“We’re all just walking each other home”

 

 

“We’re all just walking each other home.” —Ram Dass

Dear Readers,

It’s been a really rough year. We’re still standing-ish.

Most everyone I know (and many more that I don’t), have had a difficult 2017. I won’t list  the  thousands of horrors brought to our country and the world by the current administration. Some of these things, like racism, have never left us. This country was built on genocide and the suffering of millions. But this year, we took a giant step backwards. I’ve been stunned and outraged by the cruelty continuously inflicted on people, wildlife, and the planet. I’ve taken action and hidden under blankets. I highly recommend both: Action as you’re able, and hiding under blankets. Otherwise you’ll burn out. It’s a long struggle. Always has been. Take good care of yourselves. Reading, music, gather around the animals near you. Ours are cats inside, birds outside. Hold onto anything that makes you laugh.

Some memorable things from this past year:

Mudbound —a true masterpiece. Get Out was amazing. The Big Sick was really good, as was Wind River, and the documentary The Center Will Not Hold about Joan Didion. The Handmaid’s Tale (re-read and watched) felt way too close to home. I loved This Is Us on TV and the book Dying by Cory Taylor.

We had some health stuff in our family circle. A dear friend of mine lost her brother. Several people fought cancer and are here. A friend died. She loved her family, her garden, and life. None of it is fair.

I got to see one of my oldest, dearest friends (since age 12) who I hadn’t seen in about 10 years. She was visiting from Israel with her family at the end of summer and had only a few days in NYC. It still sustains me these many months later that we got to hug and sit  and eat and walk and laugh and cry together for 6 magical hours. We stood in the middle of stores, in Times Square, in the busiest  loudest of places, and we talked about our lives and everything fell away.  I’m so grateful for her and our friendship over miles and years.  It helps so much to have real friends. This past year I was able to reconnect with several and I feel lucky.

Today in 1999, my husband proposed to me. 18 years in a flash. Thank goodness we’re  still here together. Too many people don’t get a chance to grow old with the person they love.

In the past few days, the sad news about the death of justice warrior, Erica Garner, may she rest in power; she lost her life at a tragically young age, leaving behind a brokenhearted family and community.

We must all fight on for each other’s humanity. Please keep doing the work to resist and dismantle racism, Anti Semitism, Islamophobia,  and all forms of hate which has been unleashed and directed so viciously at already oppressed and at -risk people and communities including immigrants, LGBTQ, People of Color, Native, Indigenous, and First Nations people, the homeless, women, children, seniors, people with disabilities, people living in poverty, and anyone in your corner who needs support and safety.

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The things I grab onto for hope are the many people I know who are relentless and tireless in the many battles that our country and world face. I’m uplifted by my friends and strangers doing good work all over the planet (past and present).

The writers, artists, musicians, comedians, poets, filmmakers, screenwriters, actors, songwriters, scientists, photographers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, all the activists, peace workers, bird watchers, journalists, environmentalists, dancers, children, gardeners, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, and neighbors who persist and bring light, love, truth and beauty here.

I despair as much as the next person. We’re in precarious, insane times. Everything is at stake.  Our hugs are healing. We go one day at a time. My son said this:

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I wish you well, and with hopes that you and yours have shelter, food, health, kindness, and love in your life. That your days and nights have enough laughs and magic to keep you going, enough medicine, enough of whatever you need to get by.

Wishing you a bright 2018!

Love & Peace,

Elana

 

 

Tell Me What Prayer You Say

Tell Me What Prayer You Say

Tell me what prayer you say
when you’ve been afraid, terrorized, misunderstood, forgotten, discarded.

What words do you use?
Do you have faith?

What prayer do you say when your body, mind, soul, life
have been trampled on, or assaulted?
What prayer do you say when you’re fighting for your life,
or the lives of others?
Is marching your prayer?

