Celebrating Earth Day 2021 and A Brief Profile of a Climate Activist: Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Ph.D.

Author, retreat leader, and Episcopal priest: Dr. Bullitt-Jones serves the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts & Southern New England Conference, United Church of Christ, and the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. A long-time climate activist, she believes that the ecological crisis – from climate change to the extinction of species – calls us to claim our kinship with all creation, to look deeply into our sources of hope, and to work together to build a just and sustainable future. Reviving Creation

The term “deep ecology” comes to mind when introduced to Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas.  The core principle of the term “is the belief that the living environment as a whole should be respected and regarded as having certain basic moral and legal rights to live and flourish, independent of its instrumental benefits for human use.” (Deep ecology – Wikipedia). Dr. Bullitt-Jonas has combined her life experiences and faith tradition to be a strong supporter of protecting all life on the planet.

MBJ 2014, by Tipper Gore
Photo (c) Robert A. Jonas

Dr. Bullitt-Jonas’ latest book is a collection of 21 essays by scientists, scholars, faith leaders, and activists who write about their sources of strength, wisdom, and hope as they grapple with climate crisis. Below is a brief excerpt below from the book called “Love Every Leaf” written by Dr. Bullitt-Jonas:

  In times like these, our prayer may need to be expressive and embodied, visceral and vocal. How else can we pray with our immense anger and grief? How else can we pray about ecocide, about the death that humanity is unleashing upon Mother Earth and upon ourselves? How else can we break through our inertia and despair, so that we don’t shut down and go numb? . . . .

I’ve taken to praying outdoors. I go outside, feel the good earth beneath my feet and the wind on my face, and I sing to the trees—to oak and beech, hemlock and pines. Making up the words and music as I go along, I sing my grief to the trees that are going down, and my grief for so much more—for what we have lost and are losing, and for what we are likely to lose. I sing my outrage about these beautiful old trees being cut to the roots, their bodies chipped to bits and hauled away to sell. I sing my fury about the predicament we’re in as a species. I sing my protest of the political and corporate powers-that-be that drive forward relentlessly with business as usual, razing forests, drilling for more oil and fracked gas, digging for more coal, expanding pipeline construction, and opening up public lands and waters to endless exploitation, as if Earth were their private business and they were conducting a liquidation sale. I sing out my shame to the trees, my repentance and apology for the part I have played in Earth’s destruction and for the part my ancestors played when they stole land and chopped down the original forests of the Native peoples who lived here. I sing my praise for the beauty of trees and my resolve not to let a day go by that I don’t celebrate the precious living world of which we are so blessedly a part. I’m not finished until I sing my determination to renew action for trees and for all of God’s Creation. . . .

So our prayer may be noisy and expressive, or it may be very quiet. It may be the kind of prayer that depends on listening in stillness and silence with complete attention: listening to the crickets as they pulse at night, listening to the rain as it falls, listening to our breath as we breathe God in and breathe God out, listening to the inner voice of love that is always sounding in our heart. A discipline of contemplative prayer or meditation can set us free from the frantic churn of thoughts and feelings and enable our spirit to rest and roam in a vaster, wilder space.  
Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, “Love Every Leaf,” in Rooted & Rising: Voices of Courage in a Time of Climate Crisis, eds. Leah D. Schade and Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, (Rowman & Littlefield: 2019), 175, 176–177.

In short, Margaret believes that the root of the struggle with Climate Change is spiritual and her focus on environmental ministry is her way of helping others understand and respond to the challenges.  

Margaret lives with her husband Robert A. Jonas (see www.emptybell.org for his Christian-Buddhist dialogue website) in Northampton, MA, and works with him to help preserve farmlands, fields, and woodlands in the Pioneer Valley.

As we celebrate Earth Day this year let us consider the declaration of climate emergency, with suggested resources and actions, that was prepared and distributed by the Massachusetts Episcopal dioceses.  As the declaration suggests, we can be more effective in our concern when we “pray, learn, act, and advocate.”  See this link for the available pdf for download. e277ab1c-b900-49b4-9cee-02e9543522e2.pdf (constantcontact.com)

Cole’s Book Review for: We Walk the Path Together

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I’ve been re-reading and re-enjoying a book written by Brian J. Pierce, OP called We Walk the Path Together (Learning from Thich Nhat Hanh & Meister Eckhart) © 2005, Orbis Books.  In preparation for a discussion with a Washington University Professor Emeritus, I have selected the sentences or phrases from each chapter that most “spoke to me.”  I thought my selections might encourage you to read the book and share your sentence/phrase selection.  I hope you join me on this mindful journey.

