VOLUME 1: ISSUE 3
Standing in line at the super market is like going to a Neil Simon play.
……the birthday cake trimmed with cowboys — well that’s a boy.
……wow! the basket overflows for a big family.
……one-half an apple pie, a can of tuna, some frozen dinners — a little old lady
……living alone and on a budget.
……….the Mom and Pop store
I have returned form East Germany yesterday, after three months of study. It was not an easy time. I was born there, brought up in the West. My parents’ rejection of their roots took me back to see for myself. –
My critical questions while permitted, were not encouraged, rarely answered, mostly dismissed. Our teachers were my age when the GDR came into being. Their enthusiasm and quest have long been stifled. A scheduled visit to Sachsenhausen concentration camp memorial site last week brought a shift. Several of my fellow students declined to attend, “we have seen it all before”. Taking us back where they themselves started, teachers suddenly seemed to understand: I need to
go to the roots of the motivation, that this may never happen again (be it in my thinking or physically), and renew it from facing that which must never happen again – where else?
“He asked me, ‘son of man, can these bones live?’ – ‘Only you know’, I answered.”
“The GDR has been an experiment – what else could we have done?”
“Communication and discussion take place through concepts, but all insight lies behind the conceptual scene. … there is always a danger that (a reader) will attend to the concepts rather than the underlying insight, (particularly) when the point to be grasped by insight is merely that there is no point.”
So in the end, I left East Berlin with a sense of freedom, clarity and reconciliation- out of confusion.
Barbed wire in between –
Love overflows train window sun,
Patrols both on guard.
Home, last night – I found myself free from a compulsive neurotic symptom, after a long time.
-Ezekiel, 37, 3
-East Berlin Author Stephan Hermlin
-Bernard Lonergan, op.cit., p.54f, quoted from LR p.65
-In the actual experience sketched in the haiku, there is also an early reference to what Lonergan calls “the universal viewpoint (as) concerned with the interpreter’s capacity to grasp meanings; it would open his mind to ideas that do not lie on the surface and to views that diverge enormously from his own; it would enable him to find clues where otherwise he might look but would fail to see…”
September 24, 2001
From the train station to the local mom and pop store, I walk briskly to avoid the downpour. As I enter, I notice the same young Zen monk who I saw on the train. Immediately the woman clerk looks at me and exclaims in Japanese, “Oh, you made it back! I was worried about you!”
While she looks after one customer after another, I begin to answer her questions and tell her about the September 11th terrorist attack and how I had flown on six airplanes in the USA before returning to Japan. I ask about her daughter in Texas, and she says that she is fine.
I start to unfold my new umbrella as I leave the store. Again the clerk says, “I’m so glad you made it back.”
Appreciating her kind words, I thank her.
the familiar purr of cats
under the eaves
We are out of seasoning for Japanese-style beans. The local supermarket doesn’t carry anything more ethnic than soy sauce. I make a special trip 30 miles to a whole foods store. Nearly everyone who works there is an immigrant from somewhere; usually India, Africa, the Middle East. This day after the World Trade Center rained down ash, I cruise the aisles slowly, no joy in my heart. No one meets my eyes. I search the faces, seeking comfort in shared sorrow. Even here, I can not find what I am looking for. As I pay for a few odd things I picked up, I realize that no one wears Sufi dress; all the staff today is African, Asian.
the rustle of wind
in the corn
A First Thanksgiving
After spending an inordinate amount of time (and money) buying groceries and standing in long lines the weekend before Thanksgiving, I am reminded of the most perfect Thanksgiving Day meal. Twenty-two years ago the weekend before Thanksgiving was very warm — an Indian summer replete with that overactive sensory perception which late fall in Minnesota always seems to offer. When I returned with my husband and new baby girl after four days in the hospital, snow was falling heavily, yet gently, on the city.
I was thrilled that the doctors allowed me, after a long and difficult labor and birth, to go home for Thanksgiving (at that time a run-down apartment in south Minneapolis), but when I opened the apartment door, my home truly seemed like a castle. Bouquets of flowers were everywhere; the huge Boston fern my husband gave me after the birth of our child decorated the window.
However, I will never forget the smell of freshly baked pizza and dinner rolls in the air (our first Thanksgiving meal together). I was home, finally, and I was truly thankful for my new baby, my husband and my life. Every Thanksgiving I try to remember this first, simple meal my husband and I gave to each other in order to ground me, anchor me to what is really important…
The memory of it slows me down and makes me remember what Thanksgiving, what life itself, really means: the love of a family, a family of love.
this second bloom…
Rejoice, his life bled out in an alley. Was shed in the urine of infected rats and for days stood in pools and stagnant water making a rainbow of that light found undulant and hovering over moist surfaces.
Miners, sewer workers, slaughterers, fish gutters — rejoice in the return of Nate Iyambo to the water, the soil, the air. He is the dust in the slave master’s gold mines where you toil. The water at the township spigot. The meat you carve for steaks. The fish netted from the Levubu and Mutale in the cool evening. The air breathed by your first-born.
Your brother is with you, a father of thousands.
Haibun for George
half buried in trash
a poppy flower
Usually I do not look at merchants or slow down my pace while going down David Street from the Jaffa Gate Plaza in the Old City.
Jaffa gate school noise
Today is our last day and I have programmed myself to buy gifts according to Kay’s wishes. We slow down and I nod to the merchant on the right. We are led into the wide open store. Kay has a knack for bags. There is a cloth bag hanging above the multicolored bric-a-brac. It is adorned with some Jerusalem motifs.
Our Arab merchant promptly says, “50 dollars”.
The bag cannot be more than 10 bucks and I signal Kay to leave this cavern. But the merchant does not let us go. He shoots at us, “40… 35… 30”.
He puts our 5 dollar bill into his pocket and shouts, “Come on, make my day, you are my first customers…”
But I grow indignant, “Why don’t you affix a price tag? In Europe, you know, they do it. It makes life easier.”
George is getting angry, “It is not Europe. We cannot post prices. We’ve got tax collectors, war, no tourists. Let’s do it…Do not let me down. Give me the price!”
By now I understand the reason I have been walking past these stores without looking sideways and just murmuring, “Shukran, thank you”.
George (his name brands him a Christian Arab) makes wild eyes and laments, “How much? Give me the price! Give me 25 dollars! Give me 100 shekels! Take it for free!”
In fear I make up my mind. We run to the Jewish Quarter and-voila!-we find there the same bag with a $15 tag. But we do not buy it.
|just before sunset
the Jaffa Gate bullet marks
lose their depth