Posts Tagged ‘remembering’

Two thoughtful poems by Rhoda Orme-Johnson: When We Are Insubstantial & When You Are Young

February 11, 2022

What happens to us when we reach the latter part of our life and reflect on it from a different perspective? I came across two thoughtful poems written by Rhoda Orme-Johnson published in Conestoga Zen, an anthology edited by Rustin Larson. These poems resonated deeply with me and I was given permission to share them with you: When We Are Insubstantial & When You Are Young.

When We Are Insubstantial

When we are insubstantial 
Between this life and the next, 
I may regret the times we lay together 
And I did not reach for your arm, 
Warm and solid beneath the flannel, 
And draw you to my breast. 

I may regret getting up 
To do whatever 
I thought I had to do, 
And not lay there, 
Drawing in the night air and the scent 
Of Carolina Jasmine. 

I may regret that I hurried 
Though my days 
And did not linger on the porch, 
Soaking up the sunshine 
And the birdsong 
And the aroma 
Of sun-warmed pines. 

It is easy to forget, 
In the pressure of daily life, 
That our precious time 
On this green planet Is limited, 
That our contract here Is fixed. 

We came together 
To grow, to give, 
To pay some old debts, 
To leave the world a better place 
Before we go. 

It is easy to forget 
We came here to live.  

When You Are Young 

When you are young, 
Everyone you know 
Is alive 
When you are older, 
Many you really know 
And care for 
Have died. 

When you are young, 
Everyone you know 
Is alive and present, 
In and out of the house, 
On the phone, 
In your thoughts, 
In your heart.  

The first death comes hard. 
The lifeless corpse 
Under the makeup. 
Life breath gone, 
Spirit hastily fled, 
As from a burning building, 
Leaving nothing behind. 

Except an eternal presence 
In your thoughts, 
In your heart, 
In your dreams. 

After his sudden death 
My father met me in a dream. 
He sat on a park bench and I loved him.  
He didn't speak.  
I tried to tell him something important,  
But I couldn't remember  
What it was.  

I want to call my mother 
And tell her my news, 
Share the worries and the joys,  
But there's no phone 
That can connect with her now. 

In albums the photographs 
Of dear friends look out, 
Full of life and ambition, 
Unaware their time will soon be 
Cut short. 
Faces of grandchildren 
Growing up far away 
Tease and stir the heart.  

When you are young,  
Everyone you know 
Is alive and present. 
When you are older, 
Everyone you know  
Is present 
Somewhere. 

Rhoda read both poems concluding a presentation she gave at MIU a while ago. I remember having been there. It was a wonderful evening. She also read Sweet Mystery, mentioned below.

Anna: An Immigrant Story

Rhoda recently published Anna: An Immigrant Story. It’s a book about her grandmother, who immigrated to America a century ago with her five children. The story unfolds during one day of her life in 1951. Readers are introduced to family members coming and going through the house in Cleveland, Ohio, and accompany Anna’s memories back to the Old World, to the “shtetl” or Jewish settlement where Anna grew up. Find out more in this article: Fairfield woman publishes book on her immigrant ancestors.

The Flow of Consciousness in Literature

In a September 9, 2020 interview with Mario Orsatti on TM Talks, Dr. Rhoda Orme-Johnson explains how the study and experience of poetry and literature create transcending and a deeper appreciation of consciousness, language, and the world around us. She reads several poems, one of which is When You Are Young, at 42:02. The 50:41 talk is available at Enjoy TM News: The Flow of Consciousness in Literature.

Sweet Mystery

Earlier on in their discussion, at 19:58, Rhoda tells Mario a story of how her mother had showed up at Maharishi’s Swiss HQ to see her daughter and grandchildren. Everyone was busy working on projects. At David’s suggestion, Rhoda organized a luncheon for her mother with friends.

In answer to a question about love and marriage, her mother shared a childhood story with everyone. Recalling it later on, Rhoda had turned it into a poem, which she reads at 20:36. It’s about that experience her mother had had as a young girl in Ukraine. She had accompanied an older girl, who, as it turned out, was secretly meeting up with a boyfriend. She saw them embrace from a distance. That encounter and a young girl’s reaction to it, blended with descriptions of the nature around them, form the concluding chapter to Rhoda’s immigrant story about her grandmother. It’s a beautiful narrative poem about love titled, Sweet Mystery.

A Whisper Across Time: My Family’s Story of the Holocaust Told Through Art and Poetry, by Olga Campbell

May 1, 2018

I wanted to share something special with you. A friend of mine had been repressing, then actively processing an inherited trauma for most of her life. By educating herself, seeking professional help, writing and creating art, she has been able to make sense of it all. She just published a book about her powerful healing journey. She hopes it will resonate with those going through a trauma-induced grief, deepen our understanding and prevent such future catastrophes. I’ve seen the book. It’s a stunning artistic record of her ongoing transformation. Here’s what she sent me.

