Tag Archives: memories

Prologue to An American in Palestine

This evening I have been “followed” on Instagram by Said Khatib, the photographer from Gaza, Palestine. One photograph by Khatib will be the cover of my second book, An American in Palestine. I am honored to share correspondence with a man, whose photo journalism is bringing the struggle of Palestine to the headlines. I aim to match his photographic image with my memories of two Palestinian families in West Bank Palestine.

The prologue to An American in Palestine:

Wake Up, Ric d. Stark!

“I wish that people would listen to the Palestinian voices on the ground,  talk to the mothers who try to put their children next to them, because, if they die, they want to die together… These are the kinds of stories that need to be told behind the bombing [of Gaza by Israel in May 2021.”]

On MSNBC on May 17, 2021, I heard Rashida Tlaib, the sole US Congressperson of Palestinian descent, bemoan about the distorted view that Americans have of Palestinians. She lamented that Americans don’t hear the personal stories of common Palestinian people. Speaking to Joy Reid, Tlaib spoke with passion.

Sitting in my rocking chair in Ewa Beach, Hawai‘i, working on my Hawaiian quilt as I listened to Congresswoman Tlaib, I cried, “Hey! I can tell those kinds of stories.”

//

On May 10, 2021, an escalated outbreak of violence commenced in the ongoing Israeli/ Palestinian conflict. Sparked by earlier disturbances in East Jerusalem, aerial bombings were exchanged by Hamas in Gaza and the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu until a ceasefire came into effect on May 21. 

As a result of the violence, at least 256 Palestinians, including 66 children, had been killed. In Israel, at least 13 people had been killed. The Gaza Ministry of Health reported that more than 1,900 Palestinians were injured, at least 72,000 Palestinians had been displaced. (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

On May 17, when Rashida Tlaib bemoaned that no one was sharing stories of the common Palestinian people, she could not have known that her words would awaken the voice of one American, who could indeed tell just those sorts of stories.

//

In 2013 and 2014, I had the rare and clandestine opportunity to visit West Bank Palestine. During my extended three-month stay in Beit Laim (Bethlehem,) I spent time and enjoyed the company of two Palestinian families. Renting a small apartment on the ground floor of the home of a four-generation Christian family, I observed daily family life up close. Through my sponsor, Farouk Al Jaabari, I joined his Muslim family each week on Holy Day (Friday) for an extended-family gathering of a shared meal and social time.

My visits profoundly impacted my worldview. When I returned to Hawai‘i in late 2014, I was simmering with thoughts and emotions that I wished to share. These people and their plight needed advocates. Living under abhorrent conditions, Palestinians were being subjected to social and cultural genocide. American financial aid to Israel made us U.S. citizens complicit in this reprehensible policy. But how could I speak? I had no platform and I lacked an audience. My stories were small and lacked the kind of powerful impact of someone like Richard Engel, reporting from war fronts in the Middle East.

On that day of May 17, 2021, I had opened a Facebook page to promote my new venture as an author of literary non-fiction. My platform is largely undiscovered. I can count my audience on my ten fingers and ten toes. But I do have stories to share. So I will do so. 

I don’t have stories of assassination and murder. I don’t have documented evidence of Israel’s continued illegal annexation of Palestinian homelands. I do have personal and intimate stories of Palestinian people. I do have touching stories of encounters with people whose lives are so human and poignant. 

When we experience these kinds of stories, things can change. (Oh, that such a simple statement was really true and valid!) Change the world? Probably not. But share my stories? That, I can do.

Ric d. Stark

…an American with memories and a voice.

Love Life—It’s What We Got

“Retreat cancelled.” I got a big disappointment in yesterday’s emails. My friend Diane Farrar notified the group of quilters from Big Island’s Ka Lae quilter group that our much-anticipated 2021 KMC Quilters’ Retreat will be cancelled—due to Covid 19 surge in recent weeks. From the years 2012 until 2019, this annual retreat has been my treasured time of productive quilting, priceless camaraderie, blessed renewal, and too much ono (good) food. Since we all missed last year’s retreat, we were holding intense enthusiasm and commitment in knowing that this year, we would gather and feed our souls.

But…not to be.

Yesterday morning when I got the news, I sighed and replied with a joke about folks soothing their let-down feelings by buying a good read (and I just might have a good suggestion!!!) A day later in this evening hour, I am swimming in some different emotions.

//

I am “done” with this virus and its hold on our lives.

1). I am empathetic of the folks, who honestly don’t know and don’t trust and have too much valid history with reason not to trust. These folks are hurting; I hurt too. Not “in their shoes”—that would be presumptive and dis-ingenuous. I hurt because I want them not to hurt—so that I don’t have to hurt. See, it really is about being selfish, isn’t it?

2). I am angry with the millions, who are lapping up the disinformation and who really believe this is about politics and vaccination is on the wrong side of that political divide.

* How many of them have that perfect little circular scar on one arm in the middle of their deltoid muscle? That saved the lives of 1/3 to 1/2 of us. Because of that little scar, we don’t have a smallpox pandemic.

* How many of those nay-sayers drank that little paper cup of polio vaccine in kindergarten? That prevents thousands/ millions of us from living lives with paralysis and deformity.

* How many of those (dammit!) hard-headed creeps refuse to get the necessary vaccines when they travel to foreign countries? Answer: None!

* How many of the non-vaccers realize that it’s only because the rest of us say, “Sure, yes!” that THEY can live healthy lives? Answer: All of them but they refuse to acknowledge it.

3.) I am outraged at the right-wing media tyrants and self-serving politicians, who sell this load of manure (bull***). 

They KNOW better. They all got the vaccine! They all mask in their work hallways! They all do everything they can to avoid moving among or sharing space with the folks in category 1. I honestly believe they should ALL be behind bars for their lies and their perpetration of a pandemic, which could be going in a different direction.

//

Okay, I let out the anger and the outrage. We need permission and space to do that. I found the time and took the space. Now—that’s done.

//

I am living a pretty fine chapter in the life of one Ric d. Stark. I have found a way to light my flame and a place where I can put my candle on top of a hill, rather than hide it under a basket. It’s really really really a gooooooo good time in a life.

At seventy-two, I am more enthused and on fire than almost any other time in life.

* I have nine Hawaiian quilt masterpieces and another nine to design and sew.

* I have published my first book! Hooooooray!

* I have Book #2 on the far end of the editing floor, near the finish line, and almost ready for print.

* Book #3 is splayed out in a clutter of unorganized memoirs and just begging for my devoted attention.

* I have a job that is meaningful, rewarding, and that gives me rent.

* I have a doggy who demands that I back away from the keyboard or the quilting needle to take time for him.

* I have gardens that are growing and winning heaps of compliments from appreciative neighbors.

* I have a wellness coach (I call Kevin my shrink!) who inspires me and helps me to remain my own best cheerleader.

* I have good friends, who insist (by their very being) that I open and share my heart and my life.

* …and I have MEMORIES, my new and latest “husband,” the life companion who nurtures me and who feeds my soul and who gives me more than enough reason to bounce out of bed and “just do it” every day.

I told my BFF Nikki today, “That damn virus may cause my death,… but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let this thing poison my life.”

//

Every morning at 6:00 a.m. when Heno (my doggy) and I go for a walk, I pick a flower and bring it back home to sit at the base of my new iMac. Each day for the whole day, that flower reminds me, 

Life is beautiful.

Time may be fleeting.

“NOW” is the best thing in this universe.

So, smell the aroma; appreciate the beauty; be kind to one (or any number) of folks today; and love life. It’s what we got…