Walking in the Rain

Today it is softly raining and autumn colors are just beginning to show. Time to throw on a raincoat and go walking in the woods . . .

Photo A. Meshar

Photo A. Meshar

Photo A. Meshar

Photo A. Meshar

Photo A. Meshar

Photo A. Meshar

Photo A. Meshar

Photo A. Meshar

A bit like finding yourself in the middle of a Monet painting – nourishing eyes, heart and soul.

Endlessly Connected

prairie & smoothies 007These last few days of summer vacation before school begins allow for some relaxation and reflection. Recently the prairie in our development was mowed. While it was growing, we could see how butterflies, fireflies, hawks, chipmunks, rabbits, and birds of every color made the prairie their home. Until the prairie returns I’ll miss its color, scent, green coolness and soft textures. The prairie was an entire ecosystem – all interconnected and interdependent – the way our planet is interconnected, but in miniature.

We are a part of this interconnectedness and interdependence. Our health depends on the health of the planet and all the species who exist within its biosphere.

The lie of our culture is that we are somehow separate, competitive individuals. Ancient wisdom and modern science tell a very different story. Greed and violence happen when we are less than human. We are all interconnected and interdependent. Our natural inclination is to cooperate, to support, to care and to collaborate. This is what indigenous cultures have known for thousands of years. This is what the world’s major religions teach.

Because we are interconnected, those who suffer elsewhere on the planet are a part of us. The suffering of others hurts us in ways that we don’t yet understand – but nevertheless it hurts us – even if it is because we may become callous to its existence, our hearts hardened.

Our inability to care for ourselves, each other and the entire planet happens when we are less than who we are meant to be. This inability to care is the root cause of violence on every level – verbal, emotional, psychological, spiritual and physical.

Love and care begin within. Health begins within. We must learn to speak kindly to ourselves within our own minds. We must learn to fully respect our bodies and minds. Eat and drink only what brings health to every cell. Watch and participate in activities that inspire, delight and challenge.

We can endlessly shape and change our minds, bodies and relationships. One practice is to start each day by making just one choice that is healthier than before – either physically, emotionally, spiritually or mentally. After just two weeks a change can become a habit. Justice begins within.

Those made poor also offer us a chance to open our hearts and grow. They offer us an opportunity to change – to become engaged, to learn about how we create poverty. Those made poor offer us a way to become healthy by becoming more connected, more compassionate, more fully human.

 

 

 

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Lately, because of traveling and other commitments I haven’t been able to post very often. We’ve been enjoying outdoor concerts, grilling farmers’ market vegies and gathering with friends. However, in spite of and in the midst of everyday living our garden is doing surprisingly great. With all the rain we’ve had and some extra help from my friend L, my flower pots are having a banner year. She gave me a formula (“thrill, fill, spill”) for planting the pots and introduced me to some plants I’ve never used before. It was really a fun experience working with her and discovering new textures, sizes and plant colors. They provide amazing color, scent and beauty every day. Take a look – enjoy!

FlowerPot1

FlowerPot2

FlowerPot 1-13

 

ZenGardenEven our Zen garden – with its herbs, scented flowers and native grasses is happy and content. Plus the wood is getting a nice weathered patina that I really enjoy.

This quote, also sent to me from my friend L, says something about what flowers and all things beautiful can bring to our lives;

26 Iyar 5773 | May 6, 2013, 41st Day of the Omer

Beauty takes us beyond the visible to the height of consciousness, past the ordinary to the mystical, away from the expedient to the endlessly true. Beauty sustains the human heart in the midst of pain and despair. Whatever the dullness of a world stupefied by the mediocre, in the end beauty is able, by penetrating our own souls, to penetrate the ugliness of a world awash in the cheap, the tawdry, the imitative, the excessive, and the cruel. To have seen a bit of the Beauty out of which beauty comes is a deeply spiritual experience. It shouts to us always, “More. There is yet more.”

Joan Chittister, Illuminated Life

 

Summer Arrives

Photo R. Meshar

Photo R. Meshar

Today it finally feels like summer may arrive. Brilliant sunshine pouring in through bedroom windows this morning woke me up. Nice way to awaken!

Lately it feels like we’ve been living in an eastern location of Seattle – too many cloudy days. The arrival of sunshine energized me to get outside, head to the Farmers’ Market – which I did yesterday – and prepare our living space for summer. I think it’s important to mark the seasons in what we eat, and how we live. It anchors us to the earth, its cycle of seasons, and to the place where we live.

Farmers’ Market vegies have encouraged me to grill a number of meals so far. Grilled potatoes, corn, onions, parsnips (wintered-over), tomatoes, sweet potatoes, fresh pineapple and asparagus are just a few of the vegies that have made it to our grill so far. Finish with a light gyoza sauce and they’re ready to serve up.

Yes – summer is on its way. . .

 

Theology and Consumerism

Photo DesktopNexus.com

Photo DesktopNexus.com

I’ve not posted too much lately because I was asked to teach a J-Term class at the university where I work (think one month, January, fifteen weeks crammed into 18 days!). The course was on theology and consumerism. “What’s the connection?” you might ask. Well . . . everything. How we see God – loving, compassionate and present within each person, for example – influences how we make decisions regarding everything we buy or whether we buy anything at all.

For Christians (and others too) we believe there is an inherent responsibility to consume less in order to relieve the stresses caused by carbon and waste to our planet. There is concern for the 23 million human beings enslaved worldwide to produce cheap goods for industrialized countries. I live in an urban area (Twin Cities) that is sadly one of the centers of human trafficking in this country. Finally, there is a concern about the inhumane treatment given to many of the animals we consume.

In many ways this seems too overwhelming to consider. And yet we have a moral responsibility to do exactly that. However, education and changes can be made slowly over time. It’s a process that is on-going. Choosing to live more simply is a great way to start. It is a way to use less, take care with what is actually used and frees time to learn more about what and how we consume.

So this was the topic of the course. The students were engaged, thoughtful and brought excellent suggestions and ideas to their discussions. I am always amazed at how much young adults are already doing to learn more, help others and the earth. They are inspiring for sure! They inspired me most definitely!

How many planets would it take to support your lifestyle? Here is one of the links a student highlighted that calculates what our lifestyle choices mean for our planet. Get started. Click on the map and find out if you should consider living more simply.

You may also like Bottled Water? Yuck! and Earth Day.