Posted in General Interest

Light Bites, Sound Bites … and Life Things

A special feature post today … Enjoy!

A Light Bite?
It’s not Killarney ~ © Catherine Drea, Foxglove Lane Studio, under CC A-SA License

I recall that when I was a fit, young and vaguely ambitious man – a man always in a hurry – I didn’t have time … nay, I didn’t make time … to open my mind, my eyes and my ears a little more often. I didn’t make time to read more widely, to see things more clearly and to listen more attentively to those, who had something meaningful to say. I guess my thinking was muddled by the testosterone coursing my veins. Whilst I did have a thirst to understand the world, scientifically, and humanity, philosophically, my quests to do so, particularly for the latter, were brief and too often supported by sound bites and misunderstandings, both of which I think are inextricably linked.

The trouble is that life is too full of sound bites – quotations and neat little epithets – and light bites – pictures and particularly imagery – all of which bear influence far more than we consciously give them credit, in those brief moments we spend giving them glancing attention. It is tempting to use these bites to act as the cornerstones of our thinking, easy meat for our cluttered memory banks and agitated minds, which can provide, at a moment’s notice, a convenient prop to any conversation that occasionally transcends our mundane and ordinary existence. But it is likely that they will be cited too often and probably well beyond their use by date! Look no further than our Facebook News Feed, and count the number of quotations to see how popular these bites of information are!

All of this would be well and good, if it weren’t for the fact that life is far more complicated than we’d like it to be. It is for this reason that these bites are so convenient, easy to digest and recall. In my early adult years, I was kept far too busy working to survive and support my family, feed my material ambitions and improve my financial status. This trail I blazed didn’t only inhibit, but also prevented me from spending more time delving deeper into life’s mysteries and, more importantly, examining my own conscience and coming to terms with myself. In a perverse sort of way, it serves the paymasters, marketeers and our representative political leaders well for us not to have time to think and ask questions that really need to be asked, like “does it really have to be this way?”.

Streams of Light
Streams of Light ~ Catherine Drea, Foxglove Lane Studio, under CC A-SA License

That each of us is unique, almost goes without saying. That we are all connected, doesn’t. A problem arises when I realised that each of us has a built-in human instinct, a genetic coding, not just to do our best for the furtherance of our race as a whole, but primarily to ensure our own survival; a built-in selfishness, if you like. How that selfishness is channelled is crucial to what happens next. If we are fortunate enough to have been born with the right genetic coding, into the right environment and economic circumstances, then the temptation to use this to our own personal advantage, for a vast majority of human beings, is almost impossible to resist; we cannot control that urge, because we are never fully in control of our lives. Only a few exceptional human beings ever manage to resist this selfish urge.

These facts may seem to be a deviation from the theme of this essay, but at its core is a truth that each of us is a victim of our circumstances. If those circumstances place us within that ninety-nine percent of the population, who are not independently wealthy enough to determine their own lives and become their own ‘masters’, by virtue of their financial means, then we need to become worker bees. Now there is nothing wrong with this position, nothing at all, in fact there is much to recommend it … unless, and I repeat unless we allow our own conscience to be overruled by someone else’s conscience, so completely imbued with the ‘culture’ that envelopes us in our working, religious or political environment that we permit someone else to dictate the way we think, consciously or unconsciously. This is a perennial conundrum.

I place myself firmly in that section of humanity, commonly referred to as the ninety-nine percent, who are dependent on working for their living or on the performance of others for it – whatever that living may be. We are always in danger of allowing our lives to be controlled by ‘others’, directly, for example by corporate masters, or indirectly, by the advertisers and marketing men, who strive to fill our brains with ‘needs’ we didn’t know we had and anxieties about our status, health, looks and dietary needs …  that we wouldn’t otherwise think we had. This forces some of us, maybe more than a few, who are gullible enough, into spending endless amounts of our hard earned income on products that purport to make us better, richer, more attractive, more talented, more admired people. Primarily, this makes the creators of products ‘for the promised land’ wealthier and even more powerful.

