A Thousand Cranes

DSC01393_2 I just finished folding a thousand origami cranes.

This tradition goes back to the end of World War II, when a young girl, who survived the atomic bomb our nation dropped on Hiroshima, set out to fold a thousand cranes as she prayed to recover from the effects of the bomb. She didn’t live long enough to complete the set, so her friends finished them and placed them at a Shinto shrine. Since then the idea of folding one thousand and leaving them as an offering some place significant has continued.

This is the fifth set of one thousand I’ve folded.

The act of folding is highly soul satisfying and very meditative. Kind of like quilting. I have always chosen a subject I’d focus on as I folded each crane. And when I finish each set, I’ve chosen a place to leave them that would be in harmony with my prayers as I was folding them.

Here’s what I’m talking about.

The first set of cranes I folded, I did as a thank you to the powers that be that I survived a hotel fire. I burned them in a memorial I did for my dad a year to the day after he died.

The second set of cranes I made as a gesture of gratitude for surviving skin cancer—I had a malignant melanoma removed. I left these cranes at the gates of a nuclear power plant on the coast of Connecticut. I had gone over from Long Island as part of a group protesting the plant. If there’s an accident or an attack on that plant, it will wipe out the people on eastern Long Island very quickly.

The third set of cranes I did to honor my sight and pray for ongoing vision. I sent these to Trinity Church on Wall Street in Manhattan after 9/11/01.

The fourth set of cranes I folded to honor my dogs – all of them really, but especially Tag, a toy poodle with a joyful heart, and Lauren’s large grey poodle, Vita, a wise and lovely soul. As well as the melodious Juney, tender Jamie Lee, earnest Pepper, eccentric Peekay, and smart Tucker. And the ‘old girl,” Lucy. They each were extraordinary beings and I  miss them and am grateful I knew each of them.

I left this set in Battery Park in lower Manhattan at a rally for equal marriage rights for us gays.

The set I’ve just finished, I did to honor Kiva, our sensitive beautiful blue poodle and Jess Jo, the last of “the littles”, the multiple small dogs I named above. Jesse helped bring Kiva up and adored being the senior girl at last, after 8 years of being the youngest of several. Kiva was a healer and brilliant. She died of bloat during our move to Colorado. She was 3 ½. Jesse missed Kiva and her old life deeply, and died of a broken heart a month after we got here. She was 12.

I will leave this set of cranes at the Matthew Shepard memorial in Cheyenne, Wyoming. However long it takes us to get there, we will now have something to honor him with when we are there.

Dogs have always accepted me for who I am. They never care that I’m gay. They never care that they have two moms and no dad. They support my activism by loving me and being thrilled every time they see me. For dogs, there is no judgment, just acceptance and gratitude for every meal they get.

Now we have two dogs, Luka, a labradoodle and seizure dog, and Button, a standard poodle we rescued from a friend who was dying, who is also incredibly good at healing.

Someday I imagine I will fold a thousand cranes to honor them. But I hope that’s well into the future.