Finding the sunshine

“I’m crabby,” I told my pup Rex early yesterday, but he wasn’t listening.

He seems to know when Sunday’s rolls around again, and that day is his fun day.

Rex wasn’t going to let my foul mood and gray skies get in the way of his plans.

He knew an extra long walk was already on the morning agenda for just the two of us.

Just like we do every Sunday.

With my senior canines softly snoring in some kind of post breakfast bliss, Rex and I quietly snuck out the back door.

As we got closer to the lake where we typically walk, my mood was still heavy.

The heat and humidity generated during the week hadn’t come from just the weather.

Ignoring his usual stop to smell sweet cinnamon bread cooling from the oven at the bakery, Rex’s nose instead led me to a display of flowers on the steps outside an old church across the street.

I found myself taking a picture, but it wasn’t one of the typical pretty nature shots I try to take on our walks.

It represented the ugly horrendous side of human nature.

An act of gun violence.

Before us stood a makeshift memorial for a beautiful woman, and one of great peace.

A yoga and meditation instructor who had taught in the rooms inside.

She was shot accidentally by whom some call a trigger happy police officer last weekend.

Yet there were other victims as well, including:

-Our Somali community, as that police officer was the first Somalian officer in his precinct.

-Our police chief who was soon fired in the aftermath.

-And perhaps soon our mayor, who’s still directly in the line of fire from all the finger pointing.

I also believe many members of our police department and their families are suffering from the often unkind discourse on social media.

I feel too for the children in the community and their parents. How does a mother or father even begin to explain an accidental police shooting to a son our daughter?

Our city continues to grieve.

Rex and I stood for a while on the church steps looking at the brightly colored chalk drawn hearts surrounding us and small animals displayed next to the flowers.

It seems the woman who lost her life was also a trained veternarian and animal lover.

I read a sign written by the spiritual community that she was a part of inside the old church.

It spoke of “recognizing her message of love, peace and non-violence.”

Rex and I stood a minute longer in reflection and continued down the hill to the lake.

As we walked we found some serenity in the boats sailing by. And later a peace garden provided some comfort for our weary souls and feet.

As we turned to go back home I spied a patch of sunflowers and blue skies across a field.

I smiled and I like to believe that Rex did too.

Before we finished our walk, we decided to stop at the neighborhood Farmer’s Market.

I saw many shoppers carrying single white roses with their radishes and arugala.

As I turned the corner a smiling couple at an unmarked table ask me to take a rose “for Justine”, the beautiful woman who was killed.

They told me they were her neighbors and we peacefully spoke of the pretty day unfolding and the wonderful market.

I smiled again as well as I recalled from my days working in a flower shop that a white rose represents hope for the future.

As Rex and I left the market with our white rose and red radishes, I noticed a Laughter Yoga session was still scheduled down the street for later in the afternoon.

Perhaps life does goes on as it should, but we never forget.

Though I did choose to forget about that yoga class.

Maybe next week I thought, as I carefully placed the white rose in my most elegant vase at home.

Lessons in peace, lessons in joy

Since early this morning I’ve been working to unclog the sink in my little French kitchen as well as the garbage in my mind.

The sink is finally starting to look better and my attitude’s also showing signs of recovery.

Yesterday’s horrific violence in Nice clouded my memories of great joy and peace for my late husband Richard when visiting there years before.

Richard had traveled to France for work, but my journey was purely for pleasure.

Though once my husband’s responsibilities were completed, he eagerly joined in on the bliss.

The palm trees, the people, the promenade were unlike anything we’d ever seen before.

Oh, and the light.

No wonder the city’s an artist’s paradise. Even the murals brightly painted on our bedroom walls celebrated the vistas.

Nursing a box of French chocolate covered biscuits bought to toast Bastille Day, I instead watched the news reports last night.

Grieving for the city and the French, I was also saddened by what I thought was the loss of my favorite pictures of Richard in Nice when I recently downsized.

So much of my life was tossed in the trash.

But this morning, I came across a box with an image of the Eiffel Tower on top where I finally found the photos.

I see such contentment in my husband’s face in every shot.

A sense of peace I never saw again due to the dementia that followed.

Still I believe that peace will shine once more on the faces of the French.

And their smiles will eventually return.

As for me and my attitude, today I’ll honor peace along with the children I work with.

Perhaps we’ll color symbolic doves and lambs.

And I’ll patiently try to teach them what joy to the the world great peace can truly bring.

Harvest of peace

We rock away our worries from a chair and old porch swing.
My view’s a field of drying hay.
And hers, of chicks that sing.
She left a city full of woe where no one gets along.
It seems those birds know more than us when breaking into song.
They chant of peace, the plant we crave to feed each hungry soul.
I pray we harvest a bumper crop before there’s a bigger toll.

We have so much to learn

I grieve this morning for my country, my home state of Minnesota, and the city of St. Paul in the aftermath of yesterday’s shootings. I grieve for the families and friends of those involved, and this morning especially for our children.

May there be peace for the sweet four year old daughter of Philandro Castile’s girlfriend who witnessed the violence from the back seat of a car.

May there be peace for the children and tight knit community of J.J Hill Montissori who adored the late Mr. Castile, a cafeteria supervisor.

May there be peace for all children in this country who seek to understand the fireworks of violence that continue to explode before them. And strength for their parents tasked with helping them make sense of it all.

I too work with young children in a Minnesota school. As I pack up my peanut butter and jelly sandwich to join the children in our summer program today, I’m including a spoonful of strength I read from a mission statement for James J. Hill Montissori School:

“To nurture and empower individuals to become lifelong learners, skilled peacemakers, and problem solvers.”

I’ll be keeping those words handy in my pocket this morning.

Perhaps we all should.

It seems we have so much more to learn in this country.

And so much more to teach as well.