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Lions Roar : July 2016
Y BIRTH WAS NOT A cel- ebrated and magical event. My parents’ relationship had always been rocky and, sadly, it completely unraveled during my mother’s pregnancy with me. We lived in Bellflower, California, a low-income neighborhood between Long Beach and Compton, in a large concrete apartment building surrounded by chaos. Gangs were commonplace and I became used to the sounds of gunshots, sirens, and police helicopters. Even as a small child I felt a lot of love and compassion for my parents, and I recognized early on that they were them- selves survivors. My father left soon after I was born and my mother worked as much as she could for us. With state aid and food stamps, we just got by. I wasn’t allowed to play outside very often, so my earliest memories are of my sister and me jumping up and down on an old green sofa in our tiny living room. I can SPRING WASHAM is one of the founders of the East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, California, and a member of the teachers council of Spirit Rock Meditation Center. She is the author of the forthcoming A Fierce Heart: Finding Strength, Wisdom, and Courage in Any Moment (Parallax Press, Fall 2016). Paintings by ALMA THOMAS (1891–1978). In 1972, her work was featured in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s first solo show devoted to an African American woman artist. remember thinking at an early age, “Wow, this is going to be a very difficult life.” I understood even as a child that I was going to have to bloom in very muddy waters. ABOUT 2,600 YEARS AGO, an Indian prince named Siddhartha was born amid many favorable signs. His father, the king, Answering the Call to Awaken Like the Buddha, we all get our call to wake up. It often comes when life isn’t working and we may have to go a little crazy. Here’s how Buddhist teacher SPRING WASHAM answered her call. Spring Washam PHOTOBYBETHANIEHINES M LION’S ROAR | JULY 2016 47