Sunday, May 31, 2020

Virtue in Government

The Mystery within...
As is my usual practice after dinner, I had my television tuned to a PBS station while cleaning up the kitchen. A documentary on China’s long history was playing. A word attributed to the ancient Chinese philosopher, Confucius, regarding successful government, caught my attention. The word was virtue. So when my dishwasher started humming, I went to my computer and goggled Confucius and virtue. An October 2010 Los Angeles Times article by Daniel K. Gardner, East Asian history professor, came up.

I encourage you to check out Gardner’s article for yourself, which got me thinking about some of the more graced teaching in my life relating to virtue in the Eight Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount that you can find on Wikipedia. It is the invitation to be blessed in life through humility, mourning, gentleness, hungering and thirsting for justice, being merciful, having a clean heart, working for peace, and enduring persecution because of a thirst for justice. 

A few days later this quote from Confucius found me, “When walking in the company of two other men [I’ll include women] I am bound to be able to learn from them. The good points of the one I copy; the bad points of the other I correct in myself.”  

There are no perfect people or governments but people and governments can strive to be virtuous. Unbridled capitalism and a ‘me first’ attitude is desensitizing us to the cry of the earth, and the needs of the poor, hungry and sick. 

This worldwide pandemic can be the wakeup call for us to understand how intricately we are connected to one another and the fragility of Mother Earth. It can prompt us to understand we are designed to be here for one another and to protect the environment. 

There are minds and hearts out there that desire a virtuous government. Support them; encourage them; vote for them. 

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Transformative Trouble

The Mystery within...
I hope we never go back to the way things were after this global pandemic ends.

I want the compassion I feel for “essential workers” at the low end of the wage scale to be felt by those who can make a positive difference in their wages and work environment.

I want everyone, everywhere to have clean water, air and wholesome food and that we all contribute something to that end.

I want us all to understand nature’s beauty and delicate balance to lead us to consider what is necessary for our life and reduce what is frivolous.

I want everyone to have a hot shower and a warm bed to crawl into at night.

I want anger or indifference (mine and that of others) to be transformed into work for peace and harmony knowing how intricately everyone and everything is connected.

I want this pandemic to be an eye opening and heart opening experience for us all.

Life is paradoxical. Adversity mutates and evolves. There are so many critical issues of social justice at stake in our world, our country, and our local communities that beg us to stop and reflect on the needs of others and Mother Earth.

What do you want to evolve from this pandemic?  



Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Losing It

The Mystery within...
I thought I was doing a fairly good job of keeping myself together in these trying pandemic times until I lost it. 

Rare March sunshine was brightening that revelatory day. It led me to hang my freshly washed sheets and pillowcases out on the clothesline to dry in a sunny breeze. I put a lawn chair out and was about to sit down and revel in the warm rays when I was accosted by a wave of poison in the air sprayed by lawn service workers four doors south of me. I was jolted into a rage.  It didn’t help that a few days earlier, neighbors on both sides of me, had their lawn “serviced”. I stormed down the sidewalk toward the offending workers. The level of my rage scared me. But I felt it as a metaphor for all the chaos that is going on in our world.

We don’t need a monoculture, carcinogenic carpet, surrounding our homes. We need a healthy dose of biologic diversity, not only in our lawns, but also in our human communities. We need more human diversity in our religions and governments putting forth a range of ideas, and a genuine willingness to learn from one another. Especially, we all need to learn the skilled art of compromise. 

We need fair maps, not gerrymandering, that subvert opportunities for compromise. We need to be prudent in how we spend our money, not on excesses that pollute our earth, but spending where it is good for the environment and one another. We need equitable tax distribution where everyone pays their fair share, and we need to remove the status of corporations as citizens. We need leaders that promote unity, not division, who have deep concern for the environment and one another. We need to live more wisely from our hearts as well as our heads.

Life is paradoxical. Losing it can help us find our place in the world. Please vote as if all life depends on you. It does.  

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Breaking for Others

The Mystery within...

I am hoping this post is the beginning of my return to a more regular schedule of reflection and writing about the important things in life that find me. Surgeries, two weeks apart in January, on some troublesome veins in each of my legs have slowed me down. Recovery is progressing. I am reminded patience is a virtue.

Walking is the recommended activity to aid my recovery, which I gratefully do everyday outside with my sweet boy, yellow lab, Oliver. We are currently restricted to sidewalk leash walks. We both miss our trek across the bridge spanning the river to the welcoming woods on the other side. The anticipation of our eventual return sustains me for now. 

We walked to the post office the other day, a departure from our now usual route around the quiet neighborhood that also includes a stretch of bike trail. I knew walking to the post office would be easier than the return because the cold, strong north wind at our back would be very unpleasant to face walking home. I was thrilled we caught a brief break in traffic at the busy highway we had to cross that runs through town and pushed on to mail the phone bill.   

The cold wind was worse than I imagined on the return, and at the highway, when traffic to my right had a brief break, traffic to my left was a steady stream of cars, and then it was vice a versa. I felt a little panicky with the icy buffeting wind in my face and the rush of people driving bye. And then there was a break in the traffic to my left, but I could not move fast enough to beat the cars coming from the right until miraculously the lead driver of a long stream of cars stopped and waved me on to cross. My heart leapt with gratitude. Oliver and I hurried across the road as I waved a sincere thank you to the kind driver.

The rest of the way home the kindness of that driver warmed and informed me. I thought how often it is we rush through life not seeing others who need a break, or we are just too busy to care. There are so many critical issues of social justice at stake in our world, our country, and our local communities that beg us to stop and reflect on others needs, and give them a brake. Ultimately we are better off when we are all better off.