Introduction  Author Brian Pierce kicks off his book with a quote from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s book Going Home, Jesus and Buddha as Brothers © 1999, Riverhead Books:  “If you love French cooking, it does not mean that you are forbidden to love Chinese cooking….you love the apple…but no one prevents you from also loving the mango.”  Pierce adds “The apple and the mango, Jesus and the Buddha.  So different, yet so much common ground between them….Meister Eckhart and Thich Nhat Hanh (their respective disciples) invite us into the dialogue.” p. xv.

Chapter 1 Magnanimity (Learning the Art of Dialogue) “Pope John Paul II wrote the following words, stressing that dialogue is another word for love: ‘We are all brothers and sisters and, as pilgrims on this earth, although on different paths, we are all on our way to the common Homeland which God, through ways known only to him, does not cease to indicate to us. The main road of mission is sincere dialogue’ p.13

Chapter 2 Mindfulness and the Eternal Now (Present Moment, Moment of Peace) “From the point of view of the Christian mystical tradition, eternity is not a future time out there in heaven….’What is today? Asks Eckhart, a question to which he gives his own answer, ‘Eternity’” p.21

Chapter 3 The Breath of the Holy Spirit (Learning to Breathe Again) “There is no doubt that the East is helping the West recover the simple art of breathing – that most basic of human actions, the one that will not let us escape from the present moment.  We cannot breathe yesterday or tomorrow. We can only breathe in the here and now.” p.35 “The breath symbolizes the living, divine Reality present in each of us and in all creation.” p.37 “We breathe in the gift, and we breathe it out again, through loving-kindness and service.” p39

Chapter 4 The Water and the Waves (Water-soaked Ground) “if what Eckhart and (Nhat Hanh) say is true – namely, that the drop of water or the wave ‘become the ocean’ – then what happens next? Do we just disappear? What happens when we merge into God? Eckhart smiles at the earnestness with which we ask the question, and then with the wit of a true master of wisdom, he replies: So, you want to know what happens with the drop of water? ‘It finds God; and the finding of herself and the finding of God is one and the same act.’” p.57  “The author of the Chinese Tao Te Ching has a similar insight:

There was something formless and perfect before the universe was born. It is serene. Empty. Solitary. Unchanging. Infinite. Eternally present. It is the mother of the universe. For lack of a better name, I call it Tao. It flows through all things, inside and out, and returns to the origin of all things.” p.58

Chapter 5 Jesus and God (“Coming Home”) “For Christians, the question inevitably arises: Then how do we get back home to God? For (Nhat Hanh) the answer is quite simple: through the practice of mindfulness. We Christians can find much to imitate in this teaching, for only through mindful spiritual practice does the Trinity move from the theology books to becoming a reality in our lives. p.84 “from T.S. Eliot’s The Four Quartets: ‘What we call the beginning is often the end, and to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from….we shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time.’” p.85

Chapter 6 Christ (The Amazing Grace of God) “the reality of our true nature is that we are historical and eternal beings, human and divine, wave and water, heaven and earth. Or, in the image that St. Paul uses: ‘We hold the treasure of divine life within the earthen vessel of our humanity’ (Cor.4:7)…Says Eckhart, ‘The soul is created as if at the junction of time and eternity” p. 97 “from the well-known song ‘Morning Has Broken’: Mine is the sunlight! Mine is the morning. Born of the one light Eden saw play! Praise with elation, praise every morning, God’s re-creation of the new day.’” p.102 “It is heartening for both Buddhists and Christians to know that, in the absence of our respective teachers, the body of their teachings lives on, guiding us toward truth and life.” p.109

Chapter 7 Suffering “The Buddhist journey out of suffering and into freedom is a the heart of the Christian Gospels as well….The Book of Deuteronomy records this admonition from God: ‘I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life that you and your descendants my live. (Deut. 30:19)” p.114 “Spirituality is not primarily about following rules, but about living a life that generates happiness and well-being for oneself and for others.” p.116 “No one possesses the truth. On the contrary, we are possessed by the truth. Truth is the Ground upon which every this and that stands.” p. 120 “A person must be willing to stop trying to solve life’s aches and pains by placing one’s trust in the gods of money, power, prestige, relationships, spiritual pleasure, and the like and plunge into the naked, silent Ground of God within.” p. 125

