Sunday, March 22, 2015

Today while driving to dance practice, I passed a seagull sitting on the road on I-5, off to the right. My thoughts went faster and faster as I considered the possibilities-pulling over to rescue (way too dangerous), getting off the freeway and coming back around and being in the far right lane to accomplish a daring rescue, hoping someone else would be able to rescue an obviously injured bird. I allowed my heart to break for all wounded beings and I sent a strong and hopeful resolution that the seagull would be able to fly away or be carried away to safety. O the wounded animals and birds we cared for when I was a child. Some died. Some lived.

As I was waiting for the light to change, I watched an elderly woman with a cane carefully open her purse, take out her wallet, extract a dollar bill and give it to the homeless man who often stands at that corner. Right out in the open on a busy street. She put her wallet away, hoisted her purse and went on her way. I bet this is not a person who has lots of money, in fact I'm sure she's living on a fixed income. But she's doing what she can to alleviate suffering.

Wounded birds. Wounded people.

Dear Rebecca is in the hospital and quite sick. No word from her son but I visited last week. I will try to go again this week barring deliveries. There is little I can do except to sit by her bed.

I've plotted out the UK trip, sort-of. I've figured out mileage from place to place and now I need to have another conference call with my daughters in order to make airbnb reservations. I want to go to the Isle of Skye even thought it's a far away drive. So hard to know how long to spend in different places......

Instead of being a productive citizen today, I've been watching Rectify, an enormously beautiful and sad series about a man wrongly accused of a crime who has been freed because of DNA evidence. He's thoughtful and tender and angry and he's having a hell of a time adjusting to the outside after so many years inside. The story moves from the present to the past with some gorgeous dialog.

Finished another Sue Grafton book with homeless folks in it. She says this in the epilog about two homeless people who were characters in her story:

Their ways were not those we most desire fro ourselves, but that didn't make them wrong. We seem determined to save the homeless: to fix them, to change them into something other than what they are. We want them to be like us but they are not. 

The homeless do not want our pity, nor do they deserve our scorn. Our judgements about them, for good or for ill, negate their right to live as they please. Both the urge to rescue and the need to condemn fail to take into account the concept of their personal liberty, which they may exercise as they see fit as long as their actions fall within the law. For Terrance and Felix, their battles were within and their victories hard-won. I think of these two men as soldiers of the poor, part of an army of the disaffected. The homeless have established a nation within a nation, but we are not at war. Why should we not coexist in peace when we may be in greater need of salvation than they?

This is what the homeless long for: respect, freedom from hunger, shelter from the elements, safety, the companionship of the like-minded. They want to live without fear. They want to enjoy the probity of the open air without the risk of bodily harm. They want to be warm. They want the comfort of a clean bed when they are ill, relief from pain, a hand offered in friendship. Ordinary conversation. Simple needs. Why are their choices so hard for us to accept? 

What you see before you is their home. This is their dwelling place. This grass, this sunlight, these palms, this mighty ocean, the moon, the stars, the clouds overhead though they sometimes harbor rain. Under this canopy they have staked out a life for themselves. For Terrance and for Felix, this is also the wide bridge over which they passed  from life into death. Their graves will be unmarked but that does not mean they are forgotten. The earth remembers them, even as it gathers them tenderly into it's embrace. The sky still claims them and we who honor them will hold them dear from this day forward. 



Elizabeth said...

Was it synchronicity that had you read that particular Grafton book with that quote? I am going to read it aloud to my son Oliver who is so conflicted about the homeless, always asking questions, sometimes passing judgement, in sorrow and fear all the time about it. Thank you.

And thank you for visiting Rebecca! Please give her a kiss from me and tell her how much I miss her and how I hope she's better soon.

Joanne said...

Thank you for letting us know about Rebecca. I feel so bad for her. She has such a hard time. You have such a huge heart. Bless you.

Ms. Moon said...

That passage is completely beautiful. As are you.

janzi said...

I adore her writing, the beat is so easy to get into and follow, and boy does she write cracking stories, just read W, cannot believe how she finds the stories to fit the alphabet*** Loved the photo of your darling daughter, lovely post that was.. have a lovely Easter and great week after.. and that trip to Europe is looking great too** What a whopper that girl was, bless her... bet her mum was glad when the labour finished ha ha