Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Harry Reed Interfaith Hero - Found on the Net

Harry Reid, interfaith hero:
For the first time in history, a Hindu clergyman delivered the opening prayer for the United States Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev, had invited Rajan Zed, the director of interfaith relations at a Hindu temple in Reno, to deliver the opening prayer to begin the session on July 12. It is common for chaplains and clergy from various faith traditions to be invited to say the opening prayer at the start of each Senate session. However, most of the time it is delivered by a Christian. It's a shame that the voices of intolerance and ignorance spoiled this special occasion. As soon as Zed began to speak, he was disrupted several times by Christian Right activists who objected to a Hindu prayer being offered on the Senate floor. Three people were handcuffed by police and charged with disrupting Congress, which is a misdemeanor. This saddens me, because I don't see how anyone could possibly object to the following words in Chaplain Zed's prayer: "Let us pray. We meditate on the transcendental glory of the Deity Supreme, who is inside the heart of the earth, inside the life of the sky, and inside the soul of heaven." These are beautiful words and certainly consistent with the Christian belief that God is omnipresent. In addition, Chaplain Zed ended his prayer by saying "peace, peace, peace be unto all." This was appropriate, because after the prayer the Senate was going to resume debate on President Bush's Iraq war policy. So I have to ask those who objected to Chaplain Zed's prayer: What's the problem? Why did you object to this? Did he say something that was so different from your Christian beliefs that you felt America was threatened and that it would bring down the wrath of the almighty? If so, I did not hear it. Chaplain Zed's prayer embodied what I so frequently refer to as the common moral beliefs and values that most faith traditions share. One of the protesters said that he was a "Christian and patriot." Now how can you claim to be a patriot when two of the founding principles of this country are religious tolerance and diversity? I am proud of Harry Reid for inviting Chaplain Zed to pray. He's my hero of the month and has done a lot to promote interfaith education as a solution for community and peace building by using this highly visible, symbolic and powerful venue to highlight America's religious diversity. Sen. Reid, who is a Mormon, said, "I think it speaks well of our country that someone representing the faith of about a billion people comes here and can speak, in communication with our Heavenly Father, regarding peace." Yes, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is not only a hero but also a champion of interfaith. He's a shining example of how we can use religion as a tool to build community and not divide it. You know there are these voices of fear and intolerance in this country that perpetuate what I call a state of enemy thinking, in which it's us against them, or Christian against Muslim, Muslim against Jew, black vs. white, gay vs. straight, rich vs. poor, etc. In other words, if he or she doesn't look like me, worship like me, or vote like I vote, then he or she is absolutely wrong and I am absolutely right. We should not let these voices of intolerance and fear prevent us from honoring the beliefs of others and accepting that there just might be another point of view with some validity. And you know what - when we peer beyond the labels that the voices of fear and intolerance use to divide us, we just might find a lot in common. I am not a Hindu, and I found Chaplain Zed's words comforting and consistent with my beliefs. Thank you, Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Rev. Jay Speights has an MA in public policy and is an interfaith minister and the main U.N. representative for The New Seminary in New York . You can learn more about his work at the United Nations at The New Seminary website or at harmoniousday.webexone.com. His email address is jayspeights@newseminary.org. © copyright 2007 by Jay Speights.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Nature is The Art of GOD - Dante