Chapter 8 Compassion Born from Suffering (Looking Deeply) “The discipline of meditation slows us down and trains us to look at the world with understanding and compassion.  The result? We begin to see the world around us as it truly is. p.129 “Compassion is love that is willing to run the risk of suffering with and for the beloved….the risky business of loving, of course, requires great patience The two words, compassion and patience both come from the Latin root patior, meaning “to suffer.” p.132 Love is not generic; we do not love in general. Love is always concrete. It always involves real people….the only way we have to love God is by loving this person right here and right now….The ‘perfect’ relationship is not one that is free from suffering, but one that is full of compassion.” p.134 “Suffering is part of loving; it just is. There is nothing romantic or heroic about it.” p.135

Chapter 9 The Tree of the Cross (The Cross: Path to Freedom) “The cross…is more of a path to follow that something we are encouraged to imitate” p.144 “a lived response to the great question of life and death and inner freedom.  Do we answer the question and speak the truth – ready to pay the consequences – or do we remain silent and immobile, paralyzed and enslaved by fear?” p.147 Jesus, like the Zen masters, leads his disciples along the path of dying to the self-sufficient ego….He calls us to die to the illusion that we are separate from God, that death has any ultimate power over us.” p.149 “The cross is the Christian version of the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths.” p.159 “All of us who have chosen a spiritual path have, at one time or another, fallen short of the goal. We are all human beings in process, learning day by day to be more human….We learn from the mistakes of the past, so that today we can say yes once again to the journey.” p. 161

Chapter 10 Love in Full Bloom (Equanimity: What Is, Is) “Equanimity is …the calm, peaceful acceptance of the way things are in the present moment…..’if life hands you lemons, then make lemonade’….equanimity teaches us to smile and to laugh at life. We learn to accept each other and every situation just as it is and, to the best of our ability to do so with a sense of humor.” p.168 “Through the practice of equanimity, we lose nothing. What we gain, though, in inner peace and tranquility, is immeasurable.” p.171 “To grow in love, says (Nhat Hanh), requires that we develop the spiritual capacity to rise above the fray of life, to be able to observe any given situation without being attached to either this side or that side.” p.175   

CONCLUSION A Journey and a Begging Bowl “Thomas Merton wrote a prayer ‘My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end…I know that …you will lead me by the right road.” p. 179 “As spiritual practitioners of the twenty-first century, we, like our ancestors, are on a journey, walking a path that unfolds in each and every step. The practice of mindfulness teaches us to savor each step, to live the present moment in all its fullness, aware that the kingdom is either now or never. p.181 “Master Eckhart once said that if he had to summarize the entire spiritual life into a single word or phrase, it would be ‘Thank you.’….The journey, though different and unique for each practitioner and each tradition, is one, and the great joy is the discovery that we walk the path together.” p. 183

This 202 page book includes a lengthy final Notes section that provides detailed references for all the sources cited throughout. Surely, my brief recap does not do justice to this excellent comparison of the Christian and Zen Buddhist traditions.  Clearly your key passages would be different than mine.

I welcome your thoughts on the book, and more importantly, on your spiritual path.  Have you found inspiration from multiple traditions?

ISBN: 1570756139

Another Mass Shooting Reported – TGIF?

Today’s USA TODAY morning headline is “What we know about the Indianapolis shooting: 8 dead at FedEx facility; suspected gunman dead.”

Yes, it’s another mass shooting, regardless of the various definitions for the “mass shooting” term, this one qualifies.  So far, the police are reporting that just after 11pm, Thursday, April 15, an “active shooter” situation took place at the FedEx Ground facility near Indianapolis International Airport.  Eight people were killed in and around the facility (4 inside and 4 outside) and an unknown number of others (at least 5) went to hospitals with injuries” police spokesperson Genae Cook shared with the media.  It is believed the suspected shooter is also dead (by suicide) bringing the total dead, so far, to nine.

Many questions remain unanswered.  It is unknown whether the shooter was an employee or what the motive was.  The man suspected used a submachine gun, an automatic rifle, and was firing in the open.  The FedEx facility employs more than 4,500 people, and a company spokesperson added that the safety of their workforce is their “top priority and they are cooperating fully with investigating authorities.”

