Day 72 beauty from brokenness

Today is Friday.  Today, I had the wonderful privilege of watching a friend of mine speak.  My friend, David, was in prison for many years in California.  I was his academic advisor for a program he was enrolled in.  We became good friends.

Instead of giving into despair, he used his time to develop several programs in prison including surviving substance abuse.  He became a counselor and his programs were so successful, national level people wanted to work with him.

He was given early parole from a very lengthy sentence.  Since his release, he found a beautiful wife with a child and he is still making a difference in the lives of others.

I am so proud of my friend and how he has been so blessed.  Thank you, David, for your struggle and your willingness to use it to serve and improve the lives of others.

“It is simply a confession that with all that I’ve seen in the last few years, all the events I’ve been invited to, and all the people whom I’ve met, I am less and less impressed by “impressive” things or people who are presented as having things figured out. I am impressed by people who are honest and kind. I am inspired by moments of vulnerability, moments of confession and compassion, moments where someone makes it clear that they are a person in need of other people and someone else makes it clear that the first person is not alone.”
― Jamie Tworkowski

Day 71 Unrestrained

Today is Thursday.  Today Chelsea Manning’s legal team filed an appeal to challenge the exorbitant amount of time to which she has been sentenced.  Chelsea, you are always in my thoughts and prayers.

Today I wrote another poem as a tribute to journalists, truthtellers and whistleblowers.

UNRESTRAINED

Unless I speak truth unbridled, uncensored, unequivocally,

No one will really know the secret and evil plans wrought against

Remarkable people who still believe in powerful ideas

Envisioning a world of equality, justice, love and peace

Serving the greater good only to find themselves slandered as

Traitors, terrorists, criminals by power hungry madmen who

Rip off and alienate the poor and the working class to satisfy

Avarice and their unquenchable thirst for godlike control

Indiscriminately conniving, murdering, silencing and plundering

Nations for every resource without regard for the future generations

Ensuring the continual destruction of millions of  innocents.

Does this not validate why I must speak the truth unrestrained?

Leann 2016

Day 70 Candle Holder

Today is Wednesday.  Today, I was moved to write a poem to remember, to recognize, to applaud.

Candle Holder

He saw what was hidden, meant to be unseen,

He saw what was hidden, evil indeed.

He doubts, he second guesses, he wouldn’t believe,

But it nags, it gnaws, it pricks until it bleeds.

It moved silently with whispers of white dusty death;

No “God bless you” would save some a breath.

He saw what was hidden, meant to be unseen,

He saw what was hidden, evil indeed.

Three letters saw three letters until all letters became blind,

By power corrupted, power opaque, power redefined.

Thousands upon thousands would come to pay the ultimate price,

As ignorance, delusion and patriotism marched obediently to their sacrifice.

He saw what was hidden, meant to be unseen,

He saw what was hidden, evil indeed.

Virulent greed is ravenous and its belly will never be full;

It sucks the marrow and makes commodity of the world as a whole;

A cancer destroying brave vocal chords, crippling protesting hands and torturing brilliant minds:

Searching for disciples in the morally weak, the wealthy, the wicked in high places it finds.

He saw what was hidden but then evil knew,

Indeed evil disparaged, evil punished, and evil tortured him, too.

Truth has way of creating light for others to see,

When evil tries to extinguish the candle–

holder, you see.

Leann 2016

Day 69 Rain

Today is Tuesday.  Today the rain fell like endless tears from the brokenhearted.  The sky sighed as it squeezed its gray billowing cheeks, pinched its eyes shutting out the light and let the falling tears rain over as far as I could see.

Today as I drove into work and had to run from the parking lot to my building in a vain effort to keep from getting soaked, I felt irritated as large swollen drops splatted against my face.

If he has a window and that’s a big if, does he see the rain and wish he could stand in it and feel its cool wetness caress his face.  Does he breathe in deeply that fresh smell as it washes away the stench of prison?

Today, I ran errands during my lunch, frustrated that some of the paper goods I bought would get wet and possibly ruined.  I stepped in a puddle with my sandals and growled.

Does he remember jumping into a puddle right next to his mother just to see the look on her face?  Does he remember sticking his tongue out to see how rain tasted and could he fill his whole mouth with water if he caught enough drops?

Today as I drove home from work, I wondered if the stuff would ever stop falling.  I passed trucks on the highway because I am not a fan of being behind them as they seem to send waves of water in my direction.

