Bubbles and simple beauty of joy

London is one of my favorite places in the whole world. I have visited many times but have never lived there. So, I am allowed to keep my “honeymoon” feeling šŸ™‚ It is a city of stories. On every turn you feel like there is an interesting and important story. Buildings, bridges, parks, statues, paintings, museums, theaters, train stations, markets, underground.

But my favorite thing to do is people watching. Believe me if you have never visited London; it is one of the best places to do it. The world is here. Literary. And for that reason I love walking along the river Thames. The view of the city does not change but every time it feels different because of the people. The story of London has a new chapter each day.

This last time I experienced a chapter about joy. The art of bringing joy. How little it costs but how much it does.

Who does not like soap bubbles? Children and adults alike are mesmerized by them. How they form, how they start floating in the air, how they change shapes and how far they fly. Some we catch, some get in our eyes or mouth and some get away. I love the colours and the rainbow reflection and I try to catch a glimpse of our world looking through a soap bubble.

There was a guy making large amounts of soap bubbles. Hoping to make some money but also enjoying it. And so was everyone walking by. The children forgot about their tantrums and wishes for sweets or rides or toys. They just wanted to play and catch and wait for that incredible moment when out of nothing (well, some soapy water) comes something as incredible as these simple objects of beauty.

Joy is bursting out as these bubbles burst out. I realize that I experience something that is fleeting. We describe it as “having fun”. The bubbles burst or float away and disappear. The children walk away and after 10 min they can be unhappy about something. The adults take the photos and then promptly forget about it. But this is a small glimpse into something bigger, more beautiful and lasting.

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever”, said poet John Keats.

Famous German theologian JĆ¼rgen Moltmann wrote on theology of joy. “Joy is enduring and puts its mark on oneā€™s attitude to living. Fun is short-term and serves amusement. True joy is only possible with oneā€™s whole heart, whole soul and all oneā€™s energies. The feeling about life which underlies the party-making fun-society is, I suspect, more boredom with life than true joy. True joy opens the soul, is a flow of spirits, giving our existence a certain easiness. We may have fun, but we are in joy. In true joy the ecstatic nature of human existence comes to expression. We are created for joy. We are born for joy.”

For me, the simple fun with soap bubbles is like a door that opens for a short time to make us all stop and behold and then reflect why our heart so instinctively responds to it.

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Along the Thames (photos from personal archive)

 

I am so sorry, Aleppo

This is about Syria and it is not about Syria; this is about politics and it is not about politics; this is about global challenges and it is not about global challenges; this is about the world’s reaction but it is not about the world.

This is about my own feelings in regards to what is going on in Aleppo. I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel helpless, overwhelmed, disillusioned… and many more things.

Last week I wrote to a friend who has studied political science and understands a lot about the UN.. I knew that he would not be able to give me simple answers but I was desperate to ask. Any ideas on how to end this tragedy and madness? So much has been said, but what else can be done?

The answer was as expected: “You have many good questions! I think the people who can answer those questions should step forward immediately! Unfortunately, it’s not so easy.” His last comment was: “The only solution I can see is for more cooperation at the international level and for a coalition of willing and able countries to intervene in some way to stop the atrocities taking place in Syria right now, but it is hard to imagine how that practically could be realized.”

We see the difficulties and current challenges in the international framework. I was watching an interview with Latvia’s ambassador to NATO, Indulis BērziņŔ, and he kept repeating that anyone who could come up with a solution for the war in Syria would be awarded Nobel Peace Prize immediately.

So, here we are. I could probably listen to endless interviews, read many articles, watch TV programs around the world and get the same message. “Since the beginning of the offensive by the regime and its allies, notably Russia, the intensity and scale of the aerial bombardment of eastern Aleppo is clearly disproportionate,” an official EU statement said. … The deliberate targeting of hospitals, medical personnel, schools and essential infrastructure, as well as the use of barrel bombs, cluster bombs and chemical weapons, constitute a catastrophic escalation of the conflict … and may amount to war crimes.”