Until all the facts are in, the media has resurrected the recent news of mass shooting in Boulder, CO and Atlanta, GA and the concerns around weaknesses in gun laws, etc. And so the continuous cycle of violence, concern, non-action continues. 

Another bit of news was that this latest mass shooting brought the year-to-date total to 130.  Does that sound like a lot for 3.5 months?  Well a quick review of the statistics for last year, and remember, much of the country was under pandemic “lockdown”, shows that in fact 130 is higher.  Last year, for the same 3.5 month time period, the death count was 108.  A quick lookback at the monthly totals for last year shows this:

See the List of mass shootings in the United States in 2020 – Wikipedia)  Note: this website also shows the day, location and other specifics for each occurrence.

Month# of Mass ShootingsTotal # KilledTotal # Wounded
January2839111
February284094
March2627112
April262392
May5837248
June9162395
July8771383
August7851340
September6544274
October5241210
November4747192
December283990
TOTAL6155212,541

Related to this most recent incident reporting is the now standard reminder as follows:

“If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1800-273-TALK (8255), text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.”

My initial reaction to this is first exasperation and then deep sadness that I, and the people I love, live in a country that not only permits this but refuses to do anything about it.  I’m often reminded of the law of large numbers which says we lost far more people to COVID-19 last year (approximately 1,000x more) and supposedly half the country didn’t care about those deaths so what’s the big deal about mass shootings.

So, while we are thanking God for Friday, perhaps, we can take a moment to thank God for the law of large numbers; assuming of course that none of those smaller numbers include people we know and love.

What do you think? I would sincerely appreciate your thoughts on this issue.  

How Do You Define Success?

I was taught the American Dream from my young parents who were eager to do better than their parents and expected their children to accomplish more than they would. Sound familiar?

My father, especially, was always reminding his sons that each generation has a responsibility to outperform the previous one; he said the USA was a place where success was not only possible but expected; so, it was unacceptable for his sons to waste their opportunity.

So how do you define success?  Does success include achieving or obtaining more than your parents?

My father completed Junior College with a two-year associates degree in carpentry.  Initially, he worked for a highway and bridge construction company working across multiple Midwest states. He later joined a major utility company and rose to the level of Maintenance Supervisor.  He added to his primary income, by flipping houses on the side. The combined income allowed him to retire early at the age of 58.  He died eighteen years later and said his only regret in life was not retiring earlier. 

My father’s vision for his four sons was for them to earn a four-year bachelor’s degree, achieve a position of at least manager, and, most importantly, retire by age 57 or younger.  I heard this definition of success so many times that, like it or not, it became a yardstick for measuring my own life.

Quick side trip:  It may be worth noting that my parents divorced when I was six, my father was quick-tempered and quick to punch his wife and sons when he was angry for any reason or no reason at all that I could discern. He also had a penchant for offering advice, especially when no one was requesting it, and this could become tiresome and irritating. Also, he was so competitive, even euchre card games became “duels of manhood”, and he regularly pitted his sons against one another to make them “tough.”  To sum up, he was not an easy person to be around.

However, to my father’s credit, all four sons did attend college and  three of four completed graduate educations.  Three of four achieved positions of manager or higher in their professions.  But on the third, and most important measurement for him, none of his sons retired at an earlier age than he did.  So, to some extent, the American Dream mostly materialized as my father had defined it. He outperformed his father and successfully passed on the challenge to his sons.

But, I’m wondering, is my father’s definition of success an acceptable definition today?  I’m curious, how do you define success and is that definition different from your parents?

Cherry Picking

Or a couple of challenging questions on Good Friday, 2021:

  1. Is the planet Earth the Cherry Capital of the Universe?
  2. Is it possible to maintain hope when surrounded by hate?
  3. Are we ever sure of anything?

I was born in beautiful Traverse City, Michigan aka the Cherry Capital of the World. Traverse City- Cherry Capital – Michigan History (msu.edu) This magnificent title is true because there are many cherry orchards in this part of our planet.  It’s also true because the local cherry producers gave themselves the title in 1925 when they established an annual festival to draw tourists to the area. You see, truth is what you say it is, for whatever purpose deem justified at the time.

The term “cherry picking” is used to describe the harvesting of fruit off a cherry tree or the practice of selecting facts that best fit your needs and conveniently ignoring any other facts that belie the truth you’re trying to promote.