So beware of sound bites (notably from politicians, but increasingly from marketing people) and light bites (dazzlingly attractive imagery, primarily from those corporate marketing men) – or the combination of both – and beware the effect they will have on your mind, your thinking and your conversations with others: you know, those casual conversations, which are based on our original instincts for survival, but which have been perverted by those clever PR people, so that, deep down, they make you feel you have to be the one who has the edge; who has the bigger house in the better area of town, the more upmarket car, the better class of friends and acquaintances, the more exotic holidays. All of this is just what those marketing people – and politicians bent on ensuring economic ‘growth’ – continually like to nurture in our minds. This is a kind of envy and an ‘addiction’, which leads us to keep on buying and upgrading. Political leaderships like to play the same tricks, for their own reasons, plying us with those little bites of information, extolling their virtues and wooing us for our votes.

Image by Randi G Fine (http://randigfine.com/life-meaning-picture-quote-2/)
Image by Randi G Fine

So, I am trying to stand out from the crowd, but not in a show-off kind of way. Rather, I want to be a free thinker. I am trying to achieve a deeper understanding of the human condition and my own conscience; in other words, I am trying to come to terms with myself, discover more about what lies beneath the superficial surface of life, over which it is easier to skate too hastily towards our terminus. I realise that it is a journey that could transport me to places, from which I’ll not wish to turn back and which will bring me previously unimagined joy and fulfilment. I suspect there will be some discomfort on the way, but one thing is for sure. I wish someone had offered me this advice when I was a young man … or perhaps they did and I never listened!

Text: © 2014 John Anstie.

Photo Credits: Main Images ~ © Catherine Drea, Foxglove Lane Studio, under CC A-SA License – Small Image with caption ~ © Randi G Fine (http://randigfine.com/life-meaning-picture-quote-2/)

[This was, in part, inspired by the fact that The Bardo dedicated most of the month of May to International Photography Month. The subject of light (and shade), particularly important in black and white photography, is ever present in our consciousness, but at no other time in history has photography, as well as digital sound, been so important in the world of politics, commerce and art, as it is now. The mood of this essay has turned out slightly darker – or should I say ‘more in the shadows’ – than perhaps it should. I hope that this doesn’t push a potentially younger audience further away from the Bardo, because there is so much here, from my fellow contributors, that is of so much value to all ages. I’d like to make special mention of Catherine Drea, and to thank her for allowing this blogazine to have access to her very special collection of beautiful photographs on Foxglove Lane Studio]

P.S. On the subject of ‘bites’ in a piece that could run parallel to this, extolling the virtues of short poems, I thoroughly recommend reading a post on ‘Poetry and Zen‘ over at Jim Murdoch’s excellent blog, “The Truth About Lies”]

*****

John_in_Pose_Half_Face3JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British writer and poet, a contributing editor here at Bardo, and multi-talented gentleman self-described as a “Family man, Grandfather, Occasional Musician, Singer, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, Apple-MAC user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer”. He has participated in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and is a player in New World Creative Union as well as a being a ‘spoken-voice’ participant in Roger Allen Baut’s excellent ‘Blue Sky Highway‘ radio broadcasts. John has been blogging since the beginning of 2011. He is also a member of The Poetry Society (UK).

*****

product_thumbnail-3.php

51w-rH34dTL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_John has also been involved in the recent publication of two anthologies that are the result of online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group, for which he produced and edited their anthology, “Petrichor* Rising. The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears The d’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.

Petrichor – from the Greek pɛtrɨkər, the scent of rain on the dry earth.

Posted in General Interest, Liliana Negoi, Spiritual Practice

Religiousless confessions

photo-40I was born without a religion, like all people. Religion was something that was introduced in my life slowly, first through the baptism which I was given when I was several months old (I’m a Christian…at least in theory:)), then through the habits with which my grandmother accustomed me (the proverbial Sunday church during the first few years of my life) and the prayers which she taught me. And that’s about as far as religion ever managed to get into my life. Let me highlight again the use of words: religion, not faith. These two are two very different things.

