My brother Loren is in Tallahassee, Florida, but he is also here in Starobilsk, Ukraine with me.
That's because we are soulmates. We share a way of looking at the world and a way of being that transcend space and time. Although eight years apart, we are almost twins, as my poet friend Anton would put it.
Loren is having a birthday this week, 12 November, so I think of him a lot at this time of year. He's a Scorpio with compassion.
I also take him places with me. When he drove me to the airport to see me off on my Peace Corps adventure at the end of March, I took his spirit with me. When I discovered Chernigov during my training, he was there, encouraging me to forge ahead. When I got to Starobilsk, he got here too. When I broke my arm, he was with me in Kiev. Whenever I see the moon, I see Loren, because I know he is looking at it too, and glorying in the fullness of being and the grandeur of the universe.
As I get to know Ukraine, he is by my side, giving me the ancient history of this place. He reminds me that this geograhy and culture go back thousands of years, to the time Jean Auel describes in her best-selling novel (and Loren's favorite book), Clan of the Cave Bear. Olga is the name of that book's heroine. Other names of people I write about in my blog, Anton, Natasha, Lara, Anna, are characters in his favorite novels by Tolstoy.
Loren is one with the goddess who watches over the earth with compassion and goodness, the female counterpart of God who teaches us to live in peace, to take care of her planet, to see the oneness and unity of people and the earth. This spirituality informs Loren's environmental work, his work for the poor and voiceless, his belief in participatory democracy, in changing society for the better from the bottom up.
"All things are connected," Chief Seneca said, exemplifying the ancient wisdom of the Goddess and the native peoples of America. So, while I am in Ukraine and Loren is in Florida, we are really sharing the same place, mother earth.
Now Loren is writing his memoirs about growing up with Asperger's Syndrome. My brother is a fierce warrior who fought a beast that held him back all his life. He never gave up. He kept fighting, even when he wasn't sure what he was fighting against.
There was no name for it when he was a child in the 1950s or a young man in his 30s and 40s. Loren searched for himself without a guide, on his own, with grit and determination. Only our mother took Loren under her wing and gave him hope. His story is one of struggle and achievement against the odds. He has come to understand himself and the path he was put on at birth. It hasn't been easy.
I am proud of my brother for making his life one of purpose and meaning. He is my hero as well as my soulmate. So Happy Birthday, Loren. Good luck with your book. You're in my heart and soul. Your big sister, Fran