January 16th, 2006

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"I have a dream."

I place the last portion of Martin Luther King, Jr's famous "I have a dream" speech here.  It was delivered in 1963.  This is a day to contemplate how much of his dream is now realized in this country.  Perhaps, New Orleans and Katrina allow us to see more clearly where we have failed.

I also am struggling with my own fight in this. No one could have been born into a more privileged life than I.  Every blessing is mine, and so, why am I now struggling in this with Jan's parents?  Jan's mother used the pregnancy card yesterday.  How can you "shame" me by marrying a "white" person, when I went through all the work of birthing you, and caring for you? 

I felt angry when I heard this, and I know the anger is related to feelings of rejection, and yet, I am not rejected.  Jan's parents do not know me, and even if they did know me, and did not like me, it still would have nothing to do with me.  I know this!!  I know this, and yet, I feel anger.  I want them to see "my" son, to honor him, and, through that, obviously, me.  Look at the son "I" produced.  I see how tribal this is, how first chakra, and how absolutely ridiculous. You reject me.  Well, then, I reject you, and what would I be rejecting?  What would I be turning away from?   What in this do I not like about me?  I, too, can be stubborn, self-centered, and self-righteous.  I can want my own way, and I do not always see the other person.  I sometimes see instead who I want them to be, or who I think they "ought" to be.   I know that something is triggered in me, and I do not like it.  I know I need to figure this out, and now, is the time to do so, and maybe today, I will read the words of Martin Luther King Jr. over and over again.  If you need them, may you also do the same.  May we feel equal, within, and without.  

His words:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

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Jane's poem for today!

To me, this poem says it all.  Here is another gem of Jane's.

The old landlord was sick the day the rain began.

By the third day water had flooded the clock factory.

It rose up through the floor.

It seeped through the doors.

By the fifth day the water receded.

The old landlord rose up out of his sick bed.

He went to the clock factory and assessed the damage.

He sat at his desk, wrote checks for the needed repairs.

Everything you need to know about the landlord is here.

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checking in -

My brother pointed out that I seem to have suddenly placed a lot of politics on the blog. He doesn't think politics is the best thing for my health right now.

I think the purpose was more a way to distance myself emotionally from what is going on. I find this with Jan's parents to be painful. I accept that it is about me, and, how I handle what my environment presents, and I feel pain around it. I was raised to want everything "happy and bright," and usually, it is. I need to learn where to place this in my life.

Also, I am not doing well with the chemo. I am exhausted. I am limited in what I can do. I am worn out. I truly would love to quit. You are trying to be supportive by pointing out that I am 50% done, and, I appreciate that, but, what I am feeling is the toll that this has taken, and I try and imagine what another two months will do to me, and I cannot. Tears come as I type this. I'm just not sure I can continue. I know that tomorrow I will hear what I heard last time. "Because you are so physiologically depleted, it is affecting your mood," but, I feel I don't even have the energy to smile anymore. Even my eyes are tired. I want to do this, and I am, as always perhaps, concerned about the cost to my health. Perhaps I have no choice. I suppose that means I again lift myself from the mat and fight. The image that keeps coming is of crawling out of the sea and feeling arms and legs form. That was quite a step those amphibians took. I appreciate it much more now. I guess I feel that is where I am. I'm out of the sea, flopping on the sand, and forming arms and legs. Sometimes I do distance myself on the blog. I am trying to protect how poorly I feel.

Today, I guess I will say it. I feel depleted. I am tired. I am worn out. I am scared. I am tired of having no hair. Perhaps, this is surrender. Then, that would be a good thing. Perhaps, I need to feel this more. Steve said his perception of the poem I wrote this morning was that it was in my head, and not in my body. I know that I am avoiding being in my body. I am afraid to feel how poorly I feel, how afraid I am of this new chemo regimen. I am curled up inside against it. Perhaps I will spend today just feeling how I feel, feeling my fear, and I will see what comes from that.

Something funny in all this. I have been feeling that because I look so pitiful, the grocery clerks and everyone are offering me all this help. Someone pointed out that that is what they do now. They offer everyone help out with their groceries, but in this hyper-sensitive place, I think, "Oh, I must look so pitiful that they think I can't even carry a teeny-tiny bag of groceries by myself." I remember now that they offered before, and I don't actually think I look so pitiful right now; I just feel it inside. This is again allowing me to see what interpretation does. All those words fell off me before. Then, I began using them as a way to anchor what I am feeling. There is no reality there. I am treated as before. Hmmmm!! Can I treat myself as before? Can I see myself as I once was? Can I again find and feel my strength? Well, today, is a good day for that. Martin Luther King, Jr.! Rosa Parks! I celebrate today these role models of the heart. The word heart comes from "couer" - courage. May it be so for me today! May this give me a chance to honor the Masters of Courage, of the present and the past.