What songs do you sing when they’ve stolen everything,
broken—Everything.
Burnt or tortured or shot through you or near you?
After you’ve buried your family, fled, drowned, collapsed?
What is your prayer for the child alone at sea?

Which direction do you face?
East or west?
Where is your True north or south?
Is your head covered or exposed?

What prayer do you say when they have come for you,
labeled, sorted, and separated you,
detained you, stripped you, held you down, shackled you, enslaved you?
What is your prayer for the ones who are already dead, or for the dying?
What about Saying the Names or the markers or protecting the sacred grounds?
What about the wind and the sun?
What about the Earth?
What prayer do you say when your child wants to
live, but there’s not enough food, water, air, shelter, medicine?
The bombs and guns and bullets shatter everything in classrooms and
in all the broken places here or there.
Where is the clean air, the safe drinking water, the place for dreaming?

What prayer did you say when they took your father, mother, brother, sister, child, land, food, water, home, homeland?
Are you standing?
Do you pray at night?
Do tears roll into your pillow?
Do you have a pillow?
A bed?
Are the stars your roof?

What prayer do you say when you’re kneeling,
leaning against a wall, stretching down on the rug,
sitting on a bench, or a branch?
Are you dancing in a field?
Do you light candles and drink wine?
Do you have bread?
Are there flowers? Feathers? Stones? Beads? Holy water?

When you stand on the mountain or in the valley or on the street corner
do you see a way forward?

Are we not, every single one of us here under the same sky?

Do you pray to go forward, or are you about surviving only this next minute?
Is it the same thing? Is standing still an option? Do you carry signs?

Is your prayer Resistance? Is your prayer Justice and Freedom for every single human, or just for some?

What prayer did you say when you were abandoned, lied to,
when you were disapproved of, given up on, turned away from, shut out,
stepped on, beaten down, shackled, locked in?
Locked out?

What prayer do you say if you’re not strong enough?
If you’re sick?
If you’re dying?
What prayer do you say for living?
For animals and bees, rivers and trees?

Is there a prayer for when you’ve lost hope?
Who hears that prayer?
What if you don’t believe in God or that anyone is listening, or anyone cares?
You are different, you are the same, and you’ve been hurt badly.
You’re holding on, broken inside, and your legs buckle.
You’re still grateful for your legs,
and the floor beneath you.

What prayer did you say? All those years
you’ve cried over the elephants, bears, seals, the coral reef,
the lost and stolen children, the tigers, the lions, the whale,
and you’ve done everything you could
to help.
And, it is never enough, and you tire of fighting to be seen, to be recognized,
for your birthright,
your human right; that you are born, and therefore, you exist,
a human, born for
Peace and Love, but denied it daily.
Until you’re buried, and even then the liars and bulldozers come.

You’ve cried over children and the ground, over hangings, over beatings,
Over evil in hoods or suits, they shape shift,
They bear unwanted gifts, stealing lives.
We cry together over lost dreams
and broken pipes, while poison flows, and the tears of millions fall.
Still: silence and violence. Still: Never Again.

But, it continues,  over and over again, never stopping.

What are the words for that?
What picture do you paint?
What dance do you dance?
What music do you play or sing?
What funny story do you tell?

How do you pray when you don’t believe in prayer?
What is your prayer today?
When you need a miracle; that is: a hand up, a door opened, someone who sees you and doesn’t look away when you’re suffering.
What if your prayer isn’t heard today but you need it to be heard today?

Who has your back?
Who’s with you?
Who gets it?

When you’ve been hurt and you already despair and a man of the cloth
Says, go die, what prayer is there for that?

When you or someone you know has given up, and too many around you want you gone,
And all you want is air, water, to be free, to love.

When after waiting, after being crushed, after disappointment, after being silenced, after broken promises or treaties, after despair, and somehow you’re still standing,
and maybe you even know that you’ll never give up,
And you know exactly what you’re fighting for, but you still need help.

