There must justice for all or there is justice for no one.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Urban man is the only creature on earth that cares what “time” it is. The Bushmen who still follow the old hunting traditions know that a hunt, which may last more than a day, will take as long as it takes.

A farmer following a more traditional planting and harvesting cycle knows that work that needs to be done will take as long as it needs to take and happen when it needs to happen. When the time is right to plow and plant that’s what you do and you do it until you’re done. When it’s time to harvest and process the crop you harvest and process the crop until you’re done. If you work from first light to last light that’s what you do. They know that the only control they have over the process is pushing the started on the machine. Nature is still in the driver’s seat, at least part of the time.

American clock watchers on the other hand go so far as to try and trick themselves in the summer. Instead of just getting up at seven during the summer we reprogram our clocks so that we can pretend we’re still getting up at eight instead.

Birds don’t watch clocks. Their songs follow the sunlight no matter when it appears. There is a magic moment when the sky goes from black to an edge of gray. Then the first tentative shadows of song begin. Chickadees, song sparrows, wrens, jays and crows each one sings their song as the sky gets brighter. The birds and their songs are so intertwined that it’s as if one moment they aren’t birds and then next moment as the song begins they become birds on this new day. By the time the sun appears over the horizon the dawn chorus is ending and it’s time for breakfast.

The chorus isn’t as loud on these darker days, it’s been too darn cold. The cast changes but there are still birds flitting from dogwood to rhodie to feeders and back as the day lightens. On days when we’re really lucky there’s a bit of sunshine to brighten the day.

I really like the old Irish calendar this time of year. By the old calendar winter began November first. That means next week when we have the solstice it’ll be midwinter and spring starts in med February with Imbolc. I’m ready now, thank you very much.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


It may be my iconoclastic, eternally questioning little soul but it’s been years since I bought into the “gentle Mary, the meek and mild” interpretation of Jesus’ mother. I guess this is my not very traditional take on the advent season.

A few years ago I found myself asking “what if Mary had said no?” In theory she could have. We do have free will within our relationship with God. I assume she was a well brought up, faithful Jewish girl. She’d probably been to the synagogue; was familiar with the Law and the commandments. She was betrothed; she was as good a married. Customarily it was all over except for the blessing as soon as the marriage contract was signed and here was an angel announcing that if she said yes Someone Else was going to be the Father of her first born. Even if all this was God’s idea, if Mary said yes she was technically committing adultery. If you look at it one way God was breaking His own commandment.

Her first thoughts just may have been “Joseph is not going to believe this” followed by “and neither will anyone else.” Then I can see her straighten up, lift her head and step right off the path of the known of the Law and into the unknown of the Promise.

This was no empty vessel. When God said “walk with me” she reached out and took His hand. Then they both reached out to Joseph and said “trust, it will work out.” Then to add a little extra adventure to the story and get mom to Bethlehem where the prophecy was to be fulfilled the Romans decided that this year would be a really good time for a census. And to accomplish this exercise in imperial bookkeeping for tax purposes everybody had to be counted SOMEPLACE ELSE. Imagine nearing your due date and traveling from Galilee to Bethlehem either one….step….at…..a……time, or perched on the back of a donkey. Makes me sea sick just imagining it and I’m not nine months pregnant.

Then because everyone else in Judea had to be someplace else at the same time as everybody else in Judea, she found herself giving birth in less than shall we say desirable conditions. In a stable for crying out loud. At least it wasn’t by the side of the road. I guess you have to count your blessings. Many Mediterranean buildings do have the living quarters over the barn; even if the stable was in the ground floor of the inn, it was still a stable. Most western mothers to be would probably faint at the idea. The heck with the Father, I’d want my mother, now.

So Mary’s managed to give birth to her promised first born. The family has been counted, the baby has probably had his bris and they learn that life just keeps getting better and better. Somehow the new parents discover that Herod the Great AKA Herod the Paranoid and Extremely Ruthless believes that while prophecies of promised Messiahs are all very well in theory, he prefers theory to fulfillment. It would be better to return home, eventually, by another road. Via Egypt. Joseph’s house and workshop probably weren’t all that much, but it was home. I mean, here we are stuck in a stable and now we’re homeless and on the run. Just keep repeating “we did say yes, we did say yes…..”

