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March 29, 2011

Haiku for Japan, III

Haiku for Japan
by Ysabel de la Rosa

Apocalypse came
in a single wave. The four
horsemen had no chance.


Corkscrew, sandal, vase
Last vestiges of loved ones
All that is left now


He lost all of them
Family wiped off the earth
Who understands this?


 Stand, start, must move soon
Now not the time to think, feel
Just stand, start, move--on


For love is stronger
than death, storm, quake, wave. Love
is--must be--stronger

Images from Dover's Japanese Designs.

March 27, 2011

Light and Love Sustain

The rest of Helen Schulman's Haiku for Japan:

The ground crumbles.
All that is familiar vanishes.
Light and love alone sustain

Earth in chaos.
Beautiful souls living life day to day
Suddenly gone.

Loved ones lost.
The tsunami of aging rages.
The river of change rolls on supreme.

Amidst the rubble,
The cries of a child.
The miracle of life goes on.

Helen Schulman spent seven years living in India during the 1970s where she practiced yoga and meditation.  While there, she was Editor-in-Chief of English publications for a popular ashram, at which time she edited a bi-monthly magazine and various books on Eastern philosophy.  She has a Masters in Social Work from New York University and has held various positions in the USA that involved editing as well as social work.   She has written poetry for many years.

Images from the Dover Collection of Japanese Art Deco

March 25, 2011

Helen's Haiku: I

The first of a set of exquisite Haiku that I received today from author and poet Helen Schulman.

I took the photo of this bird the night before I received Helen's Haiku.
It seemed a kind of destiny to pair them.

March 23, 2011

On Losing Home

Japan is now the one word that brings to mind 1000 pictures. And in those pictures, shades of grey: earth, smoke, water, mud. The greys we see in news photos from the site of the tsunami and the nuclear plant's demise come from the family of greys reserved for ruin. The color of ancient temple stones after their painted colors have faded and the weather has had its way with them. The color of ash--the earthy chalk left behind from the flaming scarlet of a volcano's lava flow. The color of a sunless sky on a frozen day. The color of shock,the color one's face turns when it is our turn to face the loss.

I was talking to a friend today about the colossal losses that more than 400,000 Japanese citizens and other residents now face. I cannot forget the brief interview with a grandfather who lost his entire family--absolutely everyone--beneath and because of the wave. Oddly enough, my friend and I had the same thought while watching the latest reports. And the thought is this:

I need to be aware that this can happen to anyone anywhere--and that includes me. You may find that an uncomforting thought. Yet, it has its purpose. It keeps me from having a false sense of immunity. It also reminds me that, while Japan's tragically homeless are in the current news spotlight, millions of others are also without homes. Perhaps it was the economic tsunami that made their home disappear. Perhaps it was the loss of a loved one, the end of a marriage, a war injury, or any one of many other reasons.

The shock of the loss of home is a universal one. In our mobile, fast-paced culture, we have allowed home to become a target, as much as a root.  I have lost more than one home, and in one instance lost most of the possessions in that home. I remember clearly how each loss felt.

I have read that the Japanese word for home and person is the same word. I don't know if that linguistic tale is true. I do know, however, that the thought carries truth within it. When we lose our home, we lose part of our deepest self. Which part?  It depends...I believe each home-loss is as unique as the death of each human being.

Many years ago, I studied Japanese architecture (solamente as an aficionada). My studies led me to write a haiku poem. I post it now--my tiny tribute to the land and its people, its art, its life, its will to survive--and for anyone who has had to look at "Home" from the outside-in, hoping one day to be inside that which should shelter us, mind, body and soul.

On Looking In

Japanese houses
Serenest angles leading
To the hidden Way

I fight for your calm
And when defeated, realize
It must be given

Do you have a Haiku in you that you would like to write to and for Japan at this moment?  If so, send it here, and I will post it on the blog.

March 21, 2011

Time to Follow the Dream's Advice

In 2004, I had a dream where I was given an assignment. I was to make recordings and duplicate them onto CDs to give to others. The CD was titled "Getting Along with Grief." Soon after, I had another dream, where I returned to my former home in a village in Spain to find a freshly dug grave in the garden. A few weeks after that dream, my friend, mentor, and spiritual companion, artist Mil Lubroth, was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. On May 4, 2005, she made the transition from this life to whatever comes next to us. And, after she died, she appeared to me in a dream, saying, "Don't worry, I'm practically next door."

As we move through this life on earth, we will "lose" more than we will "gain" in terms of friends and family members. Little did I know that after facing the loss of my friend, I would next face the loss of my father, another dear friend, and then the shocking surprise of my sister's life being cut short by a stealthy, aggressive cancer.  I had held on through the turbulence and heaviness of these losses until my sister died. Then I found myself on new ground.

I needed to convince myself to stay on this side of existence. No, I was not suicidal. Yes, it felt utterly wrong that my "little" sister would leave this world without me. Part of me longed with heart, body, and soul to have the perfect Thelma and Louise moment. Let us hold hands and leap into the next world together. We did hold hands--and even so, she took that leap without my company.

Months after her departure, my dream returned to me. As I watched us struggle--her husband, my brother, my sister's closest friends and co-workers, and myself--I thought again of the dream of seven years ago. I realized that, sooner or later, we reach a point in life where we have to "get along with grief." Because we simply do not get over it. We can grow around the emptiness our loved ones leave, but we are fools to think we can fill the hole with anyone or anything else. We can move on, yes, and we may find other friends, near-sisters and -brothers, second mothers and fathers, adopted children. Yet, as we often hear in the business world that no one is indispensable, it is also true--inviolably true--that no one is replaceable.

So, how do we "get along" without the irreplaceable one we have loved and still do love? The mother, father, sister, brother, cousin, aunt, uncle, grandparent--and that cataclysmic loss--the child?

Well, there are ways. Yes, there are ways to get along. This blog will explore them, travel some of them, share what can be seen and learned along those "ways."

Feel free to join me.
I'll be posting, and will invite others to join me in posting. (Please see contributors' guidelines in the Profile section.) What will we blog about?  We won't dwell on describing grief and its symptoms. We will spend time sharing about "getting along."  Not getting over, but getting through. Not miraculous turn-arounds or learning how to obliterate sadness from life, but how to weave all of life's strands together, seeing how even pain is not without beauty.

If you have lost a loved one, if you know something--your unique something--about getting along with grief, you are welcome to join this scroll-on-a-screen. I hope it will serve as support and sustenance, will be a sturdy walking stick for us on this uneven road.