpetrated against school children. School children! What can that be about? What madness has overtaken our culture that young people at their studies have become targets? I’m pretty sure it’s not so much about the targets as it is about target practice.

 Our culture has target practice deeply embedded in its psyche and readily available in its entertainment, military and politics. Angry? Take aim. Proud? Take aim. Patriotic? Take aim. Need security? Take aim. Impoverished? Needy? Insulted? Invisible? Defiant? Miffed? Whatever the uncomfortable feeling you have, you can get relief by pulling out a weapon and taking aim at some target. Children in school apparently make a pretty easy gallery.

 This approach is like using the same tool for every situation, no matter what it is. Would you use a hammer to wind your watch or play your piano or punch down your bread dough or crochet a sweater? No. And how did you learn to lay your hands on the appropriate tool for each of these situations? Most likely, at a very young age, you watched someone do it. A role model. Perhaps a parent or grandparent. Someone you trusted, who spent time with you, doing everyday kinds of things.

P1040287

 Let’s look around. Where are the role models that are pulling out weapons for every crisis? Where are the role models who are negotiating, discussing, creatively engaging, brainstorming and experimenting with different non-violent approaches? Who are the role models who have multiple tools in their belts and use the appropriate ones for the situation? And violence, what is it good for? Is it ever the best tool for the job?

 And, c’mon, let’s be creative. Why does our entertainment have to follow this unimaginative formula of violence? There are a million other options. There are a million other roles to play. Playing something different will make us smarter, wiser, more flexible, more open, more like children. School children….our vanishing resource.

© 2014, essay and photograph, Priscilla Galasso, All rights reserved

004PRISCILLA GALASSO ~ started her blog at scillagrace.com to mark the beginning of her fiftieth year. Born to summer and given a name that means ‘ancient’, her travel through seasons of time and landscape has inspired her to create visual and verbal souvenirs of her journey.

Currently living in Wisconsin, she considers herself a lifelong learner and educator. She gives private voice lessons, is employed by two different museums and runs a business (Scholar & Poet Books, via eBay and ABE Books) with her partner, Steve.

Posted in Culture/History, Essay, General Interest, Priscilla Galasso

Model Behavior

I don’t have a television, so I don’t see a lot of commercials. Still, I find NBA games on the internet and catch a few ads in the process. There’s one for a fried chicken franchise that particularly bothers me. Here’s the set-up: two teenaged kids have made a rare venture out of their rooms to join their parents for dinner. They are still plugged into their media devices and never speak or make eye contact with the camera or their parents. The African-American family sits in the living room with a bucket of chicken on the coffee table. Mom & Dad tell the camera that the chicken is the occasion for them to have this special “family” experience. Dad jokes that if the batteries run down, they might actually have a conversation.

 Sigh. Is this an accurate snapshot of our current culture? Rewind about 100 years.

 I’m reading a book called Nothing To Do But Stay: My Pioneer Mother by Carrie Young. The author describes her life in North Dakota during the Great Depression. Her mother had acquired land as a homesteader, married and raised 6 kids on the farm. Her sisters struggled to become educated and get jobs as school teachers in local one-room schoolhouses. One particularly brutal winter, their parents found it more sensible to drop off the 18-year-old daughter, the teacher, with the two younger sisters at school and let them stay there during the week instead of transporting them back and forth through the snow drifts by horse-drawn wagon. The week turned into months. Fresh supplies were delivered every week, but these 3 young ladies spent that winter relying on their own resourcefulness for their daily life — with no electricity, simply a coal-burning furnace in the basement and a woodstove with one burner in the classroom. How is that possible? I’m sure that life was one that their parents had modeled for years.

 Compare these two snapshots and imagine the changes that have swept through our country. What has “adult living” become? What do we model for our children these days? What skills are being delegated to machines or service companies or ‘experts’ that used to be more universal and personal? Besides modeling tasking skills, how do we model social and moral skills in this decade?