Meanwhile the people are dying and the eastern part of Aleppo is evaporating in front of the world’s eyes.

I don’t have any easy answers either. I know that aid agencies , volunteers (likeĀ Partners Relief & Development) and many many people in Syria and from other parts of the world are doing everything they can to help. I know that many of the wonderful, heroic, sacrificial stories don’t get reported. I know that the real situation is much different than our news can show. I have been on “the other side” of the TV screen (not in Aleppo though).

What I have are friends from Syria who live in safety and peace in Riga, Latvia but who still have family back in Aleppo. Every time I see them I think of their families, their former home and beloved city. What if this was Riga! Boom, there goes Teika! Boom, there goes Jugla… and the people who lived there.

Maybe this post will get some responses with your thoughts. Of course, I believe in prayer but I also believe in resistance to injustice. And I have a strong sense that we, the global neighbors, are failing Syria.

Today I simply want to say… I am so sorry, Aleppo

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Friends in Riga learning more about Syria (photos from personal archive)

Latvian:

Rakstu par Sīriju, bet runa nav par Sīriju. Rakstu par politiku, bet runa nav par politiku. Rakstu par globālajiem izaicinājumiem, bet runa nav par tiem. Rakstu par pasaules reakciju, bet runa nav par pasauli.

Runa ir par manām sajūtām, domājot par to, kas notiek Alepo. Man sāp sirds. Man ir skumji. Man ir dusmas. Man ir bezspēcības sajūta. Man nav ilūziju, un man trūkst vārdu.

PagājÅ”nedēļ es aizrakstÄ«ju kādam labam draugam ārzemēs, kurÅ” ir jauns politiÄ·is, un diezgan labi pazÄ«st Apvienoto Nāciju Organizāciju. Es zināju, ka viņŔ nespēs man dot nekādas vieglas vai skaidras atbildes, bet vienkārÅ”i gribējās kādam jautāt. Vai ir kādas idejas, kā Å”o ārprātu tur izbeigt? Tik daudz jau ir teikts, bet ko var darÄ«t?

Atbilde bija tāda, kādu biju gaidÄ«jusi. ā€œTev, Inet, ir daudz labu jautājumu. Es domāju, ka tiem cilvēkiem, kuri spēj tos atbildēt, ir jāpiesakās nekavējoties. Diemžēl nav tik vienkārÅ”i.ā€ Beigās viņŔ vēl piebilda: ā€œVienÄ«gais veids, ko es redzu, ir lielāka sadarbÄ«ba starptautiskā lÄ«menÄ«, un to valstu koalÄ«cija, kuras spēj un tieŔām grib izbeigt Ŕīs briesmu lietas, kas patlaban notiek SÄ«rijā. Taču ir grÅ«ti iedomāties, kā tas varētu Ä«stenoties praktiski.ā€

Mēs jau redzam, kā tas praktiski neÄ«stenojas. SkatÄ«jos LTV interviju ar Induli Bērziņu, kurÅ” NATO pārstāv Latviju, un viņŔ vismaz divas reizes atkārtoja to paÅ”u. Sakot, ja kādam rastos risinājums SÄ«rijas kara izbeigÅ”anai, tam vajadzētu tÅ«lÄ«t pat pieŔķirt Nobela Miera prēmiju.