How do you help?
Did you ask what is needed?
Did you listen?

Is your prayer a hug, a bowl of rice, warm gloves?

When hope is gone, what is your prayer?
How do you pray for strength and to not give up?
Which part of you do you call on to get through the day? This hour?
Is your job not to save another?

Is every child and creature not a world of wonder?
Does your planet not spin? Does gravity not hold you here?

In your prayers,
Do you see light and the infinite colors?
Do you float? Rise? Chant?

Do you say: count me, too.
Have you saved yourself?
Have you saved another?

Please,
Tell me what prayer you say.

© Elana Halberstadt, January 27, 2017

 

The Goodbye Window

Dear Ones,

It is a sad day for America and the world. Our country and planet are in danger.

We’re saying goodbye to one of the greatest men, one of the greatest presidents to ever live. So much has been written and said by others, I had no idea what I could write, or how to say goodbye today.

When M was little, and in preschool, if he or other children were having a hard time separating from parents, saying goodbye at drop off, there was a little window, near the front door, and a teacher would hold M up to the window on the inside, and I was outside, and we said goodbye, blowing kisses, and waving at the goodbye window, and then he would be OK, and so would I.

So, back then, I made this:

The Goodbye Window
The Goodbye Window

 

This was a poster I had made during the 2012 election:

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And this was inspired by the First Family’s 2016 holiday / Christmas card photo:

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Thank you, President Barack Hussein Obama.

Thank you, First Lady, Michelle Obama.

Thank you, First Daughters, Malia and Sasha.

Thank you, First Dogs, Sunny and Bo.

President Barack Obama boards Air Force One at Norman Manley International Airport prior to departure from Kingston, Jamaica en route to Panama City, Panama, April 9, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama boards Air Force One at Norman Manley International Airport prior to departure from Kingston, Jamaica en route to Panama City, Panama, April 9, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Looking through the many pictures and waving goodbye, through the screens, or waving goodbye in our hearts inside, while you’ll wave back to us, no doubt, and we already miss you, tearing ourselves away and muttering yes, we can, we have to, but its super scary, and its real, and can we really?  It is such a long fall downwards from the high bar you set.

Thank you, Mr. President, Our President.

Thank you, to everyone who’s been marching and fighting for justice for decades, or days, and to those who have not started yet, but will.

Thank you, to all the artists, writers, musicians, singers, comedians, journalists, filmmakers, dancers, scientists, organizers, activists, dreamers and believers in all that is good in the world because we need everyone to pitch in more. We need many voices and art and comedy and film and songs and it will be  oxygen, a compass, and a way through and over and out of hopelessness, despair, and defeat. As it always is.

M is 10, and he came with me vote in 2008, 2012, and 2016, and he worries about more then a child should have to, because he feels and sees the truth, like so many children do, and he and many others are  deeply sad today. And it shouldn’t be this way; that children  everywhere are afraid and sad because a new president is taking office in the United States of America.

And we, the grown ups, somehow have to explain how this happened, how we’ll protect him, how we’ll continue to work to try to change things.

Every single child needs protection and love and clean air and water  and shelter and food and education, and we as a country already fall terribly short on that, but it could get worse.

It is impossible to explain to M how a dangerous bully tyrant, a most unfit to serve man is going to be in charge and is already working to dismantle life as we know it here and in the world.

So we tell him the truth: Yes, this is really bad. We look forward to the impeachment process to begin as soon as possible.

We stay who we are. We fight back. We don’t give up.

Be well and safe,

Love and Peace.

Elana

Snowy night films

Dear Readers,

Two documentary films are going to be on tonight,
Saturday, January 7, 2017 and both are at 8pm.

Life Animated will be on A & E and is a stunningly
beautiful film.

Bright Lights: Starring  Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds will be on HBO.

And…
Here’s our cat watching the snowfall this morning.

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Hope all are safe, cozy and warm.

Peace,

Elana