A Brand New Bridge

Copyright
©Jane H. Johann, 2016
Walkway along Whatcom Creek.
Bellingham, WA

 

We woke up today to a brand new bridge

Offering our hands to help them make the leap

Days and days on the road with no sleep

We knew they had walked through  too much grief

          

The elderly man held his wife’s wrinkled hand

Their grandchildren clung to them as they sat in the sand            

The young married couple looking for hope

Their son and daughter with an adventurous scope

They hadn’t eaten for several days, no water passed to their parched lips

Their thirst for freedom was their drink and their trust in God their sailing ship

 

Their grateful eyes filled with tears

Man of La Mancha dispelled their fears

We finally were at peace with ourselves

We stopped the war placing it on the shelves

We no longer had a hollow heart

Living humanely initiated the start

We sat on the hillside and by the beach

We laughed and smiled and made the reach

We were proud to say there is enough for all

We leapt for joy and tore down that silly old wall

 

We woke up today to a brand new bridge!

What Can We Do for the Homeless?

“Bellingham Cares”
Whatcom Creek
Photo Credit:
Copyright
©Jane H Johann; Jan 1. 2019

Poverty in the USA is growing quickly and we are fast becoming a Third World Country, though few want to acknowledge it. Yes, we have many more safety net programs than most countries. This is a true fact. But the number of homeless is growing more rapidly than are the solutions to help people feel like productive human beings.
Recently, I read that France has made it illegal for their grocery stores or supermarkets to throw out food. Instead they must donate it to a shelter, charity or place that needs food for the hungry. (https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2017/03/24/France-s-food-waste-ban-One-year-o)(https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/04/french-law-forbids-food-waste-by-supermarkets) Of course, with this new law, there are the pros and cons. But overall, the principle of the idea is sensible and it should be kept and utilized in all countries! Waste is a terrible thing, especially when we know children in Yemen are starving to death, when someone in Togo jumps into a well because they have no money to feed their family, when people are emaciated and starving! How can we dump the food into a garbage container. I vividly recall the scene from the film, “Dr. Zhivago,” which portrays the upper class dining, drinking and having a ball, while the people below are marching on the streets asking for bread.

Why are so many people on the streets? Why are there families living in cars?

The answer to this dilemma is more than the simplified answer: “They are too lazy to work.”

Yes, there are people on opioids, there are people smoking pot–yes, these are real people who end up living on the streets. But NOT everyone is a drug addict or a pot smoker. There are people who are mentally ill. People who have social anxiety, people who talk to themselves, people who are lost, people who do not seem to belong to anyone, people without family. There are people who for one reason or another, lost their job, and he/she or both parents and their children live in cars or under bridges and are without nothing. There are people living in the sewers of Las Vegas!

What has our world become? A world of have and have-nots. And NOT every fault lies at the feet of those who are without.

No one is going to tell me that a person would rather sit on the cold cement, as I saw on the streets of Bellingham, Washington, because they like the rain pouring on them and the cold wind biting at their bodies!

I have visited Bellingham on four different occasions because my youngest daughter now lives there. While there, I spend my day time walking on the streets, because my daughter is working and I need to do something with my time. I walk and I observe. Occasionally, I engage in conversation with those who are homeless. Yes, they think I am one of them because I am walking everyday. I write as though they are someone from some distant planet! My God–they are people with red blood running through their arteries–just like you and me! I suppose they are observing me too.

One particular day, four women were huddled together drinking coffee and one shouted to me, “Hey, I like your jacket.” I took this as an opportunity to interact with them. There I stood with them and spoke with them for over an hour. I learned a lot. Each woman had a poignant story to tell. Elizabeth lost her trailer because she had been with an abusive man and the police came and confiscated the trailer (yes, I am sure I only got some of the story). Another said she had no family. The third woman said she had been in a hospital but they discharged her and she had nowhere to go. Still another woman said she had been living with her daughter and her two children in a low-income housing project, but she had to leave because she was not allowed to remain with her as the housing stipulation said only her daughter and children could live there. Never mind, that the woman experiences social anxiety, is over 60, and had only a shopping cart filled with her belongings and a cat on a leash. She expressed that she feared going to a shelter because of the men who also stay there. There are no separate facilities, I presume.

There are as many reasons as there are homeless people on the streets.

I saw one person’s attempt to help. One day I was walking along Whatcom Creek and along this creek is a walkway with posts and a guard rail overlooking the waterway. I noticed that several posts had bags on them and one post had a jacket. I have attached the photos below, but I will write what was on each bag in each photo.

Photo #1: “With Metta…for you or a friend, may you be safe. May you be well. May you be warm. May you be happy. 3x”

“Bellingham Cares #1”
Whatcom Creek
Photo Credit:
Copyright
©Jane H Johann; Jan 1. 2019

Photo #2: This (a jacket) was my brother’s. He traveled the world with this, was smart and talented. I miss him. Let it serve you well!” Peace Sign

“Bellingham Cares #2 Jacket for the Homeless”
Whatcom Creek
Photo Credit:
Copyright
©Jane H Johann; Jan 1. 2019

Photo #3: “With Metta. May you be safe. May you be well. May you be warm. May you be happy. 3x”

“Bellingham Cares #3”
Whatcom Creek
Photo Credit:
Copyright
©Jane H Johann; Jan 1. 2019

I have also seen people come down Holly Street and stop their van and hand out sandwiches to those on the streets. Others have given out water and juice bottles. Each day I see the generosity of the people of Bellingham.
And, I also see the dark side. Entrance ways that would provide shelter for the homeless overnight are sealed with an iron gate and lock.

“Locked Entrance”
Bellingham, WA
Photo Credit:
Copyright
©Jane H Johann; Jan 1. 2019

There are many challenges facing us as a society. We have much work to do!

