Dear America: Growing Up in a Culture of Faith

Faith is a word that I’ve studied all my life too. I come from the Midwest of the US and am replanted near DC. I’ve always believed that humanity was the beginning of having faith in hope. How can you have faith in hope? You work for it. You encourage it as if it is a small child or a flower that needs just a little extra to grow. You help your neighbor. You help a stranger that needs you for a moment in time. You trust in the good that is inside most of us. I used to believe it was in all of us, but I have met too many selfish people, cruel people who don’t cherish that seed of humanity. I’m part of the Godless Horde of non-believers in religion, but I believe and have faith in all of you out in the world. I believe that we must stand up to those who control us, teach us fear, and keep us in our “place.” There are parts of the US that are so afraid because of Fox News and Commentary. Polite people turn away and think by shunning bullies that the bullies will leave. But it doesn’t work that way. The only way to stop a bully is to stand up and make it known that we who have faith in the human community know what they are doing and reject it. We believe that no one should be hungry, cold, lacking in medicine or education. We reject the idea that education is only for the rich. We understand that the Arts are an important message even if we miss it sometimes. It gives us pause to see things in a new way. We believe that responsibility for others is equal and greater than our personal wish for acquiring things. We believe that greed and manipulation of the economy so that only the top benefit from it is something we must deal with as a society. With great anything comes the chance to change the world.

You spoke beautifully of faith. I wish I was as lucky as you to have faith that things will work out. I trust that it will. I’m working on having faith in a system that seems sadly broken. I’m working on having faith that all of the loud screamers, killers, thieves and disenchanted will recover their faith in humans or at least acknowledge that we all have a right to exist. I’m horrified by the resurgence of violence against people who don’t fit the bully’s life view.

Voting is one of the most important duties in a democracy. Holding our elected officers responsible for making the world a better place is something people forget to do once the election is over. Writing, calling, nagging like an old fish wife is just another part of our duties.

I’ll vote. I’ll make my vote count, and I do it for you, for your family, for the world. I’m not afraid. I truly believe that we are an educated public who cannot put a joke into office (we did that before and survived but really, I’d like us to evolve.)

If you let the fear mongers win, if you let them immobilize you, then you betray your own faith in good.

I haven’t met God. Looked for him, out there in the nether world. I have met some wonderful people including those that taught me as you were taught. My family had little, but when someone had less we shared. We shared clothes, food, books, sofas, beds, toys because my mother and father showed us that we can raise the whole world, if we just care enough. My mom is 80. She is still my role model. Oh we have a normal mother daughter relationship and drive each other crazy on occasion. She is, however, the most open caring woman I know. She hides it well sometimes, seeming totally introverted but if there is a need, she’s the first person in line to help someone. She’s not perfect although she gets close but she inspires me to live the values I was taught. She inspires me to be brave and face the world willing to learn about it.

You inspire me too. You took a risk by writing so openly about your faith, your fears, your family.
You aren’t alone. I have faith your message will reach out to others who believe too. I bless then for their faith and hope that it grows. Thanks for sharing your message.

Open Thought Vortex

When it comes to faith, there is a lotyou won’t learn about me based on the box I check.

Throughout my life I’ve believed. I never knew in what or how, yet somehow I believed–believed validating my faith is something only I can do.

I know in my heart, right down to the core, that there is much more to life–creation itself–than could be explained by any one thing. I chose faith with great hesitation then I relied on where my faith lead me. Once I chose faith I had to go with it. Whether one “believes” or not is not a way to define. All I need to know is that whatever I need or needed could and canbe found in the power of my belief, my integrity, my choices, my actions; never just one thing. Never alone. Faith meant allowing myself to see the world as an intricate…

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Washington DC to Mayan Ruins, Jamaica, Honduras, Mexico, an adventure in several parts, part 1.

In September, my husband and I launched our first vacation in four years. We had to plan our time around family obligations, needs of our children, needs of our parents and somehow we gained enough confidence to escape to the Caribbean via the Liberty of the Seas. It’s a good what for us to travel. My husband spends every night driving the I 95 corridor along Maryland and Virginian roads delivering loads of UPS treasures to the different hubs. He gets a little tense behind the wheel when driving. Okay, that’s a lie. He gets really tense because he’s got tons of weight behind him and people don’t always pay attention to the big brown Mac he drives. You know, the drivers that are unaware or simply distracted on the road that make life difficult in the dark. So I don’t really want a driving vacation. It’s a busman’s honeymoon with possible loud remarks and anxiety. We leave the road behind when we can, and having someone else pilot a ship takes the responsibility off his shoulders.

