vocation of angels

I have had a few angels in my life. I have some right now, I suppose. 

I imagine that the loved ones I have lost must be very, very busy in the next life. It’s rather ridiculous to imagine they have time to notice what’s going on in the old one, but, every now and then, it’s clear, they do. I wonder how that works. I wonder if I will understand it when it’s my turn.

I hope I can be one of those. I hope I can somehow arrive at just the perfect, most needed moment, and say the right words. I hope I can somehow arrange a smile on lips otherwise trembling with tears. I hope I can be that space where you know you are okay, that someone genuinely sees you, whole and utterly accepted even in the mystery that you are. I hope I can be the arms, always open, that somehow hold you, making no demands. I hope I am that place where whatever love you bring, no matter how disguised or disfigured, is always enough. I hope I can be the infinite love that was always there even when you couldn’t feel it.

Because the angels — they have done all those things for me. 

I suspect the next life is just as busy as this one. I am not in the camp that supposes there is a lot of lounging around with harps on clouds. No, it’s busy, it’s full, it’s beautiful, it’s creative, because how could it be less than this life? 

Evidently, though, it’s somehow even bigger. Because I know the angels are there. They’ve made that apparent, transcending space and time and dimensions I don’t have the capacity to imagine. I am grateful. And I am trying.

compassionate new year :)!

Perhaps 2021 can be the year we begin to build in earnest our own compassionate culture. After 2020’s time of introspection, its heavy dosing of fear, its many questions, lessons, and losses, maybe we can feel empowered to build something new.

We see, after all, the technocapitalist drill does not serve humanity, the other beings, the planet, quite so well. It’s really good at some things, but compassion — a key element for life — is missing entirely.

Let’s make this year the one where we bring deep, fundamental compassion to the system.  Let the system shiver and learn to adjust, or crumble.

Love. Health. Abundance. Creativity. Freedom.

we deserve better

Hell, yeah. It was a breath of fresh air to see first Tulsi Gabbard and now, yes, even Donald Trump, call out and expose the supposed Covid relief bill Congress pushed through. If it wasn’t already apparent, the approval of this ‘bill’ demonstrates such open contempt for the American people that no doubt can remain in the mind of any thinking person about the breathtaking, evil corruption in our “representation.” 

The 5,000-plus pages of brazen handouts to an astonishing array of entities, both foreign and domestic, under the guise of Covid relief is beyond insulting, it is criminal. The people we’re paying in Washington need to be fired, yesterday. 

And where, by the way, was incoming Joe Biden while this reprehensible act played out? After the fact, he suggests that he’ll push for more assistance in the next bill. Sorry, Joe, but your “down payment” is a day late and a dollar short. Come on, man.

Failing an overthrow of Congress, I’d settle at this point for a clean Covid Relief Bill, with none of the outright theft and sleight of hand that constitutes the majority of what Congress just passed. This would be a bill that includes actual relief for the people. And that does not amount to any 5,000 pages, mind you. While that’s going down, let’s boot Pelosi, too, and have some real discussion on healthcare for pete’s sake.

The people. That’s us. The ones paying these cretins. The ones paying for all this corruption. Wake up. Step up. We deserve better.

go ahead, change the world

As we all watch our leaders in Washington struggle, yet again, to bring themselves to serve the people instead of, say, defense contractors, who can help but wonder what we can do. 

As we watch even the progressive “squad” demur from forcing Medicare for All to a floor vote during a pandemic, we wonder just what it will take to effect real change. 

Each day, as we see the President-elect prepare to nominate yet another empty-suited crony to a top position in the new administration, we struggle to know how real change, positive change will come. 

We feel powerless, helpless to change this massive system that rolls along and over so many.

And yet, it is we who really do hold the power in our hands. Short of organizing, beyond organizing, there is one simple thing each of us can do that would immediately trigger change towards the world we want to see. 

If we all really want peace on earth and good will to all beings, we will walk away from using and eating animals. It’s that simple. And it’s something any of us – yes, even you – can do.

The uncomplicated act of refusing to participate in our society’s oppression, abuse, and killing of animals on a scale beyond imagination is the beginning and the key to massive, positive societal change. 

If our society really embraces a whole food plant-based diet, we will witness profound changes in everything from much-improved health to a reversal of climate destruction (and just in the nick of time). We will break the grip of the cabal of corporations on government and in our lives.

We will change the world in amazing ways, turning toward a compassion-based way of life instead of the cruel competition that we were taught to believe is inevitable and normal. 

Cruelty, killing, impoverishment, suffering, control is not normal. Nor is it inevitable. We have the power to change it for the animals, and, in so doing, we will change it for ourselves and our culture. We will change it for our children, and theirs.

So simple. It’s something you can do. It’s enjoyable. There’s tons of support and information. Be delighted by what you discover.