Traveling overland through country that’s just this side of being a desert on donkey back toting a newborn? If that isn’t trusting in the promise I don’t know what is. I can only imagine what was running through their minds every step of the way; “we did say yes, we did say yes, we did say yes…………”

Cross posted in Women On.


It's finally sinking in. I have to stop seeking and start listening. What I've been endlessly running to find has always been there if I'd just had the good sense to stop and listen.

Friday, November 27, 2009


A funny thing happend on my way out the church door. I found that hallway wasn't a straight line and I seem to have spiraled right back into the sanctuary. And , like William Wilberforce sitting on the wet grass in Amazing Grace contemplating spider webs, I'm trying to figure out if I found God or if God found me. And, like Mr. Wilberforce, I find the whole situation.......inconvenient for the lack of a better word. I keep telling God to go away and like the relative who knows that home is the one place where they have to let you in.......God keeps saying "let me in" and the knocking on the door is getting louder.

So, here I am..... again. With Thomas Merton at my elbow, Carmichael's Carmina Gadelica teetering on top of the book pile, a volume of advent readings that pairs Bonhoffer and Dorothy Day among others, a reading list that keeps getting longer, taller........and there do seem to be some appalling gaps in my education. One philosophy book in my library goes straight from Plato to Francis Bacon. That's over a thousand year gap. Roman writers get barely a nod and the church fathers early and late get no mention at all.

We're talking a thousand years of cutural amnesia here. Thanks to the Viking raids there are more Irish manuscripts in Europe than there are in Ireland. The Irish planted monastaries from Iona, Lindesfarne and Skellig Michael to Bobbio in Italy. Bobbio just happens to be north of Assissi and Saint Francis wasn't the first holy man to have and audience with fur and feathers in place of wool and linen. And he wasn't the last. So maybe I can have my cake of Celtic Spiritualy with the icing after all.

Excuse me, I guess I'd better go answer the door. Maybe my visitor can explain how three sister goddesses all named Brigid ended up as an Irish saint with a talent for giving away darn near anything to anyone who asked.


It might be a good thing to open our eyes and see.

It is essential to experience all the times and moods of one good place. It is God’s love that warms me in the sun and God’s love that sends the cold rain. It is God’s love that feeds me in the bread I eat and God’s love that feeds me in hunger and fasting…It is God who breathes on me with light winds off the river and in the breezes out of the woods.

As we go about the world everything we meet and everything we see and hear and touch…plants in us…something of heaven.

It is good and praiseworthy to look at some real created thing and feel and appreciate its reality. Just let the reality of what is real sink into you…for through real things we can reach Him who is infinitely real.

A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying Him…The more a tree is like itself the more it is like Him. This particular tree will give glory to God by spreading out its roots in the earth and raising its branches into the air and the light in a way that no other tree before it or after it ever did or will do.

There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a fount of action and joy. It rises up in wordless gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being, welcoming me tenderly, saluting me with indescribable humility.

If I am supposed to hoe a garden or make a table, then I will be obeying God if I am true to the task I am performing. To do the work carefully and well, with love and respect for the nature of my task and with due attention to its purpose, is to unite myself in God’s work. In this way I become his instrument. He works through me.

The sun on the grass was beautiful. Even the ground seemed alive.

By Thomas Merton.

Of course if a tree can give glory to the uniqueness of its creation by simply being a tree it follows that when we use that tree for our use we will use the wood carefully and with some respect. That’s what we should do. Whether our respect for the uniqueness of creation will survive our desire to possess that uniqueness is another story. As if having flooring or a piece of furniture made of wood from a rare and hard to find tree will make us rare and unique as well. That is another story, isn’t it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Advent it coming on in a couple of weeks; I discovered this lying around. I printed off a shorter version a few years ago.

While John Paul II was enduring his last illness, there were a great many posts about his beliefs (or perceived beliefs). John Paul did have a special devotion to Mary; something he shared with his fellow Poles. There were a great many posts in J land or the message boards arguing back and forth whether Mary was actually Jesus's mother-in the physical sense.

The sense of a lot of the posts made Mary at best a surrogate mother and at worst, an incubator. This has been percolating since then, so here goes.
Many of my fellow J landers are parents. I don't have kids, but I have five nephews, I've changed a lot of diapers over the years. Actually getting the child into the world is just the beginning.

