sorting


If it wasn't evident before, it's pretty clear now: Our world has special needs... complex needs.

And the more we deny it or pretend it doesn't involve us, the more trouble we will find.

The recent attacks in Paris have highlighted some incredible tension that exists globally with status, entitlement, and compassion (lack therof). And sadly, the attacks in Paris are only a small piece of the even larger wound caused by fear and hate.

I'm sad about the global pain, but, how do I reconcile...sort...process these events and the refugee crisis while sitting in Janneke's classroom or taking Rachel for her AFOs fitting?

It's not as if I want to ignore the global pain, but the issues of my day-to-day cloud?distract?my vision.

Yesterday, I stood in the lobby at McMaster Children's Hospital, watching the staff, families, patients, students, and others walk by.  Rachel and I were waiting to see her kidney doc. People-watching makes the wait pass quickly... and gives me time to think.  I was reminded of how many different ethnic communities are represented in just that space for that time in that corner of Hamilton.  Awesome Creator.



I still believe ultimate real power exists when all creatures flourish (A. Crouch). When we empower the vulnerable, good things happen.

Sometimes, we joke about being hangry... angry because you're hungry. It's that moment when you retort or snap - only to realize that after having a bit to eat, you are much more tolerant.

But what about if you're hungry for a couple of weeks?  I can't imagine the emotions that are stirred because that basic need isn't met. I can only guess you'd reach for any apple, no matter how radically disguised it might be.

I know this global pain requires collective ownership. Collective ownership births accountability, holding all of us responsible for making it right and good and helpful.

So, if we don't empower the vulnerable, someone else will. And with disastrous consequences.

I go back to that lobby and think about all the people I encounter in a given day. If we pay attention to who is around us in our little corner, that is a start. If we call our leaders to this collective ownership, that is a start.  And a good start is a good start.

This week, this poem popped in our newsfeed several times.... so I think it's only fitting to share from Naomi Shihab Nye's poems prose collection (2008) Honeybee .


Gate A-4

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning
my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement:
"If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please
come to the gate immediately."

Well—one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just

like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. "Help,"
said the flight agent. "Talk to her. What is her problem? We
told her the flight was going to be late and she did this."

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly.
"Shu-dow-a, Shu-bid-uck Habibti? Stani schway, Min fadlick, Shu-bit-
se-wee?" 

The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly

used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled
entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the
next day. I said, "No, we're fine, you'll get there, just later, who is
picking you up? Let's call him."

We called her son, I spoke with him in English. I told him I would
stay with his mother till we got on the plane and ride next to 
her. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just 
for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while
in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I 
thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know
and let them chat with her? This all took up two hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling of her life, patting my knee,
answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool
cookies—little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and
nuts—from her bag—and was offering them to all the women at the gate.

To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the mom from California, the
lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same powdered
sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie.

And then the airline broke out free apple juice from huge coolers and two
little girls from our flight ran around serving it and they
were covered with powdered sugar, too. And I noticed my new best friend—
by now we were holding hands—had a potted plant poking out of her bag,
some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country tradi-
tion. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.


And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and I thought, This

is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in that
gate—once the crying of confusion stopped—seemed apprehensive about
any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women, too.

This can still happen anywhere.

Not everything is lost.

Naomi Shihab Nye


peace,
spot