 When more families were farming, children grew up alongside their parents and were incorporated into communal activities. They helped milk the cows, tend the garden, and make the food and clothing they all needed to live. In the 50s, when more families lived in cities and suburbs, Dad would drive off in the morning and work out of sight of his kids all day while Mom would turn on appliances to do the chores around home. The kids learned consumerism. Then the Moms left the house and went into the workforce leaving the kids in daycare. In 1992, someone came up with “Take Your Daughters To Work Day”. That was expanded to include boys a decade later. What was first perceived as a Feminist issue of role modeling was recognized as a parenting void: children had no clue how adults spent their work days.

Musing about these changes made me consider what my own children had learned from my husband and me. My daughter made a calligraphy sign when she was in High School: “My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived and let me watch him do it.” (Clarence B. Kelland) She was 23 when her father died. What we intended to model and what she actually learned are most likely two different things. One thing I do know. She did learn to cook her own chicken.

joy 2

© 2014, essay and photograph, Priscilla Galasso, All rights reserved

004PRISCILLA GALASSO ~ started her blog at scillagrace.com to mark the beginning of her fiftieth year. Born to summer and given a name that means ‘ancient’, her travel through seasons of time and landscape has inspired her to create visual and verbal souvenirs of her journey.

Currently living in Wisconsin, she considers herself a lifelong learner and educator. She gives private voice lessons, is employed by two different museums and runs a business (Scholar & Poet Books, via eBay and ABE Books) with her partner, Steve.

Posted in Essay, General Interest, Priscilla Galasso

Wise or Otherwise

Editor’s note: This lovely piece was originally posted by Priscilla on her personal blog and is a part of her Advent series. Like a spiritual box of Advent chocolates, each day she unwrapped one of the free gifts life gives us.
.
The free gift for today is something that can be acquired, but cannot be bought.  I don’t think that it can be given, either.  The gift is Wisdom.  According to Wikipedia, “Wisdom is a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgements and actions in keeping with this understanding.”  In other words, “To recognize the significant in the factual is wisdom.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)  However, “We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.”  (George Bernard Shaw)  And finally, “It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”  (Mohandas K. Gandhi)
.

It would seem, then, that wisdom is something that can be acquired in living with awareness and engaging humbly with experiences.  It seems to me, though, that you can’t give someone the benefit of this process.  You might point out the process and talk about its benefit, you might set up the beginning of the process, but you can’t impart the journey or the result.  It has to be lived.  I’m a mother; trust me on this.  I wanted to give my children wisdom more than anything, probably for selfish reasons.  I wanted to be spared the pain.  I wanted to spare them the pain.  I asked God to give them wisdom…like on a magic platter descending from heaven…but spare them the pain.  Can’t be done.  Wisdom is born of pain and suffering and effort and failure.  You have to be awake through it all as well.  You can’t gain wisdom while you’re anesthetized.  I’ve made a great discovery, though.  This process is a great equalizer.  Keeping Gandhi’s wisdom in mind, my children and I are fellow travelers on this path.  We share our stories as friends, we perhaps contribute insights to this process, but we cannot assume the roles of provider and receiver.  I try to remember that as I talk to them.  It is too easy for me to slip into the “teacher” role and begin to spew language about what they “should” do and what is the “right” way to do something.  I often issue too many reminders and begin to sound like I’m micro-managing them.   They notice.  They mention it.  I have to challenge myself to be wiser and trust them to be wise.

I remember the day my father told me that something I said was wise.  It felt like a great victory for me.  I was 19 or 20.  I had been talking to my oldest sister about some article I had read in an evangelical Christian newsletter taking issue with science and carbon dating.  My father was eavesdropping from the breakfast room and jumped on the subject by voicing some objection to the fact that the money he was paying for my college education hadn’t stopped me from discoursing like an ignoramus.  I was scared of his strong emotion, ashamed of myself, and angry at his insult.  Embarrassed and hurt, I fled.  We didn’t speak for 3 days.  I realized that he wasn’t going to apologize to me or mention the event on his own, so I decided I needed to take the initiative to talk to him about my emotions, clear the air, and try to restore our relationship.  I’d never talked to my father about our relationship very much before.  He was always right, often angry, and anything that was amiss was my fault.  I also knew that he would not show his emotions, that it would be a “formal discussion” on his part, but that I would probably not be able to contain my tears, making me feel foolish and not his equal.  I decided to brave the consequences and approach him with Kleenex in hand.  I began to talk, and cry, and tell him how I felt.  Then he asked me if I wanted an apology.  “What do you want me to say?”  I told him that part was up to him.  My dictating an apology to him would be meaningless.  That’s when he said, “That is very wise.”   Suddenly, I felt I had grown up and been respected as an equal to my father in some way.   What I understood or didn’t understand about evolution and carbon dating and creation didn’t matter to me any more.  That I had been able to navigate emotions with my father and repair a broken relationship was far more significant.

