Thursday, January 24, 2013

My work is loving the world....


My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

~ Mary Oliver ~

Mary Oliver's love of nature might be seen in the way she addresses it as addressing a good friend, as in "When I Am Among the Trees," where she says

Around me the trees stir in their leaves

and call out, "Stay awhile."

The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, "It's simple," they say,

"and you too have come

into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled

with light, and to shine."


While Mary Oliver here is naming her specific work of loving and being nurtured by nature, at the same time, she reminds us each of other similar work of Love...

Coming from a perspective of loving Jesus and his teachings, I oft remember his beautiful
statement that his work was/is to do the Will of Him who sent him...

Although we are oft imperfect in the task of doing the Divine understanding today is that by seeking that will with all our heart, soul & mind...we can sometimes find our way back to that central life-force to be given all that might be required for this one day, this one hour, this one relationship, this one need to be aware....and most of all to find the way to Love specific to what is required and beyond.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Children in Poverty (According to Marian Wright Edelman & MLK)

How We Can Truly Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Posted: 01/19/2013
In his last Sunday sermon at Washington National Cathedral, Dr. King retold the parable of the rich man Dives who ignored the poor and sick man Lazarus who came every day seeking crumbs from Dives’ table. Dives went to hell, Dr. King said, not because he was rich but because he did not realize his wealth was his opportunity to bridge the gulf separating him from his brother and allowed Lazarus to become invisible. He warned this could happen to rich America, “if we don’t use her vast resources to end poverty and make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life.”
At his death in 1968, when he was calling with urgency for an end to poverty in our nation, there were 25.4 million poor Americans including 11 million poor children and our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was $4.13 trillion. Today there are 46.2 million poor people including 16.1 million poor children and our GDP is three times larger. Twenty million of our neighbors are living in extreme poverty including 7.3 million children. Disgracefully children are the poorest age group in America and the younger they are the poorer they are and one in four preschool children is poor. More than one in three Black children and the same proportion of Latino children are poor. Children have suffered most since the recession began.
  • The number of poor children – 16.1 million – exceeds the entire combined populations of Haiti and Liberia, two of the poorest countries on earth.
  • The number of extremely poor children – 7.3 million – in our nation is greater than the population of Sierra Leone.
  • The number of poor children under five – 5.0 million – exceeds the entire population of the state of South Carolina or Louisiana or Alabama.
I have no doubt that Dr. King would be mounting a nonviolent poor people campaign to end rampant hunger, homelessness, and poverty today.
Let’s honor Dr. King by our committed action to end child poverty and close the morally obscene gulf between rich and poor in our nation where the 400 highest income earners made as much as the combined tax revenues of 22 state governments with 42 million citizens in 2008, and the wealthiest top 1 percent hold more net wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined. The rich don’t need another tax break and they need to give back some of their unfair share of our nation’s tax subsidies, loopholes and bailouts to feed and house and educate our children and employ their parents.
Let’s honor and follow Dr. King by naming and changing the continuing racial disparities, undergirded by poverty, that place one in three Black and one in six Hispanic boys born in 2001 at risk of prison in their lifetimes. Incarceration is the new American apartheid. Let’s reroute our children into a pipeline to college and productive work to compete with children from China and India.
Let’s honor and follow Dr. King by speaking truth to power and demanding justice for poor and vulnerable children with urgency and persistence and effective nonviolent direct actions to bring our nation back from the brink of self destruction fueled by the unbridled greed of the few and a military budget that dwarfs our early childhood development budget where the real security of our nation lies.
Let’s honor and follow Dr. King by stopping the resurgence of racial and income segregation in our schools, unfair treatment of children of color with zero tolerance school discipline and special education practices that push them out of school and towards prison, and efforts to undermine the hard earned right to vote. Let’s not return to Jim Crow shenanigans that strangled our democracy far too long.
Let’s honor and follow Dr. King by building a beloved community in America where all have enough to eat, a place to sleep, enough work at decent wages to support a family, buy a home, raise children, and send them to public schools that empower children with hope, confidence and skills for the future.
Let’s truly honor Dr. King by transforming our education system that sentences millions of children to social and economic death by failing to prepare them and our country for the future. That a majority of all children in all income and racial groups and seventy-six percent of Black and Hispanic children cannot read or compute at grade level in fourth and eighth grades is a threat to America’s future economic and military strength.
Let’s honor Dr. King by ensuring every child’s safety and right to live by ending the epidemic gun violence in our nation that has snuffed out more than 1.3 million American lives since he and Robert Kennedy were killed by guns in 1968 – including the lives of approximately 148,000 children and teens. That is 7,400 classrooms of 20 children. Let’s honor Dr. King by standing up and doing whatever is required for as long as needed to break the political grip of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and their allies who seek to add more guns to the approximately 300 million in circulation and continuing production and sales of assault weapons and high volume ammunition magazines that should not be in the hands of civilians.
The day after Dr. King was shot, I went into riot torn Washington, D.C. neighborhoods and schools urging children not to loot, get arrested and ruin their futures. A young Black boy about 12 looked me squarely in the eyes and said, “Lady, what future? I ain’t got no future. I ain’t got nothing to lose.” Let us follow Dr. King by proving that boy’s truth wrong in our militarily powerful, materially rich, but too spiritually poor nation.
Dr. King is not coming back. It’s up to us to redeem the soul of America. He told us what to do. Let’s do it.

