MEMORIAL DAY THOUGHTS – THE VIETNAM MEMORIAL

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Maya Lin is the designer of the Vietnam memorial in Washington, D.C. The design was chosen in an anonymous contest open to many. She was an architectural student at Yale University at the time and only 23 years old. The question could be asked if the selection of her design would have been made had her identity as a young Asian woman been known by the judges. Highly unlikely.

Nonetheless, the artistic judges that responded by selecting her design did so out of recognition of the intuition she brought to it for it is a deeply truthful expression of the destiny of America. Maya Lin had imagined the memorial as a furrow of earth turned up to the light, as if opening the land with a plow and bringing light into the darkness. In visiting the site, one descends down by the long wall of the memorial as though going into the earth, for it is mostly below ground level. The image in this memorial of America’s deeper destiny is profound. As a nation we are meant to penetrate the secrets of the material world, to work in practical ways deep into physical matter and bring that work forward to benefit the world. But as the memorial reminds us, in so doing we come to the threshold of death and are challenged to understand the spirit beyond death and behind matter itself. We are called in the West to go through matter, materialism and death and come to the spirit that lies behind all life. We are challenged to come to a resurrection of consciousness. An act of true freedom.

The memorial beautifully meets the observer with its polished black marble wall, so clear and mirror-like the observer faces an image of him or herself. One can say it is like standing at a threshold of death and awareness. The sun, (and the light of the viewer’s consciousness), shines on the polished black wall. All those who have died are represented, their names carved into the granite. Not as one might expect on a military edifice, organized into squadrons and platoons, but flow together in common sacrifice, inscribed in the order in which they died. The world of the living, the world of the dead, the threshold in between; a spiritual truth represented in simple elegance of this memorial.

It is touching that there were veterans who could not fully encompass the deeper meaning in Maya Lin’s work and asked for another statue of combat soldiers to be placed nearby as a more ‘realistic’ honoring of the Vietnam dead. Maya Lin’s creation is one of the most moving and awakening memorials in the nation’s capitol and one of the most visited, as people are instinctively drawn there for the deeper truths it embodies. Coming to it can truly be a threshold awakening experience. As a nation we are standing at this threshold of death and whether in our thinking and deeds we will serve life or death and materialism. The need for awakening is tantamount for the sake of our future and that of the world.

Maya Lin also designed the Civil Rights memorial in Atlanta Georgia, again bringing her beautiful artistic capacities to the design. It is a black rock, a rounded chalice like shape and leveled across the top like a full cup. It is inscribed with the names of those who died, and gently washed by a continuous veil of flowing water, waters of forgiveness, of hope, of cleansing, for a nation that must heal and transform and make peace with its history.

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WHITSUN – THE DAY OF AWAKENING TO THE WORLD

WHITSUN… THE DAY OF OF AWAKENING TO THE WORLD

May 24, 2015

IMG_6815 - Version 2photo 1Whitsun, or Pentecost was the beautiful event when those surrounding the Holy Mother Soul, and held in her eternal wisdom and compassion, awakened to the world, to each other, to world wisdom and understanding of universal truths about love and the mission of the earth. The embracing wind of the spirit came through the dove of the Holy spirit bringing flames of awakened enlightenment and understanding to all those present.

Today. Whitsun 2015, we look to a world awakening of a new consciousness of peace and purpose and celebration and protection of life on this precious planet we share. I offer my awe of this event with my artistic attempt to show that moment of awakening with this morning’s reflected Whitsun sunlight symbolically bringing the rays of higher wisdom of the Holy spirit right down to earth!

Dr. Vadana Shiva is one of the great guardians of the earth, combining modern science as a world renowned biologist with heart wisdom knowing. She eloquently connects the health of our soil, the Mother earth, the gift of diversity in our healthy seeds (that should shared with one another, not withheld in patents), the honoring of all life on earth, the respect for each other and all our cultures with the great virtues of democracy and freedom. Hers is a message of universal awakening and support of true and sustainable LIFE! A Whitsun message for our time.

Also a warrior for protecting our Mother planet she urges millions today, May 24th, to march in defense of the earth, standing up to the world dominating Monsanto corporation, and the monoculture crops of industrial agriculture based on killing the soil poisoning the soil and seed and consequently the entire interdependent life on this earth (Roundup, Monsanto’s poisonous weedkiller on which GMO agriculture is completely dependent, is now ubiquitous in the waters of the world). To be sure new thinking new wisdom is need for us to create our future with our planet. I am honored to be in Vedana Shiva’s presence.