Dad & me in 1992. Photo by my 8 year old daughter.

Wisdom isn’t easy to get, but it is available.  If you pursue it, you’ll probably get it eventually.  It’s completely avoidable, though, if you so choose.   I know which way I want to go, so I’ll keep paddling my canoe and checking the horizon.   For those of you heading the same way, STEADY ON!  I salute you.

004PRISCILLA GALASSO ~ started her blog at scillagrace.com to mark the beginning of her fiftieth year. Born to summer and given a name that means ‘ancient’, her travel through seasons of time and landscape has inspired her to create visual and verbal souvenirs of her journey.

Currently living in Wisconsin, she considers herself a lifelong learner and educator. She gives private voice lessons, is employed by two different museums and runs a business (Scholar & Poet Books, via eBay and ABE Books) with her partner, Steve.

Posted in Charles W Martin, Peace & Justice, Poems/Poetry

this ain’t no foreign war…

this ain't no foreign war

boots
heels strike hard
against city streets
beneath their weight
lies the blood
of children
caught in the crossfire
of human greed
boots
heels strike hard
chiraq to la
gang border wars
death’s small bags
sold and bought
this is civil war
where are our troops
boots
heels strike hard
spin doctors’ barrage
has replaced truth
all is well
ask the dead
but they have no voice
so listen to me
boots
heels strike hard
against your eardrums
the dead call out
this is war
and we are
losing the battle
to save children’s lives

– Charles W. Martin

© 2013, poem, illustrations and book cover art, Charles W. Martin, All rights reserved

.
678ad505453d5a3ff2fcb744f13dedc7-1product_thumbnail.phpCHARLES W. MARTIN (Reading Between the Minds) — earned his Ph.D. in Speech and Language Pathology with an emphasis in statistics.  Throughout Charlie’s career, he maintained a devotion to the arts (literature/poetry, the theater, music and photography).  Since his retirement in 2010, he has turned his full attention to poetry and photography. He publishes a poem and a photographic art piece each day at Read Between the Minds, Poetry, Photograph and Random Thoughts of Life. He is noted as a poet of social conscience. Charlie has been blogging since January 31, 2010. He has self-published a book of poetry entitled The Hawk Chronicles  and will soon publish another book called A Bea in Your Bonnet: First Sting, featuring the renown Aunt Bea. In The Hawk Chronicles, Charlie provides a personification of his resident hawk with poems and photos taken over a two-year period.

Posted in Charles W Martin, Peace & Justice, Photography/Photographer, Poems/Poetry, Uncategorized

while the blind-lady danced…

while the blindlady danced

i asked
the brown bag prophet
if he’d heard
about
the new round
of
demonstrations
for justice
he said
yes
and
why don’t
you-all
go sing
another verse of
we shall overcome
with
any luck at all
you’ can
harmonize
with the voices
i’ve heard before
and let
your
blood
be washed away
from these concrete streets
of freedom
washed away
into the ocean
of history
like
those
well-intentioned folks
now rotting
in their graves
with
copper pennies
as their only reward
and
please
don’t bother me
with your
these things
take
time
bull
i ain’t got time
i got
this corner
and you
got
nothing