A Whisper Across Time book coverA Whisper Across Time is the story of one family’s experiences in the Holocaust. Olga Campbell tells a very personal and moving story through prose, art and poetry, creating a multi-dimensional snapshot of family losses and inter-generational trauma. Campbell’s art and poetry reflect the theme of sorrow and sadness created by this dark period of history. This is a story of remembering and healing. It is also a cautionary tale asking the reader to look at what is happening in the world today. Part memoir, part poetry, and art, A Whisper Across Time will make you stop, feel and reflect.

Seventeen years ago, after listening to a radio program about second generation Holocaust survivors, Olga Campbell experienced feelings she had spent a lifetime repressing. Her experience of grief, sorrow and sadness had their origins in events that happened to her family during the Holocaust. She started to confront these feelings by creating a solo multimedia exhibition in 2005 called Whispers Across Time. 

A year ago she felt compelled to write her family’s story. It felt as if her ancestors were whispering to her, encouraging her to do this. A Whisper Across Time is the result of these whispers.

Olga Campbell is a visual artist living in Vancouver, B. C. Her art work includes photography, sculpture, mixed media painting, and digital photo collage. She is also the author of Graffiti Alphabet. See more of Olga’s work at www.olgacampbell.com and olgacampbellart.

Olga has been practicing Transcendental Meditation since 1967. She became at teacher of Transcendental Meditation in Rishikesh, India in 1970 and is a recertified Governor.

In her book she writes: “This personal journey was at times very difficult. However, there were and continue to be experiences in my life which make it easier … This daily practice of meditation for over half a century of time, has been transformational and life-affirming.

Praise for A Whisper Across Time

Olga Campbell’s poignant tribute to family murdered in the Shoa is a personal triumph. With words and art she has created an emotional response to a psychologically wounded mother and her inadvertent legacy of trauma. Her enormous artistic talents and insights provide not only a measure of healing but also of faithfulness to memory — the lives unlived are not forgotten. This is a precious contribution to the literature of the Holocaust and to resolving the consequences of catastrophic trauma. — Dr. Robert Krell, Founding President, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre

A Whisper Across Time is a profoundly moving experience. It is a healing ritual, a Shamanic soul retrieval, a celebration of life, and a gift of gratitude to the family Olga Campbell never really knew. She reminds us that it is never too late to heal the sorrows of the past or to protect the future from the dangers of forgetting.Ann Mortifee, Performing Artist, Writer for theatre, ballet and films

A Whisper Across Time by Olga Campbell is now available in Vancouver, BC, Canada. To order a copy, contact Olga at olgac1@telus.net. The cost is $25 US plus $6 shipping and handling.

Olga’s book launch and art exhibit will take place Thurs, Nov 15, 2018 at the Sidney and Gertrude Zack Gallery. Art exhibit will continue to Dec 9.

Whisper.jpg

News Coverage for Art Show and Book Launch

Coinciding with Remembrance Day, various CBC Radio and TV hosts spoke with Olga Campbell about her book and art exhibit. As part of her Sunday November 11 show, Sheryl MacKay of CBC Radio’s North by Northwest had her on the show. Fast forward to 1:45:12–1:57:03 to listen to artist Olga Campbell tell her family’s tragic story from the Holocaust in a new book of art and memoir and poetry. About 5 minutes into the interview Olga mentions that in addition to processing her grief through art, she’s “been doing Transcendental Meditation for 50 years, so that’s really helped.”

Gloria Macarenko of CBC TV’s Our Vancouver introduced A Whisper Across Time as “a breathtakingly beautiful book.” Watch the interview (5:14): Using art and poetry to work though repressed memories of the Holocaust’s impact.

Olga Livshin wrote an excellent review of Olga Campbell’s art show and book launch in the Visual Arts section of the Jewish Independent. Whisper Across Time was published Friday, Nov 23, 2018.

Awards for the Book in 2019

Whisper Across Time won the da Vinci Eye for the current Eric Hoffer Award season. The da Vinci Eye is given in honor of the Leonardo da Vinci and awarded to superior book covers artwork each year. This is a special distinction beneath the Eric Hoffer Award umbrella. The book is still being considered for category, press, and grand prizes.

Whisper Across Time also won the Ippy Award for independent self-published authors. Olga’s book was selected for one of the 2019 Independent Publisher Book Awards in their Outstanding Books of the Year under the Freedom Fighter category. Olga will be attending the May 28 gala event in New York.

