soon

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cold wind blows over
brittle blankets of old snow
soon to melt with spring

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truth and transparency

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Unbelievably, unthinkably, reprehensibly – Chelsea Manning is once again jailed. This news flits across the feed and is quickly buried. But we ignore this story at our peril.

Chelsea Manning is a truth-teller. In this latest go-round, she is again carefully and deliberately taking a stand for truth and transparency. It is a stand taken on my behalf, on your behalf. She is putting herself on the line for what is right and for the good of her fellow humans.

She is fully aware, after seven years in prison, of what she’s getting herself into. She is one of those few brave souls willing to stand up for truth, to hold the powers that be accountable, at a terrible personal cost.

Her story is, of course, obfuscated and tinted by those powers as they continue their long, cruel persecution. But the reality is that she is a hero, and deserves our support. 

Free Chelsea Manning. Truth and transparency.

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of animals and ecosystems

veru3_9_19Wolves were airlifted into the US from Canada at the end of February to bolster the wolf population in Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park. The purpose is to help control the moose population there.

This week, though, we heard that US wildlife officials are planning to lift protections on grey wolves in the lower 48 states, allowing them to be hunted.

Wolves have been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1975, when there was something like 1,000 of the animals left in the entire lower 48.

The reintroduction of grey wolves to Yellowstone National Park in 1995 tells an amazing story about the trophic cascade that occurred there – impacting the ecosystem in surprising and extensive ways. Sustainable Human offers a short, lovely video about it here.

Let’s leave the wolves alone and let them do the magic for which they were designed.

We are losing species at an alarming rate. Let us stop willfully refusing to connect the dots.

We have learned that there is a delicate, precious balance in our ecosystems. Humans are part of the ecosystems, not the CEO’s.  

Posted in animals, nature, peace | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

think equal: International Women’s Day

veru3_8_19Today marks International Women’s Day.

It may have escaped notice, but as recently as yesterday, a push to make Arkansas the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment was killed in committee. The initiative seeks to amend the Constitution to ensure that,  “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” This fundamental assertion has lingered with insufficient ratifications by the states since its approval by Congress in 1972. I guess that simple declaration is just a bridge too far, #MeToo and all that notwithstanding.

This week, imprisoned women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia learned that they will be prosecuted. They have suffered torture and sexual assault during their now one-year long imprisonment, according to one investigation. The UN has lately called for the women’s freedom. The United States was not among the countries supporting the joint statement that also called for other human rights improvements in Saudi Arabia.

The ongoing priority exhibited in state legislatures around the US continued to play out lately with several bills moving along to ban abortion for any reason after six weeks. Women aside, these bills are always advanced in the name of that great reverence for life. If that is indeed the priority, one cannot help but ask why these bills continue apace while government remains engaged in holding children forcibly separated from their parents, ramping up war agendas, and abetting suffering and death unabated in Yemen? Among. Many. Other. Things.

The World Economic Forum’s latest report tells us that there is a 32 percent average gender gap globally in the areas of health and survival, political empowerment, educational attainment, and economic participation and opportunity. The US ranks 51 out of the 149 countries included in the report, with a gender parity score of .72.

It is pretty dismal to see how these scores have degraded over time. For example, in 2006, the US ranked 23 (out of 114) for this report. It scored at the very top on the health and survival spectrum at that time. In this recent report, the US score for health and survival sunk to 71 (out of 149).  It ranks even further down, 98, on the political empowerment scale. The only score that’s improved is in the area of education, now at 46. 

We all know we can do better, and, when we do, it’s better for everybody. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day: ‘Think equal, build smart, innovate for change.”

That works.

Posted in compassion, peace | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

the hand in the work

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The stitches in a quilt made by hand speak out loud. They document a story, or at least some portion of a story. The threads are the evidence of individual effort – of a person’s intention, their hand hovering over the fabric, pulling the needle through.

There is always satisfaction in seeing the hand in the work.

Whether a quilt, a painting, a piece of pottery, or carved or constructed wood, such works create connection between the maker and the finished piece and the one who holds it.

It serves a mindful purpose, both in the making and the use.

Such a work presents an obvious truth. It’s honest. 

There is rest in that. It makes an easing of the heart, space opening up somewhere inside us.

Posted in creativity, life | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

doodles: earth haiku

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earth clothed by God’s hand
we pull threads, seams come undone
leaving only rags

Posted in nature, peace, poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

still strummin’

veru3_3_19The ukulele adventure continues. Thanks to faithful practice, my uke now sports a veritable rainbow of ribbons.

I have learned a lot!!

One of my friends seemed baffled that the class is taking this long. They seem to think of the ukulele as a very limited instrument which manages to eke out just a few chords using a basic strum.

Turns out, though, that there is much one can do with a ukulele. I am having fun learning new chords every week, as well as learning different strumming patterns. I also eventually want to learn to pick. A brief sojourn around the internet reveals the versatility and breadth of the instrument.

I am also learning songs. Several of the songs that I can now play, I had to look up and listen to before I could even begin to learn to play them.

I find that as the pieces get more challenging, the introvert in me (of which there is a whole lot) becomes a tad distressed about performing for the instructor in front of the rest of the class. It’s the singing, not the strumming.

I notice that the younger people in the class seem to have zero qualms about playing and singing in front of everyone else. Well, actually, now that I think about it, everyone else in the class seems that way. So, I try to be inspired by them and shed my inhibitions long enough to pass the test for which I’ve practiced so much. After all, eventually, I would like to play my ukulele with confidence in the company of others.

So, onward and upward. I am super happy I decided to venture down this path. My ukulele is my friend.

Posted in life, music | Tagged , , | 2 Comments