I suspect that many of the posters didn't really think through what they were saying. Think of all the foster parents, friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents, step-parents, and adoptive parents. They become parents for reasons that transcend physical birth. Other family members die leaving small children behind. They adopt a child someone else can’t raise. The man I called grandpa promised his best friend that he’d look after his family. And he did it very well, thank you very much.

When a child comes into the world it’s just the beginning. Imagine God as a totally helpless baby. It has to be fed, changed, and bathed. Parents walk miles when that little one has the colic or starts cutting teeth. I suspect that little ones came down with colds and needed their noses wiped as often two thousand years ago as they do now.

When a toddler discovers what those little hands and feet are for, it has to be watched over to make sure that curiosity doesn’t lead those little hands and feet into danger. It had to be almost impossible to baby proof a house with an open hearth, bake oven, looms and carpentry tools. Someone's hands have to be there for those little hands to hang onto when the baby learns to walk. Someone’s voice helps the baby to learn to talk. The parents have to be there to teach the baby to love and be loved. That little boy, all little boys need loving parents to teach them how to love and how to be a man.

God couldn't be there to do these things for that baby. So he sent Mary and Joseph. They were His mother and father in every way that counts.
Imagine things from the Creators' point of view. Think about God watching someone else cuddle that baby. Watch someone else hold out their hands for those first faltering steps. Watch someone else encourage those first lisping sounds. Someone else offer comfort in the dark hours of the night when the child was sick. Watch someone else offer comfort when knees get skinned. Listen while that child calls someone else mother or father.
It's hard to imagine God as sacrificing, but I can't imagine a greater sacrifice than allowing someone else to raise your child.

Cross posted in Walking With Hope.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Several years ago I was sifting through the religion section of the local used book store and came across a couple of "offices" (prayer manuals) from a small religious community in Northumbria in England. They are a loosely affiliated group that emphasizes the Celtic strain of Christian practice. Perhaps we need to be reminded to slow down sometimes.

This is the profession of faith from the set of prayers for the evening.

Lord, You have always given
Bread for the coming day,
And though I am poor,
Today I believe.

Lord, You have always given
Strength for the coming day,
And though I am weak,
Today I believe.

Lord, You have always given
Peace for the coming day.
And though of anxious heart,
Today I believe.

Lord, You have always kept
Me safe in trials,
And now, tried as I am,
Today I believe.

Lord, You have always marked
The road for the coming day,
And though it may be hidden,
Today I believe.

Lord, You have always lightened
This darkness of mine,
And though the night is here,
Today I believe.

Lord, You have always spoken
When time was ripe,
And though You be silent now,
Today I believe.

Yes, it's only wise to plan for tomorrow and the day after and the day after that. But, we should remember that the past is behind us. There is no promise of the future. All we can really count on is today.

So, good luck for the morrow. May you get through the day in peace and be blessed with a little joy.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Tonight the Winter season for many in the Celtic traditions begins. This is the dark half of the year. The last of the harvest is in. The cold times are at hand. In lands with few cities candle or lamplight glimmering through the cottage windows would have been a welcome sight indeed.

In the past when our ancestors had to rely on the bounty their lands provided it could be a time of mixed blessings. Yes, it was a time to give thanks for the harvest. But, it was also an anxious time. Would this years’ harvest last until the first crops of spring came in? Could enough breeding stock be carried through the dark times to replenish the herds in the spring? Women in the coastal villages would have to wonder how many of their men folk would go out for the fishing, never to return. The spring bonfires of Beltane must have looked very far away.

But, the wheel turns and it is right to give thanks for the year that is passing. It is also time to think about what went right with the year, what we learned and how we might do things differently in the new year that is beginning. It’s also a time to remember those friends and family that are far away, even if they are just around the corner.

Song of Samhain

I am the hallow-tide of all souls passing.
I am the bright releaser of all pain.
I am the quickener of fallen seed case.
I am the glance of snow, the strike of rain.
I am the hollow of the winter twilight.
I am the hearth fire and the welcome bread.
I am the curtained awning of the pillow.
I am unending wisdom’s golden thread.

Caitlin Matthews.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


if we didn’t we wouldn’t true to ourselves. We hate the dry spells. Life gets in the way and we can’t write as often as we’d like to. The brain goes totally blank and we can’t come up with the words we need to save our souls or at least our sanity. And then I start to feel so empty because if I don’t write I’m not me.