In time religion got out of my life. I slowly became…allergic, let’s say, to church and priests and dogmas and rules to be followed only on paper. I got tired of the saying “do what the priest says, not what the priest does”. It all felt fake, lacking substance, excessively focused on form instead of essence. It was too much about the ritual and too little about faith, too much about objects and too little about people, too much about fear and too little about awareness. And, above all, it was inconstant. The god preached by priests and their religion was one day loving and caring and next day angry and vengeful – which to me seemed more like a bipolar human being behavior, lacked of balance, of poise. The god I had in mind was a being made of a totally different substance, and the patterns provided by religion were somehow too small for it, unable to embrace it.

So my atoms rebelled against the concept of religion as it was and still is, because often religion was and is just a pretext for ignorance and for aspects that have nothing in common with a supposed god. Not just once church felt like a pyramid where the top stone couldn’t care less about the lower stones and just enjoys its high placement, considering it’s only natural for it to be there. (Although, that top stone should be careful, because if the lowest layer of stones, the basis, is broken and unable to hold the entire weight, the rest of the pyramid collapses in a blink.) So, the religion preached by such a church was no religion for me – or for the god I had in mind. Actually, it shouldn’t be a religion for anyone at all. (Yeah, I know, I’m doomed, I’ll burn in hell for the blasphemy I’m writing here :P. BUT, those of you willing to throw the stone, keep in mind that I’m talking about RELIGION, not about GOD :)).

Now, the interesting part in all this is that, while religion followed the exit path, there came in faith. Faith not necessarily in a god above us all, but in a universal connection between all living things, seen or unseen. Faith in the capacity of human kind to learn and grow and understand its role, no matter how limited, in this world of ours. Faith in the beauty of the energy flowing through each and every one of us. Now, maybe this universal, interconnected energy, responds to the name of “god” for some people. Maybe, for others, it’s nothing more than a proof of physics 101, or not even that. But I’ve seen totally unreligious acts of kindness done by people from all corners of the world – and that matters beyond, FAR beyond any religious concept at all.

So, just a rhetoric question to end this small rambling of mine: why can’t humanity be the god of humanity?!

– Liliana Negoi

© 2014, essay, Liliana Negoi, and photograph, Jamie Dedes, All right reserved

IMG_7667LILIANA NEGOI  (Endless Journey and in Romanian curcubee în alb şi negru) ~ is a member of our core team on Into the Bardo. She is the author of three published volumes of poetry in English, which is not her mother tongue but one that she came to love especially because of writing: Sands and Shadows, Footsteps on the San – tanka collection and The Hidden Well.  The last one can also be heard in audio version, read by the author herself on her SoundCloud site HERE.  She is also the author of a novel, Solo-Chess, available for free reading HERE. Many of her creations, both poetry and prose, have been published in various literary magazines.

Posted in Fiction, General Interest, Jamie Dedes, story

Señora Ortega’s Frijoles

flores de la frijoles
las flores de frijoles

Her fate was set when she fell under the spell of his kind eyes and bigger than life personality. For his part, he loved her gentle ways, the fluid dance of her hands at work, the sensual swing of her hips as she walked to the market with basket in hand. And so it happened that in 1948, with her father’s permission and her mother’s tears, they were wed in the old adobe iglesia where uncounted generations of her family had been married before her. Not many months after the wedding, she kissed her parents and siblings goodbye, took a long loving look at her village, and she followed her new husband north to los Estados Unidos de América. She was already pregnant with Clarita.

****

As the days and years passed, they settled into their routines. Sunday mornings were her husband’s quiet time. He stayed at home while Señora Ortega and Clarita were at Mass. In their absence he would occasionally put down his newspaper and stir his wife’s frijoles simmering fragrant with pork, a few bay leaves, onions and garlic.