The vacation started out as a major disaster (originally I typed it as a Cluster**** to beat all Cluster*****, but that didn’t sound like me. I have a hard time swearing.)

I had booked us on American Airlines from BWI leaving early in the morning for Houston which was our roadway to Galveston. Then life happened. The route was completely removed from the airlines routes. No one told us, not Orbitz who we booked through or the airline. I called to check in the day before only to find no reservation. A quick call to American Airline gave me a woman who bent over backwards trying to assist us. Hermione, (remember her?) was raging up the east coast and places were shut down. She found us a flight from Washington National, but the catch was, we had an hour and a half to get there. So we did. We were leaving a day early, but stood a really good chance of good fortune because we had called in so early. Throwing things into our bags which were mostly packed, we hoped into the car and drove in a polite and orderly way to the airport. I only forgot my swimsuit. My husband remembered everything. The drive was smooth although we resorted to driving up the privately owned center lanes of the HOV lanes. It was worth the money as we bypassed several areas which would have held our arrival up. Eric went to park the car leaving me with the luggage to get to the counter and get everything set.

It didn’t work. I arrived at the counter, only to have dropped my credit card. I tried to get the counter clerk to take cash in US and Euros for the luggage but my husband wasn’t there yet and he didn’t really want to be bothered. By the time my husband arrived, it was too late. We could catch the plane, but our luggage would have to stay behind. The clerk told us that we would have to buy a ticket from another airline in order to get the luggage and us on our way. The good thing that happened? Someone found and handed me my credit card. But the two of us were floundering. The clerk told us that United had a flight at 6:15 that we could buy and we’d have to wait for a refund. So off to United.

United sent us back to American and this time I went to the first class desk where I met Troy who was horrified that we had been treated so badly by United. He got us tickets on the 6:15, got the manager to override all of the holds incurred in doing so, and we had time to tell the manager exactly what his other employee had treated us like. Troy was asked to escort us directly to United where it was 45 minutes before the flight left.

Problem solved? Not in the least. United said it had no one on duty to take charge of the luggage so that we could travel but without our bags. My head was beginning to hurt and my husband’s head began spinning around like the little possessed girl in The Omen. One of the other clerks came over and mentioned he could get us on the 10:00 PM plane out of Dulles if we could get there. We took the tickets.

Then we called our son, asking him to meet us back at home and could he please drive us to Dulles. It was after six, and his shift at the car dealership was almost over so he most kindly agreed. We arrived at 8:15 and took our luggage to the luggage check in. Somehow one of the bags had gained three pounds in the trip from one airport to another. We were instructed to move our things around and lose the three pound overage. We even succeeded. We were sent to another window where the employee of United just laughed and got out things on the way. I still was forgetting my swimsuit.

The plane was late arriving for boarding, but I had time to book a room at the Super8 near the Houston airport while we waited. When we got on board it was a shiny lovely new plane, smaller in scale but with real leg space for us. The flight went well. We got to Houston 30 minutes early, at 11:30. The time is important or I wouldn’t bring it up. There was no ramp to deplane us. The pilot had called ahead, told them that we’d be thirty minutes early and asking them to make sure they had an employee to help those changing flights and for a ramp so we could get off the plane. No ramp, no agent. The pilot called again and told them we had arrived. It took the full thirty minutes to get a ramp so it was midnight when we finally got off. Got the bags, no worries there, and were sent to the people mover below the airport to find the place the hotel shuttle should have been at.

It’s a freaky way of running a people mover. It’s a circle, so to get to area C from area B you have to go to area A then the backside of B then the Marriott hotel then to C and then hopefully the shuttle would be there when we arrived. We got on the people mover and went from B to A where the operator (a remote operator) opened all the doors and said, “Thanks for using the Houston Airport….we’re closing now until 3:30 AM. Have a nice day.” Our day was not going well. For those of you who don’t know, I have MS but am in good shape, I just get really, really tired. The day had been exhausting enough, but we had to walk the entire length of the airport from the basement with all of our luggage in hand, up stairs and we finally ended up back at B with no one around to guide us. Eric bustled us back across the airport and got a number from another shuttle for the Super8, but it was the wrong number. At this point, I’m beginning to think this is pretty funny because, what else can go wrong? Never think that way. What can go right? is a much better phrase.