It’s hard to believe, but this wonderful little poem was written in the eighth or ninth century by a Benedictine monk who also happened to be Irish. We don’t know his name but he lived in St. Paul’s Monastery on Reichenau Island in Lake Constance. The Irish church had more than a few religious who founded religious houses from Ireland to Italy. To be true to himself, the monk has to follow the bread crumb trail in search of spiritual truths that are food and drink to him. If he didn’t he wouldn’t be a writer. To be true to himself the monk’s furry room mate has to chase mice. If Pangur Ban didn’t chase mice he wouldn’t be a cat. PANGUR BAN

I and Pangur Ban my cat,
Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill will,
He too plies his simple skill.

Tis a merry thing to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Often times a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur’s way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our tasks we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

A wonderful little poem that has managed to survive for nearly twelve hundred years. I first came across this poem in May the Wind be at Your Back by Andrew Greeley. Granted if Pangur Ban doesn’t catch mice he’s not only not true to himself, he’s also going to get awfully hungry. Not quite true for his person.

Cross posted in Women On.

Monday, October 5, 2009


This is another example of what is often called an encompassing prayer. The Three may be the traditional Trinity, I’ve read some wonderful prayers using the traditional images but on a more personal level. Some of the old islanders and highland crofters used Mary, St Michael, and St Brigid. (usually pronounced Brede and can also be spelled Bride; she was also the Irish goddess associated with poetry and healing) Somehow she made the transition from pagan goddess to Christian saint. But, still with the image of healing and protection. Or the Three can be the trinity of the last entry; the Shape, Shaper, and Shaping of Life itself.

The Three Who are over me,
The Three Who are below me,
The Three Who are above me here,
The Three Who are above me yonder,
The Three Who are in the earth,
The Three Who are in the air,
The Three Who are in the heavens,
The Three Who are in the great pouring sea.

There is that wonderful promise of protection and guardianship from all that surrounds us. These prayers happen to come out of the lands facing the North Sea or the North Atlantic. Expecting protection from elements known for rain, snow and great storms as well as gentle rains and sunshine is a real leap of faith.

Cross posted in Walking With Hope.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Some of these entries may seem a little disconnected. I’m trying to work my way more deeply into concepts I can just barely wrap my brain around at times. The old Celtic pagan and even Christian concepts of the natural world and the society that lived in it are so different, almost alien to what we wake up to every morning that frankly I feel as though I’m looking through someone else’s eyes. And the focus is just a little bit “off.”

The veils between the physical and spiritual worlds seemed thinner in the past. There was a time when it was easier to believe that there were spirits in the rocks, the trees, the streams. A vision of the world that’s still often dismissed as “Nature Worship” by mainstream society. To be honest I’m not sure how I’m going to explain this road I’m traveling to some of my family. My nephews are wonderful young men, but a more uncurious crew I’ve never met. Heck, they’ve got their drummer, I’ve got mine.

I don’t believe that the old Celts worshipped Nature as I understand word, but they were much more in touch with the world, seen and unseen, around them. This immersion in the spirit world seems to have persisted longest on the fringes of Europe. In Ireland, where Rome’s writ never ran. Or in the highlands and islands of Scotland beyond Hadrian’s Wall. Even the people of Wales held onto most of their independence until the thirteenth century and the invasions of England’s Edward I.

I’m not even sure that the Celtic concept of creation or creator is the same as the world view I grew up with. They certainly have enough different words to work with. And heck, maybe it doesn’t really matter unless you’re trying to learn how to speak one of these jaw breakers of a language.

The word often used in Irish for creator, Duileamh (always capitalized and pronounced dool-yev) doesn’t have the root word for create. It doesn’t have the root word for God, or the Almighty, or Supreme Being; all those words our world view equates with a supernatural Creator.

This difficult, for us, to pin down word can mean “being in the elements,” or “one who is in the elements” or “one who is the elements.” To make it even more interesting the root duil can also mean desire, hope, fondness or expectation. They’re all related, I guess, maybe…….oh heck I’ll take their word for it. Try asking Who is fond of What? Who desires What? Careful, the next thing you know you just might decide that Creator and Creation are caught in a web of desire, hope, and fondness that we aren’t used to facing in our world view of the sacred confined to a few hours on a certain day and tucked in the closet the rest of the time.

The highlanders of Scotland used to bless each other in a way that turns the way we treat each other and the world around us on its head.