Last night: their Saturday ritual, she and Clarita had sorted and then washed the dried beans in cold water and left them to soak until morning. The child – fast becoming a young woman – took the time and care to do a good job of this. El trabajo es vertud. Work is virtue, Señora Ortega encouraged. In the tradition of Señora Ortega’s own madre, la cocina was a place of teaching – about food, about life, about being a woman, about being human.

“!Ten cuidado, hija!”  Be careful, she would say as she demonstrated her almost sacramental sorting of the dry beans. It was an opportunity to teach Clarita the dichos, the proverbs, of her mother and grandmother and all the grandmothers before. “Los frijoles son nuestra fuerza.” We get our strength from los frijoles, she taught Clarita just as her own mother taught her. Certainly the beans give the strength to our bodies, but also the strength to our character.  There are lessons. “¡Aqui!”  Remove these. Remove the wrinkled, the broken, the discolored or malformed. Remove them as you should remove flaws from your character. One bad frijole will ruin the whole pot.  Taparse con la misma cobija.* … You will be judged by the company you keep. Be cautious in your choice of friends.  Even the norteamericanos have such a saying: one bad apple spoils the bunch.

“Mama,” said Clarita, rolling her eyes after her mother’s latest speech. We are North Americans.” Señora Ortega’s brow furrowed when she heard this. She was given to worry about such reactions from her daughter. What of the child’s values?  It is true after all. My daughter is American. What does this mean for her future, for our relations, and for us as la familia?

****

Soon Señora Ortega had to put her concerns aside. It was springtime. Easter was upon them and with it a visit from her husband’s sister with her two small children. Señora Ortega and Clarita were busy with preparations. The air in her house smelled of poblanos roasting and cookies baking. They put fresh linens on the beds in the guest rooms. They picked flowers from her garden and set them in vases around the house. She gave in and bought chocolate Easter bunnies too, the silly convention of this country, but the children loved them and looked forward to them each year.

Finally the honored guests arrived and the house was filled with the cheerful noises of los niños. The boy and girl were now old enough to learn to prepare beans and, on the eve of Easter Sunday, Señora Ortega gave Clarita the task of showing the children how to sort los frijoles for cooking.  She looked on as Clarita explained the process. “!Ten cuidado, mis primos. Aqui! Remove these. Remove the wrinkled, the broken, the discolored or malformed.  Remove them as you should remove flaws from your character. Remember one bad frijole will ruin the whole pot. Be cautious in your choice of friends. Taparse con la misma cobija. You will be judged by the company you keep. “Los frijoles son nuestra fuerza.” Los frijoles are our strength.

****

At some point, Señora Ortega’s husband had come to stand by her side. She realized he was watching her as intently as she watched their daughter. He put his arm around her and held her close. “You see, mi querida, she is a good girl and you are a good mother. It’s gonna be okay …” “Am I that transparent,” thought Señora Ortega, but she sighed gratefully. All will be well. My mother was right. “Los frijoles son nuestra fuerza.” 

Taparse con la misma cobija – literally: to cover yourself with the same blanket, i.e. likely the same meaning as our expression “birds of a feather.”

© 2012, short story, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved. This story is a fabrication and not meant to depict any specific person or persons living or dead. It is, however, meant to provide a slight view of immigrant concerns and to show how in some traditions values are passed from mother to daughter. Photo credit ~ Schnobby via Wikipedia under Creative Commons Share-Alike 3.0 unported license

Photo on 2014-03-31 at 17.16 #3– JAMIE DEDES (The Poet by Day)~ I am a mother and a medically retired (disabled) elder. The graces of poetry, art, music, writing and study continue to evolve as a sources of wonder and solace, as a creative outlet, and as a part of my spiritual practice.

Posted in Christianity, Priscilla Galasso

What’s Important?