Can he fall asleep while listening to the tap tap tap of rain beating on the roof above his cell?  Or, is it the just the sounds of other restless inmates, some crying, some snoring, others praying and still others shouting obscenities to no one, to everyone?

Today, I stood at the door and watched the rain fall like endless tears from the brokenhearted.  Today I breathed in the fresh smell and I will fall asleep listening to the gentle tap tapping of the rain.

Today, I think the sky is crying with those who have loved ones in prison.  Listen to the rain, my son.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 68 One question…

Today is Monday.  Today, I have felt the weight of a question burdening my soul.  How does one know when to keep the dark deeds of others; who pretend to be honest when they are not. locked away or spill them as one spills a jar of marbles scattering them across a  wooden floor?

The risk is equally great whether the information remains in silence or is declared publicly.

If nothing else in this journey, I have learned there are extraordinary people who will sacrifice themselves and stand for the truth.  I am tremendously blessed to know some of these heroes.

I have also learned that there are those who will gain your trust in order to use you and betray the very things you stand for.  They have no conscience about stabbing you in the back or using you to further their gain.

I hope the answer to the question will be resolved soon.  In the meantime, I will continue to strive to be the kind of person who says what she means and means what she says; to trust and be trusted; to be honest and honestly stand up for truth and the welfare of others regardless of the cost.

On another note, a friend of mine, who is not a poster child for courage did something extraordinary even for her.  Standing in a grocery store line behind an older gentleman, my friend discovered that  the poor man had been duped by an advertising scheme and with some fake vouchers he received, he tried to pay for his groceries.  He was obviously struggling financially.

My friend, seeing the older man’s dilemma, paid for his groceries at a fairly high cost to herself.  She not only helped him pack up his groceries, but drove this stranger to his home which was out of the way for her and quite frankly made her feel uneasy.  She helped him bring his bags to the house that needed some serious repairs and told him not to worry about repaying her but instead do something kind for someone else.

She admitted that this was not like her to do something like this.  Wow, was I ever proud of her and told her so.  Can you imagine what kind of world we could live in if most of us had her kind of compassion toward a stranger?

For those of you who look for opportunities to serve others, I applaud you. Keep it up and for those of you who don’t, might I encourage you to get started?  🙂

Day 67 Pondering

Today is Sunday.  Today I gave some thought to a few conversations I had this past week.

Someone had voiced the opinion that President Obama should not apologize to the Japanese in response to the employment of hydrogen bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that killed 240,000 civilians…that would include women and children.  At Pearl Harbor 2400 people were killed mostly military.

I asked why and the response was, “Because of Pearl Harbor and we had to end the war.” The war was ending prior to Truman wanting to make a statement. The Japanese don’t want an apology; they want assurance that nuclear weapons will be dismantled.

Every day another life is taken by out of control cops.  Another person said, “Oh, it’s just an exaggeration.  This isn’t really happening.”  Hmmm, what does one tell the family members of over 1400 people who have been slain so far already?

I have friends who work and minister in Israel.  They see what is happening to the Palestinians in Gaza.  Many people in this country haven’t and quite frankly don’t care that there is “apartheid and a potential annihilation of a people”.  It is a “religious” matter for many.

I am remembering difficult words spoken by a humble man of peace who loved everyone.

43You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.…Matthew 5:43-45 (Jesus)

Just pondering today…..

 

Day 66 History repeating itself?

Today is Saturday.  Today I saw a tweet by a very esteemed journalist who writes for Der Spiegel, Holger Stark.  My family had the honour and privilege of meeting with this brilliant and humble man when we were in Canada.

Today, I read the beginning of one of his essays:

In this campaign, there were more than a moment of aroused gloomy memories. In Mississippi, Florida and elsewhere Donald Trump urged his followers to raise their hands and to assure him allegiance. “I swear that I, no matter how I feel, no matter what the conditions are, if there are hurricanes or other obstacles will vote for Trump as president,” he cried. Tens of thousands raised their right arms and spoke to him. American commentators attracted comparisons to Adolf Hitler.”

I am guessing Herr Stark is in his 40’s leading me to ascertain that his parents had lived through the rise of Fascism.  As I see the “Trump” signs shouting at me as I drive through the country roads of Indiana, I wonder what Herr Stark would think.