YOU have the power. Step up. Go ahead, change the world.

opus

I look up to the sky
and feel my heart open
to the birds silently winging
so full of grace and purpose in their mission

I notice the trees
where the squirrels ramble
playful, elfin 
they melt my heart into a smile

On the mountain path
the elk and the bear and the snake
surprise my heart, filling it
with beauty and power and mystery

The ocean churns with its deep secrets
where a glimpse of the whale
captures the breath of my heart
in a moment purely wild and free

My heart beats with all of life
a radiant symphony,
the inspired strains of all beings,
each part essential,
melding into this profound work
complete and whole and perfect.

voices

No more. Who can read of yet another person put to death at the hands of government and not feel ashamed, angry, sad, revolted? This is so wrong on every level, and it must end. These are the leaders to whom the American people have granted power. These are the tax dollars that came out of your pockets put to such evil purposes, as if those aren’t many. We sit, silently absorbing these sick acts as they appear across our screens, supposing we have nothing to do with it. But in our silence we grant these powers to these leaders, we pay the bills, and we must finally recognize our complicity in these beyond-reprehensible acts. We must rise up, together, to speak against these murders and more. Media claims that would-be President Biden will put a stop to it, and that had better be the case. But with more of these murders planned between now and the 20th, cry out, “Stop!”, in the name of decency, humanity. Sadly, this abhorrent issue is one of many where we need to find our collective, compassionate voice and power. America, we can be so much better than this. Let us begin to reshape our country with compassion.

turtle in the pond

turtle in the pond
live free
and happy
while the sun shines down
and the leaves flutter in the breeze
and the fish swim by
and the birds dip low
and the dragonflies skitter past
and the greenness of growing things surrounds you

turtle in the pond
live free 
and happy
until day the researcher bands you
or the birds and the dragonflies mysteriously disappear
or the fish die off from pollutants
or the agricultural run-off chokes your lifeblood 
or the net dips down for you
or the bulldozers come

turtle in the pond
we are not so different, are we?
live free
and happy
we are all turtles in the pond

what a tabby cat knows


it comes over 
not quite like a squall line
but one of those looming
heaps of clouds
that slowly moves in
and the whole day gets dark

maybe it’s just a careless word
that hurt
or maybe it’s that inner voice
stuck in fruitless repetition
asking why or how

when those days happen
he somehow knows
he never fails to come near
he doesn’t say a word

if you speak
he listens
if you cry
he touches you gently on the cheek
he stays, steadfast, at your side
watching with caring eyes
the close warmth of him
speaking where there are no words

such deliberate compassion
spanning an abyss
between a human
and a feline
who somehow seems to know 
how to witness the hurts of life in others
and nurse them with a tenderness
sometimes forgotten by members of our own species
the deepest empathy and absence of judgment
innate if only we allow

as the skies clear
a butterfly 
suddenly captures his attention
and delivers a smile to your lips

considering the food on our plates

These two won’t be food, thank goodness.

We don’t like to think about it very much. We are pretty good at avoiding thinking about the lives and deaths of the animals that we eat or use for food. It is indeed a difficult subject to contemplate, and yet it is an absolute, inescapable fact due to our choice to use animals, on a grand scale, for food.

Maybe we have seen the large trucks rumbling down the highway, and perhaps noticed the eyes and snouts of the animals packed inside. They are on their way to the slaughterhouse, but we probably never get that far in our thoughts. We just notice a truck full of pigs, never processing what that ride must be like for those beings, or exactly where it is they are headed.

As the trucks arrive at the slaughterhouse, it sometimes happens that there is a group of animal activists there. They are there to bear witness. They are awake to the fact that these are animals just like us. 

Just like us, the animals feel fear, they feel pain. They are sentient: conscious, aware, feeling.

So the activists bear witness to these last moments of these animals’ lives by speaking tenderly to them, by giving them some water to drink, by perhaps giving the animals the only real show of compassion and respect that they have ever known from humans — all while the animals are still crowded inside the transport truck. 

The animals were born trapped into a system that profits by their death. And it is all about the profit. These animals have never known freedom on this earth: born, living, and dying to serve another species’ market.

The protest also serves as an attempt to raise awareness of this cruel industry and our part in it. Rest assured, there would be no industry if not for our part in it.

On June 19, just a few days ago, such a protest took place in Burlington, Ontario. There was an additional impetus for this protest due to the fact that Canada, like its neighbor to the south, had just passed an ag gag law, Bill 156. Such laws are designed to further protect the animal agriculture industry, make it easier to keep its practices concealed, and insulate it from scrutiny or protest.

That day, one of the protestors in the Toronto Pig Save group was a 65-year-old woman named Regan Russell, a longtime advocate for animals and for other social causes. But at this particular protest, by the time all was said and done, Russell was dead, having been run over by a slaughterhouse truck.

It is my hope that even one person will stop and think about the meat on their plate, and decide to say no. In saying no, we reject a vast, cruel system of exploitation, one that abuses the animals, the planet, and, indeed, the consumers for profit. In saying no, we choose kindness and love and we help to open the world to more of that.

In the memory of Regan Russell, please give a moment to consider the food on your plate.