An Angel Among Us

pexels-newborn baby 2

Photo Courtesy Pexels

When I first moved to Calimesa in Southern California, I noted that the Garden of Angels in Desert Lawn Cemetery was located in my city.  I had read about the cemetery in 1996 when a wonderful lady, Debi Faris, living in Yucaipa (next to Calimesa) heard a newscast about a newborn baby found dead in a duffle bag that had been tossed out on the San Pedro freeway.

Garden of Angels Cemetery at Desert Lawn in Calimesa

Faris explained how that newscast impacted her life. “He was placed, I assume by his mother, in a pink duffle bag with the word ‘lifesaver’ written on the outside of it. This little child would change the course of my life,” she said.

“When I heard the news report about that newborn baby in the duffel bag … it touched me so deeply that I could not turn and walk away. He was a human being, so innocent and vulnerable. It tore at my heart that his mother could not see the ‘gift’ she had been given.”

Thus Faris began her life-long quest to make sure there would be a place to bury these abandoned or murdered children and she made education of teens and young people her priorities.

Soon thereafter, she contacted Senator Jim Brulte to get the laws of child abandonment changed. The abandonment law passed after some time and in 2001 the Safe Surrender for Newborns law became part of her legacy.

“On August 26, 1996, we buried the first three children in the Garden of Angels. Two abandoned newborn baby boys and a little girl about the age of two, apparently murdered, who had been found floating in a river. I gave them their names, Matthew, Nathan and Dora. Their names all have the same meaning … a gift from God.” She said her dad made wooden crosses and sent them to her from Oregon.

The names were important she said because, “These children had a name now … they would not be just a Coroner’s number.”

There is even one adult buried in the Garden. Grandpa John’s stone cross sits on the edge of the garden amidst the forest of monuments dedicated to the tiny children.

In 2002, Faris had received a call from the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office asking if she knew anyone or group who would take the body of an adult and give him a proper burial. “I said I didn’t and asked why,” she said.

The person on the other line proceeded to tell Faris they had a man who had died and as they were trying to find family to notify them of his death, they learned that as a baby, he had been found discarded in a trash can in July 1936.

The man, legally named John Doe Jr., had suffered brain damage, possibly from being thrown into the trash can and had apparently lived his life in institutions, she said.

“I told them I would take him,” she smiled. “Now he’s surrounded by all these children and he won’t ever be alone again.”

Forsale

Debi Faris in the Garden of Angels

I attended several of the funerals at the Garden of Angels since I lived in the general area then.  The first one I attended was for three babies, all in tiny caskets, and all wrapped in receiving blankets.  Two of the caskets were no bigger than large boxes that might contain boots.

Debi Faris would drive from Yucaipa, CA all the way to Los Angeles, where the bodies of babies would be kept, along with every other person who was unidentified and/or unclaimed, and all the bodies would be cremated as one might burn trash.  She would get the babies, clean their tiny bodies and wrap them in clean receiving blankets.  Then she would sit with the babies for a short time, rocking them in a sort of loving action that a mother would make.  And then she would bring them back to Calimesa, CA, to the Garden of Angels, and they would be put in their tiny caskets for the funerals.

The funerals I attended back around 2014 were beautiful ways to acknowledge a life that otherwise might have passed into the netherworld without their lives having been acknowledged.  All the babies are given a first and sometimes middle name.  They cannot get a last name because of legal issues, I imagine lest someone comes to claim any of them, which has never happened.  There is singing.  The song I heard was “I’ll Fly Away Home,” and it was truly touching.  I know I shed some tears.  When the little caskets are taken outside to the burial site, people stand over them and pray for them and white doves are released.  They circle higher and higher in the sky over the site, and eventually begin to fly back home.  At every holiday, the little graves are decorated with flowers and other gifts brought by different people who visit the cemetery.  The Garden of Angels is a special part of the cemetery all of its own right near the front of the mortuary.  There is a little pool nearby and birds and ducks come there frequently to visit the pond.  It is a beautiful ceremony, and though sad, I think the fact that the babies are honored instead of being thrown away in trash cans, dumped in rivers, left out in the desert, or otherwise thrown away as a life without any value other than perhaps a 20-minute sex act (if that).