Follow Marian Wright Edelman on Twitter:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Obama and MLK: A strange juxtaposition in-deed

As others are pointing out: a coincidence or synchronicity of  history in the making  has set President Obama’s second Inaugural Address for January 21, the same day as the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday.

"Count on lofty rhetoric from the Inaugural podium. The spirit of Dr. King will be elsewhere."
Norman Soloman

Like King, Obama traveled to Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet in the president's speech in Norway, there was deep disrespect implied for Gandhi, MLK and for the wisdom of other great writers and leaders who have spoken through the centuries for the non-violence and caution needed -- along with justice.

In fact, there has been a steady escalation of war.  “U.S. use of drones has soared during Obama’s time in office, with the White House authorizing attacks in at least four countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia," the Guardian has recently reported -- adding to the studies of a number of human rights and investigative groups world-wide.

A  former member of Obama’s “counter-terrorism group” during the 2008 campaign, Michael Boyle, (according to the Guardian) says that the White House is now understating the number of civilian deaths due to the drone strikes, with loosened standards for when and where to attack.

Boyle adds, according to the UK newspaper, that “The consequences can be seen in the targeting of mosques or funeral processions that kill non-combatants and tear at the social fabric of the regions where they occur. No one really knows the number of deaths caused by drones in these distant, sometimes ungoverned, lands.”

More than 50,000 Americans have signed a petition to Ban Weaponized Drones from the World. The petition says that “weaponized drones are no more acceptable than land mines, cluster bombs or chemical weapons.” It asks President Obama “to abandon the use of weaponized drones, and to abandon his ‘kill list’.

How can we turn a blind eye and a deaf ear?

While I have neither the time nor the ability to put together an Op Ed today, I can't let this time in history go by -- with all the MLK and Obama events side-by-side celebrating quite different legacies (so far anyway).

Waking early, I marked significant events or works by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. which called -- and still call -- for justice with non-violence. (Quite a few for such a short life lived in the face of all the injustice and violence going on all around him.) -- one man calling for forgiveness along with justice -- the other justifying more and more killing.

MLK Time-Line for Peace

1959 (February 2- March 10) Dr. and Mrs. King spend several weeks in India studying Gandhi's nonviolent techniques.

1961 (May) "Freedom Riders" is organized by Congress of Racial Equality(CORE) to test court desegregation ruling with MLK's major principle of resistance standing firm on non-violence.

1963 (April 16) King writes "Letter from Birmingham City Jail" while in prison for his witness.
         (June)  King's small book "Strength to Love" is published.

1964 (December 10) MLK receives the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway.

1966 (May 16) An anti-war statement is read by Dr. King at a large Washington rally to protest the war in Vietnam.

1967 (April 4) King delibers "Beyond vietnam" speech at Riverside Church, New York City, denouncing US policy in Vietnam.

1968 (April 3) Dr. King's last speech, entitled "I've Been to the Mountain-top" is delivered in Memphis.
         (April 9) Words from King's last sermon played to the crowd: "Say that I was a drum major for peace,
         for righteousness."

Sunday, January 6, 2013

"Les Mis" : "To love to see the face of God"

I just saw the newest interpretation of Victor Hugo's masterpiece (which he originally wrote in five volumes).   While my daughter has another favorite film version of Les Miserables, she needed my tissue and had tears rolling down her cheeks often to the end. We both were in awe much of the way throughout this feast for eyes and ears as well as the heart...A lot of this film/story felt new even while we had together seen the play on Broadway years ago.

