Category Archives: Zen

We the Jury Find the Defendant…

After spending a week and a half on jury duty, in the same courthouse as 2 years ago,
a renewed confidence comforts that when an alleged crime comes to trial,
justice is possible, at least in my community. May it be so, someday, across our lands.
Therefore I’m re-posting this piece from a couple of years ago, below 🙂

The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes. ~ Wm Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

blind justice ~ nelson

blind justice ~ d nelson

The Judge states that jury duty is our civic obligation & should be served with pride. That she is there as a judge of the law. That charges are on paper, but not yet proven. The prosecution is required to demonstrate the burden of proof, beyond reasonable doubt. That we sworn-in jurors are to be judges of the facts, the facts based on testimony & evidence presented during the trial. That the accused is to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. He is being charged with forgery & second degree burglary, both, felony offenses. A digital beeping is heard in the courtroom. Then a digital voice stating, “low battery, low battery.” It is the radio collar placed upon the defendant’s ankle. The court is recessed for this technical interruption. Hereafter, the names have been changed to protect those involved.

jury-room

jury-room

Direct Evidence:
Mr. Accused Citizen, hereafter referred as MAC, entered on the Bank on Sept 1st and handed a check to be cashed made out to him for $1609 along with his ID to the teller. Upon looking at the check and thinking it may have been altered, she took it to her supervisor for approval. The supervisor also thought the amount looked altered, and the written payee name looked suspicious. She came out and told MAC it would take a few minutes to process. Supervisor looked up the phone number & called the customer of whose check was presented. Customer, an older woman, confirmed that the amount and name were not correct and she would come to the bank to confirm. She had made the check out for $69 to the water company, placed it in the mailbox to be picked up. The next day she notice her mail missing before the mail carrier arrived. The police were then called to the bank. When the supervisor came out MAC had fled the bank, leaving the check & his ID behind. After the police arrived the supervisor received a phone call by a younger woman claiming to be the customer; she says it’s ok to cash the check. Upon being asked by the supervisor her date of birth the phone is hung up. This is reported to the police. The bank teller, supervisor & customer testify as eye witnesses to these events.

jury badge

jury badge

Circumstantial Evidence:
Images from Bank’s surveillance camera shows MAC at the teller’s window. There’s the check which was altered; MAC’s first & last name are written around the water companies name. The amount is changed by adding numbers & words, from $69 to $1609. Displayed with the overhead projector, this looks like it was changed by a child.

The officer testifies that she found MAC walking down the street a week after the crime. He approached her and asks if she’s looking for him because of his ID being left in the bank. She reads him his rights, informing him that he is under arrest. She then asks for him to write down his name, the date and a few other words. He gives her the handwriting sample. He tells her the check was being cashed for an acquaintance who made the check out to him. Says he knows he did something stupid. He’s brought to jail and held for a couple of months until a hearing occurs and he is granted bail. At initial hearing the officer testifies that MAC told her that he saw acquaintance writing on & altering the check. This confession is not in her initial or follow-up written reports.

courthouse, upstairs jury room

courthouse, upstairs jury room

Walking peacefully upstairs with others to the jury deliberation room, smilecalm breathes deeply to relax inner anxious energies. Other jurors start speaking out on their views. There’s a general sense that MAC did not “mastermind” this crime, but that evidence implicates MAC’s guilt in the lesser offense of possessing, with the intent to pass on to the Bank, an altered or counterfeit check, knowing that the document is counterfeit. Were this decided, the requirement for burglary would also be met. After many voices speak out loudly, smilecalm remarks that some of us are more quiet, less competitive and would benefit from an orderly and inclusive discussion. To that request there is agreement. Smilecalm asks if we can read the written definition of these charges, which is done. We start to recount from memory & notes what MAC testified on the stand. He seemed angry, he swore, he apologized. He told of his being home that day. That Jen, the acquaintance, came by looking for her closer friend who was not at home. She then asked MAC to help her out by cashing a check. Said she was given this check by her grandmother to whom she had sold a wood chipper. She could have the check made out to MAC, and she would give him $200. She didn’t want to cash it herself because she had a warrant out for her arrest. He said Jen had not caused him any problems in the past, so he was willing to do her a favor and make a little money for the effort. She left, returning about an hour later with the check. MAC has no car, so she drove them both to the Bank & went in together. MAC said that after the supervisor came out and said to wait, he noticed Jen had left. He figured at that moment something was wrong so he left to find her. He knew then it was stupid. He asked “why is my life so much trouble?”

