“Boy, Aussie, did our Hurricane Henri fizzle out! After all the hurricane and storm mongering, after bringing up the two battery-powered lamps, filling up the bathtub and big pans with water, and generally hunkering down, we got no winds at all (so no danger of fallen trees, wires and loss of power), just a lot of rain. Big deal, we’ve had lots of rain all summer!”
“That might be nice for you, but I still have our private hurricane: Hurricane Henry. How come Henry doesn’t fizzle out like Henri? They have the same goddamn name, only Henry runs around from morning to night, never leaves me alone, barks endlessly, and worst of all, always brings his friends.”
“What friends, Auss?”
“Pinky the Elephant, Al the green Gator, Wabbit the yellow rabbit, and Turtle. What happened to us? We used to be calm around here, we were on our own, self-contained, and peaceful. Now we’re a menagerie!”
“You know, Aussie, it’s easy to be peaceful when you’re alone. I just finished our summer retreat, and most of that time was peaceful. Saturday night at 10 pm I left the zendo and saw light on the driveway. I looked behind me and there was the full moon climbing out of the clouds that seem to have been with us all summer, and it was glorious. Retreat ends and we go out to face Hurricane Henri.”
“Then you come home to face Hurricane Henry.”
“I come home to hear news about the family, other people, money, the house, my teeth, it doesn’t end. So yes, it’s not easy to be peaceful when we’re with people. But I discover far more about myself from interacting with people and the world than I do when I’m sitting on my own. I’m constantly challenged, constantly make mistakes, constantly learn from those mistakes. Everything feels alive, full of change!”
“I hate change! And why is it that the things you love just as they are are the ones that change, and the ones you wish would change—like Hurricane Henry—don’t?”
“Good question, Aussie.”
I’m tired today. It used to be that I’d get up from retreats and go right to work, but no longer. I needed to rest today, not run around.
I want to thank you from deep in my heart for the donations that streamed in for Hilaria, the deaf mother from the Dominican Republic raising three sons on her own out of a salary she makes working in a local farm. Hilaria had many seizures even in the Springfield hospital where they took her. I didn’t have a chance to hear anything about her till last night, when I saw that $2,000 had come in to help her pay her rent and utilities and buy food for her boys while she’s ill.
This morning I got a message from Jimena that Hilaria has finally been diagnosed with a serious brain aneurysm that’s causing the seizures and is still in the hospital. I texted back asking for details about her situation and needs and haven’t yet gotten an answer. I probably will get more details tomorrow, but meantime, I was so happy to see what came in for that gentle, always cheerful and warm human being, it just made my day. Thank you.
I came home and caught up with the news, especially developments in Afghanistan, and then drove to our favorite pizza shop to pick up pizza for the evening. Bernie used to go there all the time. When I arrived, the Greek pizza ( feta, olives, and spinach) wasn’t ready so I waited. Bernie couldn’t imagine ordering Greek pizza, but it is my housemate’s favorite.
In front were two young white men, students from the local Five Colleges, taking phone calls and interacting very courteously with customers. I looked towards the back and saw that the ones who actually made the pizzas were all Latinos and Latinas, a few maybe from the community we try to support. I watched a young man (to me he looked like a boy) toss the pizza dough up and down, manipulating the dough for the crust, while behind him others slid the pizzas out of the hot ovens and put them into the white boxes. A lively banter was going on even as they worked hard.
I thought of the Afghans coming to the States, those lucky enough to get here. The media focuses on how hard it is for them to get to Kabul airport and whether or not they will be able to fly out. What we still don’t hear much about is what awaits them here in their status as refugees: split families because they had to leave parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, even spouses and children behind, a very strange new culture and language, the challenge of building new communities and new lives—and finding work. I wondered if they, too, will learn to make pizza behind the American college boys, even pizzas with feta cheese, olives and spinach like the one I finally picked up and brought home.
You can also send a check either to support my blog or to buy food cards for immigrant families to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line what you are donating to. Thank you.