poetry, Travel

An Amazing Tree is a Symbol of Hope, Peace, and Endurance

path with several ginkgo yellow trees
Ginkgo tree lined path-flickr.com cc

Half the month of October is gone, fallen by the wayside like the autumn leaves.

My favorite autumn tree is the Ginkgo. It’s a tree I rarely see where I live, but abundant in Denver where I frequently visit my kids.

There is a Ginkgo tree in China that is 3,500 years old (give or take a decade). In China, the ginkgo  is a symbol of hope and peace.

After Hiroshima, Japan was bombed in 1945, the only living trees were a few Ginkgoes, which are presently alive. In Japan, the tree is symbolic of endurance and vitality.

An interesting aside, for book lovers, is a Japanese tradition. The ginkgo leaves were used as book markers as they are believed to drive away silverfish and other pests from paper.

During my last writing retreat, we had a free write of three minutes. I thought of Gingko trees.

Leaves shimmer gold

on a living fossil

Shaken by winds

of atomic magnitude

jolting earth, quake of destruction

Rises again, moves

across Asia to my world

 Saffron reminders

of hope and peace,

 gentle as a baby’s yawn

Lights the path with a glowing aura

gives itself for my delight.

To see some gorgeous photos, check these out:  An Ancient Chinese Ginkgo Tree Drops an Ocean of Golden Leaves.

Peace and hope for the rest of October.

 

quote by M. Gandhi
Hope, Loss

Can We Move Towards Hope and Peace with a Hug?

quote by M. Gandhi

Like many others, I’m trying to understand what’s going on in our nation.

As a person who has been on both sides of the thin blue line (stopped over 50 times in my youth and a 30-year career in  criminal justice) it’s not difficult to understand how wounds fester and people get frustrated and beyond.

But to sniper kill police officers during a peaceful demonstration can never be the answer to an already wounded community and nation.  

To empathize with police officers and other law enforcement doesn’t mean we don’t empathize with peaceful Black Lives Matter protests.

To take a stand for one doesn’t mean you can’t take a stand for the other. One can be “pro cop” and “pro black lives matter.” It doesn’t have to be “either/or.”

One part of me understands the frustrations, the other part is sickened; the whole of me feels that the fear and worry will separate us more, but it is at this precise moment that we have to create hope.

I want to share this video which shone a light on an otherwise sorrowful week. This occurred after an interfaith prayer service in Dallas on July 8th. This YouTube video is from the Free Hugs Project.

 

 

We have to address systemic racism.

We have to find a way to work towards community and peace.

I don’t have the answer on “How” to do this but I know it can be done and it starts with individuals.

It won’t be easy but it will be worth stepping towards hope.

 

Books, Family

20 Ways to Celebrate Before Christmas

 

Christmas Hearts by Tiraz, Flickr.com
Christmas Hearts by Tiraz, Flickr.com

We haven’t put up one Christmas bulb or decoration yet, but I am thinking of how to make Christmas more special this year.

When I say special, I mean remembering that “Christ,” is in the word “Christmas.”

The wheels began turning last night when I wandered through department stores looking for Christmas cards that ‘spoke’ to me. And I found them too, at Hallmark.

There are 20 days to Christmas and they’ll blur by if we forget to take the time to slow down and enjoy the hours and days of the holiday season.

This list is just a beginning. Perhaps you can share your ideas in the comments.

How to spend the remaining 20 days to Christmas:

 

1-Carry on a tradition and share. Mine is to make tamales and champurrado.

2-Hug more and not just your spouse or significant other. Smile too.

3-Spend time with your parents or anyone over 70 that has a story to tell you about a Christmas memory.

4-Scent your home with the inviting fragrance of cinnamon, pine, or sugar cookies. I like to stick cloves in oranges.

6-Decorate your home or someone else’s with a living plant. I found this colorful gem at Lowe’s.

 Christmas Cactus alvaradofrazier.com

Christmas Cactus alvaradofrazier.com

7-Send out Christmas cards with a handwritten inspirational quote.

8-Forgive. Apologize. Try to understand.  

9-Read a Christmas book to your own or someone else’s children. No kids? Read to yourself, aloud. One of my favorites is Olive the Other Reindeer.

10-Wear something ‘Christmasy,’ even if it’s that not so pretty holiday sweater someone gave you. 

11-Buy or make a new holiday ornament for someone else.

12-Share a holiday drink with someone: Peppermint Mocha, mulled wine, champurrado.

13-Sing along to holiday songs, wherever you may be.

14-Try a new holiday food from a different culture: France, Spain, Germany, Italy…

15-Get out in nature. Taste falling snow. If you’re in Southern California, like me, find yourself some shaved ice or a raspada as we call them in Spanish. This year I’ll be in Denver for Christmas where I’m sure I’ll find snow.

16-Bake a holiday sweet that you’ve never baked before and share.

17-Visit a church or place of worship for their holiday message, choir, or play.

18-Say “I love you,” “I appreciate you,” “Thank you,” twice as often.

19-Donate coats, sweaters, gloves to those in need. Drop your coins into the Salvation Army kettle. Contribute to Toys for Tots or similar program.

20-Pray and work for peace.

Enjoy your weekend!