Monday, December 20, 2004

My Contribution This Day

Today, I made Potato Leek soup. Two leeks, a large onion, chopped and sautéed in a splash of olive oil and a pat of butter until the aroma filled the room.

I added to the onions and leeks: one chopped carrot, a stalk of celery (also chopped), five diced potatoes and seven cups of vegetable broth and a teaspoon of salt, then brought the mixture to a boil and then let it simmer for 45 minutes. I think the simmering (patience) was the most important step. Just before serving, I added a teaspoon of ground black pepper and some fresh basil.

I served it with some crusty French bread and some Martinelli’s sparkling cider.

This is my contribution to Peace today: homemade potato leek soup. Delicious.

A Quote for Today

"...if by a liberal they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, their civil liberties.. if that is what they mean by a "liberal" then I am proud to be a liberal. "

--John F. Kennedy

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The Way of Peace

Who are the people we encounter who most change us for the better? Aren't we changed more by who people are than by what they do. There seems to be a quality of being required to pursue peace in our world.

Here is my thinking: to be a person of peace requires active engagement, but also a living spirit nourished and infused with life. While the action or engagement can often be initiated out of anger, a person will only transform structures when they act out of a deeper place, out of love or deeper sense of purpose. Such a great shift of human mind is required to abandon consumption, acquistion and our own individual contribution to war.

How do we discover peace within ourselves? It sems to me, the Way of Peace is far different from what we are taught in school or the actions we are taught are required to be in business, or even in successful organizing. Above all, it requires a pursuit of self-knowledge and an interior life. Without knowing what motivates us, we cannot stay peaceful in the face of that which affronts us.

One cannot confront shadow without the risk of falling into it.

Saturday, December 4, 2004

Upon Further Reflection....

It seems to me that we ALL voted our values... that's why we react at a visceral level to the prospect of another four years of this administration.

I, for one, find that my core values are being severely violated by this crowd.

Values like:
--Stewardship and protection of the natural world;
--Preserving the dignity and equality of all humans;
--A fair and open society;
--Civil liberties;
--An open and honest Government;
--Civility and collegiality in public conversation.

Some of the values are spiritual:
--each human reaching their full potential
--holding creation as sacred
--Compassion for the weakest in our society;
--Humility, particularly in foreign policy;

I believe that our current culture conflict is, at its heart, a values conflict.

The more I reflect on this, the more painful the prospect of the next four years of societal and environmental degradation. I need to go back to the Principles of Spiritual Activism again and again to maintain my center.

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Election is over, the struggle continues...

The world must be aghast and appalled: the administration that brought the world unprecedented environmental destruction, Abu Ghraib and unilateral preemptive war has just been annointed by the American people for another four years. May God forgive America

Was this election was stolen? We may never know. The fact that the exit polls match the vote EXCEPT in districts that have unverified electronic voting (where Bush came out with 5% more votes than expected) looks like fraud. No way to prove it, of course.

A bit of good news in this: GWB for the first time in his life is responsible for cleaning up his own mess.

As a mother of two draft-age children, I am sick over this. Once I get through the immediate shock, I will come up with a personal plan. For now, I will finish harvesting the walnuts.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Tonight: Red Moon

Tonight is the night! A full lunar eclipse.

Here are the details (credit to Yahoo News)
"The eclipse begins at shortly after 8 p.m. ET (5 PT), but the first hour or so won't be noticeable as the Moon becomes lightly shaded by Earth's outer shadow, called the penumbra. Things get real interesting at 9:14 p.m. ET (6:14 PT, when the Moon begins sliding into Earth's full shadow, or umbra.
A dark and growing scallop will then gradually envelop Earth's only natural satellite. Once in total shadow at 10:23 p.m. ET (7:23 PT), the Moon might turn a shade of deep red that frightened the ancients. No two eclipses are alike, however, and astronomers can't say for sure what color to expect, if any."

I am hoping for a clear sky here in Upper Lake to watch the event. It should be dark by 6:14pm. In any case, hopefully it will be televised on FOX World Series coverage. (Makes me laugh, I am not sure why.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Rain and more rain

As I look out over the orchard this morning, I see two small deer: a doe and a young buck. They almost dance through the orchard. These two creatures must enjoy the warm sunlight after a gruelling night of rain. I know that I do!

