The following excerpt describes my research into my father’s service during World War II as an airman for the Army Air Force Air Transport Command—a massive operation that supplied the troops abroad with ammunition, medicine, bombs, and money, and that ferried German prisoners and wounded soldiers—and how learning about this period in his life changed my perception of him and his wartime service.
I located a close friend, Jim Birdsall, nicknamed “Bird,” 25 years after the end of the war in Vietnam. He had the same nightmare every night until we reconnected. He wrote about them and asked me to turn them into a poem, out of which came healing and forgiveness. Here is the poem…
Our goal, as therapists, is to help veterans expand their belief systems, through the construction of an ideal self, to integrate the traumatic information of combat and discover new inspiration. Combat changed how veterans perceive the world. As a result of combat, veterans have new information regarding life’s possibilities and actualities. However, their belief systems often aren’t able to integrate the information. The new knowledge is too big; it won’t fit into their existing ways of understanding.
Everywhere I go now, I see men differently. I have loved and appreciated and felt exasperated by men in many ways —father, brothers, relatives, playmates, friends, lovers, mentors, colleagues, husband, ex-husband, son, long-term partners. I know the goodness of men. And yet, after more than a half century of living with them, I realize I am still mystified by much of their behavior.
The call comes gradually, or so it seems. We must be called over and over until we hear its whisperings. Then we begin to notice, we begin to respond. Unconsciously, hesitantly, we start to listen. Incrementally, our response deepens. Finally, we realize that call and caller are one in life lived in obedience to the gift of the call; that we ourselves are the call. We come to recognize that we were called from the beginning, “from the foundation of the world,” as St. Paul says. Yet, looking back, we cannot remember a “first” call.
High in the Swiss Alps, I have felt protected from the constant stream of information about the state of the world by the beauty of the alpine meadows. The grandeur and stillness of the mountains have allowed me to feel cradled by the immense power of nature, and yet the day has arrived when I know that my sense of connection with my fellow human beings and the planet means that I can no longer turn my back on hearing how the world is faring.
Long ago, in a forgotten sultanate of the east, there was a group of young men who used to hang out in the “suq,” the open market near the gates of the palace. These were young men who hadn’t yet found their way—some of them not even sure that they wanted to find a way—so they hung out in the “suq,” gambling and joking with each other, and when necessary, getting an odd job to earn enough to buy a little food and gamble with later that night. One day, as they were sitting near the gates of the palace, a little bored with the usual fare and with each other, one of them who was most bored noticed a sedan chair—the kind used for carrying the women of the court through the marketplace—approaching the gates.
As a little girl growing up in Baltimore, MD, I loved using dance, music, reading, and dramatic play to express myself. At the age of twelve, I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Bedridden with my knees filled with fluid, swollen, and painful to touch, I spent months in the hospital unable to be the energetic and vibrant child I was known to be. What I owe my recovery to was a supportive family and community, and my creative resources. I used movement and dance as my physical therapy to strengthen my inflamed limbs; and music to heal the sad places deep inside.
Recently, Seven Pillars’ Laurie Lane-Zucker and Corin Girard sat down with dancer and choreographer Robin Becker to discuss her original production, “Into Sunlight.” In the interview, Robin spoke of what inspired her to create this poignant work, the “chaos theory” behind her artistic process, the company’s upcoming New York City performances and the creation of an eagerly anticipated documentary film based on the production.
When I read They Marched Into Sunlight, David Maraniss’ powerful book on the Vietnam War, I immediately responded to the timelessness and universality of the themes and events he documented. I was deeply moved by the integrity, honor and commitment of both those who fought the war, and those who fought against it. I embarked upon the creation of this dance, Into Sunlight, hoping that the universal language of the body would reflect and offer the same sense of healing that David’s words evoked in me. ~ Robin Becker, Artistic Director
In the time of Thunderbeings and Underwater Serpents, the humans, animals, and plants conversed and carried on lives of mischief, wonder, and mundane tasks. The prophets told of times ahead, explained the causes of the deluge of past, and predicted the two paths of the future: one scorched and one green, one of which the Anishinaabeg would have to choose.
The mystery of heartfelt dialogue, of truly heart-centered conversation, is discovered in the inflow of presence and in a willingness to uncover the desires of the heart, as inspired by an atmosphere of loving concern. As a process of discovery, such dialogue is energized by patience and receptivity to what arises spontaneously and genuinely from the heart.
In this exclusive interview with Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, the Co-Director, Co-Producer and Co-Composer of the documentary Elemental, we explore the persistence of hope and other questions relating to the creation, filming and mission of the film.
It’s nighttime. I am walking outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal, that depressing brick behemoth on 42nd Street and 8th Avenue that is the main hub for buses arriving to and departing from New York City. I am looking for homeless kids, trying to spot new arrivals who might still be hanging out, unsure of where to go. I want to reach them to offer help before they disappear into the Manhattan sinkhole. But I am not the only one looking for them.
Middle Way Buddhism describes a dynamic synergy between its primary pillars of thought: emptiness and compassion. When we understand and experience our deepest, fundamental nature as empty and as interdependent intersections in this vast web of the universe, a natural tendency for compassionate action arises.
Opening to the suffering of the world in all its forms.
Time has come to speak to the hearts of our Nations and their Leaders. I ask you this from the bottom of my heart, to come together from the Spirit of your Nations in prayer.