I have always been so touched by what this one woman did, a woman who was not wealthy, and who sold her family car to have money to bury the first three babies, that I too decided to do something as well in their honor.  So I began collecting blue and white quilt blocks that various women have donated.  I will ultimately bind each block individually and put them together horizontally so that the quilt can continue to grow.  I had made a list of the babies and their names, and some people have chosen to embroider a child’s name on a block.  I think when someone is talking to the young people at the high schools, it is a good visual aid to help them understand the reality of the issue.

Prior to the passing of the Safe Surrender for Newborns law, it is estimated that there were some 500 babies abandoned and/or murdered outright.  Today as it stands, there are more than 100 babies in the cemetery. I have not been there lately so I am not sure of the exact number, but one baby is too many. For information on California’s Safely Surrendered Baby Law, go to babysafe.ca.gov.

Footnote:  Debi Faris, after working so hard on this issue, actually won the lottery and her payout out of $26,000,000,000 was $9,000,000,000.  She contributed some of it to the nonprofit organization that I believe now exists.

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More of Who Will I Be Today

lady in funky clothes like Anne

I am not a fashion maven.  I do not care for new clothes.  New clothes are tabula raza; they have no life story, and for me, that is the most important thing I look for in life.  Everything has a story, and if it doesn’t I will make one, but how can you make a story from something that is brand new and has not lived anywhere except on a clothes rack.

I have always loved thrift stores, garage sales, and swap meets of all kinds. There is such a sense of adventure, and what I like especially is that when you go to these types of places, all racial, all political, religious or spiritual or cultural differences seem to disappear.  Everyone seems to blend into a wonderful mixture that looks like the clothes in this photo; there is a little of everything.  And people sit down at the tables to eat their preferred foods – sometimes things from their own cultures, and sometimes people are just plain adventuresome with what they eat.  But the key thing is that they all sit together at the tables, talking often in their native languages, and people doing their best to communicate with others who don’t speak the languages, everyone laughing at the antics of children, or pointing excitedly to a booth that might have extra good items.

And there we all are.  One could not paint a more beautiful and sacred photo I believe.  there is such a great feeling at the end of our time at these magical events.  People are quick to show you their “treasures,” be they the find of heirloom tomatoes, or perhaps a new variety of plant, or a huge watermelon that is going to bring a treat to a big family and friends.

I often use my background in archaeology/anthropology to do a study of a thrift store if I go into a new area, and I can tell so much about the people who live in the area by their “living” artifacts with the stories I mentioned.  I can tell if they are primarily seniors who live in the area, business people, or if they are a poor area or an ultra-wealthy one, and I can tell about the children too by the clothes, as well as the cultures represented.  And the books and other living artifacts are great clues too.  This is such a fun way to spend time discovering history’s mysteries!

I will never be “old” as long as I can find things to have fun with such as these things.  I will always be a hippy sort of person in the way I love to think of other people and our society as a whole.  The way I choose to dress is sort of a statement about all of that, and I am glad to be who I am because, as the photo says, I have never been this age before, and in one second, I will never be this age again.

 

 

 

 

 

The Orange Praying Mantis Who Came to Visit

Reblogged in part from http://www.Sunsigns.org

About 4 days ago, I went out on my porch, and there was the most gorgeous orange praying mantis on the gate above the stairs.  I couldn’t stop looking at her (I was certain it was a female from the body shape and size).  I have always had a curiosity and love for almost every insect that comes to our garden or outside areas.  Last winter I rescued a hive of bees disguised as a birdhouse.  Some fellows had an ad in Craigslist asking someone to come and save the bees roosting in their birdhouse by their front door before they had to do something drastic to protect themselves.

I had joyfully read about bee keeping over the years, and had a good idea of at least some things I needed to do, so I called the gentlemen and told them I would be there and get the bees.  I waited until nightfall, for it makes sense as they are not buzzing around outside at night, so would be calm until I got them home.  My “beekeeping outfit consisted of a jeans shirt with long sleeves, jeans, boots, gloves and a hat with a “veil” I made from some netting I had.

