Follow the Children

chloe and elise shrunk

My niece and I

Several streams have come together for me into a confluence this week, all having to do with children leading the way.

Speaking on KPFA yesterday morning was a nine-year-old boy whose classmate and good friend Rodrigo and his family were sent back to Mexico because his father’s papers were not in order when the family was stopped in Houston, Texas after a trip to Mexico. Rodrigo’s classmates since kindergarten are launching a fight to bring him home and have been finding creative ways to bring attention to his cause including creating a video game that can be played worldwide for his benefit and the benefit of bring the peoples of the world closer together. They started a website called Bring Rodrigo Home.

I was at a friend’s house last night doing research for my next novel which takes place right after 9-11. I was interviewing them about their precocious 3 year-old on whom I am basing one of my characters who is part Aboriginal Australian. My friends’ child seems to have come into this world knowing so much already about ancient healing ways. My friends pointed me to a song that she loves to sing which was composed by Kenneth K. Guilmartin  for the Montclair Cooperative School in 1986. The song May all Children became popular after 9-11 and has been sung all over the world, mainly by children.

Then following the lead of these children into making connections worldwide through technology, this week I made contact with the Puuya (meaning “life force” or “heart”) Foundation in a remote area in Queensland Australia through an Australian friend of mine. I was able to donate to their foundation proceeds from an event called Didgeridoo Dreaming for Women held by Sound Rivers last fall. One of Puuya’s projects is to encourage youth to participate in ongoing leadership development opportunities, both within and outside the community.

Children, such whizzes at technology, are leading the way to bringing the world closer together. While I often think of technology as cold and distancing, this week, I am increasingly impressed with the creative ways humans, especially youth, find to connect ourselves to each other so that life-affirming songs, causes, and leadership can grow stronger.

May technology be a tool to bring ancient, alive and connected-to-the-earth wisdom from remote places to our modern world, empowering the life force of the planet which is love, not commerce.

Day of the Dead, November 2, 2012

photo by Javier Pinzon

It was a magnificent warm evening in SF’s Mission district as we gathered in the Day of the Dead celebration to pay tribute to those who have gone before us, our ancestors . Earlier this year I had met Francisco X. Alarcon and Javier Pinzon at a visiting writers’ program at the Merced Community College in Los Banos, California (set up by Meg Withers). Francisco and I collaborated on calling in the directions, he with beautiful words and me with the sound of the didgeridoo. Everyone seemed to respond so well to the didge and Francisco said, “The ancestors are riding on that sound!” In his enthusiasm he invited me to join him as he called in the directions at the Day of the Dead this year.

After a critical mass of people arrived, we set up in front of a beautiful altar on wheels and amidst Aztec dancers with long feather headdresses. Peggy Ho held the didge and the microphone for me and we proceeded to call in the directions. Each time it was my turn to play, a very loud drummer started pounding on the drum and I couldn’t hear anything that I was playing. I assumed no one else could hear it either but that wasn’t so as the microphone was picking it up. I would have stopped playing altogether in frustration if Javier (I think it was Javier) hadn’t said, after each song, “Beautiful, beautiful.”

The dancing was magnificent. People in the procession dressed in so many different ways to honor the dead. I love this tradition that western culture does not really have, to remember, honor and appreciate those who have gone before us. It is also a way of honoring the cycle of life and death and maybe calming some of that fear of death that is so strong in western culture. It was truly a celebration as the procession wove around through the Mission, adding people as it went. It was one of those magical San Francisco evenings where people got along and the energy was collaborative and celebratory.

I felt privileged to be a part of it.