Cynthia Ramsay, editor of the Jewish Independent, reviewed Olga’s book: A Story Told in Art and Poetry. Here is a PDF of the JI article as it appears on page 44 of the April 12, 2019 issue under Books.

Olga’s book was honored as a “Finalist” in the “Autobiography/Memoir” category of the 2019 International Book Awards.

Olga appeared on the June 2019 cover of Point Grey Magazine: The Many Lives of Olga Campbell. Their Know Your Neighbour section on pages 3-5 included photos of Olga at home, her book, and many artworks.

A Whisper Across Time is now available on Amazon Canada.

Awards for the Book in 2020

The 2020 Western Canada Jewish Book Awards took place Dec 6, 2020 via Zoom. Olga Campbell won The Kahn Family Foundation Prize for Holocaust Literature. You can now hear the announcement of her winning this award at 32 minutes into the presentation in the Google Drive video of the Zoom call. Olga’s moving acceptance speech is from 33:33 to 36:20. She later wrote that she “was shocked, overwhelmed and almost in tears of gratitude.” Olga realized how interesting it was that, “By giving my family a voice I was able to find my own voice.” So true, and very significant! It may have also healed some of that inter-generational trauma.

Book Reviews in 2021

The Ormsby Review: 1072 Healing through creativity, March 25, 2021, by Claire Sicherman. This is an excellent personal and comprehensive review of Olga’s book, including many photographs. The Ormsby Review is a journal service for in-depth coverage of B.C. books and authors.

Haiku for Her, a new poem for Sali, @kenchawkin

March 12, 2017

I was reading this two-tanka poem again, Sali’s Shakti, and realized it was mostly written on March 12, 2012, five years ago today. Synchronicity? It was completed and posted the next day, March 13. Even though she passed Oct 1, 2016, Sali still inspires me. I miss her, but This Quiet Love we shared doesn’t diminish. Here is a new poem for Sali:

Haiku for Her

You gave me a taste
Of true Love and Unity
For Eternity

© Ken Chawkin
March 12, 2017
Fairfield, Iowa, USA

Though my mother died 31 years ago, March 12 this year is also the 100th anniversary of her birth. Another coincidence? A good day to remember two very special women in my life.

Update: March 13, 2017: I had a hunch I would add something the next day, as I did on the earlier post about Sali referenced above. See For Us—a tanka honoring Sali and what we shared.

Last night the older of my two younger sisters emailed to say she was made a TM Teacher on March 12, 1972. All 3 of use were in Europe with Maharishi on our Teacher Training Course. But the strangest coincidence dawned on me this morning. Both Sali and my mother died in their 69th year!!

Two kinds of knowledge about living and learning

April 8, 2014

I’m not young enough to know everything. ― Oscar Wilde (1854–1900)

By the time you’re eighty years old you’ve learned everything.
You only have to remember it. ― George Burns (1896–1996)

Two kinds of knowledge

There are two kinds of knowledge:
Youth knows it all, without having lived;
And having lived and learned, Old Age
Soon forgets what it’s come to know.

Then there’s the wisdom
Of knowing you know nothing;
But knowing your Self.

― Ken Chawkin (1944–still learning)

The Coming Of Wisdom With Time

Though leaves are many, the root is one;
Through all the lying days of my youth
I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun;
Now I may wither into the truth.

― William Butler Yeats (1865–1939)

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

Socrates (469–399 B.C.E.)

Know thyself.

Ancient Greek aphorism on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi

Those who know others are wise; those who know themselves are enlightened.

Laozi (5th or 4th century BC. Tao Te Ching #33)

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.

Rumi (13th century Persian poet and Sufi mystic.)

The older I get, the surer I am that I’m not running the show. 
—Leonard Cohen

Also see: Searching For The Meaning Of Your Life.

And this related poem: Seeing Is Being.

Newly added: Quotes from famous thinkers on the nature of truth, its rejection, and acceptance over time. One of the quotes is by Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) who said: Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.

Upon waking uP by Ken Chawkin

June 3, 2012

I enjoyed this poem What To Remember When Waking by David Whyte and remembered one I had written seven years ago on waking up.

Upon waking uP
Smritir labdha*

when waking in the morning
becoming conscious
before letting in the world
busying the mind
listen to your small still voice
telling its story
it’s where the All speaks to you

wave becomes ocean
fathoming the silent depths
ocean becomes wave
crashing on the shore of life
it all sounds so clear
you understand everything
memory’s restored

* I have regained memory.
(Bhagavad-Gita 18.73)

© Ken Chawkin
March 2, 2005
Fairfield, Iowa

Here’s a humorous poem I just wrote on the subject: A Wake-Up Haiku.


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