Off I went to bring the bees’ location, and when I got there it was much larger than I anticipated, but I was not about to lose them.  I put a big plastic bag over the birdhouse and put it on the seat next to me to drive home.  When I got home safely with them, I uncovered the hive and put it on a stand I had in the back yard.  I was so happy.  I discovered that the reason that the beehive was so large was that it was made from a real beehive with slats in it, etc.  In the morning when I checked the bees, they were busy looking around for flowers, etc.  It was particularly hot that summer, so I needed to give them sugar water.  I went inside and prepared it in a low level long container.  I was used to making sugar water for the hummingbirds, so I measured it pretty much the same.  I brought it back to them, and did not get a single sting.  They knew I was feeding them and I did not represent any kind of threat.

So I kept my bees as long as I could, but I DO live in a mobile home park, so ultimately had to take them to another rescue place, which turned out to be two blocks from where I got them originally.  So I was sad for awhile, but it seems that every year, some insect or insects that become my “science project” come to visit or stay for awhile.

If you know anything about the praying mantis, it will come as no shock that this insect is the paramount spiritual symbol of stillness and patience. She stayed and stayed, and all day I returned to look for her and she was still there, so I named her Ginger. Even if she does not stay long, she has brought a wonderful message to me. I made sure she had something to eat the first day, catching a couple of bugs for her in a way that they were not dead when I put them near her one by one.  I saw her catch and eat the first one, and I am sure she ate the other one too.

The praying mantis takes its time in all that it does. It takes care to pay diligent attention to its surroundings, and moving through life at its own pace. It demonstrates the ultimate power of stillness. It serves as a reminder for humans to slow down in our chaotic, fast-paced lives.

The praying mantis animal totem also teaches us how to still our bodies and go within our own mind. By doing this, we can connect with ourselves, drawing up greater physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual power. This stillness and concentration is a form of meditation, a practice that the mantis places much importance in.

Ginger - Orange Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis Insect Associated Traits

Patience, Stability, Meditation, Peaceful, Quietness

Symbolic Meaning Of Praying Mantis

Wisdom emerges when we are still and quiet, sensing and feeling rather than thinking critically. It comes with experience, age, and being, rather than traditional schooling. It cannot be obtained through arrogance.

Accordingly, the praying mantis symbol chooses to present itself to individuals when they have allowed their busy schedules to overrun their intuition, silencing their internal voice and throwing their equilibrium out of balance. The praying mantis always comes to us when we are internally craving peace, quiet, and calm in our lives.

The praying mantis meaning has a variety of traits: temperance, quietness, awareness, calmness, clairvoyance, patience, mindfulness and innovation. These insects are well known for their pre-strike pose, which is a popular symbol of balance and patience in and of itself.

In fact, the Chinese honor the praying mantis for its elegant, mindful, and contemplative movements. By reminding ourselves to have patience with ourselves in our own movement, we, like the mantis, can grow in our wisdom. They remind us to have patience in acquiring the things we want and to remain balanced throughout the duration of the wait.

If a praying mantis strikes too soon, its prey gets away. Because of this, it has evolved to be patient: so patient, in fact, that it will not budge unless it is 100% positive that it is the correct thing to do. This acts as a direct message to us, reminding us to contemplate our movements just as carefully and precisely.

When our timing is off, we may generate an unnecessary (and unpleasant) struggle or blow an opportunity entirely. Through stillness, awareness, and balance, we can hear and recognize the perfect moment. We must listen to the voice that speaks to us with openness, not fear. If we have patience and wait before striking, the right moment will come, and we will succeed.

The praying mantis will become your animal totem once you have learned to take your time and live your life at a silent and reflective pace. You should make all choices with a sincere commitment to careful thought and contemplation.

By being mindful of this, you will enable yourself to know exactly where you are going and when you will get there. Calmness and serenity are crucial to living like the praying mantis.

But you should also be capable of being decisive and ready to take action when opportunities present themselves. For example, healers often cite the mantis as their inspiration when channeling their healing power.