court-directory

court-directory

Fellow jurors argued that while there was no evidence that he had stolen the check from the mailbox, or that he had done the altering of words and numbers on the check, he must have known this check was altered. Somehow jurors remembered MAC saying he saw Jen writing on the check. This would create doubt in MAC’s story. Smilecalm said he did not hear him say that, rather, only that was stated by the police officer. The court testimony record needed to be re-read to the jurors. After some time the court recorder arrived and read his words. He indicates she brought the check already filled and he looks at it briefly, sees his name, the amount and that it’s signed, all while on the way to the bank. He never sees Jen writing on it.

Those in the room confide that they would not cash a check for someone that they don’t know well, who states they can’t cash it because they have a warrant out for their arrest, and that they would look carefully at the check scrutinize it. Exhibit 2b is passed around the room. It is a court document that shows that Jen was convicted of check & credit card fraud & possession of an illegal fire arm in this same court one month ago. Expressing what is true in his heart, smilecalm shares about his time with others living in poverty & despair, in urban areas & Indian Reservations. How it is possible to do what MAC had done, without realizing the crime or consequences. That if MAC truly did believe Jen’s story; that a check from her grandmother for an item sold was made out to him to cash, to help her out of warrant’s eyes, to make a couple hundred bucks, then there was reasonable doubt that he committed the crimes, as defined. Other jurors shared their experience with down & out, so called low-life relatives & acquaintances. How low self esteem & unmet economic, social & emotional needs can give rise to ill-advised actions. The energy of empathy and wisdom spread throughout the room. There was no longer any certainly that MAC knew before going into the bank that this check was “not true”, and therefore intended to defraud. With with collective sense of harmony for the sake of justice, Smilecalm offered his gratitude to each of them as they prepared to leave.

enter fearlessly

enter fearlessly

Returning to the courtroom, the judge asked for the verdict. She glanced at the paper, then looked over the 3 pieces of paper, one for each charge, over again. Nodding affirmatively, she handed the papers to the clerk to read. We the Jury Find the Defendant not guilty of forgery, … not guilty of 2nd degree forgery & … not guilty of 2nd degree burglary. Everyone in the courtroom looked surprised, including several bailiffs awaiting, as if expecting this defendant to continue playing out the sad role of a throw away in this society. The judge thanked us for our service and dismissed us. Walking out, I smiled to the prosecutor, to the weary public defender, to MAC, to the women in the gallery weeping, perhaps a mother & sister. A fellow juror commented that he appreciated the compassion conveyed during the deliberations by smilecalm, who smiled humbly in return. May all involved in this dance of justice be well, May we all find fairness, compassion & mercy when our judgment day comes.

court wi-fi access code, with fingerprints :-)

court wi-fi access code, with fingerprints 🙂

“The fragrance always remains in the hand that gives the rose.” ~Hada Bejar

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

…And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring
us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. ~Matthew 6:11-13, the Bible

bread of life ~d nelson

bread of life ~d nelson

Despite retirement, the public health nutritionist within me
smiles to the Lord’s Prayer’s humble, redemptive words of gratitude.
Everyone needs suitable & stable sources of sustenance
whether it be from wheat, rice, other grains or plant-based foods.
Really try imaging how hard it is to be grateful and love
thy neighbors on an empty stomach.