The live singing and the themes of love, forgiveness and redemption (told achingly raw) were reason enough to appreciate this current film.  You can easily find some delightful, funny, unfair and sometimes compelling comments in some of the current reviews of this new film.  Some folk even offer that the major themes of this story are made more vivid than ever in this current work.  A few critiques even suggest that the wisdom herein are key to sorting out some of the major dilemmas of our day. I agree.

The most startling line to me was near the end when the hero spoke to his lifelong would be jailer and destroyer:  you followed the law and nothing more.  How many times does such apparent righteousness lead to anything but righteousness?

Upon reflection, I also wonder at our current rampant philosophies of might makes right when not only do our many versions of "law" leave out Mercy and Love but they also leave out genuine Law  (not to mention true justice.)

Finally, while the many ordinary brave people -- many heroes and heroines who gave their lives for their nation became quite lovable throughout the film, there was something anti-climatic at the end of this film.

The exaggerated symbols of the French revolution in all their pomp and circumstance -- shown along with the community of the brave -- didn't seem to fit with the rest of the story -- as an ending at least.

Still, the renewed impact of the story's themes underlined for me in a fresh way the story's central axiom.  This rule for life is applicable for anyone -- any group -- anytime -- any place.  That is: for any of us to truly love -- for any of us to show pure mercy and sustain the same--  is a better way to see the Face of God than any of our ragged versions and attempts at law.

For the next artistic interpretation of Hugo's masterpiece why not carry the themes a little further-- that to love others with courage and mercy when applied to our larger life challenges is also a way to see the Divine as a community.

Perhaps this is the worst of times in terms of the disregard for finding, living and seeing real heart anywhere we might look in our news.

Still -- our best stories and art remind us that even the worst of times can offer more opportunities for mercy and living from the heart since love is often illuminated even more clearly in the darkest night. Not only can we interpret the stories and wisdom of so many ages and find them as ageless as ever -- we also have more resources than ever for using our hearts, souls and purest imaginations to seed alternatives to occupation and bloody change.

Additional Notes/links:

For a review which speaks of the emotion that can happen even with even perhaps an "over the top" or overly-stylized musical version of any story -- where I found my photo above GO here 

For a rather academic-looking set of notes while maybe helpful to understanding some of the story's original structure & comprehensive work (while keep in mind no academic notes can capture the spirit of  such a master storyteller as Victor Hugo's original intentions) GO here

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Looking for True COMMUNITY in 2013?

It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can
sincerely try to help another without helping himself.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

TWO by Two is one beautiful kind of community in many different forms...yet all somehow side by side--

GO here to see some various and marvelous examples of two by two...

There are many different arrangements for community.  Most of us long for the REAL kind: transparent yet safe, energizing, life-changing and peace-giving...Below is a poet and a master photography with some examples as metaphors at least. I hope to keep searching for more witnesses -- especially the artistic varieties -- of the same.

Plz let me know what you find as well...

May we celebrate the community of us all this New Year 2013

Somehow there is a sense of community between the poet  the subjects (and implied souls present or missing) you find these so?  If so, in what way? GO read a few here -- go back through the archives and I predict you'll find just the one to speak to you of this kind of togetherness of Tagore, a favorite and Great Poet by a humble yet ever-so-gifted Bangledeshi homemaker.  See these one of a kind "hand-crafted" English Translations...perhaps many of these are translated into English for the first time?  (In fact, this site is what inspired my own post today!  Thank You,

Oh, and here are a few others which place the energy, feat, effort and maybe some sort of "love" on the same footing between the community of two, whether human & doc at birth or animal/human or animal pairings.  Life is full of infinite such miracles of community.  Let' keep sharing these gems for a richer,
more inspired New Year than ever...

Take a look  here

With a Heart again filled with Wonder,

Notes on photos:  The first photo on the top is of three dear friends:  from left, Dr. Rick Halperin who teaches at Southern Methodist U & has one of the first Human Rights Depts. in the US; in the middle of this top photo is Rais Bhuiyan who began the movement:  World Without Hate and forgave & thereby helped transform his would-be killer; and Mr. Hadi -- well-known as a great -- while humble man of peace...the id of photo is bhuiyan-thumb-350x217-114100.jpg

The middle photo is from photographer Steve's blog -- find in the first link above.  We have helped Allah raise two sons who were born & lived in Uganda...where we also lived briefly.  This hospital scene is quite familiar to me from several places on Africa.

The final photo was found on for 3 Jan. 2013...(just as I was  leaving the internet.)

Thanx for comming by....


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Link to a Beautiful New Year Message!

Find a beautiful New Year message for ALL of us here at my other blogsite:
No More Crusades for First of January, 2013  "The Messiah is at the Gates of Rome..."