When I hung around with evangelical Christians, I would frequently hear this phrase: “be in right relationship with”.  That was a core value in life.   I agreed then, and I still agree in some ways.  I very much resonate with the value of relationships.  I am “a lover” by temperament, so to speak, and being engaged with the universe is supremely important to me.  I also have a huge desire to be “right”, but that is exactly the thing I’m now trying to dismantle.  I was a compliant kid.  I was afraid of my father and of all authority.  I wanted to be “good” and “correct” because I wanted to be praised instead of punished!  Now, I find that being “right” is not all that great of a goal.  First of all, it can lead you to be self-righteous and judgmental.  Second, how do you even know what is “right”?  Is it “right” to do everything an authority tells you to?  What if that authority tells you to harm someone else?  See, it gets tricky.  How about if I just say that I want to have a good relationship with everything?  I think that covers it pretty well.

One relationship that I am really working to improve is my relationship with God and Christianity.  It has gone through a huge change in the last few years, one that has many of my friends scratching their heads.  Some of them are downright disappointed in the change and have told me so.  Some have just stopped communicating with me.  I am most in awe of those who are openly listening, talking, challenging, and engaging with me as I rework my theology and practice.  Yesterday was Ash Wednesday.  Instead of going to Church, getting ashes imposed on my forehead, and beginning a 40-day penitential practice (which is an indication of how I participated in that relationship for 47 years), Steve & I finished reading T.S. Eliot’s poem named for the day and discussed post-modern cynicism.  Despite Eliot’s conversion, he doesn’t seem very enthusiastic about life.  This morning, we had breakfast with his Aunt and talked about her church experiences with fasting and confession and Bible study.  Today, I got another e-mail from an old friend who is willing to discuss my journey and walk with me in it.  I’ve known this person since I was about 12 and she was 17.  Replying to her became my top writing priority for the day.  So, I’ve decided to use that material for my post today.  First, a photo or two to open the mind:

What is the value of a sparrow?

A cardinal, far from the Vatican.

My thoughts for today:

I feel like I have a continual discourse going on in my brain about my relationship with Jesus and the Church.  On any given day, other people enter that conversation and keep it going.  At breakfast, it was Steve & his Aunt Rosie.  As we walked to the library, it was just Steve.  Now you’ve entered the discussion.  Welcome!  Come, have a place on the panel!
The Church.  So much of it is about the social aspect.  Sometimes it acts like a group of people who are all friendly, who share affinities, who enjoy being together and taking care of each other.  Seems there’s nothing wrong with that, but I’m sure that’s not all Jesus meant the Church to be.  What happens when that group disbands, moves away or dies off?  Kind of like your Presbyterian congregation.  Or what happens when that group gets visited by people whom they don’t care for?  People of a different kind who don’t fit into their social circle?  How do they behave?  Is that what Christianity is about?  There is so much intolerance, so much judgment, so much exclusion, that it just seems to represent the worst of society as well.

Theology & Philosophy.  The Church getting down to what it actually believes about the universe.  And why.  I was taught by my Episcopal parents that there are 3 legs on the stool supporting what they believe: Scripture, Tradition and Reason.  My dad held up the Reason leg when he talked about Science. In the face of overwhelming evidence about evolution, for example, there’s no need to dismiss it.  It can be worked in with the other legs.  Scripture is about the story of human life, the salvation story, the emotional story, the behavioral story.  But it’s still a story, a Myth.  It is about Truth, but it isn’t literally true.  I don’t think it’s “true” that we are all sinners, or that we are all fundamentally separate from each other.  If you look at the biological universe, we are all very much interconnected.  I don’t know if there’s any evidence to prove that a historical Jesus even existed, much less that he was resurrected from the dead and will come again.  I still love Jesus’ teaching, whether he’s fiction or fact.  I love how he goes straight to the religious teachers of the day and preaches in their faces about how they have undermined values like compassion, inclusion, humility, spirituality, and forgiveness.  I think if it were possible for him to reappear in the US today, he would go straight to the Conservative Republican Christian Right and do the same thing!  Tradition seems to be aimed at behavior, how we live together.  The thing that is so tricky about behavior is that it needs to change, it needs to be responsive and responsible.  Most people think that Tradition is about keeping things the same.  I think that keeping core values is a good thing, but the way they are expressed should be flexible.
The thing I miss most about The Church is choir!  Singing!  And I have always loved Gospel more than classical, deep down.  Yesterday, Steve put on a new CD; I immediately recognized Odetta’s guitar and voice and purred with delight.  He laughed and said, “Priscilla wants to be a big, black woman!”  It’s so true!  I love the soul, the familiarity with humanity and suffering and the confidence.  I don’t want to be brainwashed or shamed or coerced by guilt.  I want to be free and respected for what I am.  And what am I?  A white Anglo, in part. But I am partly a big, black woman as well because we are all connected here on earth.

