Monday, July 16, 2018

Can God save a city?

Martha Park is a writer and artist who creates illustrated investigates of urban situations.  She looked at the crisis of Cairo, Illinois, in this remarkable piece.  Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, has abandoned the city -- left its fate in God's hands.  While his act is brutal, in its honesty it reveals the larger approach to cities in our nation -- abandon them and their people when they have ceased to profit centers.  Move somewhere else to make money.  These planned shrinkage policies are a disaster for the local areas and for the nation, as Dr. Rodrick Wallace has so clearly shown us in his studies of the effects of planned shrinkage on the Bronx.  When will we learn?

Thursday, July 12, 2018

A proper cup of tea

Artist Pam Shaw, who has designed three of my book covers, sent me these wise words from Chogyam Trungpa:
Hold the sadness and pain of samsara and at the same time the power and vision of the Great Eastern Sun.  Then the warrior can make a proper cup of tea.
I looked up samsara and found this explanation by Jeff Wilson:
Saṃsāra in Buddhism is the "suffering-laden cycle of life, death, and rebirth, without beginning or end."
When I was in college, and fighting the unjust war in Vietnam, its horrors filled my days.  I read a poem once that asked how was it possible to enjoy a daisy with the war going on?  

In these times, I read of children snatched from their parents, the obscene concentration of wealth, the housing famine sweeping the world, and I ask how can I enjoy the 6" sunflowers I found at Whole Foods, which are now in my yard?

I have come to believe that this is my life quest, to let the joy of the sunflower be present for me, as much as I let the suffering of the world motivate me to fight for justice.  I don't know how to do this yet.  So every morning I practice.  While my tea is brewing, I go outside to get the newspaper.  I scan the headlines for the latest madness.  Then I look at the jolly 6" sunflowers, which make me laugh.  Today my tea was a little bitter.  I'll try again tomorrow.  

It's all good, as Bob Fullilove likes to say.  It's all good.