“Cherry picking, suppressing evidence, or the fallacy of incomplete evidence is the act of pointing to individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position while ignoring a significant portion of related and similar cases or data that may contradict that position.” Cherry picking – Wikipedia

Take the American legal system for example, or more specifically, the Derek Chauvin trial (aka George Floyd murder case) currently underway in Minneapolis, MN.  It is a given that the defense will cherry pick facts to defend the police officer, Derek Chauvin, to hopefully create doubt in the jury’s collective mind that excessive force was used on George Floyd preceding his death.  It is also a given that the prosecution will present their facts to make the case that Derek Chauvin went against department standards and thus was the perpetrator of murder based upon his own actions despite the videotaped observations that multiple officers and onlookers were present during the actions leading to death. 

Certainly, some individuals are more guilty than others, but are there truly any innocent parties when others present take less than full action to stop a crime in progress?  Can we ever be sure of the truth when people are not fully willing to collect and consider all the “facts.”

I’m writing this on Good Friday, the commemorated anniversary of Jesus’ death on a cross some 2,000 years ago. Supposedly the Jewish religious leaders, aka Sanhedrin, voted, not unanimously, to turn Jesus over to the local Roman regional leader, Pontius Pilate, for judgment and crucifixion.  Why, because this radical teacher was irritating them, berating them, upturning money tables on temple grounds used for the purchase of sacrifices for worship. Was Jesus innocent of any wrongdoing? Was he guilty of anything worthy of a death sentence? Were the authorities capable of determining truth from fiction and making judgments of merit without a shadow of doubt?

Are we sure about what took place in Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago? Are we sure about what took place less than a year ago in Minneapolis? Are we sure what is taking place right now within a thirty foot circumference around us as we read this sentence?

So, back to cherry picking.  Climate change is cited for the reason pink cherry blossoms reached full bloom on March 26, 2021 in Kyota, Japan; just 8 days ago.  Records have been kept for the cherry season in this former capital of Japan since the 12th century. “Scientists have often pointed to the earlier flowering times of species such as cherry blossoms as indicators of global warming. The Kyoto record is described in one study as ‘probably the longest annual record’ of biological life cycles from anywhere in the world.” Earliest Cherry Blooms in Japanese City in 1,200 Years Linked to Climate Change, Says Scientist (news18.com)  

Despite all the records of facts mentioned above, we can be sure that:

  • * climate change deniers will not change their minds,
  • * white supremacists have already exonerated Derek Chauvin,
  • * fundamentalist Christians don’t care about either of the two bullets above because the rapture will protect them from the apocalypse, and
  • * Traverse City, Michigan is truly the Cherry Capital of the World

Or can we?

3 Ways To Avoid Being “Too Smart For Your Own Good”

I’m no genius, and there are many, especially family members, who can attest to this. Sure it’s true, I was always an Honor’s Student and fared well on standardized tests. But, as we all know, there’s a huge difference between book smart and street smart; between the three Rs (reading, writing and ‘rithmetic) and a few other three R’s of note.  For example:

  • The three R’s of animal welfare research: Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement. As a former franchisee for The Body Shop, our store was always advocating for no animal research for any of our products (soaps, scents and cosmetics).  Replacing the use of animals in research is definitely something I support. Reducing the number of animals used for such research seems like a poor excuse for continuing something that shouldn’t be done in the first place. And finally, Refinement of research methods to minimize animal pain, suffering or distress is another half-measure that only delays Replacement which should happen immediately.
  • The three R’s of sustainability: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.  I’ve practiced these for sure but it’s not always convenient, possible or simple to do so.  It’s also very interesting to read the research on the use of plastic bags, paper bags and cloth or canvas bags when grocery shopping.  But this is another topic for a future post.