We call the number to find out it’s the wrong hotel. They give us a number. It’s a wrong number. Eric is herding us back and forth between doors trying to get some assistance and losing his temper. That was when we passed the desk of the Houston Metropolitan Police Department. I told him I was going in and he freaked, so I left my luggage with him and was buzzed in by the kindest, sweetest, black female desk sergeant ever. She took a look at me, a look at Eric and acted. Using the address we had, she found a number for the hotel, and she called them directly. Informing someone that you are a police officer and that you have two bewildered out of towners in town searching for the hotel you are speaking with gets instant results. We were guided to the right door (forgive me for giggling here but it was Door B) where our ride appeared in ten minutes. Thank goodness.

We made it to the hotel. After making sure that our IDs matched and we were a legitimate married couple we got a room on the third floor. There was a Jack in the Box close by so we had something resembling breakfast. Then we collapsed. Eric fell instantly asleep but I couldn’t sleep at all. So I pretended, then showered, woke Eric for another breakfast and we headed back to the airport to catch the Galveston Shuttle. It all went smoothly. The shuttle was on time, took our bags for us and put us on the highway from Houston.

Land around Houston is really flat. You see oil rigs everywhere surrounding the city center. The highway is built above ground level because of rare instances of flooding. Those instances of flooding had just happened to the city and things were backed up a little. People were glad to get out and they all had an agenda. We had booked the shuttle early enough so that the delays didn’t worry us. It stayed smooth all the way into Galveston, where the traffic was backed up to the mainland in an attempt to drop everyone going on the cruise off. There were a lot of people being dropped off. Both Carnival and Royal Caribbean were leaving at the same time. Our driver took a right and a left and drove around the traffic. One more left turn had us lined up on a police traffic officer who let us through the intersection that would have held us forever  otherwise. And we arrived at the beautiful Liberty of the Seas, captained by Captain Johnsen and his enthusiastic crew.

Now you see why this is going to have to be done in more than one blog. This is going to take a while. The ship was on a lock down because of the NoroVirus. They were attempting and succeeding at sterilizing the entire ship before the passengers would be allowed on board. We boarded the ship at 2, were greeted and instructed where we could wait onboard until the process  ended. We were tired. Finding a corner that had coffee, juice, pizza and cookies we settled in until the boat drill. Then we were out on deck in the sunshine and stayed while the rest of the passengers went back to the bars and food areas. We left on  time. We waved at the dolphins which cavorted around the ships, waved at the people who watched us leave, waved at the Carnival cruise ship and waved at the ambulance which had just removed a passenger from the Liberty and was taking them to the hospital. We felt pretty darn lucky to be on board. At six we were allowed to drop our bags and go to dinner. At six thirty, the rooms were ready and squeaky clean.

We were on an adventure indeed, and this was just the first 24 hours. More tomorrow…

Ann

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Climb

 

Climb a Mayan Pyramid,
Meet the Jaguar God,
The protector of the family,
The thief of the Sun,
The ender of days,
Beginner of nights.

Feel the cool wind
Arriving from the East,
Bringing the Moon
Protecting the dream
From the Nightmares
Who flee at Dawn.

Climb a Mayan Pyramid,
Meet the Sun,
The divider of days,
The multiplier of one
And zero. A binary god.
A sponsor of sport.

Meet the team, team Jaguar.
They compete with ferocity
To be the companions
Of the Gods. They strive.
They lift the children
To the sun to be seen.

Climb into the past:
Chichen Itza, Dzibanche,
Kohunlich, Tulum.
Where the water
Meets the future,
And the lens is clear
To see into another world.

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All photographs and poetry@Ann’s Eyes, by Ann WJ White 2006

Why Not? When Someone Asks Why?

Why not feel good?
Good is full of opportunities
Aches and pains can’t hold
In the face of something to do
Something to think about
Something to lose yourself in
Something to meditate with,

No, feeling good is a state of mind
Over body
Over disagreements
Over insurance
Over money
Over grumpy old men and women

Just a foot into the cheerful
Just an inch into the hope
Just a meter into a nap
With warm toast and a drink
A show to laugh at
A game to win.

My son gave me a Harper’s hero cap.
A donation to children
Who don’t get to play
Who have blinders on their futures.
He hopes to change that
To give them a place to be happy kids.
He knows he’s blessed
With so much energy and life.

My son said if Harper met
Me, he would be inspired
That I haven’t quit,
That my tears are reserved
For other times and other ways.
He thinks I am a hero,
But I am not.

I’m a woman who knows
That nothing is over
Until we take that last breath
And I won’t take that last breath
Until I have finished my book,
My stitching,
My dreaming,
My Century of life lived well.