Anyway, that’s where the dialogue has me today.  I want to tell you again how much I appreciate you taking the time to engage with me in this part of my journey.  It means a lot.  I really get turned off by the tendency, especially in politics, for people to circle the wagons or form a fortress from which to sling rhetoric while refusing to actually come out peacefully and discuss something.  You know what I mean?  And the media just makes the whole situation worse, little Tweets & comments here and there but no real engagement.  Thanks for being willing to be real, to put your story and your thoughts and your experiences in writing and listen to mine as well.  I respect you for that.  I think that’s how Jesus was, too.  I think of the stories in the Gospel of John especially, of conversations with Samaritans, women, disciples, beggars, and Pharisees.  He didn’t just knock off a sound bite for the media and move on.  And as much as anyone stayed to hear more, he kept interacting.  What a great example!

– Priscilla Galasso

© 2013, essay and photographs, Priscilla Gallaso, 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 Jamie Dedes, Peace & Justice, Poems/Poetry

I Want To Make It Sane Again

file0001824554659what must it be like for you in your part of the world?

there is only silence, I don’t know your name, i know only
that the fire of life makes us one in this, the human journey,
search and return, reaching for the sun, running through mud

walking the gauntlet without a prayer or a blessing

our eyes meet in secret, our hearts open on the fringe,
one breath and the wind blows, one tear and seas rise,
on the street where you live, your friends are all gone

the houses are crushed and the doves have flown

there is only silence, no children playing, no laughter
here and there a light remains to speak to you of loneliness,
my breath caught in my throat, i want to make it sane again

“Sometime they’ll give a war and nobody will come.”
Carl Sandburg (1878-1967), American poet, writer, and editor

– Jamie Dedes

©2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved, Photo courtesy of morgueFile

photo-on-2012-09-19-at-19-541JAMIE DEDES (The Poet by Day)~ I am a mom and a medically retired (disabled) elder. The graces of poetry, art, music, writing and reading continue to evolve as a sources of wonder and solace, as a creative outlet, and as a part of my spiritual practice.

Posted in folk tale, General Interest, Naomi Baltuck, Photography/Photographer, story, Story Telling, Photo Story

The Most Noble Story

There was once a widow who had three sons, Alberto, Eduardo, an Ernesto. She had spent a lifetime trying to teach them the meaning of charity and compassion.

The day came when she knew she was dying, and would no longer be there to guide them.  She called her sons to her bedside.

“My sons, the only thing of value I have to leave you is my diamond ring. It was given to me by my mother, who had it from her mother, whose mother handed it down to her. It cannot be divided and it must not be sold, for one day, it shall go to one of your daughters.  Now I must decide which of you is most worthy of this treasure. Go, my sons, and do good in the world.  Come back in one week’s time and tell me your stories. The one who has performed the most noble deed shall inherit the diamond.”

By the time the three young men gathered again at her bedside, their poor mother was near death.

She said to her firstborn, “Alberto, tell me your story.”
“Well, Mother,” said the eldest, “after much thought, I gave half of everything I owned to the poor.”
“My son,” said the old woman, “no one can tell you that you haven’t performed a good deed. But it is not a noble deed, for have I not taught you that it is everyone’s responsibility to care for the needy?”


She said to her secondborn son, “Eduardo, tell me your story.”
He said, “Mama, I was passing the river when I saw a small child swept away in the current. I can hardly swim, but I jumped into the water and pulled the child out to safety.  It was only by the grace of God that I didn’t drown myself.”