Following the mnemonic alliteration pattern of the three R’s mentioned above, here’s my Three R’s to avoid being “too smart for your own good.”  They are Resist, Reflect and Respect and here’s what they mean to me:

  1. Resist the temptation to immediately correct a misguided or ignorant comment made by another. As we’ve all learned, it doesn’t take long on social media these days to read something that sounds uncaring, unthoughtful or even intentionally offensive.  And as Forrest Gump once said, “Stupid is as stupid does.”  Well, stupid or not, I think it’s important not to jump into the fray when confronted (or baited?) by the remarks of a truant or a troll.  Casting your pearls of wisdom more than once can say more about you than the original ill-spoken one.
  2. Next comes Reflect, the second R, which suggests it’s worth considering the “audience” and determining what they are actually saying, trying to say, or deliberating “pissing on” if that’s the situation.  A question or reference or even a gentle “good luck in your future endeavors” may be the better way to end a poor conversation. Sometimes you just have to say “Goodbye” if your reflection suggests no good can come from further conversation.
  3. And finally, Respect is the third R and this begins with respecting yourself.  If your emotions are triggered there’s no need to “pull the trigger” in response.  The kindest and most effective thing you can do is “put on your own oxygen mask first before you attempt to assist another.” And while taking your personal protective measures, consider how you can best respect the other.  Sometimes it’s allowing time for their cooling, their schooling, or for others to do the over-ruling.  Let your friends, or supporters, do the “responding” which allows you to move on to the next, hopefully more rational, person.  A couple of thoughts come to mind:

a) It was Jesus who said “If some home or town will not welcome you or listen to you, then leave that place and shake the dust off your feet.” (Matthew 10:14 Good News Translation)

b) And it is Thich Nhat Hanh who said “We have to take good care of ourselves. If you listen too much to the suffering, the anger of other people, you will be affected….This will destroy your balance…We need to receive the nourishment we deserve.” Anger, Wisdom for Cooling the Flames © 2001 Riverhead Books. pp 95-96  

In other words, letting go of others’ ignorance, as well as our own “smartness”, often means showing kindness-with-restraint to all parties involved.  Sometimes the most respectful thing you can do is let the other person find their truth elsewhere without letting them pull you down in their learning process.

I’m curious, do you have a set of three R’s? Please leave a comment.

The Challenge in Forecasting the Weather and A Friend’s Healing

This morning’s forecast says rain all day. Yesterday was sunny with the high near 70 degrees Fahrenheit; a very pleasant surprise for a very challenging day.  Our friend survived his open heart surgery; only a double versus the quadruple bypass surgery the heart surgeon said could be possible.  What began at 8:30am was completed by 12:30 pm and the awakened patient’s nodding recognition at 8:30pm.  Many good signs in one 12-hour period.

But today is another day, and if the weather is a predictor, this day will not be as bright and shiny.  Today, the forecasted temperatures will be in the low 60s and wet, not bad for this early Spring period.  Accordingly, a rainy day is a predictable Spring occurrence just like the slow but sure rehabilitation required from major surgery.

We are told that our friend is likely to experience the following progression:

  • 7 days in the hospital before release;
  • Release to either home, or maybe a few days in a convalescent facility to transition with the aid of close medical assistance; and then
  • Two to three months of slow healing before full strength returns

If there are no complications, no unwanted infections, and he is diligent in his aftercare compliance, our friend will be able to transition from gentle walking to full movement by July 4th, Independence Day; to celebrate our country’s independence, his independence and renewed independence for the family and friends caring for him.

However, like weather forecasting, there are a few challenges to keep in mind.  Climate change has “broken” the jet stream leading to unpredictable temperature and precipitation patterns. Bad weather can stall over geographies not normally expecting it.  There can even be harsh weather, like more hurricanes and tornadoes, bringing high winds and flash flooding, and wreaking more havoc along the way.

In our friend’s case, he may feel ready to do more than recommended and his energy could lead to excessive effort in his desire to rehab faster than he should.  He may try to do too much work around his home, try to prove he is back to normal far before he’s ready.  There might be antibodies that attack his recovering wounds.  There might be outside work demands he normally stresses over, having even more of an impact this year.

As part of a large group of caregivers, each of us must be careful not to expect too much too soon from him.  We need to encourage a slow and safe recovery regardless of how much we would like a faster rebound for his and our own release. We must look at Independence Day as the “earliest” possible celebration date and be prepared for a Labor Day back-up plan if any forecasting surprises occur.

May we be calm, be patient, and be compassionate with our friend and ourselves.  Less stress and more understanding will help all of us find the joy in each present moment to come. 

Would I Ask My Grandfather How To Blog?

Grandpa was a quiet man.  He performed a variety of jobs: truckdriver, real estate agent, refrigeration technician and car wash manager along the way. I trusted and admired him and appreciated his life right up until his death in 1985.  Born in 1911, he lived for 74 years and saw a lot of technology change over that lifespan. 

