Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wise Warrior Gentle Women

Maya and I find ourselves in the company of three wise women; three lovely gentle blooming blossomed story wise women!

We finally take the invite that has been blown our way for the past few years and find ourselves in Bath, Ontario for 28 hours basked in early morning loons rising with the purple hazed horizon; extended families of ducks visiting from the shoreline; a colorful array of flowers, vegetables, finches and chickadees; a bold swift and pudgy cheeked chipmunk scampering to our sides for offerings of dried corn; twin rainbows back bending across lake Ontario; and Women, wise,warrior, wide open arm Women! Three of them!

We dived into lives past and present, books enjoyed and books put down, creative projects and passions; other people’s courageous stories, our own courageous stories; oppression of women worldwide; travels to Laos, Vietnam, Israel and Turkey; grandkids and kids; who we are at 42, who we are at 71, and who we are here and now; stories from Grenada and Jamaica; Jimmy Cliff and other reggae artists we love to groove to; connections that naturally take root and flourish into stories painful yet fruitful; and an array of sharing that women friends do when they find themselves together without a whole lot of interruption….

I give thanks to these three wise gentle women friends that move into our lives and grace us with gifts of love and friendship providing paths to take that lead to the centre of life taken!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

do we want to hear? do we have the time?

Yesterday I bounced up with Jamaica roots rasta friend at farmers market. He sells his organically and humbly grown greens and spicy Johnny bakes every Sunday at inner city market here in Ottawa. This week Rasta and I’s talk moved immediately into the world of Grenada. Ras asked me how Grenada was holding up? And I responded with “times are hard for the holding.” He replied, “What do you mean hard?” but before I could respond with a simplified answer to a complicated question Ras says “Times aren’t hard man, people make it hard.” I usually take a long pause when confronted with this sort of opinion, and in that pause I am usually asked the question again., “ok so why are times hard?”

Where does one begin to answer such a multi layered, complicated question and from what angle does one begin the discussion? historically, socially, economically, politically, spiritually? And do people with the “times aren’t hard, people make it hard” attitude want to hear the stories behind the stories; the social, economic, historical, political, religious contexts that many kids worldwide are born into, contexts that leave very little room to walk through open doors to a softer more pliable flexible life; do people want to hear the brutal histories that continue to deny so many of our children, women and men the opportunities to move forward and therefore make it in this so called “not so hard life”; do people want to hear about the politics of one small island that has such a deep hold of people’s psyches, that works to divide neighbors causing confusion, chaos, a constant flow of lateral violence such as gossip and party colored politics making people’s lives just that much harder to love thy neighbor and thyself; do people want to hear about the violence that fills up peoples lives, not because they ask for it but because that is how it has always been; do people want to hear about a global economic system that caters to a small section of the world’s population making it difficult for many hard working people to move forward in a work force that is either non existent, limited or provides work at slave wages; do people want to hear why people don’t want to go back to the land, the deeply rooted disgust of what many people consider slave work, a marching back into a history of sweat and toil, of long torturous days swinging the machete in the hot sun while the Boss Man swings his whip over heads and bodies; do people want to hear or even try to understand the deeply rutted grooves in a child’s psyche that is exposed from birth to a constant diet of violence, poverty and oppression that leads to a perpetual cycle within oneself, affecting ones choices and access to opportunities; do people want to hear about their own country’s past and present oppressive structures that gave birth to residential schools, public government apologies that mean nothing to the first nations youths committing suicide daily in our northern Canadian communities.

And where do these discussions take place? Do they take place amongst the rolling hills of greens and fruits cultivated and harvested weekly, sold to an affluent world of Sunday morning market buyers and browsers, of people like myself who stroll freely from stall to stall paying fair prices to eat in ways that enhance and encourage a life of fullness and choice. Is there room here to talk openly and freely? Is there time for people to read this blog, to immerse themselves for a few minutes in realities that are far from their own or close to their own however distant because they are the few who have pushed through the hard soil and have made it through and can now share their testimonies and say without hesitation, “times not hard, people make them hard” ? Is there time now also to talk about the courage, resilience, power and hope that people who endure such contexts and histories portray daily in their everyday lives of overcoming, of conquering each moment, each breathe inhaled and exhaled and do we people want to hear? Do we people have the time?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Confusion, Curiosity and Delight

Moving temporarily into a world of red maple leafs, urban gardens, long summer days, cardinals and blue jays, oversized cats with insatiable appetites, skunks and raccoons, weather chatting neighbors, music festivals and inner city park yoga. A world where people go about their business without noticing the faces of one another, without the familiar nods of island connectedness; until a smile meets their passing gaze and I become not just a body in a city full of other bodies but a person with strange hair wrapped in colorful cloth.

In Grenada I am Rasta, Ras, Sistren, Dread, Empress, however here I am watched with confusion, curiosity, and delight. Within the first day of planting ourselves onto Canadian soil a new friend commented excitedly, “birds could build nests in your hair!” I laughed and thought of diamond headed satin green Grenada hummingbirds landing and nesting. Two days ago an elder woman crossed the road as I was getting into the van and with surety and regret said, “if I had my life to live over I would have hair just like yours”. Last night while walking to the Blues Festival, to dance the night away to Gypsy Kings and Steele Pulse,a lady bravely asked if she could feel my hair. She waited patiently for me to offer up my head. Some comments are not so positive such as the time I walked into my doctors office and was greeted with, “I pray my daughter never comes home with hair like that” and last summer when a jacket and tie man laughed boldly in my direction “does it come with operating instructions” glaring at my head and chuckling with other white collar suits. However, these comments are few and in between the light, breezy curiosity of the many Ottawa dwellers who glance over and see mother and daughter wearing their cross cultural hair proudly and freely.