Charles W. Martin

© 2013, poem and illustration, Charles W. Martin, All rights reserved

.
678ad505453d5a3ff2fcb744f13dedc7-1product_thumbnail.phpCHARLES W. MARTIN (Reading Between the Minds) — earned his Ph.D. in Speech and Language Pathology with an emphasis in statistics.  Throughout Charlie’s career, he maintained a devotion to the arts (literature/poetry, the theater, music and photography).  Since his retirement in 2010, he has turned his full attention to poetry and photography. He publishes a poem and a photographic art piece each day at Read Between the Minds, Poetry, Photograph and Random Thoughts of Life. He is noted as a poet of social conscience. Charlie has been blogging since January 31, 2010. He has self-published a book of poetry entitled The Hawk Chronicles  and will soon publish another book called A Bea in Your Bonnet: First Sting, featuring the renown Aunt Bea. In The Hawk Chronicles, Charlie provides a personification of his resident hawk with poems and photos taken over a two-year period.

Posted in Essay, Jamie Dedes, memoir, Poems/Poetry

EMPTY NEST PART II: Given Wings

seagull-and-chicksThis is why you were born, to pass me by,
DNA of our ancestors, it’s your turn to fly,
to be the center, the triumph, the culmination.

Though not quite zero at bone and marrow, you ~
are a merry new story, adhering to Conrad’s dictum,
with shocks and surprises in every line and chapter.

Your book, your life, your metaphor, wearing truth
as your dermis, seeking tears, not blood, and
like all good art you changed me for the better,

having read you, I’ll never be the same. So time,
My Heart, time now to fly, to leave this nest,
the generations on which you stand, this is why
you were born, now it’s your turn to fly …

Note: Conrad’s dictum is that the writer’s first responsibility is to help the reader see.

The great American novelist and educator, Toni Morrison, once wrote that it is the job of parents to provide their children both safe harbor and wings. This poem was written some time ago to convince myself, not my son. He did what son’s naturally do.

Time has seen our roles reverse in some ways. My son has the most generous heart and has had my back for thirteen years, ushering me to my pulmonologist/critical care specialist and through sundry procedures and surgeries (always my advocate), moving me to new digs each time I have to downsize, taking me home with him when I couldn’t be left alone, keeping me in computers and tech toys. Yet, our children are our children. As Naomi said yesterday in Part I, “. . .  long after they’ve gone gray, long after they are elderly orphans…they will still be our babies. “

From my vantage point as my mother’s daughter and my son’s mother, I’ve learned that making family is just another kind of love story, one in which love is not circumscribed. As we pass this love along to succeeding generations, it grows in depth and breadth. We are better people for it and the whole world becomes a better place. In the end, even mom’s are given wings and the nest in never truly empty when love remains to fill in the spaces.

– Jamie Dedes

© 2013, poem, essay, and photos below, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ Seagull and Chicks by George Hodan, Public Domain Photographs.net; portait and family photos below are under copyright as well. Please be respectful.

Photo on 2012-09-19 at 19.54MomJAMIE DEDES is a poet and the founder of Into the Bardo. She is a former freelance feature writer and columnist whose topic specialties were employment, vocational training, and business. She finds the blessing of medical retirement to be opportunity to play: to indulge in writing poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction.

Jamie’s primary playground is The Poet by Day, the journey in poem (formerly Musing by Moonlight) where at any time you can read five of her most recent poems along with a growing collection of Sunday posts on poetry, poets, and writers.  She finds inspiration everywhere and in everyone. Her work is informed by the values of the multicultural/multiracial environment and classical Eastern and Roman Christianity in which she was raised as well as by a more recent introduction to Buddhism. Jamie has an abiding faith in the value of a life of the mind and spirit to heal and in the inestimable value of art and music, poetry and writing as spiritual practice.

Posted in Naomi Baltuck, Story Telling, Photo Story

Mine (yours, and ours)

My child…my world…

My wish is for her to grow up in a world where people are judged for who they are, and not by the color of their skin, not for who they love, who they worship, by their gender, or the size of their bank account.  My wish is for this world to become our world, where ‘live and let live’ is only the starting point, and where my children, your children, all children become ‘ours’ to educate, to heal, to care for so they are prepared and able to help make our world a better place.

And because it’s the right thing to do.

 That is my wish.

