Posted in Culture/History, General Interest, Guest Writer, Imen Benyoub, Music, Peace & Justice

Music, Language of the Soul

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“Music is…a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy”
Ludwig Van Beethoven.

Sarajevo under siege…a city in ruins that wakes up on the sound of shelling and bombing and sleeps on that of mourners. This beautiful city, so rich in history, architecture and art suffered the horrors of a four years siege considered the longest in modern history, and became Europe’s capital of hell since the war broke in 1992, to coincide with another atrocious civil war that broke in my own country and lasted almost ten years, what we Algerians know as “the dark decade”.

At 4 pm on May 27, people were queuing in front of a bakery in Sarajevo for bread; a mortar shell dropped in the middle and killed 22 people instantly. A man witnessed the massacre and was so appalled by the sight of blood and torn bodies so he decided to do something.

This man was Vedran Smailović, a widely recognized and talented cellist who went everyday for 22 days to the bombed site the exact time of the massacre and played cello, in honour of those who died in front of him and all of the victims, all those hiding from snipers’ bullets, the refugees, the hungry, the wounded, the destroyed homes and for his smouldering, exhausted city that struggled to survive.

This man sent a prayer of peace through his music, that the city of his heart might witness a brighter future, and he became the symbol of peace all over Bosnia, playing in graveyards and bombed sites, despite the shelling and fired bullets, Smailović was engulfed by light, the light of hope he was spreading all over the battered city. No crowd applauding to his performance, just Angels protecting him.

It’s been years since the dreadful siege and the civil war in my country ended, but did Sarajevo recover from its dark past? Did my people ever forget? the victims, the mass graves, and the fear they lived in all those years…

We are never entirely healed of our memory.

Al Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus Syria, another Sarajevo, another siege, people dying from a severe lack of food, water and medical supplies, massive destruction of homes and buildings, for weeks the Government forces besieged the camp and starved its people on purpose, the majority of them Palestinians who were exiled from their country in 1948, they found themselves caught against their will in a merciless war that made Damascus, a beautiful and rich city…Middle East’s capital of hell.

History repeats itself, it always strikes me how it does, and not always in the gentlest way, I believed it with all my being when I saw young men with a battered piano in the middle of rubble playing music and singing for peace and freedom, I said: if Vedran Smailović could see those proud and defiant guys whose souls are connected to his, one of them a pianist who started playing since he was six, he used to repair musical instruments with his father and studied music in the university of Homs*, the others, just ordinary people praying for the end of the war, and dreaming of a safe united country again in their own way.

They sang: “Oh displaced people, return; the journey has gone for too long. Yarmouk we are a part of you and that will never change.”

Smailović would have loved what those Palestinians did, because he, of all people will understand the meaning of creating beauty amid destruction, and defying death with the language of the soul…Music

(I would secretly thank that man who set up his piano in front of armed police, a day after protesters in Kiev brought down the statue of Lenin, and played Chopin…he inspired me to write this post)

*Homs: a Syrian city

Editorial note:  A partial translation of the song and apologies for any inaccuracy.
“from among the ruins and under the ashes, the [Palestinian] phoenix sings for life and will rise again for the cause of freedom …”

– Imen Benyoub

© 2014, essay, Imen Benyoub, All rights reserved; photo credit ~ Rashid Essa (Almadon News), youth in Al Yarmouk Refugee Camp, ” © electronic cities” under CC A-SA, no modification to photograph is allowed

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pictureIMEN BENYOUB ~ is a multilingual, multi-talented writer, poet, and artist living in Guelma, Algeria. She is a regular contributor to Into the Bardo and to On the Plum Tree and Plum Tree Books Facebook page.

Posted in Essay, General Interest, John Anstie

When I’m Sixty-Four

Will you still need me, will you still feed me …

At the time of writing this, when the Beatles and the Stones were playing out yet another rock and roll battle at the Grammy‘s, I was reminded of this song, which, if not their greatest hit, is one of their most memorable because it passes the ‘Old Grey Whistle Test‘.

In the fifty years since their major ‘battles’ for supremacy in the charts, in which these two famous bands were engaged, our life expectancy has increased by almost ten years*. So, the perspective of a young man in the mid-1960’s of someone in the seventh decade of their life, would have been of an old grouch off the end of the scale of life. At sixty-four, however, I find myself with better prospects of success for carrying out my ambitions in retirement, than I would have had fifty years ago.

Life expectancy, the quantity of life, is, whichever way you look at it, merely a statistic and is of little value on its own; we need quality of life as well. I watch as my 95 year old step-mother soldiers on, despite the continual but manageable ailments, with which she has to cope. Her complaints are nothing if not a physical body that is slowly wearing out, but they remind me that old age is not for the faint-hearted. I am conscious of the aches and pains that I have to deal with already, but, in my more insightful moments, I am constantly grateful that they are occasional or, if regular, not chronic (and by ‘chronic’, I mean permanent, lifelong conditions).