Grandpa was not a Luddite; he appreciated technology improvement and the quality of life benefits it brought.  I remember his clear advice to purchase the best possible item because it would provide greater satisfaction and longer use, making its’ cost less over time.

Grandpa embraced the new, but not just because it was new.  He was discerning on what he acquired because he never had a lot of discretionary income.  That said, when he searched for something new, he did it thoughtfully, carefully and then decided with conviction and didn’t look back.

Grandpa died before the general availability of the internet which didn’t occur in the U.S. until the early 1990s. He was certainly not around to see the explosion of social media or the popularity of blogs.  So, would I ask my grandfather how to blog?

Hmmmm…..

There are more than a few people who base their life and important decisions on spiritual texts and practices well over 1,000 years old.  In fact, there are people who dedicate their lives to the study of antiquity; especially art and philosophy, to better understand our species progress and to project our future based on the behaviors and values that persist over time.

Going even further back in history, it’s thought that we homo-sapiens developed language almost immediately, (see When Did Ancient Humans Start to Speak? – The Atlantic) and the oldest evidence of the written word is over 5,000 years ago which was used by Sumerian scribes in 3200 B.C to document business transactions in ancient Iraq. (The World’s Oldest Writing – Archaeology Magazine).

Would I ask my grandfather how to blog?  Our very history as a species suggests we have learned and cognitively developed over millenniums based on our ability to communicate.  So, YES, I would ask my grandfather how to write and communicate more effectively.

And based on my previous post, The Thin Veil, I still have the opportunity to ask him.

I’m curious, would you ask your grandparents how to write and communicate more effectively? And, if so, why?

The Thin Veil

The physical world is real; especially when we stub our toe.  There is mass and when it interacts with other mass there is contact, sometimes described as “Ouch!”  Our everyday life reminds us this physical world is real.  And yet….there is the unseen that impacts us, energy that shapes our here and now.

The borderline between the seen and unseen is sometimes called the Thin Veil.  On a metaphysical level the veil is considered a barrier between the physical and spiritual realms. On a quantum physics level this “borderline” becomes a little more defined when we read about the multiple dimensions.

In our everyday existence we are familiar with the three dimensions of height, width and depth. The fourth dimension adds the factor of time and motion.  We can see this when a 3d object moves; it’s demonstrating the fourth dimension aka space/time. But what comes after the third dimension? There’s a Rod Sterling quote “There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man.  It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition.” In a more down-to-earth explanation, some have used gravity as an example of a higher dimension (i.e., a fundamental natural force that is unseen yet impacts our three-dimensional universe.) See  The 5th Dimension | Science Trends

Scientists focus on what can be measured, even if it’s unseen to our human eye.  Somewhat similarly, theologians focus on “how things change.” Theologians also ask and attempt to answer big questions like: How the universe came into existence? and What happens to individuals before they are born and after they die? It is this intersection of physics and metaphysics that has always interested me.  For example, there are two Albert Einstein quotes that have inspired my wisdom search:

“For us believing physicists, the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” -Einstein, The Expanded Quotable Einstein. Calaprice, Alice, ed. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000). p. 75.

“I believe that I have cosmic religious feelings. I never could grasp how one could satisfy these feelings by praying to limited objects…. The whole of nature is life, and life, as I observe it, rejects a God resembling man. I like to experience the universe as one harmonious whole. Every cell has life. Matter, too, has life; it is energy solidified. Our bodies are like prisons, and I look forward to be free, but I don’t speculate on what will happen to me. I live here now, and my responsibility is in this world now…. I deal with natural laws. This is my work here on earth.” – Einstein, Einstein and the Poet. Hermanns, William (Branden Books, 2013) p.64.

I look forward to learning more about the Thin Veil and someday passing through it to visit with my ancestors and loved ones who have preceded me. What a wonderful reunion that will be. I’m curious, what have your experiences been with the Thin Veil?  How do you perceive the higher dimensions?

Midwinter Melancholy

Shakespeare reveled in midsummer

Enjoying his Athenian romp

While humbly we survive midwinter

With no circumstance or pomp

No funny or cunning storyline

  No hint of subterfuge

Just a lonely cold winter’s landscape

               Neither miniature or grandly huge

Missouri is a compromise

               Of pain and revelry

The past too painful to forget

               The future too bland to see

Such is life in February

               When we but hibernate

Perhaps in Spring our joy will return

               But now we simply wait;

Now we sit and wait.