“My son, you too have performed a good deed, but not a noble deed. Have I not taught you that everyone should be willing to lay down his life for that of a helpless child?”


The old woman said to her youngest son, “Eduardo, come tell me your story.”
Ernesto hesitated before taking her hand. “Mamacito,” he confessed, “I haven’t much to tell. As you know, I’ve no earthly goods, and I cannot swim a stroke. But I’ll tell you something that happened to me this week. Very early one morning I was walking in the mountains.

I came upon a man sleeping at the edge of a cliff. If he were to stir in his sleep, he would surely fall to his death on the rocks below. I determined to prevent this tragedy. I crept over, so as not to startle him awake. Then I saw that it was my bitter enemy, Juan Miguel. At first, I thought to leave him there, for the last time we met, Juan Miguel threatened to kill me if he ever got the chance. But deep down I knew what I had to do.
“As I put my arms around him, Juan awoke and I could see the fear in his eyes as he recognized me.
“’Don’t be afraid,’ I told him. I quickly rolled him away from the precipice to safety, and helped him to his feet. When Juan Miguel came toward me, I was sure he meant to kill me. But then he threw open his arms to embrace me.
“Juan said, ‘Last night darkness fell before I could get home. Rather than chance a misstep in the dark, I decided to spend the night where I was. I had no idea I was so close to the cliff edge. You saved my life, Ernesto, and after I treated you so poorly!’
“To make a long story short, Mamacita, Juan and I are no longer enemies, but have sworn to be friends forever.”

The old woman shed tears of joy. “My son, I have taught you well. That was truly a noble deed, and you are a noble man, for you risked your life to save a man sworn to kill you. With one act of kindness, you have transformed hatred into love and made the world a better place.” With her dying breath she told her sons, “The diamond shall go to Ernesto, but you must all remember that with each noble deed you perform, you shall add to the treasure that awaits you in Heaven.”


All three sons married and had children of their own. They, like their mother, taught their children the meaning of charity and compassion. When the time came, Ernesto left his mother’s diamond to one of his daughters.

But Alberto and Eduardo left their children a gem worth as much as any diamond, for their children held in their hearts their grandmother’s precious legacy, the story of the most noble story.

All photos copyright 2013 Naomi Baltuck

The Most Noble Story is from Apples From Heaven, copyright 1995 Naomi Baltuck, and retold from a folk tale of Mexico.

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51kAqFGEesL._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here410xuqmD74L._SY300_ 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 General Interest

Little Papal Bling, but enough dazzle to grab our attention …

“Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points.?” Pope Francis, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (1936), Argentinian, 266th Pope of the Catholic Church

Posted in Naomi Baltuck, Peace & Justice, Photo Essay, Photography/Photographer

Black and White (or not)

A black and white photo is light and dark, its sharp contrasts easy on the eye.

Perhaps black and white is easier on the mind as well.  No difficult decisions, no wavering, no questioning right from wrong.  But real life is in color, with many subtle hues and shades.  Condemned prisoners who crossed over The Bridge of Sighs in Venice got one last peek at their beloved city.  Did they see their world in terms of black and white, or in color?  Perhaps one’s perception depended upon whether one was looking in or out, whether one was coming or going.

It is easy to cast judgements, until you have walked a mile in another person’s shoes, looked into her eyes, heard his story.  The world is not black and white.  It is the color of flesh and blood, with many gray areas.  What is the color of a human tear?

All images and words by Naomi Baltuck, copyright 2012

Note: For another facet of this topic,  check out this link by Carbon Leaf, The War Was in Color, and my post Remembering Uncle Lewis.

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51kAqFGEesL._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here410xuqmD74L._SY300_ 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 Naomi Baltuck, Photo Essay, Photography/Photographer

Flowers (are like people)

Each flower…

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…is a miracle of nature.https://i2.wp.com/i1176.photobucket.com/albums/x334/nbaltuck/IMG_9334-1.jpg

…a work of art.
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They are like people.  Each one shines on its own.