Te nu mēs esam. 17. oktobrÄ« bija oficiāls Eiropas SavienÄ«bas paziņojums, ka ā€œES pauž saÅ”utumu par situāciju SÄ«rijā, kas turpina pasliktināties. PieaugoŔā vardarbÄ«ba Alepo rada nepieredzētas un nepieņemamas cieÅ”anas tÅ«kstoÅ”iem tās iedzÄ«votāju. KopÅ” režīms un tā sabiedrotie, jo Ä«paÅ”i Krievija, ir sākuÅ”i ofensÄ«vu, Alepo austrumu daļas bombardÄ“Å”anas no gaisa intensitāte un mērogs ir acÄ«mredzami nesamērÄ«gs, un tÄ«Å”i uzbrukumi slimnÄ«cām, medicÄ«niskajam personālam, skolām un ļoti svarÄ«gai infrastruktÅ«rai, kā arÄ« tvertņveida bumbu, kaseÅ”u bumbu un Ä·Ä«misko ieroču izmantoÅ”ana katastrofāli saasina konfliktu, un tie ir radÄ«juÅ”i vēl plaŔāka mēroga civiliedzÄ«votāju upurus, tostarp starp sievietēm un bērniem, un tos var pielÄ«dzināt kara noziegumiem.

Galvenā atbildÄ«ba par SÄ«rijas iedzÄ«votāju aizsardzÄ«bu ir SÄ«rijas režīmam. Tāpēc ES stingri nosoda režīma un tā sabiedroto pārmērÄ«gos un nesamērÄ«gos uzbrukumus. ā€¦ ES pauž nožēlu par Krievijas 8.Ā oktobrÄ« pausto veto ANO DroŔības padomes rezolÅ«cijai, kuras lÄ«dzautori ir visas ES dalÄ«bvalstis un kuras mērÄ·is ir atjaunot karadarbÄ«bas pārtraukÅ”anu un ļaut humānās palÄ«dzÄ«bas sniedzējiem piekļūt Alepo.ā€

Cilvēki turpina mirt, un Alepo austrumu daļa pārvērÅ”as pilnÄ«gos pelnos.

Man arÄ« nav atbildes. Es zinu, ka daudzi ā€“ gan organizācijas, gan brÄ«vprātÄ«gie, gan paÅ”i SÄ«rijas cilvēki ā€“ dara visu, lai palÄ«dzētu. Zinu, ka lÄ«dz mums nenonāk lielākā daļa Å”o stāstu par brÄ«niŔķīgajiem, drosmÄ«gajiem un paÅ”aizliedzÄ«gajiem.

Man ir tikai draugi RÄ«gā, kuri tagad dzÄ«vo mierā un droŔībā, bet viņu radinieki ir joprojām Alepo. Katru reizi, kad tiekamies, es domāju par viņu tuviniekiem un agrāk tik skaisto pilsētu. Ja tas viss tagad notiktu RÄ«gā!? Bumbas, un nav vairs Teikas. Bumbas, un nav vairs Juglasā€¦ un tās cilvēku.

VarbÅ«t, ka manas sajÅ«tas izsauks kādu reakciju vai pārdomas arÄ« no jÅ«su puses. Protams, es ticu lÅ«gÅ”anu spēkam, un cerÄ«ba arÄ« man nav zudusi, bet es ticu, ka ir jāpretojas netaisnÄ«bai. Un man liekas, ka mēs, globālie kaimiņi, esam pievÄ«luÅ”i SÄ«rijas cilvēkus.

Å odien es gribu vienkārÅ”i pateikt to, ko latvieÅ”u valodā nevar pateikt ar vienu vārdu, kā to var angļu valodāā€¦ I am so sorry, Aleppo. Man ir tik ļoti žēl, Alepo, ka Ŕī netaisnÄ«ba turpinās.

 

 

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes…

I miss her. Today, October 8, is her birthday and I miss going to her home, having a nice home cooked meal, watching some silly TV programs, talking about anything and everything, watching her laugh so easily… so many ordinary things that she made special.

My mom passed away a few years ago. Today she would have turned 67 and we celebrate her life. Without her physical presence but not without her love and legacy. I think about her very often and I know that her imprint is all over my life. I am who I am because she was.

Apostle Paul wrote one of the most beautiful passages about love. “Love is patient, love is kind…” My mom was both of these things. It just came to her naturally. She was even kind in my teenage years when my “normal” state was to be mean, sarcastic and arrogant. I have no idea how she did it.

