Where the Wisteria Grows

Pondering Angel
Pondering Angel

At the flower market this morning
I thought of us and our naked lives
Did you notice the star lilies bowing
and giant calyxes unfurling themselves?

A painter’s pallette of color there
fretting in terra-cotta, feral and windblown
A fabulous fusion of scent and form,
forests of nectar-pots on knobby stems,
the stuff of heaven for the anthophilous
In just a day or two, they’ll be gone

I couldn’t help but think that these
yes! … these are our human days
our days to sow or steal our human joys
Another day will inevitably transform us
The moon will stew us in a soffritto
of tulips and night-blooming jasmine

At dawn on the day I decide to die,
we’ll sip oolong at the Tudor Rose,
but I won’t be there, I promise I won’t
You’ll eat orchids to celebrate our love
and our long walks in kempt gardens

Once you picked forget-me-nots –
meant as the soul of our redemption
When their colors fade and leaves wither,
it will be time to look for me …
Look for me where the wisteria grows
With subtle eupony my blue-violet tendrils will
call you, weaving and binding you in love again

” . . . when we look around ourselves, we can recognize ourselves in the non-self elements, like a father looking at his children can see himself in his children, can see his continuation in his children. So he is not attached to the idea that his body is the only thing that is him. He’s more than his body. He is inside of his body but he is also at the same [time] outside of his body in many elements. And if we have the habit of looking like that, we will not be the victim of our attachment to one form of manifestation, and we will be free. And that freedom makes happiness and peace possible.” Thich Nhat Hanh

© 2016, poem, Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day); Pondering Angel by Barbara Stone of the List of Buddha Lists

The Inside Story

When my daughter Bea was studying at the Yiddish Book Center in Massachusetts, I went to visit her.  We zipped down the turnpike to Old Sturbridge Village.

The village is a living museum including 59 restored buildings, a working farm and water-powered mills.  There were craftsmen…

…artisans…

…tradesmen…

 …and re-enactors.

We were invited to look through a window in time…

We saw village life as it was lived between the 1790s and the 1830s.

I enjoyed the opportunity to see the old buildings from the inside out.

 Everywhere we went there were whispers, hinting at the inside story.

Upon reflection, one thing was clear…


Just as we do today,  those people worked hard…

…fell in love…or not…

…cherished their children…

…and valued their friends.

Some things never change.

All images and words copyright 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

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Living Hugely, Dying Gracefully

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I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

—T. S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

Living Hugely, Dying Gracefully

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS

by

Jamie Dedes

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS died yesterday of esophageal cancer at the age of sixty-two. Famous or infamous – depending on your view – for his atheism among other things, he is an example of one who lived hugely, was unapologetic, and died gracefully.

I don’t agree with a lot of what he wrote and said, but how dull when there are no differences. Life would be an intellectual wasteland. As long as we take our differences to the debate halls, the blogs, and the voting booth and not to the killing fields, it’s okay.

I admired his sharp mind and wit. Nonsmoking teetotaler I am, yet I appreciate the spirit in this – quoted from his New York Times obituary – “He also professed to have no regrets for a lifetime of heavy smoking and drinking. ‘Writing is what’s important to me, and anything that helps me do that…'” He honored himself right to the end even as he admitted that his lifestyle contributed to his illness. Hitchen’s attacked our sacred cows and some of them deserved attacking. He made us examine our dusty old assumptions in the privacy of our minds and indeed some came up lacking. I admire him enormously.

Perhaps more than anything, I admire the grace with which he lived with dying. He did a more honest and dignified job of it than many of us in our faith communities. He was diagnosed in June of 2010 and wrote about this journey in his Vanity Fair columns. The “cynical contrarian” had heart, perhaps even a kinder more generous heart than many an avowed theist.

I sometimes wish I were suffering in a good cause, or risking my life for the good of others, instead of just being a gravely endangered patient.”

He wrote that the

Prospect of death makes me sober, objective.”

He pursued his craft right to the end.

Cancer victimhood contains a permanent temptation to be self-centered and even solipsistic,” Hitchens wrote nearly a year ago in Vanity Fair, but his own final labors were anything but: in the last 12 months, he produced for this magazine a piece on U.S.-Pakistani relations in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, a portrait of Joan Didion, an essay on the Private Eyeretrospective at the Victoria and Albert Museum, a prediction about the future of democracy in Egypt, a meditation on the legacy of progressivism in Wisconsin, and a series of frankgraceful, and exquisitely written essays in which he chronicled the physical and spiritual effects of his disease. At the end, Hitchens was more engaged, relentless, hilarious, observant, and intelligent than just about everyone else—just as he had been for the last four decades.” Vanity Fair

He wrote with excruciating honesty.