What can we do?  Unlock our hearts!

children are gifts

              Dedicated to each and everyone of my grandchildren

                                                    and to

  ALL children of Mother Earth

All children of every race

   All children of every faith 

 

“A Great Grandmother’s Kiss” December 26, 2008. on the day of Nadia’s birth.
Photo credit: c. Jane H. Johann. 2008

 

delicate beings

entrusted to our care

love baskets

whispering love into the air

hope is within

each child we see

it is up to us

to guide them to BE

what must I do?

I must love them for always

come what may

“love them for always” is all that I can say

Happy Birthday, Bobbi

“Bobbi’s Birthday Sunrise”
March 15, 2018 Copyright
©Jane H Johann; Palmyra, WI

dedicated to a dear friend, Bobbi, on her birthday!

Happy Birthday, Bobbi!

the morning sky opened

with a string of stars, dancing delightfully, 

welcoming you to another day of LIFE

Mother Earth blesses your day

thanking YOU for your GIFT of BEING 

–your comforting presence among the trees

–your caring feeding of her birds

–your tenderness and caring of those who are in your life

–you are a spouse to one, a mother of three, and a friend to me

how blessed we are that we share the path

your quick wit and endearing smile

graces us as we walk the miles!

                                                        May YOUR DAY be blessed! 

 

“Ottawa Sunset”©Jane H. Johann
Palmyra, WI 11/28/2017

 

 

Tapestry of a Woman

“Quilt by Audrey Neu”
2016
Photo Credit©Jane H. Johann
Palmyra, WI

 

dedicated to Audrey Neu

 

dream at dawn takes shape during the night

cascading into patterned diamonds of delight

*

colors and hues lend tone to the day

creating a fabric of generosity in her kindhearted ways

*

inspiration guiding the imagination–buttering her knife

village squares extending into a pattern of life

*

the triangle design –God, you and me–

woven in and out with the needle you see

*

taking the abstract into the concrete

concern for others is her mystique

*

offering furniture to the immigrants

opening her pocketbook and lending a hand

*

creating time to listen to those in need

community minded…the song in her deeds

*

sharing laughter inside out

colors of caring painted in cloth

*

nurtured by her love of God with little fear

onward she prods, strength layered through the years

*

joy and faithfulness are her threads

as she tends to the hostas in her garden bed

 

“Quilt by Audrey Neu”
Photo Credit©Jane H. Johann
Palmyra, WI 2016

 

The two quilts pictured above were sewn by Audrey. She has created over 100 quilts after  45 years of being a Principal and Teacher in the Catholic Schools in Milwaukee, WI. Each year she creates a quilt for the House of Peace in Milwaukee. Each quilt takes about 3 months to complete.

This poem is a small gift to Audrey for all the help and support she has given me through the years and mostly, for her friendship!  Her grandmotherly like kindnesses to my children and grandchildren were pure gift! Thank you, Audrey!

Love is Magic!

Looking for the good in each person and letting them know that you see that good is an uplifting thing that anyone can do for another person.

Sometimes one small word can help them see into their own soul.  You can be a LIGHT to them and bring them out of their darkness and enable the crystal within to shine.  I think it is possible to do so with even a complete stranger. As long as you speak the truth, you will help the other. I recall being with my sister and her husband in Missouri, and we made a stop at this antique store. The clerk had the most beautiful blue eyes! I hesitated and then said to him, “Your blue eyes are amazing!” I just thought they were beautiful. Then I left and returned to Wisconsin. I am not sure if it made him happy or not. I do realize he turned beet red. But I think he should have been happy that I noticed his eyes. He must have been around my young age of 60+.  I think I startled my sister! LOL I am just hoping that he saw his own beauty…and I wanted to share with him that I had!

Maybe that is what we all need to do in these dark times. We must stop focusing on the darkness and bring out the light in each other.

A year ago, a friend came into my life and sparked my imagination. To some, it may seem like a no-brainer or nothing significant. But for me, it reawakened my world of painting. I hadn’t painted in a very long time and my brother, Claude, and his wife, Kerri, came to help me with some much-needed home improvements to my floor.  Another improvement needed: painting.

My friend, Pat, saw the small powder room and suggested to change the walls from dull white to some color. I was very hesitant. I had this huge fear–as giant as the ascent of Mt. Everest! I was afraid to experiment. Then Pat spotted this candle-holder that my sister, Mary, had given me 20 years earlier. It was in different shades of blue, with s moon, sailboat, and stars carefully lasered out of the stone. Pat spoke, “Why don’t you paint that on the wall?”  Inwardly, I thought, “That is crazy! I can’t do that! Impossible! No way!” I probably said it aloud as well.

Being the ultra-stubborn person that I am, Pat had to repeat it several times over several days. Thank God she has persistence! Finally, one morning I got up at 5 and picked up a brush and a spray can of a beautiful blue paint, along with various shades of blue and white oil tubes. I went off to the powder room.   I became mesmerized in what I was doing and followed the form of the candleholder, more or less, and les voiles! The wall turned out great! I couldn’t believe it!

And this happened because a stranger came into my life to become my friend—and she saw something in me that I could not find in myself. Besides getting the bathroom painted, she gave me a renewed faith in my own innate ability. That was pure gift! 

A small thing to some; however, for me it encouraged me to do something with my creative energy instead of sitting in my depression.

Whenever I feel depressed, I have a place to sit and remember…and get inspired…I just go to the little room and ponder and then get off my derriere and do something with my life!  LOL

Candleholder ©Jane H. Johann
Palmyra, WI 2016

Powder Room Wall©Jane H. Johann
Palmyra, WI 2016

Powder Room Wall©Jane H. Johann
Palmyra, WI 2016