Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Back row: Mia Lorraine, Kelissa Stanley, Todd Dusenbury, Hart Viges, Vince George
Front row: Lietta Ruger, Beatriz Sadivar
The sparrow is sorry for the peacock for the burden of his tail.
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
Zen practice emphasizes being present with your actual experience. By placing our attention with the minute details of our physical posture, we get to know our selves, where we have tension, where we are crooked, where we are holding, where we let go, where we are at ease. Our body reveals who we are. Through this awareness, we enter the path of practice.
I happened to mention, in reply to cancellation of a potluck/teaching I was hoping to attend last Friday down by the River, how busy everyone seems to be these days. It's hard to fit in everything we want to do...and even to keep track of coming events. I explained I probably wouldn't have been able to come to it anyway, since Ilona and I had gone up to Columbus the night before to see Cindy Sheehan and hadn't gotten back until late. With school and work Friday, we were going to be pretty tired by potluck time. A new friend Annie wrote back and said, "Oh, write about what the Sheehan tour is like. I didn't see anything in the news."
Well the first thing to say is Cindy wasn't at the Columbus stop. I could have known that by taking the time really to explore the site http://bringthemhomenowtour.org/ but there I had been, early Thursday morning, just stumbling upon it...and in my rush and excitement there was no time. When Cindy Sheehan concluded her encampment outside the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas, on August 31st, the word was she would work her way east to Washington by September 24th, when what promises to be among the largest demonstrations in recent history will be held http://www.unitedforpeace.org/article.php?list=type&type=91 . Not sure if I would get to Washington, I vowed at least to connect to this Tour if it came anywhere near Athens.
It turns out there are 3 different branches of the Tour, and Cindy goes from one to the others. She was with the North Tour the day the Central Tour came to Columbus. We got up to Trinity Episcopal Church from school about 4:30, and managed to hear most of a debriefing about visits the group had done to the offices of Senators DeWine and Voinovich. The figurehead of the Central Tour seems to be Bill Mitchell, a veteran of Viet Nam and father of a son killed in Iraq during the same operation that took Casey Sheehan. You may recall seeing pictures of him next to Cindy at Camp Casey. Other members were mothers and fathers of soldiers in Iraq, both living and deceased. There was a wife there of a Guardsman who has completed one tour of duty and is being sent back.
I have to tell you their presentations may be more intense than most of us care to anticipate. They don't necessarily agree with each other on what they think the nation ought to be doing, and you and I might not agree with them or one another either but it doesn't matter. It seems that, like Cindy, everyone in the Mennonite Meeting Hall, where we had gathered after a magnificent supper together, wants clarity about the Noble Cause for which our country suffers in this warfare. As each parent told his and her tearful story, we realized the normal anger at the loss of a loved one, one's child, one's husband, has been compounded by a sense of betrayal we people feel toward our President and government. Mostly this Tour, and I think Cindy's encampment in Crawford, is about grieving...and I believe the force of that passion is what captured the nation's attention during August. These people are so present in the moment, which is how you get this close to a death, that they are radiant and luminous as they speak and answer questions.
One of the speakers had joined the Tour that day, just having passed by the group as they arrived. Another woman traveled today from Philadelphia to speak at length about the loss of her son. She said she wanted to get to Ohio because so much has happened in this state over the last year...and we represent the true battleground for the heart and soul of this country. Someone else reminded us the rest of the world looks upon Ohio this way too. I only hope the people of Ohio realize it! The Tour looks like this, with individuals coming along because they were in Crawford, or because they heard about it. Anyone with a personal story to tell and a desire to share grief in this way is welcome. It is impossible to look at this array of individuals and think it is some well-oiled conspiracy of the Left. As if the splintered Left even could organize such a project!
We had the opportunity Sunday to compare this approach to the Right's Freedom Walk at the Pentagon to honor the losses of 9/11. Here we had a setup many of us got used to during the past year if we attempted, for instance, to see the President during one of his presentations. The first thing you had to do, for Freedom's sake, is register and be accepted. No one was allowed on the Freedom Walk Sunday unless they had signed up by Friday afternoon at 4:30. No exceptions. The Walk itself was within a snow-fenced area lined with policemen. Allison Barber, assistant secretary of defense (yes, this was government sponsored), said she wanted the demonstration to be "sterile." The Washington Post's story Friday about the coming event declared, "The U.S. Park Police will have its entire Washington force of several hundred on duty and along the route, on foot, horseback and motorcycles and monitoring from above by helicopter. Officers are prepared to arrest anyone who joins the march or concert without a credential and refuses to leave, said Park Police Chief Dwight E. Pettiford." Clint Black was to sing his song "Iraq and Roll." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/08/AR2005090802140.html I guess probably nobody sang "O Freedom!"
I hope the folks going to Washington on September 24th don't have to face this kind of security..but maybe they will. Maybe Homeland Defense is planning to protect participants with more preparation than was mustered for Katrina. It's hard to predict what's going to happen on that day, and I confess to a feeling a bit more than ominous. The passion of grieving is strong, but there also is the passion of aggression on the other side. Tempers flare and there is cruel laughter. One member of a megachurch congregation and former Marine in Viet Nam asked me last week if I knew the new name for garbage can liners. When I said no, he said, "New Orleans suitcases," and laughed at his own joke. There are 2 clashing realities in America today. I hope we can sort out the differences peacefully.