“The love and affection of the moon be yours.
The love and affection of the sun be yours.
The love and affection of the stars be yours.”

And work their way through all the things of nature around them until they end with

“The love and affection of all living things be yours.”

Adapted from Yearning for the wind.

Perhaps it isn’t so strange to feel a kinship with the sun. The sun feeds the plants, the plants feed the cows and the cows feed us. I guess you could say we carry a bit of sunshine with us through the day; and the night.

If we really believed that the local river had love and affection for us we might treat it like the irreplaceable creation that it is instead of as a sewer. If we could stretch our minds around the idea that the mountains and valleys might love us perhaps we’d think twice about carving off the top of a mountain to get at the coal and dumping the tailings in the valley below. If we truly felt the living web instead of seeing board feet when we look at an old growth forest maybe we’d be more careful as we harvest the trees we need. As it stands we don’t believe we have the love and affection of our fellow human beings much less the rest of the world and the creatures in it.

The elements of creation. “The Love and Affection of the Elements. The Pure Love of the Elements. The Being of the Elements. The One Who is the Elements.” Tom Cowan notes that the participants were trying to discuss these concepts at a workshop for Celtic Shamanism. One woman in the group wished our language had words like these. Another broke in with “Wouldn’t it be great if our culture had ideas like this.” Taken from Yearning for the Wind.

Just wouldn’t it though?

Cross posted in Walking With Hope.

Friday, October 2, 2009


A non-traditional Celtic take on the traditional Trinity.

Cruthaitheoir (noun): creator Cruth (noun):shape. Cruthigh (verb): to create, to shape.

Honestly, I have no idea how to pronounce the Irish and the net wasn’t much help. In any case when most of us use the word create we mean to bring something into existence. However, the less common definition of create is ‘to bring into a new form.” And, the root word cruth in those Irish words means to shape. Shaping implies that you are working with something that already exists.

In the Celtic mythology stories that have survived, there appears to be no creation myths as we understand them. One of those in the beginning there was a Void, a cosmic Egg, something that wasn’t there and then it was there, somehow. Something created from nothing.

Since those eternally curious scribes in the ancient Irish monasteries translated, copied, and recopied every written scrap they could find it seems unlikely to many scholars that any creation myths they found wouldn’t have been recorded even if they were cleaned up to give them a less pagan cast.

Or, perhaps, the Celts never had an “in the beginning” story to start with. The universe didn’t have to come “into” existence because it has always existed. This does answer one problem. If the universe is created, who created the Creator? If somehow the universe has always existed then the Creator has always existed, does exist and will always exist. Creation then becomes a reshaping of what already exists, not the creation of something out of nothing. In this universe even the big bang becomes a reshaping of a “something” that already existed. What that “something” was or is we don’t know. Perhaps as humans with human limitations this is something we can’t know or comprehend.

And where does the raw material for reshaping come from? For some, like the writer Tom Cowan, the raw material the Creator works with is the Creator itself. (arrrrgh! Pronouns describing the indescribable are such fun to try to use.) This ever changing, ever shifting, and always becoming universe is made not only by the Creator but from the very essence of that Creator.

One of the best examples I can think of is this. A giant star is mostly hydrogen with some helium and an almost undetectable scattering of heavier elements. It lives its life, burns through its hydrogen fuel in a few million years, explodes as a supernova and seeds the universe with star stuff. The carbon that builds our cells, the oxygen we breathe, the iron in the steel that holds up our skyscrapers: these elements were forged in the heart of an exploding star. This star stuff reshaped, renewed, becomes new stars, new planets and wonder of wonders; us.

Cowan, who works with Celtic and shamanic traditions took the more traditional trinity and reworked it using the image of shaping. So the trinity becomes The Shaper of life, the Shape of life, and the Shaping of life. These three are truly indivisible, no one of the three can exist without the other two. It sounds really odd to say it but this trinity does work. And in a strange way we become not only the Created but the Creator. We are the Shaper, the Shape and the Shaping itself. (I know, my brain is feeling a little “sprained” right now.)

And he rewrote an old Irish prayer using the trinity of shaping.

Shaper of life, above me and below.
Shaper of life before me as I go.
Shaper of life, at my sides and
I know that You circle me around
And around and around.

Shape of life, above and below.
Shape of life before me as I go.
Shape of life, at my sides and
I know that You circle me around
And around and around.