The praying mantis symbolism might also creep into your subconscious while you sleep. To dream of the praying mantis means that your intuition is actively trying to guide you at this very moment. Perhaps you have overlooked the the signs and symbols in your conscious day time hours and now the messages are speaking to your restful mind.

All of the instincts and gut feelings you have been experiencing lately are attempting to tell you something about the situation you are currently in. Do not allow your judgement to be clouded, your concentration to be broken, or yourself to be distracted from the end goal.

Trust the feelings that you have, both when awake and in slumber, and act on them appropriately. If you listen to yourself truly and honestly, you will succeed.

www.Sunsigns.org

Footnote:  The night before last, the orange Praying Mantis went off the porch and onto one of my rose bushes out front.  I presumed she was hungry and looking for a meal.  Later when I went to look before going off to bed, she was nowhere to be found.  I can only assume that she has moved on.  I am sad that she left, but at the same time, I am very grateful for the timely message.  Thank you my friend, and you are always welcome back to my home and my heart!

Five Roses and How They Grew (or Not)

rose-blossom-bloom-red-rose-87469Photo courtesy Pixels.

I have five rose bushes in pots in my yard. It is interesting to watch the way they grow (or dont). These were rescue rose bushes – I got them in one of those very cheap waytoolateforbarerootroses sales and they were literally bare root – no sawdust or other wrapping to protect them.  It looked as though the grower simply plowed up their fields, threw the survivors into a box and brought them to the storeI looked carefully through all the ones that were available and picked the ones that had some signs of growing or trying to grow.

Watching the five rose bushes grow is a good analogy for life and how people choose to live itOf the five rose bushesdespite great care and lovewatering and fertilizerone of them didnt even try to make it and died within daysIt just plain gave upfor it had plenty of greenand it could have chosen to growbut for whatever reasonsit didnt even give it a tryI took it back and the store let me pick out another oneso againI brought the new one home and gave it the same treatment.

This one didnt look THAT promising – it had two spindly little greenishwhite twisted branches coming outbut somehow I felt good about itI wasnt wrong either because it took in all the waterthe fertilizerand everything it could get and it put out the largest leaves and healthy redgreen leavesand lots of them tooIt was really pumping to grow with everything it hasThe leaves and stems quickly reached up as if to catch every drop of available sunThis rose bush is not only was going to make itit was going to outpace all the other ones as if in a race to be the biggest and strongest.

One of the rose bushes had green on the trunks and it looked healthybut it is as though it hasnt made up its mind whether to grow or notIt just sat there with its green trunk but it hadnt even tried to put out any branches or leavesIt almost felt as though it was waiting for someone else to do its work.

Still another of the rose bushes was greenand it sort of sat there for awhileand then finally decided to growIt took a longer timemalingering day by dayseeming a little hopeful as it held onto its green for a long timebut then it finally just gave up without any little fight to survive.

The fourth rose bush tried toobut it was a such a timid little thingIt too had the greenish white branchesand it it put out little sweet leavesbut kept them close to the trunk as if needing to protect them from everythingIt grew slowlyas if not quite sure of each step it took like a baby that tries to take its first steps but has to hold onto the wall for security, not knowing how to trust its own self to make it .

The fifth rose was taller than the rest in its trunkbut it just put out one spindly branch and it had leavesbut only a couple and it grew so slowly that I often forgot to look at it to see how it is doing because my eyes were drawn to the most robust of all of them and how truly hard that one was trying.

I always think about these roses when I think about the challenges I hear that people are having in their lives and the ways they handle themI think about the ways they chose or chose not to go on and live fully no matter what the circumstances.

Like that robust rose bush with its huge leaves reaching out to grab everything it could to live fullyit was a trash rose to start out with as all of these werebut it was determined to go forward and it will make it in life and to be a rose that would cause people to admire it for trying so hardEven if this rose didnt get regular watering and fertilizer and a lot of good sunI have this feeling that it would be the kind of rose that would grow between cracks in pavementIt really wants to live and nothing will stop it as long as there is even just a little trunk and roots leftWhat kind of rose bush would you be in this life?