All words and images c2012 Naomi Baltuck

© 2012, essay and photographs, Naomi Baltuck, All rights reserved

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi410xuqmD74L._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV. She also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com

Posted in Jamie Dedes, Peace & Justice, Poems/Poetry

Bodies of Their Bodies

hands-together-871294932977UgOgrateful for the backward glance of memory
to those days when life was about bottles
and diapers, walks in the park and baking
cookies for little hands and greedy mouth,
when the mornings were written in wonder,
months honey-combed with baby kisses
and the fascination of intrepid first steps …

in solidarity with other parents i will them
memories laced with gratitude, not the pain
of lost dreams, of lost bodies of their bodies,
the fragile students silenced in the corridors
of relative privilege after an insane rampage
or the everyday streets streaming blood in
Harlem and Bayview/Hunter’s Point where
uncelebrated kids live foreshortened lives

 and those are the children of democracy
there are these too, children of oppression
what of them? – tiny starved brown humans
that line the arenas of hunger and war, where
soundless tears of voiceless parents drown
the vestiges of hope while we  share our pain,
so sure the world will grieve along with us

© 2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ Vera Kratochvil, Public Domain Pictures.net

Photo on 2012-09-19 at 20.00JAMIE DEDES ~ My worldly tags are poet and writer.  I’m in my fifth year of blogging at The Poet by Day, the journey in poem, formerly titled Musing by Moonlight.  Through the gift of poetry (mine and that of others), I enter sacred space.

Posted in General Interest, Teachers

VEN. BHIKKHU BODHI, on the Buddha’s birthday an update on Buddhist Global Relief

BGR logo

VESAK 2012
Remembering the Buddha and his teachings
with joy, gratitude, and generosity
[I’m sorry that I could not share this letter with you in a more timely fashion. The Buddha’s birthday was on May 6 this year. Nonetheless, the message is an important one. We are committed to supporting this effort and hope to engage your support as well. Thank you for reading …. J.D.]
Dear Friend,
Buddha statue
The most important holiday in the Buddhist calendar, Vesak, is just around the corner. Starting on the full moon day of May, the month of Vesak celebrates the birth, enlightenment, and passing away of the Buddha. It is a day – and a month – not only for joy and gratitude but also for recollection: for remembering the Buddha’s teachings and making a more earnest effort to practice them.
The first step of Buddhist practice is giving, and the most basic gift is the gift of food. The importance of food can be gauged from the Buddha’s own life story. In the Middle Length Discourses, he tells us that before his enlightenment, he undertook long fasts that reduced his body to a tent of bones. When he saw that the true path to awakening requires deep meditation, he also realized: “It isn’t easy to meditate with an emaciated body.
Boy and girl in Haiti
Let me eat sustaining food such as rice and porridge.” It was only after he regained his strength that he could reach his goal.
Not only is it hard to meditate with an emaciated body, but when one is malnourished it’s hard to do anything – except wait intently for the next meal. Yet close to a billion people around the world endure this fate. It’s to give such people a fresh chance at life that BGR came into being, and this purpose has inspired our work through the years.
We don’t just give handouts. Rather, we seek to make people productive and self-sufficient. We do so in diverse ways: by supporting the education of poor children, especially girls; by creating right livelihood opportunities for women; and by supporting ecologically sustainable small-scale agriculture. In just four years, we’ve already sponsored fifty projects around the world, in Asia, Africa, Haiti, and the U.S. Some of our recent projects include:
  • introducing sustainable agriculture techniques to farmers in Cambodia and Vietnam, thus increasing the productivity and profitability of their rice yield
  • providing seeds and agricultural tools to 150 impoverished families in Cambodia so they can grow cash crops and establish home vegetable gardens
Intensive Rice Cultivation
  • supplying hot, nutritious meals to hungry children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, through a community-based food program called Lamanjay
  • supporting the education of 200 children in India, mostly girls of the Dalit community, formerly known as “untouchables”
  • training farmers in Kenya and Malawi in ecologically sustainable agriculture
  • teaching breastfeeding practices in the Diffa region of Niger, which profoundly improve survival rates of infants
  • funding the construction of a community garden and orchard in South Africa, in a region stricken by HIV and AIDS
  • providing funds for a greenhouse to grow produce for the poor in the Maryland-Pennsylvania region of the U.S.
White House meeting of Dharmic Religions
Today BGR plays a major role in representing Buddhism on the stage of global giving. In fact, in late April we participated in a historical conference at the White House that brought representatives of the “Dharmic religions” into contact with government agencies in a common commitment to humanitarian service.
We hope to continue our mission long into the future, both in the U.S. and abroad. However, we can’t fulfill our goals without help from friends like you who share our ideals and resonate with our values. Your donations are the key to everything we do: to combating malnutrition, educating poor children, and helping those who cannot help themselves. And because we’re an all-volunteer organization, we use the funds we receive prudently, with care and discretion, to ensure that 85-90% of every dollar goes directly to finance projects.
So, remembering the great compassion the Buddha extended to us, let us extend compassion to others. This Vesak season please bring forth a heart of generosity and support the work of BGR. When you give, you become part of our mission, our partner in giving a helping hand to those who need help. And you experience the joy of knowing that you are truly making a positive difference in this world, a difference that’s transforming lives.
Childen in India
May all blessings be with you and your family, on Vesak and beyond.
Bhikkhu Bodhi's signature
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
Founder and Chairperson
Buddhist Global Relief is a 501(c)(3) organization. Gifts are deductible to the full extent allowable under IRS regulations. You can either donate online via PayPal on the BGR web site or send a check to:
Buddhist Global Relief
PO Box 1611
Sparta, New Jersey 07871 USA
If your company has a Matching Gift Program, please enclose the necessary forms as well.
Posted in Jamie Dedes