Love always protects… Mom was a very petite woman but at moments she seemed larger than life. I remember her getting so mad at an older man who was threatening to spank me and my brother. Actually we had gotten ourselves in trouble because we had climbed over a tall fence to steal some flowers from his flower-bed.Ā  We got caught and the old man was so angry. Then our mom leaned outside the window, yelled at the guy and threatened to come downstairs. I remember watching in amazement how this tall, big guy became so meek and changed his tone and even gave us some candy.

Love always trusts… Even when I was not trustworthy. Even when I lied and cheated. Even when things were going hard for my other siblings and there were many reasons for discouragement and disappointment. Something we always felt, never doubted and knew deep inside was that our mom trusts us. Trusts us to make good decisions, trusts us to have adventures and to explore, trusts us to grow up and live well.

“peaceroads” is a big tribute to her life. My mom was a peacemaker. Of course, she was not perfect and she made many mistakes in her relationships. Still, she showed me how to acknowledge the truth, how to repent and apologize, how to reach out and how to hope for reconciliation.

Love always hopes…

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Until we meet again (photos from personal archive)

 

 

Lest we forget…

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” (Edmund Burke)

Beautiful October day and I am enjoying my morning coffee. Checking the news, Facebook, e-mails… thinking about something fun to do later in the day.

I was planning to write my weekly blog about something fun, too. I thought to myself – enough of these serious topics and challenges and problems and wars and suffering. Let us look at the blue sky, at the changing colours, at the birds and flowers and beautiful people! I know some amazing people who inspire, encourage and teach me the better ways. Or I could write about the incredible historic peace deal just made in Colombia which some years ago seemed impossible.

I cannot even turn on the TV because the destruction in Syria upsets too much. What is the point to know and to see how many people were killed today and how many homes were destroyed if I cannot stop those planes, drones, bombs and guns from my comfortable living room? Years later people will make movies and documentaries and write history books but I am part of the generation that made this history. What kind of history am I making? What can I change or impact or avert?

So, you see… I cannot get away from this serious stuff. What sparked it today was reading about the 75th commemoration of Babi Yar massacre. Babi Yar is a ravine in the Ukrainian capital Kiev and a site of massacres carried out by German forces and local collaborators. The most notorious and the best documented of these massacres took place from 29ā€“30 September 1941, wherein 33,771 Jews were killed.

The fall is the time of the year when many of these WWII massacres took place in Central and Eastern Europe. I have visited some of these sites in Latvia. September, October, November, December… you could go from one commemoration to another. Too many to count and too many to visit.

There are many things these killing places have in common. Like the fact that the sites are either in the city or right on the outskirts. Usually in a wooded area or by the sea or in some ravine. The execution squads were looking at the landscape and choosing areas with natural ditches. How practical! Less digging and something to obstruct the view.

We, Latvians, love our woods but I look at these old trees in Biķernieki forest in Rīga or the dunes of Sķēde in Liepāja and I grieve even for them. Now I look with very different eyes. There was a time when I was not interested because of bad memories from my childhood. Growing up in the USSR, we had to participate in so many annual commemorations of WWII and hear so much propaganda that you became immune to it. Also, the facts of history and how they might apply to me today became meaningless because they were manipulated by those in power.

Therefore it is hard for some to understand why are we still so “obsessed” with WWII history. Time to move on, isn’t it? Time to look to future and not to the past? I agree with both but I also think that it is time to properly grieve for things that we were not allowed to know or to grieve over.

I look at the countless mass graves in BiÄ·ernieki forest (the headline photo… I really never knew how massive this site was) and I think to myself – these graves are no different from the ones on Rwanda or Bosnia or Iraq or other places. And how many new graves are dug today in some place that flashes across my TV screen?

“Lest we forget” also means “we should remember”…

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The dunes of Šķēde, Liepāja (photos form personal archive)