What if we all braked for others more often?  


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Troublesome People

The Mystery within...
Troublesome people are troubled people. I know this because I have been troubled of late and I became troublesome for another. My awareness gifted me with the opportunity to apologize. As I was apologizing I began to cry because sometimes life just feels overwhelming. My tears were a gift, cathartic for me, and they elicited true empathy from the one whom I had given a hard time. Through the phone line, I heard the gift of sincere empathy in her voice. 

When gifted with the awareness of being troublesome, I highly recommend an apology from the heart. It just might gift the other with an expression of true empathy. And then life no longer feels overwhelming.

“Adversity mutates and evolves.” I found that quote in notes I took during time spent at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 at the Christine Center in northern Wisconsin.  There, a diverse group of souls spent time releasing 2019 and welcoming 2020. It was a wonderful way to say good-bye to the past and welcome a new year of learning. 

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Darkness and Light

The Mystery within...
“The spiritual life is not a theory. We have to finally live it.” Those lines ended Richard Rohr’s 12/17/19 daily reflection. I wrote them down on a small card so they can find me again to remind me to live it. 

World news that evening did a story on a camp overflowing with 18,000 refugees fleeing oppression. I stood transfixed, watching and overwhelmed by heart wrenching suffering of the children and their parents in that camp. I was grateful I finished writing and mailing my year-end checks to charities, but the magnitude of need worldwide made my efforts seem insignificant.

The 12/17/19 Women’s Older Wisdom blog was titled, “Coping with Political Despair”. It began with this quote, “Activism is the greatest antidote to despair.” So I was grateful my letter to the editor titled, “Politics and Spirituality” was published in the December 19 edition of my local paper. (See Sacred Connections post, November 25 entry.)

On December 19 I was touched by hope listening to and watching Democrats debate who among them will be the best option to return fairness in government through just taxes; acknowledging we all belong and have intrinsic value regardless of our abilities; and understand the way to freedom, equality and justice is through teamwork. The Democrats' dialogue gave me hope for our country after suffering through the impeachment rebuttals. And I am reminded respectful dialogue is essential in any endeavor for change.  

Life is relational. We learn from own light and darkness and the light and darkness of others. 

What if we each played our small part to bring about needed change in how we allow ourselves to be governed, not alone, but together through teamwork.  Justice and equality in America can then be spread more easily throughout the world.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Living Life

The Mystery within...
November 27 to December 1, 2019

Wednesday and Thursday were two days of cooking, sharing meals, and socializing around the Thanksgiving holiday that left me exhausted before bed each night. Friday, Oliver had his follow-up vet appointment that left me bummed out with his  prognosis and on-going restrictions. And Saturday I took my first walk in the woods in over two weeks, without Oliver. I felt separate and alone, akin to when someone close has just died. And Saturday night I read from a book titled, Miracles and Mysteries Witnessed by Nurses, edited by Jean Watson, of stories of seriously ill adults and children, and either their mysterious cures or miraculous acceptance of their impending deaths. Those nurses stories put perspective on the vet’s recommendation that Oliver loose 25 pounds and only go on short leash walks to give his ligaments time to heal and possibly avoid corrective surgery.

Sunday, there was a cold, light mist falling when I took Oliver on his leash walk. As we walked it occurred to me that after I took him home I could ride my bike to the woods. But then the mist turned to a steadier cold rain and I had second thoughts about biking. But then the rain turned to big white flakes that melted when they hit the pavement so I put on my bike helmet, road to the woods, parked at its edge where I found a new walking stick to steady me on the path of slippery wet leaves that were now accumulating big white flakes of snow. As I walked the feeling of separate aloneness returned. I prayed for both my and Oliver’s miraculous acceptance of our restrictions and a mysterious cure. 

It’s only a little over a mile round trip bike ride to the woods and back and about a mile walk around the woods, so I am hoping the weather will continue to offer opportunities to bike there and back. I gained four pounds in the two weeks of missed walks and the continued biking will help keep my legs in shape for my impending surgery come January. In a previous post titled, “Being Present”, I wrote: “It occurs to me life is like the weather—always changing—and requiring us to change in response.”

Monday, December 2 to Wednesday, December 4, 2019

I’m feeling less guilty about skipping days of written reflection. Not sure if that is good or bad or neither. Are days too short? Am I trying to do too much? Wishing I had more energy to do it all. Or is everything just as it should be?

I spent this morning at the Ozaukee County Court House with friends petitioning the county Board of Supervisors to allow a referendum on the spring 2020 ballot proposing an end to gerrymandering of voting districts following the 2020 census. When I got up to the microphone to speak I told the Board of Supervisors the last time I appeared before them I was holding my first grandchild, who is now driving and looking to buy a house, when I asked that they approve a proposal to acquire Lion’s Den Gorge, a beautiful piece of creation on Lake Michigan’s shoreline near Grafton that needed protection from development and opened for all to enjoy. I thanked them for their decision back then on behalf of my grandchildren, all children, and for myself who now enjoy its beauty. I then asked that they please allow the people of Ozaukee County a voice through a referendum on the spring 2020 ballot proposing an end to gerrymandering districts following the 2020 census to protect our democracy for us and the children.

There are three women now on the County Board, none when I appeared back in the late 1990’s. I was so proud of them. Each spoke eloquently against a board member proposal to indefinitely defer our request for a ballot referendum. We left the meeting with a glimmer of hope since the indefinite was changed to defer to the January 15 meeting, which would still allow time for the people of Ozaukee County to have a referendum, a voice on the spring ballot, to propose an end to gerrymandering of voting districts. Stay tuned.