A Walk to Remember
On April 16, 2007, Jeana Moore’s granddaughter, Jada Bascom, was born with acute myeloid leukemia. Today she is alive and thriving, thanks to a bone marrow transplant and a community of loving medical providers. As an expression of gratitude to all those who helped her granddaughter, Moore decided to walk from Seattle to Los Angeles to New York, enrolling people in the National Marrow Donor Program’s “Be The Match Registry” along the way.
During her journey Moore has reconnected with many dharma friends from her days as a Zen student in Los Angeles and New York. “My walk is a practice,” she says, “walking into notknowing everyday.” At the time of publication, Moore was crossing the Appalachian Mountains en route to Washington, DC.
While Moore’s tour was motivated by a desire to impact the future, stops along the way have stirred her to reflect on the past—she is retracing her steps even as she walks forward. In May of this year, while traveling through the desert on the road to Phoenix, Moore recalled childhood memories of her father and sitting with her sisters while he died:
This week I have been walking through the desert surrounded by beautiful wildflowers. My father loved the desert in the spring. When I was a child he would load up all six children and take us out into the desert to share his love of the desert wildflowers. These were always days for exploring—thorns in my fingers, searching for horned-toad lizards, feeling the warmth of the earth beneath my feet, and, of course, pointing out the innumerable buds and blossoms to my dad.
My dad has been ever present as I’ve walked through the desert on my way to Phoenix. My father was born in Nagasaki, Japan, to missionary parents. His first language was Japanese, spoken with the Japanese nanny who cared for him. Japan was his home until he and his family fled, just as the United States was declaring war on Japan. He used to tease me about my grandparents working so hard to convert the Japanese to Christianity while their granddaughter became a Buddhist in their own backyard.
My father died on May 6, 2005. My sisters, Mona and Melinda, and I traveled to Cottonwood, Arizona, to be with my father as he lay dying. We made a decision early that we wanted one of us to be with him when he died. We set up a schedule taking shifts for sleeping and sitting with Dad in his hospice room at the nursing home. Our journey at my father’s bedside would continue for 11 days. My niece from Phoenix came to be with us, bringing along her baby, Mona Lynn. There was a simple beauty in having the four generations together—The Messiah playing softly from the DVD player next to Dad’s bed, Mona Lynn cooing and smiling, the sisters sharing memories of our time with our father, always one of us by his side speaking gently with him, stroking his head or holding his hand.
—From Jeana Moore’s blog entry “Reflections on My Father” (May 4, 2010)
In January 2011, Moore is scheduled to reach New York City, where her granddaughter Jada will meet her bone marrow donor, Torsten Huber, for the first time.
Visit Moore’s website to sign up to become a bone marrow donor, give blood, donate to the Jada Bascom Foundation, make a pledge per mile walked, or, if you’re feeling inspired, join Moore on her journey.
TO HELP: www.stepstomarrow.com
The Tibetan Woman’s Association (TWA) was founded in 1959, following a demonstration in which thousands of Tibetan women gathered in Lhasa to protest the Chinese occupation of Tibet. Though the protest was peaceful, many of the women were arrested and tortured by the Chinese military, sparking the creation of TWA as an advocate for Tibetan women’s rights. In the decades that followed the Tibetan Women’s Uprising Day, TWA has grown to include more than 15,000 members and over 50 branches worldwide. Today, TWA cites their main objective as raising public awareness of the abuses faced by Tibetan women in Chinese-occupied Tibet, including rape, forced sterilizations and abortions, and limitations placed on religious, political, and social freedoms. Outside of Tibet, TWA seeks the social, political, and economic empowerment of Tibetan women living in exile and works to preserve and promote Tibetan religious and cultural traditions by meeting the needs of Tibetan women. As part of that effort, TWA created the Tibetan Women Leadership Program (TWLP), the Tibetan Nuns Leadership Program (TNLP), and Stitches of Tibet (SOT), an organization that trains young women in vocational skills and offers English, math, and health classes so that participants can eventually become economically self-sufficient. In the future, TWA hopes to build a complex that can serve as a women’s community center, on a plot of land the organization purchased in Dharamsala, India.
TO HELP: www.tibetanwomen.org
Tong-Len is an organization that helps displaced communities in Himalchal Pradesh in northern India, primarily through various education and public health projects. Education projects include sponsoring children who wish to enter formal schooling, providing a “primary tent school” for those for whom formal schooling is not yet an option, and offering community education programs to address health and environmental issues. In addition to these community health programs, a Rotary Matching Grant allowed Tong- Len to purchase a vehicle for a mobile health clinic that provides necessary medical services to 3,000 people. Founded in 2002 by Tharchin Gyaltsen, a Tibetan monk, and a group of Tibetan refugees in the Kangra Valley, Tong-Len is uniquely qualified to perform these duties because it is operated by individuals who carry a deep understanding of what “displaced” means. Tong-Len is Tibetan for “give-take,” and it refers to the Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice in which one visualizes taking the suffering of others with the in-breath and giving love and compassion with the out-breath. The charity organization Tong-Len serves as a practical expression of this concept.
TO HELP: www.tong-len.org
The Meditation Initiative (TMI) is a nonprofit based in San Diego, California that provides free meditation classes, training, and community service outreach for San Diego children, adults, and seniors. The aim is to prevent stress and anxiety, improve focus and attention, and share tools for anger management, while improving overall mental and emotional health and well-being.
TMI offers free meditation classes in public schools, colleges, hospitals, prisons, senior centers, veterans facilities, sober-living homes, and group homes for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, as well as classes for HIV and diabetes patients. The organization also offers corporate workshops that introduce meditation to encourage healthy ways of managing stress and anxiety. The group is seeking land for a rural retreat meditation center in the San Diego area that will focus on meditation, ecological mindfulness, and organic gardening.
TO HELP: www.meditationinitiative.org