In eons past, I wonder how many times I failed to cause my spirit needing fleshly clothes to set out a new path to learn once again. I shared a vision I had at the age of four so I know of several failures.
I grew up in Brooklyn off Fulton Avenue, the conduit to downtown shopping and uptown schooling. The apartment buildings were over the subway line leading to the East side where twice yearly we shopped for shoes and fabrics to cover our growing bodies.
Our block and those immediately surrounding were occupied with Black, White, Red, and Yellow…every shade from pasty white to ebony brown – our neighborhood was a united nation that actually flowed in love and acceptance through the children who saw only playmates. I was privileged while young to be the only girl in the neighborhood and accepted by the boys as one of them because I liked to play ball, skate, race, build forts and a very good pitcher of ice balls. I did not cry if I skinned a knee or took a ball in the face.
The girls came late to my neighborhood and all in the same season. I left the boys to hang with people that were not only my gender but my age except Olive, she of the ebony hue and five years my senior. Her mom was my grandmother’s assistant in the running and maintenance of our building. Olive and I were sisters even though I was the pasty white and the younger one. I was the first born in my family and she was the last born of brothers, so our personalities meshed. We only had one fight – not argument – fight. she pulled clumps of hair from my head and I ripped her dress off. While my grandmother and her mom were hashing out our bad behavior the two of us were already outside best of friends/sisters again. We accepted all the other girls – Italian, Irish, Romany, Armenian, German, Polish, Puerto Rican while I was mixed with five different cultures and a dash of a sixth.
There were love and acceptance among the tenants for the differences as well as the unity of one’s own culture. In that environment, we had a tolerance for all. One needed help, all hands were extended. Joys shared, sorrows comforted, differences celebrated, but that truly must start within oneself.
All of us girls stayed friends until our early teens and then we all deployed into our next assignments in other neighborhoods. None of us promised to write letters because all of us knew we would not.
Now I’m in a different countrified local but we all know one another, our block and those surrounding we walk, we talk, we still share joys and sorrows. We have each other’s back. There is no us or them within our borders. People respond to kindness and in that, the differences disappear. It must start in our own heart and ripple out.
Each one of us is an island – we bear the fruit of kindness or fruit of discord. It is amazing what a smile can accomplish and what a snarl can demolish.
So, in the turning of the year when we make decisions to change or to enhance our being, how cultivated is the fruit and how grows your tree?