bread of life 2 ~d nelson

bread of life 2 ~d nelson

For 10,000 years wheat was cultivated, stored, stone-milled and consumed.
The breads of old nourished western civilization.
In the industrial era, new technologies changed things.
Mechanical mills turned wheat into barren white flour.
Chemical and genetic technologies made it pest, drought and blight resistant.
Wheat was modified to be easier to harvest, dramatically increasing yield per acre.
Genetics were also altered to increase gluten for better, fluffier baking properties.
In the past century science speeded bread mixing, kneading, rising and baking
times from 6 or more hours to about an hour.
Unfortunately our bodies have not adapted to the new products’
genetic changes as quickly as they’ve been introduced
and many of us have become intolerant to altered glutens
and breads; sadly, as breads nourished so many of our ancestors.
Breads made in slow-rising, homemade methods, such as sourdough
can be tolerated by some with gluten sensitivity.

sourdough starter ~d nelson

sourdough starter ~d nelson

“The point is that you can’t be too greedy.” ~Donald Trump

Everyone also needs bread, in the form of cash or other currency
to acquire needed shelter, provisions & medicine for themselves & their family.
May we actively cultivate our compassion to help others in these hard times.
If we still have bread to share, perhaps we can kindly offer a slice
to those in real need, regardless of race, gender, religion or ideology.
While national leaders are turning American Democracy into a Plutocracy
to further enrich fortunes of the most wealthy & military,
many of us will soon have no health care benefit, especially women,
many will be removed from affordable public & subsidized housing.
Immigrants & refugees without large sums of cash will be banned.
Retirees will soon find their pension funds looted
and potentially end up on the streets with increased masses
of homeless, refugees, mentally ill and dying.

bread of life 4~d nelson

bread of life 4~d nelson

There’s a rumor that Official State TV announced white is the acceptable preferred color
& male the acceptable preferred gender, just like the administration’s cabinet.
Christianity now seems the official religion of the USA, with Muslims unwelcome.
Dare I say these acts fail to exemplify acceptance, tolerance, or wisdom of non-discrimination.
Curious, I’ve asked church-attending friends to share lessons they live by
& was told of Jesus’ teachings to feed the poor and heal the sick.

bread of life 8~d nelson

bread of life 8~d nelson

Maybe an alternative fact, maybe not, but
it’s said the newly renamed White House Castle spokesperson
quipped, in a poor French accent, when asked
what will happen to the impoverished & elderly
who’ll become unable to acquire adequate bread of life
under these new austerity programs,
Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”—“Let them eat cake.”

bread of life 5 ~d nelson

bread of life 5 ~d nelson

During the last supper, Jesus Christ told his disciples: “This piece of bread is my flesh. Eat it.” That was a radical statement. He must have noticed that his twelve friends were not awake, and when he saw that he wanted to say something strong to wake them up, to help them live fully in the present moment. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Let Mavis Staple’s voice touch your heart with her performance of Stephen Foster’s 1854 song

Parable of a Particular Peacock

Particular Peacock ~d nelson

Particular Peacock ~d nelson

As long as can be remembered
from east stretching west,
Peacock’s rainbow presence
has auspiciously symbolized beauty
as well as joy, grace, & love.

peacock-1

There was hopeful exuberance
when GoldenBoy was born.
His mother’s aspiration to transmit
loving-kindness & compassion to him
was fulfilled for only a year until
her grave illness & untimely death.

peacock-6

In the sad confusion that followed,
GoldenBoy was abducted & taken
to dark, distant relatives
residing way down below.
Kept away from others,
he was placed before a mirror
that beckoned him not to turn
away from his glorious handsomeness.
“Keep looking, as you are the most
beautiful, important boy of all.”

peacock-4

Aggressively schooled in Objectivism-based lessons;
that selfishness & taking from others
while both dominating & humiliating them
is morally acceptable & the only rational good.
Believing that rules apply only to others
teen GoldenBoy craved all attention & power.

