Friday, November 22, 2013

WHAT HE MEANT TO ME

I was waking up to the world between the ages 18-21. That was the time I knew of him. I was a junior in college. I had been excited to help John Kennedy's campaign for the presidency, although I was too young to vote for him. I had discovered politics and was making decisions about how I was going to live my life in this world. I was young and full of expectations.

I had seen him that Sept. in Laramie when he spoke at the University about the importance of education. Fifty years ago today a bright light in my life went out when his life ended. I have never gotten over it. He influenced the way I have lived my life more then almost anyone else.

I went to the Peace Corps. I worked in public service. I value the poor and work for peace. I have stayed active in politics and he is the reason for all of it. I am 71 years old now and there is rarely a day that goes by that I don't think of him. He was my mentor. I was inspired by his words and felt secure that he was leading our country.

I agree that an unspeakable evil killed him. He had intentions to end the war and work for world peace. He frightened the war hawks and those who made money from chaos. His idealism was almost too much for this world to hope for or to embrace.

It is often said that time will relieve the pain of death.  I cannot think of what happened 50 years ago with any peace in my heart. Just a constant, inexorable sadness of what might have been. Johnny, we hardly got to know you. The glimpse was gleeful but far too short, and the time without you way too long and far away.

I remember it well. I was in the cafeteria, reaching for a dish of tapioca to put on my lunch tray. A friend came up to me and told me the President had been shot. The world I knew at that moment ended, and innocence was forever gone.

Don't let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot.

Pax Tecum

Monday, May 20, 2013

AGENT, WHERE ART THOU?

Now well established in my 7th decade, lots of unorganized thoughts of bucket list items rumble about in my head.  One that has pushed itself to the fore front is that of publishing  a book.

The question looms, have I written one? The answer is:  indeed I have. It's a children's non- fiction book taken from my life experience.  It involves a story with pictures, aimed at an audience of eight to ten year olds. I even had the fore-sight of letting some children in that age group read it, and they voiced approval and interest, and even likened it to the days of the Civil Rights movemnt.

Enter the quest for an agent to take this product to a publisher.  I guess that's the way it all happens now.  Gone are the days when I try to impress the publisher myself, now there is a med-level addition called a literary agent.  So the process begins.  Approach an agent, submit my work and let them decide whether it is worthy of their time and effort.

Trouble is, the process is entirely subjective.  The material must "speak" to them. My story is not about an action hero or a computer whiz, or anything else instantly recognizable in today's culture.  I Just wish some of those bright- eyed deciders would talk with the eight to ten year olds I talked with before the decision is made about whether or not to publish.

And so it goes. There probably is an insightful agent-person out there who could grasp the material's possibilities.  The question is will they be found sometime soon?  My decade is moving quickly and the bucket list continues to swirl inside of me.

Self publish you suggest? Perhaps. That certainly is an option, and one that will get more popular as the years slip away.  Meanwhile the search continues and I shout loudly to the universe, "AGENT WHERE ART THOU?"

Pax Tecum

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

SNAPSHOTS IN TIME

Forty five years ago this month, I was preparing for an adventure.  I was 26 years old, single, and a college graduate working as a registered nurse. My best friend and I had ben saving money for two years.We were going to Europe.  Our mantra was  "Don't be late in '68"  That first month in 1968 was exciting in itself. Wyoming played LSU in the Sugar Bowl. One third of the population of Wyoming had descended on New Orleans. When the game was over, (Wy lost) so much Wy money was left in New Orleans that the City begged Wy to return the following year!  And Super Bowl II was gearing up to see Lombardi's Green Bay Packers play the Oakland Raiders.

We got on the bus and rode to Denver. We  got on a plane that took us to New York City where we stayed a week. We saw Broadway shows, (eye popping productions for two Wy girls)  and visited the United Nations where we met people from all over the world.

Then it was on the plane again. We flew to Lisbon, Portugal. That is where our great adventure began.  Picture us...me wearing a plaid car coat and trying to manage three pieces of red American Tourister luggage. My friend had one huge suitcase with wheels. Our guide was Arthur Frommer's book, "Europe on Ten Dollars a Day". We followed it religiously. We traveled second-class trains and stayed in small pensiones. We stayed four and a half months, traveled in seventeen countries and loved every minute of it. And it changed my life forever.

What I found was a sense of history I had not experienced on the high plains of Wyoming. Every country had its own language and currency (before the Euro) and culture. Some images that stand out in my mind are cobblestone streets, breath taking architecture, winding rivers, massive cathedrals, and art...oh the art!  The Prado, the Louvre, the Van Gogh, theVatican...and Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, El Greco, Matisse, the entire Renaissance and so much more!  My friend and I were like sponges, soaking up every minute.