Think about it....If you were GOD and you created HEAVEN out of nothingness ... and you created beings to live there and enjoy your creation - your HEAVEN... how would you feel about what's been done to it? Some of that having been done in YOUR NAME?
We admire the works of Monet of Ansel Adams of Georgia O'Keeffe - but the original artist was "God" "Gaia - the living Goddess" or name any of the myriad "Creation God/Goddesses".
"Judgement" for the sins of pollution, waste and hatred is happening every day. The climate is changing; garbage gets thrown carelessly everywhere; hate causes everyone to live in fear - with locks and walls.
And again : You MUST BE the change you wish to see in the world. No one is perfect; but how can we increase "walking the walk"?
I have a friend who just recently brought my attention back to an issue close to her heart: water. "WOW, as a family of 4 you must use (waste) a lot of water. I can honestly say that I try to be aware of this consumption. I make sure I run a full dishwasher and full washing loads. I turn the water off while I'm brushing my teeth (which we never did as kids). I use soaker hoses to water the garden when it hasn't rained for a while. So, I feel pretty good about myself....however I could do better.
Sometimes I use a large bowl to wash veggies in - sometimes I use running water.Sometimes I use the veggie wash water to water plants - inside and out - sometimes I dump it down the drain.I NEVER turn of the shower while I'm soaping up or washing my hair. And sometimes I let it run longer than necessary to come to temp.I sometimes let the water run while rinsing dishes and loading the dishwasher.
And that's just water.
I also heard a news story this week about plastic recycling. There are several industries which grew up around USING recycled materials as raw materials for their products; newer carpet factories are one.
Well - they can't get enough raw materials - and in-fact 75% (3 of 4) plastic bottles (soda/water etc) used in this country are NOT recycled even though there is a demand for them. Why? Because there is no HANDY recycling container. Sport/Entertainment arenas are a big culprit. What can be done about this?Letter/e-mail writing campaigns - to law-makers and to the centers themselves. Encourage/Demand easy recycling access or ask for fines to be levied.If you attend these events - TAKE YOUR CONTAINERS HOME to recycle.
And the biggest thing you can do is THINK. Think about - "what if everyone in the world did what I am doing; treated people as I am treating them" - what kind of world would we leave our children - our grandchildren?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

LOMB - Year 4

The Land of Make Believe 2007!

Ever since Ronnie was just over a year old we've been doing a day-trip per summer to the Land of Make Believe.
And this year is no exception.

It is always a wonderful experience - and Ronnie - at least is starting to remember it from one year to the next. He's been asking about when we'd go this summer for weeks now.

This year's trip featured both boys being able to ride the rides - we spent the first hour going from one to the next to the next...
The FAVORITE was the bi-plane ride.

After lunch we headed for PIRATES COVE - and we were better prepared this year with "training suits" for both boys - full-body flotation bathing suits.
Even though the water in the wading pool doesn't even get to knee high on an adult, it's a lot easier watching active boys when they have floaties on.
Ronnie LOVED the pirate ship - with it's water cannons and slides best, and it was difficult to get him to come away from it at all.
Evan just wanted to keep jumping in the water - as if it was a big puddle - preferably while holding on to an adult hand or two. Of course, that was not too comfortable for said adult who felt like their arm(s) were being yanked out.
After spending a couple of hours there - we made our way over to the lazy river and went three times around.
After all of the water time it was time to pack-up and go home. Another great trip to LOMB.
And I think Evan is going to start remembering it now too....he's already asking when we're going to go back!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Doin the Summer Music Circuit with the Family

We've got:
1) The activity bag - complete with bug spray; diaper & wipes; crayons and coloring pages for each boy; plenty of hot-wheels cars; magnetic drawing pads; goodie bags etc...
2) The cooler - with picnic supper and drinks
3) The camp chairs
4)The activity mat (aka Blanket)

We're ready to GO!
The past few weeks have seen us getting into the swing of the summer music scene! Music- in-the-parks - FREE MUSIC - scene that is.

So far we have been to 4 locations 2 very close to home; 2 a little more of a drive.
We have heard:
- an independant local singer/songwriter
- a swing band
- a couple of duos doing OLD standards (20's - 50's mostly) - and doing them nicely!
- a traditional bluegrass group
And we're ready for more.
Each of the places we've been has more concerts planned - and we're going to try to catch as many as we can.
As musicians, my husband and I are eager for the boys to be exposed to as much live music as possible. And the variety offered in these concerts is amazing!
The summer concerts are a GREAT way to expose young children to music in a setting that is child-friendly, parent friendly and FREE.
Heck - if your 2 year-old starts a tantrum - there is the possibility that no one will notice - and even if you do feel the need to pack up and go home - you are out NOTHING.
And, hey, you might get lucky - as we have for most of the ones we've attended, and get to really have a nice time listening to some decent music under blue skies, picnicing and relaxing with the whole family - invite some friends along and make it a party!
PLENTY of communities are hosting these concerts this year.
I highly recommend it.
Some good search words to find concerts in your area:
Music; Park;Concert;Summer+name of town etc.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Courting the "MUSE"

This Moon's theme is "The Muse" - As we have progressed in our study this year it has been amazingly affirming how frequently our We'moon calendar has corresponded with the monthly theme - and how frequently our own lives have taken us along for the ride.

