Friday, February 11, 2011

A Wonderful Thing in my Life Time

Three young Egyptians have produced a wonderful music video, “The Sound of Freedom” (Sout al Horeya).

Here’s is a partial translation from Al-Jazeera:

  • I went down and I said I am not going back, and I wrote on every street wall that I am not going back.
  • All barriers have been broken down, our weapon was our dream, and the future is crystal clear to us, we have been waiting for a long time, we are still searching for our place, we keep searching for a place we belong, in every corner in our country.
  • The sound of freedom is calling, in every street corner in our country, the sound of freedom is calling.
  • We will re-write history, if you are one of us, join us and don’t stop us from fulfilling our dream.

Moustafa Fahmy, Mohamed Khalifa, Mohamed Shaker

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

On A Personal Note -- Christmas 2010

It has been an astounding year. The two biggest events were certainly February 7th when my Mother celebrated her 100th birthday and then, a few days after proudly telling the Vitas hospice workers that she was “one hundred and a half,” she passed on June 28th.

Funny, it took her one hundred years before she would divulge her age. Usually when someone asked her age, she would ask: “Can you keep a secret?” Her visitor would always agree. Then she would say with a smile, “So can I!”

Both my folks lived long lives. Each was alert and active until just days before their passing. When I came back home in what seems like a lifetime ago, I was “just going to be here for a while;” until "FB" (my Dad) recovered from an automobile accident. I never guessed that in my coming home I would see them both “home.”

I think life is that way, you never know what is around the corner.

I am grateful for both of them as I am for you and all our friends who made my mother’s last years a blessing. Allow me to share two stories – forgive me if you have heard them.

I was overwhelmed with the idea of a 100th birthday party. Everyone had a different idea. Then one day at our church office, the priest said: “Well, if she can’t come to church, then we will just take the church to her!” Everything fell into place with that simple statement.

And so on Sunday, February 7th, nearly 100 people with as many balloons showed up on the front lawn for a surprise birthday. When I opened up the front door, she peered outside and said, “Why are all those people here?” For months afterward she would moved over to the couch; open the photo album she was to weak to hold and we talked about the pictures: “That’s the mayor.” “These are our neighbors.” “That’s our mail carrier.” “That’s the lady who helped me.” “That’s Mary Jean, . . .Johnnie …Donnie…”

And on June 28th when she was passing in the home she loved, surrounded by friends and family, someone started to sing the words, “Swing low sweet chariot comin’ for to carry you home…” At one point the hospice worker looked at me and said, “Please note the time of passing at 5:23 p.m.”

During the past year, no matter how hard the care-giving got, she would always say, “I know what you are doing!” She did. She cared for her mother much as I did for her. Her last words to me were, “I have to stay alive, I have to take care of you.” Mine to her were, “It’s okay, I promise I will take care of myself.”

Almost immediately, I was on a plane that took me to Belize, farther away from home than any of my direct ancestors have been since our family came to America in the 1600s. It’s a wonderful country; and, as I sat on the edge of a pier over the warm Caribbean, I realized that I would not have been able to be there if I were still care-giving. I know Mother was glad I was able to be there.

Shortly after that, I was in Oklahoma with long-time friends; over my birthday and Thanksgiving I was in Palm Springs, the Mojave National Preserve and Las Vegas; and then this last week to Riverside, California at the wonderful Mission Inn for a church event. It has been a long time since I have been able to travel. I am grateful that I can.

I am not sure what these Christmas letters are supposed to say, but if I am to be honest, I would say that while there is sadness in her passing, these last three years have been the best of our lives.

As trustee of the estate I am closing it down. I have time to figure out where my journey will take me now…but if that journey is as exciting, meaningful and loving as the one I have been on, I have nothing to fear.


“Wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”
Ruth 1 16-17

Monday, December 7, 2009

Old Hymns and Hope - revised

"The Dust Bin of History" was the name of a column I wrote. Its sole purpose was to bring attention to 21st century people who just "didn't get it.” Usually, they were very odd and second-rate characters found on the third paragraph of a news story who were caught up in ideas popular a hundred years ago, or even worse, pretending they understood how concepts expressed a hundred or even a thousand years ago should be interpreted today.

But located on the front or back of a newspaper, each of them had one common characteristic: their voice and/or actions represented ideas, faiths or political points of view that people in the successive generations from now, will just shake their head and wonder, “Why?”

History is filled with “dust bins” – ideas and people whose names and ideas are forgotten like flecks of dust. Does anyone remember the names of folks who nailed Jesus to a cross, who believed in slavery or who relegated women to the kitchen? Names like Caligula, Jefferson and Hitler come to mind but they were the leaders of lost causes.

I wonder how many of the "common" folks from those times went along with their leaders’ thinking. Did they say, “Well, I’d rather keep my old fashion belief." or "He represents how I feel." or “My tried and true feelings always worked in the past.”

I can never know how people felt then; all I can ask now is; why do change or the future frighten them so.

When I was in college I had a conversation with the Chair of the English department which ended with her saying: “Oh, Frank, logically prejudice cannot survive … not in America.” So in the 70s I thought that if this country could move beyond the “gay" issue, beyond narrow-minded folks and divisive rhetoric, then perhaps, just perhaps, we could move into a brighter future.

Decades later I now realize that some women died before they had the vote; that slaves died enslaved and that many gay persons will never see a world of equal rights...

There is an old Christian hymn whose first line reads: "The strife is o'er, the battle done, the victory of life is won." I can hear the tone as I write those words. It is a restoration song whose words point to that better future.

I live in the hope that the strife surrounding gay persons will be o’er and that the victory of life will be won.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

‘This was my finest moment in politics.’ BHO

One of the lead news stories tonight read, "House Republican leaders held a news conference Saturday to say that they are going to do whatever they can to make sure the Democratic health care plan does not pass." There is one thing, and only one thing that I am clear about. Not one single one of those "House Republicans" has any idea of that it is like to find yourself without health insurance or to have 15 different insurance providers send you emails indicated that because of your age and preexisting conditions "you do not qualify." Why is it that they get health insurance and so many of the rest of us do not?

But tonight ALSO our President said that those who voted for US, who CARED ... it will be for them their "finest moment in politics." This is the kind of moment that restores my hope in humanity.