peacock-2

After years of searching high & low,
guided by ancestors up in heavenly abodes
his loving relatives dared enter the netherworld to find
& reclaim GoldenBoy for realizing his mother’s dream
of him being embrace by light & love.
Recognizing his learned self-centered, confrontational, ungrateful demeanor
as an expression of unremitting loneliness & protracted pain
his loved ones placed him in the care of wise Peacock Master.
He was given a mirror that only reflected
back into his own heart.

peacock-3

For the rest of GoldenBoy’s life he apprenticed at a shelter
taking care of others, listening with empathy to their stories
of happiness, despair, poverty, immigration, trauma, abuse & loss;
feeding them, dressing their wounds,
helping some get back upon their feet,
burying broken bodies of the fallen.

peacock-5

Shortly before his own passing,
Elders deemed GoldenBoy deserving
to dance in a rhythmic way
at the onset of shadowy clouds,
outspreading his tail
as esteemed peacocks always have,
bringing beauty & hope to those in need
beholding a living-colored rainbow
alighting a way for all in darkness.

Many things can be taken from us, but no one can ever steal our determination or our freedom.
No one can ever steal our practice. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Out with the Old, In with the Artichoke

in with the artichoke ~d nelson

in with the artichoke ~d nelson

While it’s been said that
an old dog cannot learn new tricks,
I say, “has anyone actually asked?”

in with the artichoke 2~d nelson

in with the artichoke 2~d nelson

Turns out that, when queried
14 year old Fang was quite articulate.
Given the right inspirational conditions
he was willing & able
to cultivate self empathy
then, do best for himself,
while considering what’s best for others.
Going from full-time meat shredding savage beast
to part-time mild-mannered plant-based eater.
Amazing!

A for artichoke, B for broccoli, C for carrot

A for artichoke, B for broccoli, C for carrot

Loving eyes & wagging tail convey
his grasp of beautiful endowments found
in all things consumed via mouth,
nose, eyes, ears & touch.
He now wishes to eat in such a way
that his compassion is kept alive
by reducing suffering of other living beings.


Well, if such an old dog can learn beneficial new tricks,
envision what each of us can do
to long-held habit energies
with empathy & love towards ourselves & others.

Just 3 deep, calm mindful breaths
can bring awareness of the miracle.
Fearlessly try this:  Breathe in, calm; Breathe out, smile. Repeat.
This year offers a bonus
gift of a Leap Second.
Enough time to awaken
that happy puppy, inside.
May your new year be in peace
as each moment leaps
into existence,
breath by breath.

Every morning, when we wake up, we have twenty-four brand-new hours to live. What a precious gift! We have the capacity to live in a way that these twenty-four hours will bring peace, joy, and happiness to ourselves and others. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Unlimited Free Shipping: Mindful Remembrance Drops

drops-2-4

drops of remembrance ~d nelson

A gift that keeps giving begins with a bell’s sound
awakening drops of yearning to be redeemed, actualized.
Breathe In, aware of what is going on within.
Breathe Out, aware of what is going on without.
Each remembrance, a drop of compassionate nectar.

persimmon drops

persimmon drops

With the Energy of Mindfulness
conditions of happiness reveal themselves.
Like drops of golden sunshine through fog.
There is no need to fear any emotion
knowing that unpleasant feelings can be held,
comforted & patiently transformed into vibrant flowers.

drops of remembrance 3~d nelson

drops of remembrance 3~d nelson

Feeling better I hear seasonal jingle, jingles.
So how can I mindfully share my time & energy being of service
to others in need during this chilly holiday time?
Volunteering, perhaps to help older relatives with house/yard work.
They may need help with laundry or something-like plumbing
where I could assist after a little guidance from a YouTube video.
They may push-away at first, but I’ll keep smiling with heart open.

