With more time home during the pandemic, every morning I savor a walk-about on the land seeing the world of bud, leaf, blade, and flowers emerging. Yes, as the song in the musical Carousel expressed, “June is bustin’ out all over!” We wish you could visit and share as we watch the wild pink happiness of peonies, the kaleidoscope of blooming roses, the elegant maroon of Japanese iris, stately blue delphinium, and the lush aroma of lavenders. They give daily wonder. And remember, if an item is highlighted in blue text, you can double click it and it will open to the further story.
Finding Expression During Our Pandemic Quarantine
There’s a line in the poem The Far Field from Northwest poet Theodore Roethke that my husband, Jim, loves. Roethke writes, “What I love is near at hand.” It seems like one gift this extended pause from COVID19 offers is a time to focus more energy and love on what is “near at hand,” like family, home projects, and artistic and musical endeavors.
Robbie Paul, a member of the Nez Pearce Tribe, is finding deep satisfaction in completing an 11-year effort in creating a traditional shawl, once forbidden for her people. While studying for her PhD at Gonzaga University, she traveled to South Africa for the 10th anniversary of their Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In preparation for a presentation and a private audience with Bishop Tutu, she wore a new buckskin dress. “In reclaiming our regalia, it’s typical to also have a shawl worn on the arm,” says Robbie, thrilled to have this finished. Is there something you’d like to create as a permanent remembrance of the positive effects of living within COVID19’s pause?
Giving the Gift of Music
YouTube has become an expressive bonanza for both amateur and professional musicians, like world-class Croatian Cellist Stjepan HAUSER. Not able to perform before audiences, many are giving to the world through virtual performances. See his stunning YouTube performance with a youth orchestra of Nessum Dorma from Puccini’s opera “Turandot.” A friend who introduced me to this said, “Best with a glass of wine!” (After 5 seconds, you can skip the ads by clicking "skip ads" on the bottom right of the video.)
Extra Meaning this 4th of July:
A Citizenship and DACA Celebration
“The Place Where You Are Right Now, God Circled on a Map for You.”
A poem from Persian Poet Hafiz in 1300’s
We’ve been poignantly reminded of how important America’s past support of immigrants has enriched our country. This month we celebrated Sorayya Ahmadi’s new citizenship in America. At 16, Sorayya’s family fled at midnight from Afghanistan when the Taliban overtook her city and killed her grandparents. For years she became a global pilgrim, first in Iran and then Turkey. Both countries extremely limited schooling for refugee girls. After marrying and beginning a family, she found a way to learn English to pursue her dream of coming to America. Through World Relief sponsorship, she arrived in Spokane and our families are enjoying a rich friendship. A devout Muslim, Sorayya is a determined visionary. She passed America’s GED exam and became an outstanding university student with plans to teach elementary children. With the pandemic restrictions, U.S. Courthouses canceled celebrations, nor could her husband or two sons come inside to hear her take the oath. So we created a small social distancing celebration in the garden with her husband Mohammad and two sons and read from Hafiz’s book of poetry The Subject Tonight Is Love. America is fortunate. She is fortunate.
Sorayya told us that day that Hafiz poetry books are in almost every Arab family’s home, somewhat like the Bible here. Some quotes you might enjoy:
Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you living in better conditions.
I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.
Stay close to anything that makes you glad you are alive.
How did the rose ever open its heart and give to this world all its beauty? It felt the encouragement of light against its being. Otherwise, we all remain too frightened.
Love is simply creation’s greatest joy.
Celebration for Alma Alquilar of the
Supreme Court DACA Decision
We enjoyed another wonderful afternoon in the garden celebrating the multi-talented Alma Alquilar’s reprieve for now with the DACA decision, joined by her close friend Christina Kamkosi Banda. I have felt such enormous respect watching Alma’s resilience and positive energy while living with years of uncertainty on her future.
Just finished a fantastic read…hard to put down! Eric Larson’s stunning new book The Splendid and the Vile is an intimate portrait that shows the dynamic leadership of Winston Churchill in galvanizing all of British citizens during Hitler’s terrifying nightly bombing attacks that killed 40,000 civilians. The government ordered strict blackouts and every family complied. Without dynamic federal leadership, we have lost over 129,000 beloved persons already and yet a philosophy still prevails that, “It’s our right to not wear a mask.” What will it take to unite American citizens in a similar determined effort to defeat our invisible but even deadlier enemy? Wearing masks, at the very least!
We have a renewed appreciation for outdoor spaces since we aren’t having guests inside during the pandemic because of my health risks. For a very fun and inspirational way to consider creative spaces, you might enjoy our daughter Susan’s recent blog on WeSpire called The Power of a Porch
Today’s newsletter will be combined for June and July and I will be taking a pause in writing for a few weeks this summer. It meant so much to hear from some of you after the last newsletter, so definitely know I love this email connection. Knowing this will be a different kind of summer for many of you, I hope you find “loving that which is near at hand” gives you different kinds of adventures and beautiful memories!