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.
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.
I have the past 365 days to ponder. I am old enough now to be grateful that I can remember events I have learned in 2011. ( I still have some memory left!) This is a good time, in the beginning of the blank slate, in a bright, fresh new beginning to think about how this time has impacted my life.
There is an Egyptian proverb that says, "Dearer than our children are the children of our children." I have been able to understand that fully in 2011. I became a grandmother. I have always loved my children, but it just can't match loving as a grandparent. It's very close in coming full circle. It's a hellva wonderful place to be.
I recognize joy and it lives in every moment. I get frustrated with my country, with my church, with the workings of the computer, and other various and sundry things. But joy just seems to out-distance them all. I like being around my growing family as we all evolve into our roles ofbeing fully human. I especially like getting to know my sons-in law, all nearly three of them. That has really been a lesson for me. I never had brothers or sons, and my Dad and my husband are my male influences. It's good they have company now.
I came to the conclusion that movement is life. If I don't move, especially as I grow older, I will literally turn to stone. So despite my utter dislike of exercise, I have learned I must make it my companion if I am to march into the wonder of 2012.
And that, dear companions along the journey, is some of where I have been. Let's get on with it. This will be a big year for me. Number 70th year is coming to meet me head on. I'm going to be waiting for it with joy. Happy New Year!