HUG A COW, GIVE A PIG A TUMMY RUB, SNUGGLE WITH A TURKEY

SANCTUARY

by

Jamie Dedes

” ‘SOPHIE is a goat whose taste in books leans toward popular best sellers’, says Solana Mejia-Schnaufer, who reads aloud to her several times a week. ‘I know she likes The Hunger Games because she didn’t try to eat it. That wasn’t true of Animal Liberation.’ ” So begins a November 1 New York Times article that I linked through to this morning through gratefulness.org. The article is about The Gentle Barn, which gives sanctuary to abused and abandoned animals and healing gifts to worn and wounded humans. It is also the story of hope and healing for Solana, a woman previously inclined toward suicide.

A little early day research reveals that The Gentle Barn, founded by Ellie Laks in 1999 who runs it along with her husband, combines the best human values of compassion and stewardship, going beyond sanctuary for animals to provide profound and moving healing experiences for special-needs kids and grown-ups. The children include those in foster care and inner city youth on drugs, on probation, or in gangs. The adults suffer from emotional disorders and/or physical ones.

To read the inspiring stories of the animals and people helped at The Gentle Barn, link to the website HERE and the YouTube channel HERE. The sanctuary is open to the general public on Sundays and the admission is just $5 to help feed the animals. For many reasons, it’s unlikely that I’ll find myself in Southern California; but, if I did, I’d head straight for Santa Clarita and The Gentle Barn and, as Ellie Laks says, I’d “hug a cow, give a pig a tummy rub, and snuggle with a turkey.”

Here is a video about the rescue of a cow and calf. Grab your box of tissues …

© 2011, Jamie Dedes, all rights reserved

Photo credit ~ morgueFile

Video upload to YouTube by   

Posted in Buddhism, Teachers

UPDATE: Buddhist Global Relief

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, American Buddhist Monk, Theravada Tradition

Founder and Chairperson

Buddhist Global Relief

Photo ~ Ken and Visakha Kawasaki under Creative Commons Atribution-Share Alike 3.0 Uported License via Wikipedia

This is just in from the Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi. J.D.

·

BGR Logo
let the lotus
of compassion
enfold the world

Buddhist Global Relief came into being in June 2008, born of the conviction that Buddhists should play a more active role in helping our unseen brothers and sisters around the world emerge from the crushing weight of poverty and social neglect. Inspired by the Buddha’s great compassion, we chose chronic hunger and malnutrition as our special focus. Our programs are intended to help people escape this brutal trap by promoting more sustainable methods of food production and more equitable systems of food distribution. We also sponsor the education of poor children, especially girls, and right livelihood opportunities for poor women, enabling them to earn more to feed their families.

