We had a thunderstorm early Wednesday evening. The sky darkened even while I spent time with Jimena Pareja at her home meeting with undocumented families–my first time there since my return from Israel, and by the time I went home it was clear we were in for a storm. About an hour later thunder and rain began.
I looked for Aussie, knowing she had a fear of the thunder. She wasn’t downstairs. I went upstairs, asked my housemate; she hadn’t seen Aussie. We both went out to the back, where the rain was pounding, and called out to her: “Aussie! Aussie!” She wasn’t anywhere, and I was afraid that in her terror she’d found an opening in the fence and run for her life.
“Eve!” my housemate called out. “Come here.”
She was standing inside the closed garage, looking into my car, and there was Aussie in the back seat. She’d jumped through an open window into the front, then made her way to her seat in back and was sitting on her cotton blanket.
I opened the door and hugged her. She wasn’t shaking or shivering, she seemed calm and comfortable. I left the car door open and went back in, knowing she’d leave the car when the storm ended and enter the house through the dog door to the kitchen. I also knew that when the next storm came, I’d make sure the car door to the back seat was open so that she could run there, jump in, and feel safe.
It was moving to sit with her for a few minutes, feel both her fear and her tenderness. There’s something about that moment of fear and vulnerability when there’s no hiding, no pretending, no bullshit. When life has surprised me and I am seen in that place, when I let myself be seen in that place. The roles slide down like masks and there I am, at a loss, raw and defenseless.
Inside there’s always faith in the moment, that everything arises that should arise, but the armature has come down and there’s just me: Okay, show me what you want. Here I am, tell me what to do.
Whom am I talking to?
Next week Zen Peacemakers will offer an introductory session on the Zen Peacemaker Order, and I decided to look for a short video of Bernie to air on the segment. I started looking at my own videos of him, then those on the ZPI website, and finally on YouTube. Subtly, my energy began to dip; before I knew it, I was feeling forlorn. I realized that since his death I hadn’t looked at any video of my husband, didn’t listen to his voice not even once.
This was the first time.
“It’s 2-1/2 years since he died,” I told a good friend, “I didn’t think there’d be a problem anymore.”
There was no problem, just something that sank inside the minute I saw his face, the minute I looked at the jeans shirt he was wearing and the beige, padded Columbia winter shirt he liked to put on for extra warmth, which was probably hiding his suspenders. I looked at the flush in his cheeks when he’d been in good health, before the stroke.
One brief video really caught my attention. He was wearing a cowboy hat, of all things, so maybe he was in Colorado. A brook was gurgling in the background, and the water seemed to punctuate every word:
“What makes me most happy is when I encounter life or things where I’ve no idea what the hell’s happening. When I can honestly say, what’s the deal here? Then I’m at my peak. I’m full of life, it’s just: What’s going on?” He looks down at his cigar and says: “So I’d love to let go of my ideas of what’s going on and just deal with the question: What’s the deal here?” And he takes a puff on his cigar.
I’d seen Bernie defenseless and hurting, wounded by people and life, just like the rest of us. He didn’t like to be seen like that, he had his pride, people had looked to him for so many years as the one who had all the answers—even though he’d said again and again that he had no answers, that the practice was one of no answers.
We’re trying to get more help for a family whose mother was deported along with her 9-year-old son. The child had come across the border and had been sent for a few months to a children’s facility in Georgia, a little like the ones we read about. His family was finally called to meet him in New York. Father, mother, and two children went down to New York; finally, the family would be together. The father waited with two children on one side of the desk while the mother went to the other side to sign papers for her son, hugging him, and as soon as she did that ICE agents arrested her and accused her of smuggling the boy in illegally. She and the boy were deported that very day.
“The father told me,” Jimena said, “he was sitting just across the desk from his wife, the same distance I am sitting from you. He is sitting on one side of the desk with two children—they’ve been here for years—and she went to the other side of the desk to sign papers and hug the little boy. And they removed both of them from us and I haven’t seen her since.”
He’s working in the local farms and needs money to take care of the children while the mother is gone. We appreciate any help you could give.
You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.