There are a number of people I know who plan to vote for Mr. Trump in November.  When I ask them what it is about the man they like, I receive the same response every time.

“Donald Trump tells the truth.”

What does that mean?  Universal truth? His truth? My truth, your truth?

The answers vary but give me a glimpse into the hearts of these people who adamantly support the man. Mr. Trump speaks brashly and loudly about all those ugly things we carry inside but don’t want to confess aloud like racism, like violence against those who might disagree with us, like behaving badly because we feel entitled to do so, like stomping down anyone who we perceive might be a stumbling block to achieving/getting what we want out of this life.

Tomorrow—the climate is ripe.

Day 65 Friday the 13th

Today is Friday.  Today was not unlucky.  Today, I spoke to some of my most favorite people on the planet.

Today, I was able to feel sunshine after 3 days of constant rain and tornado warnings.

Today, I spoke with my son who continually amazes me with his resilience.

Today, I received an apology from someone who told me to “f— off” after I responded honestly to a question this person asked.  It was certainly nothing to get that angry about.

Did you ever notice that when life is at the top of the stress meter, there’s always someone who comes along to add one more brick to the pile?

Well, the saying goes, whatever doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.

Peace…friends…find someone to be kind to and write an inmate.

 

 

Day 64 RIP Michael Ratner

Today is Thursday.  Today I had an interesting discussion with my son.  It continually confirms the piece by Chris Hedges “The Mirage of Justice.”

My son said that several of the guys were sitting around talking and it didn’t matter what charges, the innocence or guilt, or how much money they spent on lawyers  (one man in particular spent 1 million dollars), all of them experienced the same scenario: scripted hearings, being thrown under the bus, and forced into taking a plea deal.

I remember one of Matt’s lawyers bragging how after court everybody associated with the case goes out to lunch while the client goes back to jail.

There are some really caring lawyers out there; but, too too many are complicit in the terrible injustice that pervades this country.

That is why the passing of great human rights lawyers like Michael Ratner is felt so acutely.

RIP Michael Ratner.  I hope your passion, your ethics, your courage and your influence rubbed off on others.

Day 63 Grace is a place…

Today is Wednesday.  Today, I needed some poetry.  Today I think about the families of those brutalized and murdered in prison.

Special Place of Your Grace

I am still running on my own fueled by pride

Ignoring your voice and making it on what I decide

Too busy to stop and listen, too busy in this race

To catch a glimpse of the face that is always turned to me

How many failures must I endure before I understand?

You know me better than I or anyone else can

Catch me before I  stumble over the edge

And pull me into that special place filled with Your grace

Foolish talk, uncommitted walk because I’m blind

I’ve been living in the dark leaving Light behind

Trading for momentary pleasure my best Friend

Lousy choices leave me sick and feeling so bad

Come find me before I make a another mistake

And pull me into that special place filled with Your grace

Hold me, fold me in your love and save me from myself

I’m undeniably weak without your Spirit of strength

Keep Your Word echoing in the depths of my heart

So You and I will never again be pulled apart

Help me to keep Your pace in this race

Let Your voice be the one to guide my choice

When the  world starts to come between me and my Friend

Take my hand and lead me to that special place filled with Your grace  Leann’s Poetry

 

I watched and episode of Democracy Now and listened in complete horror to the author of the piece in the New Yorker called “Madness” by Eyal Presser.  Florida ranks number 2 as the least amount of funding to care for the mentally ill. Prisons are the new mental hospitals across the state.  Brutality, torture and murder are rampant in nearly all of the prisons there.  Personnel are threatened by guards should they whistle blow on the vicious and inhumane treatment inflicted on inmates.  Florida is also the leader in decades of incarceration for non violent crimes.  There is a man who blew the whistle on the murder of an inmate who was locked in a shower with over 180 degree water temperature for 2 hours while he screamed that he wouldn’t defecate in his pants again.  He died with over 90 percent of his body burned.  The guards involved resigned, one to become a policeman and the other a guard at the federal level.

The whistle blower is serving 164 years for a string of petty burglaries he committed in his twenties.

In Norway, a murderer who was put in solitary confinement with his own television, gaming system and 3 rooms to move in and out of just won his case in the Norwegian court that solitary confinement is inhumane.

I would suspect people from countries concerned with human rights are scared to death of the nightmarish and monstrously brutal conditions in a place called the United States of America.