Like so many of life’s varieties of experience, the novelty of a diagnosis of malignant cancer has a tendency to wear off. The thing begins to pall, even to become banal. One can become quite used to the specter of the eternal Footman, like some lethal old bore lurking in the hallway at the end of the evening, hoping for the chance to have a word. And I don’t so much object to his holding my coat in that marked manner, as if mutely reminding me that it’s time to be on my way. No, it’s the snickering that gets me down.

On a much-too-regular basis, the disease serves me up with a teasing special of the day, or a flavor of the month. It might be random sores and ulcers, on the tongue or in the mouth. Or why not a touch of peripheral neuropathy, involving numb and chilly feet? Daily existence becomes a babyish thing, measured out not in Prufrock’s coffee spoons but in tiny doses of nourishment, accompanied by heartening noises from onlookers, or solemn discussions of the operations of the digestive system, conducted with motherly strangers. On the less good days, I feel like that wooden-legged piglet belonging to a sadistically sentimental family that could bear to eat him only a chunk at a time. Except that cancer isn’t so … considerate.” MORE [Vanity Fair]

Thank you, Mr. Hitchens, for making me think and rethink.

Thank you, Vanity Fair, for hosting his work so regularly.

© 2011, Jamie Dedes All rights reserve

Photo credits ~ all the book covers are courtesy of Barnes & Noble. Hitchens at the podium at Portsmouth, England courtesy of ensceptico via Wikipedia under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0Generic license. Hitchens at third party protest at the Presidentical Debates Commission, Washington, D.C. September 28, 2000 via Wikipedia courtesy of Carolmooredc under the Creative Commons Attritubtion-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Hitchens in debate “Is God Great” with John Lennox at Samford University in Bermingham, Alambama March 3, 2009 via Wikpedia courtesy of stepher via Wikipedia under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHINS: Life, Death, and Deathbed Conversions

CHRISTOPHER HITCHINS (b. 1949)

English-American journalist and author

In the course of a forty-year career, Christopher Hitchins, famous (or notorious, depending on your view) for his atheism has dismayed a lot of believers of one persuasion or another. Last year he was diagnosed with a terminal cancer. Many have wondered if on his deathbed he would become an eleventh-hour convert. Here in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Hitchens discusses his thoughts and feelings about life and death. It’s an interesting addition to the on-again off-again discussions on this blog of illness, dying, and death. I found two things particularly striking: 1.) Hitchins willingness to accept culpability for his illness as a result of his chosen life-style, which included cigarettes and alcohol. 2.) Hitchins’ mother committed suicide and Cooper’s brother did. The two men agreed that there’s no closure. Having had a suicide in own family, I find I agree with them.  Jamie Dedes

If you click on the video, it will take you to YouTube where you can view it.

Photo credit ~ Christopher Hitchens by Omaraty009 via Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attritution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Video uploaded to YouTube by 

PERSPECTIVES ON CANCER #28: Living With Dying

LIVING WITH DYING

by

Gayle Walters Rose

 When my mother’s best friend, Katherine, became ill with stomach cancer, her daughter enlisted Katherine’s friends to be of support as she went through her chemotherapy treatment and subsequent recuperation.  Her daughter lived out-of-state and had a medical practice and could not be with her day-to-day.

I had known Katherine my entire life.   She was one of the most positive, bright lights I had ever known.  Her daughter and I had spent much time together as children, which included many hours swimming in the beautiful lake that they lived on.  Katherine’s husband had died many years prior.

Her daughter was very organized and efficient with setting up people in shifts to take turns staying with Katherine during her illness.  Sometimes this included remaining overnight with her.  But Katherine had a very independent nature, even at age 87, and at times would insist that she was OK and send us home.  Her daughter had tried her best to convince Katherine to move to North Carolina and stay with her family, but Katherine always refused.  She had been there for over 50 years.  During one afternoon, she confided in me that she would never leave her beloved home on the lake.   The house had an enclosed porch that overlooked the water and we would sit out there for hours as we talked and relaxed.  Her eyes would occasionally scan the lake and she would comment on a bird that had caught her eye or an activity by a neighbor around the water’s edge.

