“Feeling like Wonder Woman?” Lori asks me on her way up the stairs.
“What do you mean, feeling like? I am Wonder Woman,” I shout up after her.
Lori shakes her head and keeps on going. Aussie rolls her eyes as she walks by.
“What’s wrong with her?” Henry asks.
“Ignore her,” Aussie says. “Let’s go out and murderize some squirrels.”
I’m on steroids for asthma, feeling strong and happy, and pretty high. Got a bad cold after returning from Brazil, which turned into asthma. Steroids are more fun than cold medicine.
Only now that I’m Wonder Woman, what’s next? What does Wonder Woman do? There are no Nazis around that I can see, no devils with magical powers who want to end the world as we know it, at least not in this Valley. I’m not working secretly with the American army or as a super-secret weapon of the CIA.
I don’t have baddies to fight against because, frankly, I don’t believe in baddies. Harmful actions, yes, but not baddies. So, what’s Wonder Woman to do when she’s full of vim and vigor, and high as a kite?
Shovel the enormous snow we have in back? No reason, temperatures today in the 50s will take care of it. Lori has already shoveled the walks. Take care of the loud noise made by the car when I go reverse? Already have an appointment with a service station. A doctor phoned in a prescription for prednisone, which didn’t cost much at the pharmacy. Haven’t run out of heat, haven’t lost power all winter. In Brattleboro, 20 miles north, folks got 3 feet of snow and have been without power for days.
What does Wonder Woman have to do? Maybe not much. First, feel amazed to see how well she is taken care of. How many people, knowingly and unknowingly, visibly and invisibly, seem to be at her elbow at all times providing guidance.
When I was in Brazil, planning for a bearing witness retreat in Bahia, I missed Bernie terribly. We’d worked together on such retreats in various places. Now I looked around, asking: Where are you? We need you.
But we didn’t. My partner in ZPO, Jorge Koho Mello, was at my side in his stead, full of generosity, wisdom, and Portuguese. I continued to have conversations with Bernie in my head and I could swear he was there, too, giving few ideas but lots more blessings.
Recently, speaking with a Zen teacher giving dharma transmission to her student, I told her what I always heard from Bernie. There is an exchange of vows in that ceremony. The future teacher promises not to let the Buddha’s wisdom be discontinued. The old teacher promises to support the student no matter what. I felt Bernie’s presence and support every single day when I was in Brazil. I feel it now, back home.
“People will take care of you,” he promised before he died.
He was right. The world takes care of me, often while I sleep or rest. As if by magic, the birdfeeders fill up. Leeann takes Aussie so I don’t have to walk her. Is that what he meant when he used to say that we have the Buddha’s wealth at our disposal?
Maybe I don’t have to be Wonder Woman after all. Maybe I just have to be part of that enormous net that holds us all up–except for those that fall between the cracks.
I just finished reading the book Solito by Javier Zamora, in which he describes his trek to the United States from El Salvador to California at the age of 9. Solito means alone, or unaccompanied, in the sense that his birth family was nowhere near him when he made that arduous trip across water and desert and three different countries, almost dying from thirst and hunger trying to get into LaUSA to be reunited with his parents.
But what the book ends up chronicling is how he wasn’t alone after all. It describes all the help he got along the way, especially a mother and daughter and another man, who together became a second family with him, risking their own lives carrying him to safety. Strangers whom he’d never met before. As they’re wandering in the Sonoran desert, with no food or water, abandoned by their coyotes and everyone else, when the young boy can’t take another step, the man picks him up and carries him on his back, tells him to hold on with his arms around his neck, and continues to walk and walk.
The guy wasn’t high, he wasn’t on steroids. Wonder women, wonder men, appear in all guises.
Please read Solito, and next time you see a Latina speaking Spanish to the cashier in the store, two little kids in tow, or a Latino in a construction crew fixing the gutters of your home and arduously writing out his name on a receipt on a blank piece of paper, think of what they’ve had to overcome to get here.
When I was 7, I came with my family here from Israel on a ship. The problems I faced were one bad day of seasickness two days before our arrival into New York City, and an upset stomach from all the apples I ate onboard (I’d never had apples in Israel).
Javier Zamora had it a little harder.
Donate to My Blog Donate to Immigrant Families
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.