Cold. Our idea of cold here in Ohio, that is, 6 degrees. The matte green ivy is curled tightly upon itself on one tree. On the next tree, where the sun hits, the ivy has relaxed. I am seeing this through a window from a house so warm my bare feet enjoy the wood floor. Snow still lies gracefully on branches, but less of it. A strange snow here. I woke up yesterday to see white comforters thrown on the lawns while the driveways and street were clear, shiny black. No drifts, due to the particular heavy nature of this snow, and to no wind, and that made it look like snow as envisioned by a child doing an exercise for art class, creating a model village.
I was eager to read some dharma this morning, having dreamed again about my brother, as he was, and feeling cluttered. I have Zen Miracles in the bathroom right now, so I picked that out. I find myself stuck where I left off, on the chapter about getting unstuck.
"Find your own pilgrimage," Shoshanna writes. "Where is it you need to go?" I can't do much physical going in the state of health and finance I'm in. I've been thinking about the fall retreat at Grailville, thinking I've been well for long enough that I start to have confidence in my wellness. I am afraid to do things that might tire me or stress me. Hmm. That retreat. I could just go for the weekend. Wonder if the food's gotten any better. If I could sleep in another bed. At my level of health, that's important.
I know there is some going alone I need to do. I have become a dependent person, as is my tendency, with all this illness. This weekend Tom got sick, a fever and deep fatigue. We talked about whether it might be pneumonia, and his particular vulnerability with restrictive lung disease, when to call the doctor. I was alone while he slept all weekend. I stayed home from church, taking his temperature, which was lower, thank God, getting him to drink some water, covering him up now and then. It is blessed to be together at these times, whether you are the sick one or the caregiver.
What is the pilgrimage I need to take? I am already taking a personal pilgrimage in the direction of confronting the extreme poverty in the world and my responsibility toward it. Realizing the truth - in my journal I often call it "real-eyes." It seems like denying that truth was taking a lot of energy.
Last night the news said that China invested $1 million for every gold medal it won in the last Olympics. I thought of what I read in Peter Singer's The Life You Can Save. The surgery to correct a common form of blindness in Africa costs $50. Twenty thousand people could have been given sight for that investment. That surgery makes a permanent improvement in their lives that enables them to work, to live, to have families. What are these gold medals about? Nationalism, for one thing. Comparison. We are better than you. For every winner there are ten losers, no, hundreds.
Singer's claim is that the world's wealthy can easily give the money to lift the whole world out of the extreme poverty that kills 27,000 children a day, and never even miss it. Me, on my pensions, I shouldn't expect too much of myself. I was relieved to read his impeccably reasoned conclusion. And as I contemplate how much to give, what organization to give it to, I feel more like a tree trunk, less like the fragile, beautiful African violet that is blooming in our den against the backdrop of snow.