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But it is through contrast…


…or complement….

…and through interaction…

That we truly shine.

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All words and images copyright 2012 Naomi Baltuck

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51kAqFGEesL._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here410xuqmD74L._SY300_ 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 Naomi Baltuck, Photography/Photographer, Story Telling, Photo Story, Writing

Editing Monet’s Garden

Last May, while traveling in France, my sister and I went to Giverny to visit Monet’s Garden.  The line to enter was horrendous, and once we got past the ticket booth, we became part of the swarm of tourists overrunning his house and garden.  We must have heard a dozen different languages spoken, people from all over the globe had come to see for themselves the inspiration for Monet’s most famous paintings.

It was eye candy, a stunning profusion of color!   But instead of the rare and exotic flora I expected, all the flowers were, well, your regular garden variety.  Irises, roses, tulips, pansies, alyssum, forget-me-nots…nothing I don’t grow in my own garden.  Yet they were artfully arranged by height, texture, and color to maximize the effect.  And after all, they were in Monet’s Garden.

I wanted to capture at least the illusion of solitude and serenity, and to photograph the garden as I thought it must have been back in Monet’s day.  I waited for lulls in tourist traffic to get my shots.  But while waiting, I watched hoards of humanity shuffling by, and I caught glimpses of peoples’ lives that I found as moving as anything I saw in those historic gardens. Mothers and children, old couples holding hands, a little boy with eyes only for the baby chicks, an awkward teenaged boy who had eyes only for the teenaged chicks, and a family with four generations of women all sharing a park bench.

While we writers strive to capture a mood or feeling or effect, we should also observe the stories happening all around us.

The first  is like a very pretty still life, or a posed portrait of Mother Nature.  The other is a very real, sometimes messy picture of the world, brimming with humanity, and all the joy and heartbreak that life and love have to offer.

There is beauty in it all.

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All images and words c2012 Naomi Baltuck

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51MC3SKEF0L._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.

Naomi 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 Essay, Guest Writer

Giulas is a thoughtful, talented South American film-maker and photographer. I have followed his blog and YouTube channel for a few years now. This post is one I particularly appreciate. Guilas gives us something to think about, which he has drawn from his refined spiritual and artistic sensibility. Thanks, Giulas. Jamie

The eternal solitude of the restless Mind

We live in a world with lots of differences. People are dying of poverty by the millions while other people are feasting in fancy hotels in Europe and Asia. People are suffering for not been able to afford dental treatment while people are spending hundreds of thousands in a new shining smile. That’s the world. I know it can get a lot better but i also know it was a lot worst. At times slavery was common. At times killing with no reason was acceptable. It sounds like the world we live in now, right? Look up in history and you will see it was a lot worst. Our life expectancy is proof of that. This is already subject for a lot of arguments but this is not the main subject here. The main subject maybe has to do with the fact things doesn’t get even better. Much better. And…

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Posted in Jamie Dedes, Poems/Poetry

DESTINY

It has become exceedingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity. Albert Einstein, German-American theoretical physicist

If you are viewing this poem from the homepage, you will have to click on the post title to see it lay out properly. Thank you!

DESTINY

by

Jamie Dedes

·

The unconscious wake of the city canyon lined

with monolithic buildings, a modern Stonehenge –

an outright lie, the feeling that a wee human can

do anything walking down this asphalt valley

·

though wise hawks flee to the countryside and those

thrusting window ledges are home to pigeons who

coo piteously at the traffic below, a parade of some

silly folk wearing fetching clothes and trusting

·

their sugared dreams to the midnight winds and

others arrogant who trip the ego fantastic and

hammer at their expectations with stone fists well

weighted by iron beliefs. It’s all mythology because

·

cultures die, worlds end, nothing should surprise,

but better to play and pretend our end didn’t begin

a century ago with the Wrights at Kitty Hawk and

that somehow, somehow we’ll outsmart our destiny.


Photo credit – Peter Griffin, Public Domain Pictures.net.