Museum of Tolerance Reflection: The Morning After

The past two days were filled with amazing connections, insights, and impressions. I’m hyper focused right now on coincidence.

  • Jon borrowed a book off my shelf to read on the plane. A collection of sports stories. Second story in the book was a Holocaust story about Kristallnacht, Hitler, and Max Schmeling – the German boxer defeated by Joe Louis. An hour after we got to the Museum, Jon saw this display:IMG_1043
  • Later, ninety-four year old Holocaust survivor, Renee Firestone, riveted our group with the story of Hitler’s rise to power, her family’s persecution in the concentration camps, and her incredible reunion with her brother after the war when they miraculously ended up in the same place at the same time.IMG_1030
  • On the plane home, our flight attendant, Andy, gave a shout out to all the teachers on the plane. Then as we were coming in for a landing, he personalized it – IMG_1060thanking his favorite teacher ever, Mrs. Ann-Marie Walters. She was his teacher years ago when he was in high school.

Three seemingly coincidental experiences I witnessed over several hours. Maybe inconsequential. But I can’t help thinking there’s a message here. And it may be as simple as this: We are called on to pay attention. To share stories. To bear witness. To acknowledge the invisible threads that connect us all. To be open to the miraculous and the ordinary. To be ever thankful, ever present, ever alive in hope and wonder.

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Walt Whitman Sampler

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Thoughts While Visiting Teddy’s House at Sagamore

From the wrap-around porch we step into the foyer,
paying no heed to
elephant tusks,
Samurai swords,
and heads of beasts on display
Instead
we turn our attention
to his book-lined study, where it’s said he read a volume a day
     This book-lined study from which he led the country,
calling statesmen and learned men to his side
for debate and counsel
where Greek and Latin rolled off the tongue; German and French were second nature, and the English language was revered.
Notice how book-lined shelves fill nearly every room here, hallmarks of a curious mind.
Evenings, he recited poetry at the family table,
his children conversing with the thinkers and dreamers of the day –
Edison and Ford inspired invention and possibility,
hope and wonder.
Now, contrast that with the current resident of the highest office in the land,
who cannot even master his own tongue, who reads nothing of substance or depth,
who gorges on cable tv, who hangs with liars and thieves,
thick with cowardice and greed.
And you ask me why I grieve?
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Lake Luzerne, 1939

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At twelve, he begged his father

to take in a game

just the two of them

lakeside

watching the pitcher warm up

this perfect day unfolding

 

A fast ball

the crack of the bat

ringing in his ears

and someone calling his name

 

His brother

caught in deep water

struggling to stay afloat

called out to him,

his voice carried on the wind

 

Their mother,

aproned behind the kitchen door

daydreaming and

whistling an old song,

heard the screams too late

 

Dark clouds rolled in

as they pulled his brother from the water

lifeless

 

A father gone deaf, a mother grown silent

a house of grief  and blame

If only…

This would be their family story

 

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Connections Coincidence and Unexplained Phenomena

I have a thing for birds. They crop up in my writing often. I am enchanted by birdsong. I sometimes imagine that they are ghosts of those who’ve passed. So, when I opened The Astonishing Color of After, Emily X R Pan’s astonishing new book, and read the first sentence, “My mother is a bird,” I was hooked. And it turns out the main character’s mother really is a bird, a big red ghost of a bird.

I raced my way through the book in my typical ‘I’ll just read one more chapter’ sort of way until hours had passed and I hadn’t moved, caught up in the story’s trance.

And then I got to this page, a powerful passage, a pivotal point in the story. Just at the moment I arrived here, I was startled by a bird whizzing past my head in the back yard, smashing full force into the glass slider, falling to the ground and swooping fast away. It left behind one small, downy feather that landed on my book.

Sometimes life is very strange.

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What?

You can’t possibly believe
the tangled words
spewing from your
mouth
covering up his
lies

inspired by @LauraPSalas 15 word poetry challenge: I don’t understand your words.

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17 Syllable Summit

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