We started in Portugal, traveled along the Mediterranean to Greece (have you seen the Acropolis in the moonlight?), then headed north, with special visas to travel in communist countries. And finally to Berlin and the Wall and across the Baltic Sea to Denmark and Copenhagen to see the Royal Ballet. Then back down to Belgium and the Netherlands and England and Ireland. Of course there was also Germany and Bulgaria and Hungry and Luxembourg and France and Scotland and Iceland and finally, home.We were never afraid, never robbed. We traveled on our own and we met wonderful people who shared their lives with us.

One of our last stops was England. We were there on April 4th, 1968. We saw a newspaper headline the next day that Martin Luther King,Jr. had been killed. Brits would look at us and ask, "what is wrong with your country?" I could not answer because I was wondering the same thing. We were home by the first of May. 1968 turned out to be a turbulent year. The Vietnam War was raging, the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing, Robert Kennedy was assassinated, there was violence at the Democratic National Convention and Richard Nixon was elected President. The only constant was change.

Beyond the chaos that year brought, it was a bell-weather year in my life. My world view exploded, my vision of justice was born, and to this day, I am influenced by the global community.  We are one and we belong to each other.  I had a transformation, an epiphany on that European journey. My mind grew to include all kinds of places and all kinds of people.  To this day I am a citizen of the world.
And that is my snapshot of 1968.

Pax Tecum



Sunday, November 4, 2012

Dona Nobis Pacem




What makes peace possible?

Peace       Justice

Two big words.

Peace is at the top of the mountain.
Justice is the long hard climb to get there.



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Father John Dear, me, and Roxie at the Pond in Los Alamos, August, 2012

Lanterns On The Pond

It was my second visit that first week-end in New Mexico for the somber remembrance of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 67 years ago. I do it because we have a responsibility to each other on this planet of ours to keep calling for an end to the nuclear experiment.
And believe me, the work of producing bigger and deadlier weapons is alive and well at Los Alamos. On Saturday Nuke Free Now sponsored a conference entitled "Vision Without Fission".  Their mission is to raise awareness of the true costs and consequences of nuclear weapons production, nuclear energy, and corporate profiteering. Their vision is the transformation of Los Alamos National Laboratory to a scientific and technical expertise that would be used for cleanup, remediation, and environmental sciences.

There are 450 Minuteman III missiles deployed in the United States. They are Cold War vintage, and they are wearing out and rusting out. There are plans for "life extension" programs that would extend the life of nuclear weapons, costing an estimate of 10 billion dollars.  Why???  We were all asking ourselves WHY?

Sunday, we journeyed to Los Alamos and met at Ashley Pond at a park in the center of the city. We spent the day listening to speakers, listening to music and making 3,000 paper lanterns with candles to sail on the pond. Late afternoon we went on a silent march to the site of the laboratory and spent time in prayer and mediation. We returned to the park and at sundown the candles were lit and set out upon the water in the  pond. Each candle represented 100 human beings killed in Japan 67 years ago

It was powerful experience, and I sensed a real solidarity with all victims and loved ones of victims that have innocently lost their lives because they were in the way of  that mother of all bombs. As long as I am alive and able to raise my voice and be present, I will scream, with others, that we must dismantle nuclear weapons and promote and treasure peace.

Pax Tecum

Monday, April 23, 2012

THE COMMUNITY OF DOUBLE-TALK

The first ten years of my life was idyllic.  I lived in a small town with wide streets, some paved and some not. There was lots of space between houses. There were large lawns with pine trees and garden space that covered half a block. We raised our own chickens which provided us with eggs and lots of fried chicken. There was a detached garage perfect for playing Annie-Annie Over.

I had two sisters then. One was older and one was younger. I was the middle one. We used to go all over town, anywhere play took us. There were few locked doors and we were never fearful. There was a group of about ten kids that lived in our area.  These were the days before television and computers and video games, so every daylight moment was spent outside. There was a world to explore, after all. In addition to Annie-Annie over, we played Hide and Seek and Mother-May-I and Red-Rover. We roller-skated and rode bikes and played Hopscotch.

We would gather at each other's houses and play and play until dark.  In the cold winter months our Dad would contact the fire department and they would bring their trucks and big hoses and flood our large garden space with water. It would freeze and we had a wonderful ice skating pond. We were very popular in those winter months!

And a most interesting thing about the entire experience was that we shared a language all our own. We called it double-talk.  I don't know how we learned it, but we all knew how to speak it, and we all understood each other.  It was not pig latin.  It was a combination of consonants added to words. Parents couldn't understand it. When we played together we communicated using this language. It could very well be that this is where my sense of community was born.

When I was ten we moved away from that comfortable safe life and moved to a much larger town. We couldn't run free anymore. We had to ride a school bus and played mainly in our house or our own yard. There were three more girls born to our family. They never learned double-talk and could not understand what we were saying.

To this day, in our 6th and 7th decades the three of us can still speak to each other in double-talk. It always brings back memories of a very special time, an epiphany of the beginning experience of community, which to this day is an important part of my life.

Pax Tecum