Shaping of life, above and below.
Shaping of life before me as I go.
Shaping of life, at my sides and
I know the You circle me around
And around and around.

Sacred Three, above and below.
Sacred Three before me as I go.
Sacred Three at my sides and
I know that You circle me around
And around and around.

From Yearning for the Wind

So, all of us should rejoice for we are truly a part of the Creator of creation.

Cross posted in Walking With Hope.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I’m a native Oregonian; a state that has the lowest per capita church attendance in the country. It doesn’t mean we aren’t religious or followers of the spirit. It does mean that we’re hard to pin down when it comes wearing a label. And to be honest all of us, including the remaining Native Americans came here from somewhere else. Some of us just happen to have more family members resting in pioneer cemeteries around the state than others. Me? I’ve got three generations and various cousins planted in a lovely cemetery on the north side of Chehalem mountain above the other side of Newburg.

My genes are solidly northern European. Supposedly there’s a Cherokee in my dad’s family tree but I don’t have any proof so that’s a thread in my family tapestry that would be fun to claim but I can’t prove it. (shrug) There’s one German great grandfather; with a name like Kaiser I think I’m safe to assume he was German, not Dutch. The rest is Scots, Irish, English and Welsh. And heck, for all I know there could be a Roman or two in the family tapestry if I went back far enough. Hell, for all I know there was a British trader or two over the years who made it to Goddess knows where and left a calling card or two behind.

My dad’s family name comes out of Yorkshire in England and some of the Vikings settled there as well as Ireland so there just might be a Scandinavian sea farer adding a thread to the tapestry. Have you ever wished you could invite your DNA over for tea, muffins and a good long sit down?

Anyway I originally did this back in my early J Land career. I got it from another writer who has since dropped off the radar. The original template was designed as a stream of consciousness exercise. And Russ was right. You do end up where you didn’t expect to. For the non-Nothwesterners out there; the Hanford reach includes a free flowing section of the Columbia river and the Hanford reactor complex. One of these days the leftover radioactive contamination will probably reach the river and we’ll all start glowing in the dark.

As for the arms depot? They used to store nerve gas there. That wasn’t so bad. The stuff doesn’t go anywhere unless you blow it up. So, some geniuses in the Reagan administration decided to make the stuff “war ready’ and installed the rockets. The government built a very nice, state of the art incinerator to deal with the little darlings. And they finally did. So, guess whose little sister lives smack, dab in the middle that little piece of God’s little acre? So far they aren’t glowing in the dark.


I am from Douglas fir, hemlock, spruce and cedar.

I am from the Cascades, the Blues, the Siskiyous, and the Wallowas.

I am from clear cuts, choker cables, riggers and log trucks with one log loads.

I am from sandy beaches, basalt cliffs and mudflats.

I am from wild geese calling at sunrise, wrens in the thickets, and great blue herons on the other side of the river.

I am from the little creeks, the mighty Columbia and the Pacific breakers.

I am from tricycles, tetherballs, little sisters with skinned knees and a love for bugs.

I am from the ivy by the patio, the hydrangeas with dinner plate size clumps of blossoms and the garden in the back yard.

I am from a wringer washer, a concrete laundry sink and clothes full of the smell of sunshine.

I am from missionaries, Methodist hymnals and fairy rings.

I am from winter gales, spring showers, sunny summer days and autumn fogs and frosts.

I am from the Hanford Reach, the Umatilla Arms depot, and the Columbia Gorge where condors may soar again.

I am from logging towns with no mills, harbors with no fish, and farms being swallowed by urban sprawl.

I am from shelves full of books, an old flute and feeling out of step on the march to wherever.

I am from feeling like I’m on the outside looking in.

I am from seeing what no one else sees to see.

I am from hearing what no one else seems to hear.

And if you’ve reached the final lines of the exercise this may be why you’ll find me out hugging the local oak trees these days.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Beware, curious person thinking in public.

I think the tipping point this time around on the spiritual spiral was the intro to the first chapter of Joe Campbell’s Myths to Live By. Goddess, I love old Joe. He believed that if the ground your standing on isn’t sacred to you, you probably won’t find sacred ground by traveling half way around the world.