The book we are using as our 'study guide', "Ariadne's Thread" by Shekhina Mountainwater, though frequently irritating in its datedness (it was concieved of and written in the 70s/80s), usually has some tidbits to learn from.

This month we are pondering "The Muse" and once again We'moon has some treasures:

Sometimes, the Muse
this poem
flung out of my pen
one day.
the ink wanted to go
like that.
excerpt Marni Norwich 2005

Volunteers she called them
Volunteers she called them,
my eighty-five-year-old friend Dorothy,
those flowers that appeared mysteriously
in her Ohio yard
without her planting them,
sown by the wind
or perhaps by bird droppings.

Volunteers, I call them,
those poems that appear
in the poet's dooryard,
of uncertain origin,
gifts from the bounty of the universe
Karen Ethelsdattar 2005

Several weeks ago as I was writing in my We'moon calendar and reading the current offerings, I decided to visit their website - to see what the '08 theme was going to be. Once there I found that the 08 calendars are indeed on sale, and they are still accepting contributions for '09. The theme for '09 will be "At the Crossroads" and I just happened to have several pieces of my own that were in keeping with that them which I have now submitted...again a chance happening which goes along with the monthly theme - honoring the MUSE!

I have also found that I am particularly verbose on my blog this month.....where usually I think of things I want to write about but don't ever type them in.....

Monday, July 9, 2007

Carbon "Footprint" - How do YOU help save the planet?

On Friday I took the "Live Earth" carbon footprint test -http://www.earthlab.com/carbonProfile/LiveEarth.htm?ver=10 .

I can't find my emailed result right now but I think Iremember it being 250.

The national average for the USA is 350 - so my family is doing a little better than the rest of the nation...but there is a lot more that can be done.

I also signed the "Pledge" http://liveearthpledge.org/answer_the_call.php.For me this is more than just a "nice to do" for the environment.

This is saving MOTHER EARTH, GAIA, The Goddess - and making sure there's something of the NATURE I knew growing up left for my kids and my kid's kids.

What I do currently:

Recycle all paper and cardboard, plastics, glass, metals - curbside

Recycle batteries at the recycling center - approx annually

Compost vegetable materials from the house and garden

Most of the time:

turn off lights /equipment when not in room/or in use

Use dishwasher/washing machine only when full

Keep temps higher in summer (hardly use personal air conditioners at home anyway)

Keep temps lower in winter

Grow/purchase produce that is "locally" produced for the most part.

Freecycle unused household items http://www.freecycle.org/

What I am committing to do going forward:

Re-use plastic store bags as frequently as possible - currently we use these for garbage recepticals as well and do not purchase separate "kitchen" trash bags.

Install more compact flourescent lights and replace some multi-bulb fixtures.

ALWAYS turn off lights/appliances when not in the room

ALWAYS turn off my monitor when leaving work

What do you do currently?

What can you pledge to do going forward?

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Thoughts on Mortality

(Not morality - morTality)
"Having children can change the things you think about." -That's a no brainer you say??

Well, one day while I was driving home I think I took it to a new level.

I have a close friend who's mother died before she turned 4, her mother left not only her, but a younger brother and an infant sister as well. Within a year, my friend's father had remarried (I imagine in self-defense, it was the early 70's Mr Mom was over a decade away). My friend grew up with this new person being her mother. Her birth mother did not abandon her, was not legally separated from her, but was ripped away from her by some sort of brain hemmorage. Her maternal grandparents lived many states distant and she grew up not knowing them - it was never clear whether this was by their doing or by my friends father and new wife. Her father and "mother" did keep photo albums of her mother and momentos of her early years locked away, and the facts were NEVER allowed to be spoken.I have known this story since our college days. It has always bothered me when I've allowed myselfe to think about it. But other than the one or two times my friend needed to get it out of her system and talk it remains a secret garden - hidden/overgrown/forgotten. She has only hints of memory of her mother...more of the chaos sthat ensued after her death than any concrete memories of the person who gave her life.

My children are similar in age to 2 of the 3 left behind by this mother. My connections to them are so vibrant, but what would happen if I wasn't here any more? Would they remember the times we've snuggled for hours? Would they remember the silly faces and giggling? Would they remember how much I have loved them?

I hope those questions never need answers.