We were able to share ourselves like never before.  She regaled me with all kinds of stories from her past and shared intimate feelings.  She told me she was totally at peace and was not fearful of death.  I felt somehow as if I were a vessel for her to pour her heart into and was so grateful that I could be of service to her in this way.

I marveled at her serenity during this difficult time.  There was no “battle”, just gentle, quiet acceptance and the allowing of what was.  She illustrated to me what it meant to live in the moment.  Her ease and even emotions were a gift to me as well.

One day she tired as we had been sitting on the porch for quite some time and so we retired to her bedroom.  Climbing into her bed, I propped myself next to her as we watched television.  A short time later, as I noticed her eyes getting heavy, I told her I would leave and let her sleep.  Lowering myself down on the bed so I could look into her eyes, I held her hands in mine and told her how much I loved her.  She smiled at me with beaming love in her clear, sweet, blue eyes and told me how beautiful I was.  Tears pooled in my eyes as I realized, in that moment, what grace she possessed.

Katherine died quietly in her sleep with hospice in attendance several months after her diagnosis.  Her bedroom window was open to the lake.

© photograph and essay, Gayle Walters Rose, 2011. All rights reserved. No re-blogging or publishing without the permission of the author.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Gayle Walters Rose ~ lives in Winter Park, Florida and has been blogging since August of 2010. She is an adventurous writer, experimenting with various forms of poetry and with fiction and creative nonfiction.Gayle comes from a large family, and she is the mother of grown daughters. Much of her writing is about nature or things of the spirit. Early in life, she lived in an ashram and often shares that experience and its lessons.

Gayle’s favorite quote is “Never think there is anything impossible for the soul. It is the greatest heresy to think so. If there is sin, this is the only sin; to say that you are weak, or others are weak.” (Swami Vivekananda)  You’ll find Gayle blogging at Bodhirose’s Blog, where she is much appreciated by the online poetry community for her fine work and because she is genuine.

PERSPECTIVES ON CANCER #24: More Than Love At First Sight

MORE THAN LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

by

Dan Roberson

I said, “I
fell in love with you at first sight,”

You said, “Oh,
it was a crazy night,”

I said, “The
moon was beautiful and bright,

But I couldn’t see anything but you,”

 ·

You said, “I
don’t think that was true,

You came in with
someone dressed in blue,”

I said, “I’ll
have to admit once more you’re right,

Let’s just
forget about love at first sight,”

 ·

It was not
as important as I thought it would be,

It was a
step in the right direction, don’t you agree?

We were
newlyweds ready to begin,

Confident we
could change the world, again and again,

 ·

But it was the
second step, or maybe it was three or four,

When we
connected deeply, right at heart’s door,

Steps five
or six, we really began to communicate,

Every day I
grew more in love, it was such a happy state,

 ·

Knowing your
love for me was also deep,

Made it so
easy to have a restful sleep,

Love at
first sight seemed unreal and so long ago,

As life
expanded our love continued to grow,

 ·

We were stepping
into our future, two of a kind,

I was so
crazy about you as if I’d lost my mind,

Years went
by so quickly with you at my side,

And I still
thought of you as my beautiful bride,

 ·

When you
were stricken with that terrible disease,

I had to
tell you “I love you” to put your mind at ease,

I still
loved you when your hair began to fall,

It didn’t
change the way I felt, no, not at all,

 ·

The moon outside
is breathtaking and luminous tonight,

But you’re
lying here cold in the middle of the night,

Your frail
body is still beautiful to my sight,

I’ll lie
beside you until morning’s early light,

 ·

Remembering
tears and laughter we shared,

The ways we showed
each other we cared,

How we
worked through our problems every day,

Learned to
forgive and to often pray,

 ·

We didn’t
let disagreements go on long,

As we trusted
each other we were twice as strong,

I didn’t
really understand love at first sight,

We took our
turns at being wrong and right,

 ·

Now you’ve
left this earth on your final flight,

And my heart
is filled with love at last sight.

·

@ poem and artist’s rendering of Dan, Dan Roberson, all rights reserved. No reblogging or pinting without the permission of the author.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Dan Roberson ~ lives in Kansas City, Missouri.  He says, ” I celebrate life. I retired from teaching and now I’m looking for new parades to lead, or to follow. I’m alone, still hoping to be a published author, and trying to stay on my chosen path. I have no anchor to hold me down and I’m ready to rid myself of possessions that impede progress. I want my imagination to soar. I’m open to learning about new worlds, new countries and languages, and different ways to look at things I thought I knew. Every day is a bonus day and I look forward to the challenges it brings. I’m finding out that technology is fast and getting faster and there is much information that I need to learn.”  You’ll find Dan at My Blog.