He describes a conversation overheard in a New York eatery between a boy about twelve or so and his mother that ran something like this with Joe’s comments in parentheses. (mine not his)

“Jimmy wrote a paper today on the evolution of man and Teacher said he was wrong, that Adam and Ever were our first parents.”

(My Lord, I thought, what a teacher.)

From the adult, presumably the mom: “Well, teacher was right. Adam and Eve were our first parents.

(What a mother for a twentieth century child)

From the kid “Yes, but this was a scientific paper.”

(And for that I was ready to recommend him for a distinguished service medal from the Smithsonian)

And this is so familiar: mom’s retort? “Oh, those scientists! Those are only theories.”

And the kids’ retort? “…….they found the bones.” I wonder if the adults around this kid ever managed to convince him that what he thought was proof was actually a demon trying to trip him up.

When Antiochus, the Greek influenced ruler of Palestine, tried to outlaw the Jewish faith in the second century BCE he ignited a firestorm of rebellion. Problem is that when the rebels threw out the Greek bathwater they threw out the baby of Greek science and research. The scripture and mythology that was codified and became the basis of Christian scripture were the old Babylonian and Persian stories with their seven days of creation, conflicting creation myths, great floods, centuries long life spans and tales of bloody invasions and burning cities.

By the second century BCE a Greek named Aristarchus had already deduced that the earth was a sphere revolving around the sun. Another Greek, Eritosthnes, working in Alexandria had calculated the circumference of the earth to within a few hundred miles. Not bad for a scholar who paid someone to pace off the distance from Alexandria to a village on the equator called Syene and worked out the numbers with basic Egyptian geometry; sticks, strings and a brain. And still another Greek, Hipparchus had calculated both the size of the moon and its approximate distance from the earth. Hipparchus also created the first star charts with fairly accurate calculations of stellar magnitude.

Frankly I don’t think there was ever a chance to meld Greek experimental philosophy with early Christian philosophy. Part of the problem lay with the Greeks themselves. What started with hands on experimentation and Socrates infuriating questions morphed into the “don’t get your hands dirty; we can understand the world by thinking about it” philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. Unite that with some early Christian bishops who advised their priests to discourage their flocks from asking questions about the faith for fear of weakening their faith and frankly I believe you finally end up with……well what we’re stuck with now.

Any chance that thoughtful, inquiring Christians might get together with thoughtful, inquiring Pagans ended when Justinian closed their academies and outlawed the rites and festivals of the old religion.

Thursday, September 17, 2009



Look to the Earth
And to the Skies
The Sun, the moon and to the stars
You who would be wise.
For they contain the full measure of man
The height, the breadth, the depth, the span
Of his entirety.

Look to the Earth
And to the Skies
And watch them turn
Like pages of a Holy book
But one untouched by human hand.
You who would be wise.

Look to the Earth
And to the Skies
For in that which can be seen Without
Can true knowledge come
Of unseen mysteries that lie Within
To you who would be wise.

Look to the Earth
And to the Skies
Spring and Summer,
Winter and in the Fall.
Watch life begin, unfold, then fade and die
To rise anew
Time and again for Time Untold
You who would be wise.

Look to the Earth
And to the Skies
And in your looking, learn this mystery
That you who look to the Earth
And to the Skies
Shall be given eyes to see
Shall be given eyes
To make you wise

By Kenneth Meadows in Earth Medicine.
To Native Americans medicine means wisdom.
So, wisdom from the earth; if we could just shut up long enough to listen.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


If there were a line in the universe with the Patriarchal spirit traditions that include the Judeo/Christian/Islamic beliefs on one side and the older Matriarchal/Goddess spirit traditions on the other: my path would resemble, well I’m not sure what it would look like.

I guess the closest description would be a crazy, wobbly spiral. I find myself on one side of the line, time passes I try to find my way on the other side, more time passes and there I am again. A few years ago I began exploring the more goddess centered traditions including the wildwood mystical path explored Rae Beth and others. Then I wobbled back to the other side of the line in what has turned out to be a last ditch effort to walk the Christian path I believed I was born to. And all the inner voices went silent. It felt like I was trying to move upstream in the rapids. And I can’t go on this way.

There are Christian writers I deeply respect including Thomas Merton and Matthew Fox but when I try to walk their road, I run into a brick wall and I can’t get past it. If there is a call to that path I’m not hearing it. My road leads another way. And, this place, I hope is where I can explore are those other wonderful strands that sing to me.