helping hands ~d nelson

helping hands ~d nelson

Remembering that everyone needs help, comfort of some kind,
I could, even, give this relief to neighbors I don’t know.
There are elders, or less-abled needing help replacing the batteries
on home smoke and CO2 alarms, or too-high light bulbs.
There is a gift giving program that needs volunteer
present wrappers that will even appreciate a bad wrapper, like me.
Perhaps I can help prepare & serve food or bring guitar,
voice & cheerful song to the senior center.
And the birdies outside would be most grateful
for some seeds and water that’s not frozen.

persimmon drops 3

persimmon drops 3

Mindfulness exposing present moments.
With breathing, smiling, calming & some food
most all of my needs are met. What happiness!
Mindfulness imparts remembrance.
Each breath, a bell of mindfulness, a drop of compassion.
Remembrance nurturing gratitude for conditions
which have given us life, talents, success’ and failures.
This energy can bring about a wisdom of non-discrimination.
Touching personal sufferings &
my ancestor’s great suffering through hard times
& even, barely surviving atrocities,
I must now have a moment of silence
remembering those who are victims, at this moment;
in Syria, Africa, Afghanistan, and many other locations.
Breathing in, cultivating peace in myself.
Breathing out, sending out drops of peace
& love for my neighbors and for the world.

drops of remembrance 2~d nelson

drops of remembrance 2~d nelson

Uncertainties True Certainties

If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things. ~Rene Descartes

sky un-certainty ~d nelson

Between Earth & Sky
truth’s uncertainty abides.
Experienced with open 3rd eyes,
hearts & minds beholden
of certain inter-being.

Now an alleged post-truth, emotional-disconnect age ?
Well, integrity doesn’t allow sending fake-news!
Were I a tweeter my heart’s messages would be,
have courage dear sisters & brothers
as a frigid moon shines brightly
against light years of darkness.

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. ~Buddha

If I could tweet a song it would be:
Light one candle  (click here to listen to Peter, Paul & Mary’s performance)
Don’t let the light go out!  (click here to listen to Peter, Paul & Mary’s performance)
It’s lasted for so many years!
Don’t let the light go out!
Let it shine through our hope and our tears.
~song by Peter Yarrow

un-certainty-1

clouded un-certainty

Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.~ Rabindranath Tagore

un-certainty-2

natural un-certainty

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy ~Francis of Assisi

Picturing a Car-Free, E-Bike Adventure

Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride. ~John F. Kennedy, U.S. president

pedaling-towards-eternity

How fortunate not routinely having
to travel any faster than I can pedal;
enjoying day after car-free days.
But I’ll share a little secret
about how I’ve compensated for aches,
fatigue & other blessings of another birthday:
an electric bike!

Wonderful still being able to cycle
without fear of hills or going away far
then not being able to come back easily.
Pollution-free, non-sweaty
commuting, shopping, errands
& super fun, heart pumping cardio.
Even in times like these it’s still OK
to be happy & have fun, is it not?

E-bicycles offer cost savings over a car (or second car);
as no licensing or insurance required.
There are cargo versions available, perfect
for hauling the kids or trips to the lumber yard.
Still feeling pedal-powered,
waving & ringing the bell as I go by,
connection with community.

Dear Friends, y’all are invited
to enjoy a car-free day at least once a week,
perhaps on a traditional bike, ready-made electric bike
or with a do-it-yourself bike motor kit on your old bike.
Did you know that every mile a car is driven
releases one pound of greenhouse gas
into the atmosphere increasing global warming?
Resilience is up to us, together, as a political
solution to arctic melting seems improbable.

A whole lot of info available at https://electricbikereview.com/

When you realize the Earth is so much more than simply your environment, you’ll be moved to protect her in the same way as you would yourself. This is the kind of awareness, the kind of awakening that we need, and the future of the planet depends on whether we’re able to cultivate this insight or not. The Earth and all species on Earth are in real danger. Yet if we can develop a deep relationship with the Earth, we’ll have enough love, strength and awakening in order to change our way of life. ~Thich Nhat Hanh