It rained all last night on an already wet walnut orchard. The nuts that litter the ground are now sinking into the mud. I picked up one 5 gallon bucket of walnuts yesterday evening and am planning on going out there again today while the sun is shining between thunderstorms. The thing is, many of the nuts are coated in mud, so it's not near as much fun gathering them as it was before the rains.

Walnut-man-Bob is supposed to arrive with a large machine and shake the trees today or tomorrow. Renee's co-worker, Mr. Escalante, has then arranged a crew to manually gather the nuts for us. He told us that the walnuts will mold if we don't get them picked up, which makes them almost worthless. The rains caught everyone by surprise. In my 45 years in California, I do not remember rains like this in October.

All three dogs, Molly, Tara and Spock, have learned to crack nuts and eat the nutmeats. They prefer to do this with walnuts they have brought into the house, I guess it's more comfortable enjoying one's walnut on the livingroom rug rather than on the moist ground outside. Who can blame them?

Monday, October 18, 2004

Big Questions, too much thinking

I sometimes find myself wondering: can the world be saved?

As I think about this and I realize that this is the wrong question! To ask it frames the question as one of outcome rather than process-- it's like asking if you can win at life by getting to the finish line first.

First off, in my view, the world will carry on, and life will carry on, with or without humans, even if we spew our toxic waste into every ecosystem and bring about mass extinction, destroying the most amazing gift of diversity and beauty and soul. Life will find a way. (just think of cockroaches--even irradiation can't seem to kill them).

There are two more immediate questions, really:
(1) will humans discover the creativity and soul to awaken from denial in time to be a part of the next Age on this planet? and
(2) does it really matter? i.e. why care when it all seems to be going bad anyway?

To touch on the second question first...

As I said before, I believe that our problems--all of them--are fundamentally spiritual ones. We have taken the internal struggle of the human being: the struggle of free will, and cast this epic struggle upon our world. Every day, we as individuals are faced with a choice: between wallowing in despair and creating hope, between succumbing to self-absorbtion and reaching out to broader community... between destroying and creating, between choosing life and choosing death. It would be easy to numb the pain, to give up and say, what does my little effort matter? So what if all I did was to eat cheetos and get drunk and watch day time soaps? What if I didn't choose to engage in conversation, to love and create beauty and allow the natural world to feed my soul, to embrace change and growth in myself, to pray? Would it matter?

Well... does it?

To that question, I ask this: when an alcoholic reforms his or her life, even late in the game, don't we all triumph just a little from that act of courage? Aren't we amazed at people who face seemingly insurmountable odds and give it their all, even if they are not going to "win?" Every time one person chooses to live out of the best of their human spirit (life) over the easier road, it seems that we are all better for it, even if one alcoholic doesn't cure all alcoholism, even if one charitable gift doesn't eradicate poverty. Somehow, that act of living creates the conditions for Spirit to thrive. It matters in the doing, not the outcome.... all this is evidence that for some reason, our little choices matter to the order of things.

A better question might be: Why does it matter?

That's a tougher one to think about. It seems to me that each person longs to be truly alive. We find life in the process of our being and experiencing and overcoming obstacles. When someone makes a choice to face fear and darkness, somehow our best selves emerge, and we are all graced... even in the telling of the story. How much greater the grace when the whole of humanity collectively chooses life over death?

As for the first question: Will humanity ultimately make it into the next phase of Earth's story?
I say: why not?

There are lessons for us in the history of earth: again and again, the creativity of life overcame challenges to life on this planet. At times, it appeared to be so bleak that life itself would cease. But yet here we are, in all our complexity, despite the challenges along the way. We love, we live and for some reason, our choices matter to the creative life within us.

Go figure.

Sunday, October 3, 2004

The Party's Over

I read a book this past week entitled: The Party's Over. this book is a well-researched treatise on the world's dependence on fossil fuels and the likely effect of a very near term change: reaching Peak Production. This book says that petroleum engineers, oil companies and governments all predicted that this event will take place sometime between 2006 and 2012. The next 25-50 years will be unlike any we have ever known.

This isn't a book about running out of oil, it's a book about the economic, political and social changes that will come about after reaching peak production. It's premise: once we can no longer produce more, an economy and society based upon consumption can no longer grow. The decline can be disasterous or it can be somewhat managed, but regardless, we will see a dramatic change. The drama begins after the peak happens. An important conclusion in this book is that the sooner that we can acknowledge that the reason the change is happening, the easier the transition will be. The longer we stay in denial about the state of affairs, the more likely famine, war, environmental degradation and all sorts of human and ecological misery.