I certainly don't pretend to put myself in their category, but my own personal struggle can allow me to better appreciate what they did, and have done, to better see and feel how hard it is to pull oneself from that wonderfully comfortable warm sea and begin to grow some arms to reach, and legs to walk the talk, that formerly was just bubbles in a whirling spin.
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Thoughts -

Rilke wrote in Letters to a Young Poet that "Everything is gestation and then bringing forth."

Everything!!   I consider that today, Martin Luther King day, as we all gestate in our own way as to what this day means to us.  Many are working.  Others are not.  Where are the speech-writers of today, the visionaries, peace-makers, unifiers?

I consider this in terms of the birthing of children.  If our children, "our" children,  are seen as a stopping point, as an end-point, as, fulfillment fulfilled, then, what does that do?  If,  instead,  we see everything as "gestation and then bringing forth," won't we continue to evolve?  Won't we meet what comes forth with renewing curiosity?   Won't we put aside some of our prehistoric fears around change, and reach to embrace what emerges when all races and cultures are viewed as equal, and our children are trusted to choose?
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Quote -

"Freedom is really a bigger game than power.

Power is about what you can control.

Freedom is about what you can unleash."

Harriet Rubin

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Just a little more politics -

 Cronkite: Time for US to Leave Iraq
    By David Bauder
    The Associated Press

    Sunday 15 January 2006

    Former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite, whose 1968 conclusion that the Vietnam War was unwinnable keenly influenced public opinion then, said Sunday he'd say the same thing today about Iraq.

    "It's my belief that we should get out now," Cronkite said in a meeting with reporters.

    Now 89, the television journalist once known as "the most trusted man in America" has been off the "CBS Evening News" for nearly a quarter-century. He's still a CBS News employee, although he does little for them.

    Cronkite said one of his proudest moments came at the end of a 1968 documentary he made following a visit to Vietnam during the Tet offensive. Urged by his boss to briefly set aside his objectivity to give his view of the situation, Cronkite said the war was unwinnable and that the U.S. should exit.

    Then-President Lyndon Johnson reportedly told a White House aide after that, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America."

    The best time to have made a similar statement about Iraq came after Hurricane Katrina, he said.

    "We had an opportunity to say to the world and Iraqis after the hurricane disaster that Mother Nature has not treated us well and we find ourselves missing the amount of money it takes to help these poor people out of their homeless situation and rebuild some of our most important cities in the United States," he said. "Therefore, we are going to have to bring our troops home."

    Iraqis should have been told that "our hearts are with you" and that the United States would do all it could to rebuild their country, he said.

    "I think we could have been able to retire with honor," he said. "In fact, I think we can retire with honor anyway."

    Cronkite has spoken out against the Iraq war in the past, saying in 2004 that Americans weren't any safer because of the invasion.

    Cronkite, who is hard of hearing and walks haltingly, jokingly said that "I'm standing by if they want me" to anchor the "CBS Evening News." CBS is still searching for a permanent successor to Dan Rather, who replaced Cronkite in March 1981.

    "Twenty-four hours after I told CBS News that I was stepping down at my 65th birthday I was already regretting it and I've regretted it every day since," he said. "It's too good a job for me to have given it up the way that I did."

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checking in -

I am well this evening, calm and ready, present and clear. Somehow, all seems easy tonight. Perhaps, it is just to speak what is there, and see the screen clear.
I hear an airplane. How amazing to realize that as I sit here, people fly over me through the air, either preparing to land or settling in for a long, evening flight. We live in a world with a tremendous amount to absorb. I believe we do very well when I consider to what we are exposed.
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Poem -

The Pleasures of the Door

    by Francis Ponge and translated by C.K. Williams

    Kings never touch doors.

    They're not familiar with this happiness: to push gently or
roughly before you one of these great, friendly panels, to turn
towards it to put it back into place - to hold a door in your arms.

    The happiness of seizing one of these tall barriers to a room by
the porcelain knob of its belly; this quick hand-to hand, during
which your progress slows for a moment, your eye opens up and
your whole body adapts to its new apartment.

    With a friendly hand you hold on a bit longer, before firmly
pushing it back and shutting yourself in - of which you are
agreeably assured by the click of the powerful, well-oiled latch.

Will you open and close a door in quite the same way again?  
Will you pause at thresholds?
Will you note what you pass through, and where you enter,
and when you leave?   Will your breath,  do the same?