Perhaps the most important point about this is the effect that living with illness or pain, be it arthritis or any one of several age related chronic conditions, can severely reduce the quality of our life. I know that I truly have little to complain about, but I am acutely aware that I still, sometimes, have a grumpy disposition, which leads me to appear rude and dissatisfied, even when I know I am not dissatisfied – setting aside a kind of world-weariness that comes from my daily observations of what the human race is up to – but sometimes I need some help not to allow myself to become a grouch, especially with my wife of nearly forty years, who doesn’t deserve it.

If there were a universal prayer that I’d like to say here, it would be: please grant me a greater equanimity and remind me that I should be grateful for the ability, I know I already have, to see and enjoy the beauty, both visible and invisible, which is in so many parts of our lives. Above all, let me not forget to afford the elderly my understanding for them.

Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I’m sixty-four?”

Source: England and Wales, Total Population, Life Tables

John_in_Pose_Half_Face3JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British poet and writer, a contributing editor here at Bardo, and multi-talented gentleman self-described as a “Family man, Grandfather, Occasional Musician, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, Apple-MAC user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer. John participates in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and is a player in New World Creative Union. He’s been blogging since the beginning of 2011. John is also an active member of The Poetry Society (UK).

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product_thumbnail-3.php51w-rH34dTL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_John has 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 Dance, Disability, General Interest, Music, Video

Stepping out of devastation: “Level Up” with Vienna Teng, featuring b-boy Tommy Guns-Ly of ILL-Abilities

Our thanks to Laurel D. for sharing Vienna Teng’s video with us …

This crowd-funded (Kickstarter) video by the remarkable singer and song-writer Vienna Teng was released in December. The song Level Up is featured in her album Aims which was released last September. In this video, Ms. Teng moves through four scenes of devastation including one featuring b-boy Tommy Guns-Ly, dancer, bone cancer survivor and amputee. Tommy Guns-ly is part of the ILL-Abilities crew.

“Originally created in 2007 with the idea of being a “Super Crew” of disabled dancers, it is now becoming a global movement helping to spread the message: No Excuses, No Limits. ILL-Abilities’ mission is to redefine society’s view of disability, promote empowerment, and encourage limitless possibilities through motivational entertainment.”
Source: Breakin Convention.

“I am unstoppable.” Tommy Guns-Ly

Posted in Photography/Photographer, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

Sacred Stillness

I am working valiantly on ordination papers this week. So I am appropriately resurrecting a post from http://www.BeguineAgain.com as our step into sacred space. And yes, I am ordained, but I am a newbie, so for the first two years we have to submit more papers.

Join me in listening to the beautiful chant by Velma Frye. It is a call to stillness. Rest. Quiet. And a reminder that stillness often is associated with darkness. Imagine the seeds germinating in the darkest earth. Seemingly still, but so much creative energy stirring up unbeknownst to observation! But the stillness is what nurtures it. The darkness. The coldness. Be still.

Be Still
by Velma Frye

Be still.
Be still.
Be still.
Go deep
into
the silence
of the night
and robe yourself
in darkness.

See with the heart
into the dark of the night.
So silent the night.
So dark the night.

Be still.
Be still.
Be still.
Be still.
Be still.
Be still.

What will you do to create stillness in your life?

How can you use darkness to create wholeness?

quiet

(c) 2014, post, Terri Stewart, CC license BY-NC
(c) 2013, lyrics and video, Velma Frye
(c) 2013, photo, Terri Stewart, CC license BY-NC-ND

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REV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction.

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.beguineagain.com ,www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to cloakedmonk@outlook.com

Posted in Cindy Taylor, Guest Writer, Illness/life-threatening illness, Music, Poems/Poetry

Matastasize, an awkward word

370px-Pink_ribbon.svgMetastasize;
an awkward word,
vowels lurking with malice
between those rock hard t’s
and stumbling past that sinister s,
into that endless z…
Even educated women know;
the seeds of broken dreams will gather
nearest to the heart
and grow
until the Gardener’s sharpened shears
snip away the wretched, rotted root.
That puckered rose, that brutal scar,
my brave and beautiful friend;
wear it as a medal:
triumphant, survivor, heroine!

– Cindy Taylor

© 2008 – 2011, poem and portrait (below), Cindy Taylor, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ MesserWoland via Wikipedia under CC BY A-SA 3.0 Unported License

TAKEN TOO YOUNG

Minnie Julia Riperton (1947-1979), American singer-songwriter: In January 1976 Riperton was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a modified radical mastectomy. Though she was given just six months to live, she continued recording and touring, and in 1977 she became spokesperson for the American Cancer Society. Riperton was one of the first celebrities to go public with her breast cancer diagnosis, but did not disclose that she was terminally ill. In 1978, Riperton also received the prestigious Society’s Courage Award presented to her at the White House by then-President Jimmy Carter. She died at age 31 on July 12, 1979.

A VOICE SILENCED TOO SOON

Listen:

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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CINDY TAYLOR ~ originally contributed this piece to us in 2011 for our Perspectives on Cancer series. She is multitalented: a freelance writer, a poet, editor and proofreader. She also has an abiding passion for food  and an endearing zeal for life, which she shares with us on her award-winning blog, The Only Cin. Cindy lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.