The frightening thing is this: those close to the industry now say we reached peak production this year. Think about it. At some level, we all know this is true. China and India are rapidly growing, and the Hummers and SUVs fill the roads in the United States, while our young men and women fight in the sands of Iraq to keep the oil flowing. Even with the oil from Russia's untapped fields, we will never again see a day when we can produce more of it than the day before.

In a sense, the book is right: the party's over. And yet, this is an amazing time to be alive. I predict that our deepest changes must and will be spiritual. From spirit, our creativity will flow. We can act out of love or fear. We must decide.

Thursday, September 9, 2004

Full-Focused Talent

As I travel this week through the Washington Dulles airport, I am struck by the focused human talent and energy devoted to the business and governmental machinery. Intelligent men and women buzz about, carrying their leather briefcases filled with memos, ad copy and laptops filled with data.

I try to imagine what it would be like if all this creativity and talent were suddenly awakened to the cause of reforming or turning human interrelationship with each other and our planet home. Seems to me that the issues of justice, which are fundamentally relational, are directly related to getting this first planetary relationship right.

In fact, for those who are devoted to their religious faith I might ask the question: what if the first and primary relationship with the divine is reflected in how we enter into the mystery of our relationship with creation? What if we were all to suddenly see this Earth--each hill, rock, stream and creature--as sacred?

Thomas Berry said that Earth is a one time endowment. He goes on to say that Earth is primary, that all else , including the human, is derivative. What if we acted as if we believed this?

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

One Candle

So I've taken the plunge into Blogging.... my attempt to maintain sanity in an insane world. One small candle this dark night... one candle in a world gone stark raving mad.

A year ago February, I joined with a dozen or so folks in a vigil. On that night, the eve of the Iraq war, we joined thousands, maybe millions in a candlelight prayer vigil for peace. I held my candle aloft into the dark night sky. How could my one candle stop this senseless war? I held it as a prayer, in fervent hope that seemed so utterly hopeless. The forces were building, a whole people would soon feel our shock and awe... and my weapon of defiance and hope? A candle.

The act seemed so futile.

I read today that the Eskimos are concerned about the arctic Caribou and seal as the glaciers shrink. Yesterday, I sat next to gentleman on the airplane who was playing an Army-produced desert storm wargame on his Dell Latitude. He carried AK47 and hand grenades, drove tanks and ATVs. He shot at anything that moved. The screen was littered with bodies... but the bodies melted quickly into clean desert landscape so as to not clutter the game with their mess. The lady across the aisle thumbs through Skymall magazine. She can dial 1-800-skymall to have closet organizers delivered directly to her door.

At this writing, 1002 Americans and thousands of Iraqies have died in a war that has cost our country over $200 billion. Teachers in California can no longer receive a tax credit for buying school supplies for their classrooms. The state says there is No Money.

Yesterday was a "Spare the Air" day in the SF Bay Area. Smoke from a 10,000+ acre fire in the wine country north of Sonoma fills the air. The sun rose into an orange haze.

We are alive at an amazing time. No human generation has lived in a time such as this: where Earth herself shudders to the end of a a geo-biological age. Earth has not seen the extinction of life this great for 65 million years. Why aren't our pundits and megaphones crying and screaming over THAT? Our people rush about, checking wristwatches, buying plastic patio furniture while a whole age of diveristy and life and amazing creation is coming to and end. What worse, we are causing this in some mindless denial. We cannot save something we do not love.

We feel this change in our bones. The animals retreat from our roads and mall parking lots-- it seems as if the bulldozers are the primary weapon in this "War on Terra". The diversity of life on Earth, this amazing, fascinating part of our soul, is in trouble and we so long for this connection that we buy our own ATVs to simulate the thrill of connection.

The election looms like a dark storm cloud in the distance. How do we maintain hope in these times? I feel as if we are all hurtling toward destruction, on autopilot.

Our candles are so small.

I imagine a day when thousands of candles light the night, when we collectively awaken from our insane binge to fully engage our most talented in the work of renewal and resurrection and reconstruction and justice for human and non-human life. This is the only work that matters in these times.

Even a small candle can light a room.