In only three years, we’ve already launched over twenty-five projects in Asia, Africa, Haiti, and the U.S. The most recent include:

  • regular nutritious meals for hungry children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
  • wells to provide water for poor families in Cambodia
  • training in employable skills for indigent girls in Sri Lanka
  • educational assistance for slum children in Nagpur, India
  • training farmers from Malawi in ecologically sustainable agriculture
  • a community garden and orchard to produce nutritious organic vegetables and herbs in Mqatsheni, South Africa
  • a greenhouse to grow produce for the poor in the Maryland-Pennsylvania region of the U.S.

Today BGR is playing a major role in representing Buddhism on the stage of global giving. Last year, we were even invited to participate in conferences on collaboration in poverty alleviation at the White House and the National Cathedral. These led to several partnerships with Oxfam America on projects in Cambodia and Vietnam. Recently Tricyleand Buddhadharma, two major American Buddhist journals, featured articles about BGR (please see Tricycle’s Feeding the world’s hungry and Buddhadharma’s Buddhist Global Relief articles). We want this Buddhist presence to flourish, visibly representing the compassionate spirit of the Dharma in ways made urgent by the terrible persistence of poverty and malnutrition.

We’re doing our utmost to turn back this tide, but we can’t achieve our goals without help from friends who share our ideals and resonate with our values, good-hearted people like you. Your donations are the key to everything we do: to combating hunger and malnutrition, to educating poor children, to helping those who cannot help themselves. And because we’re an all-volunteer organization, we use the funds we receive prudently, with care and discretion, to ensure that over 90% of every dollar goes directly to finance projects.

As we come to the end of 2011 — the time for selfless giving — please bring forth a heart of generosity for the world’s poor and hungry people, who need a helping hand in order to rise up and stand on their feet. Please give generously. When you give, you become a part of our mission, a partner in our endeavor to express compassion in action. Bear in mind that to give is to receive, to experience the joy of offering others the chance to live with dignity and hope.

May all blessings be with you and your family,

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi signature

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
Founder and Chairperson

Buddhist Global Relief is a 501(c) (3) organization. Gifts are deductible to the full extent allowable under IRS regulations. You can either donate online at the BGR website or send a check to:
Buddhist Global Relief
PO Box 1611
Sparta, New Jersey 07871 USA

If your company has a Matching Gift Program, please enclose the necessary forms as well.

Posted in Guest Writer, Poems/Poetry

CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

CHILREN’S HOSPITAL, WAITING ROOM

by

Rev. Bill Cook

From this side of this window-

through this glass looking

down seventeen stories  –

the world is a odd place.

.

The smell of rain

has become a distant memory.

Taxi cabs – thick bugs.

People- so much seed

scattered on a hard path.

.

Who would have thought

a tiny swish rising

through a stethoscope

could so change  everything.

.

Here we are a congregation

Of the suspended –

Inhabitants of a sanitized purgatory –

A communion of those who wait.

.

Here the priests and prophets

wear blue scrubs

and white paper masks.

.

Why, I ask, is it that your tiny heart,

no larger than your tiny hand,

should refuse to grow?

What providence has brought us here?

What karma? There is no answer

.

so we wait.

We wait for our names to be called.

We wait.

Re-blogged with the permission of Bill Cook, Poetry Matters. Bill is an Ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church, serving a wonderfully diverse congregation.

  • His church: St. Paul UMC, Willingboro NJ.
  • BA. English Lit., Rutger’s, the State University, New Brunswick NJ.
  • M Div. New Brunswick Theological Seminary New Brunswick NJ.
  • D Min. Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington DC.

Although Bill’s had a life long love of reading poetry, he’s relatively new to writing and publishing it. In addition to his poetry blog, Poetry Matters, he has three other blogs that address spritual matters. Most recently his poem Lost was picked up for publication by a regional poetry magazine.