PRAISE TO THE GIFTED HANDS AND HEART OF VIVIEN THOMAS

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May 9, 2015

The first successful heart surgery in the US was performed by a black physician, Daniel Hale Williams, in 1893 when he gave a stabbing victim a new chance for life. But for decades to follow there were still many taboos about operating on the human heart.

During the 1930’s some stunning breakthroughs in heart surgery were born of the colleagueship of two men, Dr. Alfred Blalock and Vivien Thomas, brought together in an amazing story of a shared karmic mission for the world. Both were from the apartheid southern United States. They were men of their time bound by the dehumanizing prejudice that prevailed. Blalock was a talented, ambitious young white surgeon, set on making a name in heart surgery. Thomas was a black man whose high aspiring dreams of becoming a doctor were dashed when his savings were lost in the Depression bank failures.

Blalock was looking for an assistant to help with heart research surgery on dogs and advertised for a carpenter, hoping to find a lab assistant with high level manual dexterity. It was Thomas who answered the ad, and proved to not only have gifted hands and exquisite dexterity, but an inquiring and capable intelligence and a passion for medicine. They became a research team, inspiring one another in their laboratory to ever new breakthroughs. Some of those discoveries saved millions of lives in WW11. Yet outside their shared workplace, Thomas had to endure the appalling indignities accorded a black man then. Even Blalock added insults Vivien had to overcome. Vivien’s salary was so small and he had a family to support, he also took further work as a servant for Blalock’s many lavish dinner parties.

The extraordinary story of this karmic relationship that would subsequently effect so many lives in the future, is quite truly depicted in the film Something the Lord Made. My husband, Gordon, had ‘chanced‘ to order it just weeks before his emergency open heart surgery and we had watched it together. So it was Vivien Thomas’ story that I was sharing with my children, Cameron and Lauren, as we were waiting during Gordon’s operation.

We had come to the patio of Sutter Memorial hospital to be together while our husband/father went through this threshold experience. Lauren, on seeing trash strewn across the courtyard from careless and preoccupied diners, had gotten the trash bag from the can and cleaned the place up. Admirable community consciousness in that action and then we sat to wait together.

While Gordon’s heart was being lifted in the skilled hands of his surgical team and given a new aortic valve and while he was on heart by pass, I shared with them this moving drama from the annals of a large medical research community whose lives had led them to the techniques and knowledge that were being bestowed upon Gordon in those very moments.

The three of us shook our heads in pained realization of how Vivien Thomas was treated in the University laboratories where he had worked, Paid lowest wages as a janitor, having to use the service entrance to come into the building, unable to even associate in the cafeteria with Blalock, insulted by other doctors as his ‘nigger’, this great man persevered to follow his passions of heart research at the John Hopkins lab.

Then the big moment came. Blaock, impatient to show the world what they had learned, dared to perform a heart operation on a blue baby. But Thomas was far more skilled and experienced in the procedures than Blalock, so during the surgery a unprecedented event occurred. Vivien Thomas, a black man was put in surgical scrubs and called to stand by Blaock in the operating theatre and talk him through the operation. It was a shocking, unprecedented, and unheard of position for a black man at that time.

The baby lived, the surgery was successful. It was hailed around the world and Blalock made a hero. Thomas was ignored. Blalock preened in the limelight accepting the prizes without the slightest mention or credit to his partner and their years of research together. The humiliation was unbearable and Thomas left to try to pursue other means of making a living. But in the end, he and his wife recognized his passion lay in the laboratories and he took up again the cross of the scathing prejudice he had to endure there to once more to return to John Hopkin’s University laboratory.

Thomas would outlive Blalock and they were karmically joined to the end of their lives. Recognized at last for his outstanding skills, Vivien Thomas was made the head of the John Hopkins laboratory. He became an admired and respected teacher of surgeons– many surgeons. His magnificent hands, his tempered and suffering heart and soul, so deeply inscribed with human endurance and compassion, made him an extraordinary human being to lead future doctors to their calling.

This is a story of karma, of human passion, mission and putting skills in service of life and humanity at its best. How many of us who have had heart surgery now literally owe our lives to the whole medical community, and definitely owe thanks to the great spirit of a man who was so insulted and denied in his human dignity, yet took up the cross of suffering and creative karmic colleagueship with Blalock to leave such a legacy of healing for so many? This is a story of a great mission fulfilled.