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.

 

 

 

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. . .

 

My Health Insurance Makes Me Sick

HellmannsOliveOilMayoWow. Unbelievable. Today I received coupons in the mail from my health insurance provider –  Blue Cross Blue Shield. The coupons were for fat-loaded, sweetener-filled junk foods that should not be part of anyone’s healthy diet: Sweet Freedom Ice Cream Bars, Fudge Lites and Ice Cream, Weight Watchers Ice Cream Sandwiches,  C&H and Domino Sugar Blends and Hellmann’s Mayonnaise Dressing with Olive Oil. Really?? I should be loading up my diet with sugary snacks, processed food and olive-oil-fat-filled mayo?

Why isn’t Blue Cross promoting healthy hummus instead of mayo? Or frozen vegie-fruit smoothies instead of ice cream junk food?

Because Blue Cross is in bed with big food corporations and the $$$ that mailing coupons for these corporations produces. Further, as a healthy person I don’t generate much income for health insurance companies (healthy people have lower premiums), health care services, or the drug industry. To increase their profit margins it is much better for me to be chronically sick, taking diabetes, blood pressure or cholesterol medications – ideally for the rest of my life.

How best to do this? Promote bad health, of course! Junk food coupons – here we come! Worse, I’m paying the cost for this unethical marketing with my insurance premiums.

Don’t assume your health insurance or health care providers are even remotely interested in maintaining your good health. Always ask, “Who benefits?”

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Walk Out of the Tomb – Walk Into a New Reality

Photo R. Meshar

Photo R. Meshar

Not too long ago my friend L contacted our parish to let them know that she was interested in forming a new small Christian community. But life being what it is, there were other priorities at the parish and as time went by it became clear that things might not happen within the time frame she had in mind. Rather than become irritated, annoyed, or continue to repeat her request (i.e. nag), she contacted some people she thought might be interested then hosted our first meeting. A wonderful group came together. Through her own initiative, she created a supportive group of people with similar values – a group that she wanted to be part of.

This is the challenge of Christianity. This is what we see in the model of Jesus. Jesus never demanded that the religious authorities of his day change to his way of thinking. Neither did he nag them to do things differently. Rather, he created a community of women and men who shared his values and lived out of those values.

When Jesus was confronted by those in authority he stated his values or offered a parable to shock others into a new way of thinking. Everyone was invited to join in – but not pressured or coerced into doing so. Even when his family confronted him – demanding he come with them and accept their way of viewing the world (a patriarchal, tribal worldview), Jesus responded by radically changing their definition of family – “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers? These people here with me now are my family!” (Mark 3). Then he went about his life, not expecting or demanding that his genetic family see things his way or change.

Neither did Jesus spend much time with family or religious authorities who didn’t share his values. After all, the best way to resist patriarchy and tribalism is simply not to participate in it. In moving toward a better, healthier way of living, one naturally moves away from ways that are harmful or toxic.

The same path is open to each of us too. We can continue to bemoan the fact that families, corporations, hierarchies or institutions fail to share our values. We can expend much energy pressuring or demanding them to change – or we can simply start living in a different way. We can change. Like my friend L, we can live into a new reality and invite others to join us.

Resurrection: Walk out of the tomb. Walk into a new reality.

“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.” 
Richard Rohr

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