Educación y Arte

A colorful public mural in San Antonio,Texas encourages students to stay in school.  (...un mural público colorido en San Antonio, Texas alienta a los estudiantes a permanecer en la escuela.) 

Vibrant murals adorn many of the walls within San Antonio’s West Side. They celebrate the area’s Chicano culture and history with bright colors, beautiful designs, and empowering imagery.

 

 

The one above was painted by local artists Cruz Ortiz and Juan Ramos in 1994, to call attention to the gang violence within the West Side. Its symbolism speaks volumes…this student  has chosen her education over bad influences like gangs.  She is holding a banner in triumph over the skeletons and graves of gang members still clutching their guns.   Other symbols celebrate the population’s Mexican heritage like Aztec pyramids in the background and a flourishing agave plant in the sunrise.

Amazingly, the mural has sustained very little damage or vandalism over the years (although fading and cracking requires occasional restoration). The San Antonio Cultural Arts Program, a group of local artists dedicated to placing murals and artwork around the city, fosters a sense of community pride around the murals it helps create. Each new mural receives a religious and indigenous blessing. Block parties full of music, food, and art celebrate every new art installation.

This information comes from Atlas Obscura  a self-described “global community” who write about places, culture and food. Their mission is to” inspire wonder and curiosity about the incredible world we all share.”

The Kindness of Strangers

I recently visited Damyanti Biswas’ post on We are the World Blogfest a blog devoted to “spread peace and humanity on social media.”

It reminded me of several incidents I will share with you regarding the kindness of strangers. The first occurred when we were living in Dunedin, New Zealand, poor as church mice and my husband lost his wallet.

Dunedin, NZ

 

 

 

 

 

To make matters worse, it was pay-day and he had just filled it with cash meant to last for at least two weeks. We never expected to see the wallet much less the cash, but later that day the police phoned with the news that a good Samaritan had turned it in. It was such a relief. Thank you kind lady, whoever you are, you saved a young couple in distress! You don’t know us, but I still think of you. Hard to imagine this happening in many cities of the world.

Some years later on our first trip to France we arrived in time  – we thought – to find our train to Charles De Gaulle.  While searching in the huge station however, we had apparently missed the one we intended to be on and now were in fear of missing our overseas flight.  In a state of agitation, I  approached a young Frenchman and asked if he knew which the track we should be on.  He cocked his head and listened intently to my inadequate French, looked around at the  signs, then held up one finger and took off at a run.  Several minutes went by and we thought he must have caught his own train and left by now.  But no, there he was running towards us, he grabbed my bag in his free hand (the other held a briefcase full of books) and off the three of us jogged to the far side of the gare.  “Voila!” he gestured with his chin, “La!”  I grabbed his hand and thanked him profusely as we got on the train.  “Oh, but I must,” he told me quite seriously. “Or you will miss your airplane!”  No, Monsieur you didn’t have to but, I will never forget how you took time to help a couple of hapless tourists.  I’ve tried to follow your act when people ask me for help.

Parisian train station

 

Wait it gets better. Last winter in our California town, a taxi cab driver picked up two teenage sisters going to a party on a Friday night. They were dropped off looking forward to their evening and asked the young cabbie to come back after midnight.

However a call came only an hour or so later and when the taxi arrived the girls were walking up the street with their arms around one another, one without her coat, the other virtually naked; they were both shivering and in tears. The driver jumped out, took off his jacket and wrapped it around the naked girl; he drove them home and walked them in to make sure an adult was there to deal with the situation. The parents went to the Taxi company the next day to express their gratitude for taking care of the girls – and to return the jacket. (The cabbie must have been cold the rest of the night.) I’m sure that family will never forget that sensitive young man either.

We all have stories like these that make us want to live up to their standards of kindness and regard for others. Note these stories and pictures are from around the world. They may seem like small acts, but they create a rippling effect and restore our faith in humanity.

A couple rescue a small dog from a culvert in Brazil.

ONE WILD AND PRECIOUS LIFE

What are you going to do with your one wild and precious life? After holding this lovely phrase in my head for a year or two I found out who wrote it: Pulitzer prize winner Mary Oliver in her poem The Summer Day.  Some mornings I woke up and there it was in my mind like a challenge.

Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver

Here are some of my favorites of her wonderful words:

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”
Mary Oliver

“To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go”
Mary Oliver

imagesHere’s another excerpt I relate to:

“Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable…

I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way … as you no doubt have yours.

Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit…motionless until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost unhearable…”

wildgeeseHer most famous is perhaps WILD GEESE (excerpted):

“Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”

For more go to: http://peacefulrivers.homestead.com/maryoliver.html#anchor_14792

Do you have a favorite poet, poem – or just a line that sticks in your head?