PERSPECTIVES ON CANCER #23: Steve Jobs “Death is life’s change agent.”

STEVE JOBS (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011)

American entrepreneur, inventor, and founder, chairman and CEO of Apple, Inc.

Drawing from some of the most pivotal points in his life, Steve Jobs, chief executive officer and co-founder of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, urged graduates to pursue their dreams and see the opportunities in life’s setbacks — including death itself — at the university’s 114th Commencement on June 12, 2005. Stanford University

I am late putting our post up for today and this is not what I had planned to put up for you. It certainly is not something I wished for Mr. Jobs, who died today – much too young at fifty-six – of  a rare pancreatic cancer.  At this Stanford College commencement in 2005, he tells three stories. They are about living fully, while factoring in the reality of death. “Stay foolish,” he says. “Stay hungry.” It is entirely appropriate to our series I think to post this video. It is presented here in gratitude. I am writing this on my AppleMac and have enjoyed using Apple computers for about twenty-years, thanks to the largess of my son. One man’s vision: Apple, Inc. has employed members of my family and provided jobs for countless people in the community in which I live and around the world. Jamie Dedes

The transcript for this speech is HERE for those in areas that cannot access YouTube.

Photo credit ~ Steve Jobs shows off the white iPhone 4 at the 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference courtesy of Matt Yohe, his original work licensed under the Creative Commons Atribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Video upload to YouTube by Stanford University and copyrighted by it.

PERSPECTIVE ON CANCER #5: Done and Not Done Yet

DONE

by

Jamie Dedes

·

Click on the post title for the poem to lay out properly.

·

I watched it all over my friend’s dear shoulder,

that day of living and dying and celebrating

like a garden snake the shedding of the skin,

the detritus of material man with its hunger and

wild, woody creative soul, sketching ruby-jeweled

memories in sand to be blown like a Tibetan mandala

across Timelessness while he, lone monk, gripped

by systems on systems of hospital wiring, billing,

approvals, and laws around funerals and burials,

estates, plans, and proposals for headstones and

the where, when, and how of a memorial service,

the left-overs of his life to be sorted, stashed, stored

or sent  to the right people in the right places. Done!

… as though there had been nothing. No one.

♥♥♥♥

NOT DONE YET

* Dedicated to my Group for People With Life-Threatening Illness*

A Chinese advertisement based on a true story . . . Sounds strange, but go ahead and give it a chance …

Thanks Laurel! 🙂

Posted to YouTube by .

Photo credit – flowers at Filoli Garden by Parvathy

Jamie Dedes ~ Jamie 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 more time to indulge in her poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction. She has two novels in progress, one in final edits, and is pulling together a poetry collection. Her primary playground is Musing by Moonlight. She is the founder and editor/administrator of Into the Bardo. Jamie’s mother, Zbaida, was diagnosed with cancer the first time at thirty-six. Zabida went three rounds with breast cancer, one with thyroid cancer, and died at seventy-six of breast and colon cancer.

♥♥♥♥

THE RIVER PAPER

is out today.

The theme is Buddhism.

You’ll find some interesting pieces there including a

short piece that I wrote on Buddhist poets in the West. Jamie

♥♥♥♥

INTO THE BARDO

is now on Facebook and Twitter.

Please join us there.

DONE

DONE

by

Jamie Dedes

I watched it all over my friend’s dear shoulder,

that day of living and dying and celebrating

like a garden snake the shedding of the skin,

the detritus of material man with its hunger and

wild, woody creative soul, sketching ruby-jeweled

memories in sand to be blown like a Tibetan mandala

across Timelessness while he, lone monk, gripped

by systems on systems of hospital wiring, billing,

approvals, and laws around funerals and burials,

estates, plans, and proposals for headstones and

the where, when, and how of a memorial service,

the left-overs of his life to be sorted, stashed, stored

or sent  to the right people in the right places. Done!

… as though there had been nothing. No one.

♥♥♥♥

NOT DONE YET

* Dedicated to Group *

A Chinese advertisement based on a true story.

Inspiring. Give it a chance. I don’t think you’ll regret the time.

Thanks Laurel! 🙂

Posted to YouTube by .