Show Your Soul

Show Your Soul  is an online journal of writings and artworks from the members and friends of all ages of White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church.

SPIRIT: the practice of inhaling and exhaling

Posted by on Jun 1, 2017 in Show Your Soul | 0 comments

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Artwork by Tehya Daniels 

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Too Small

Imagine a proton. Desperately watching the electrons orbit them.
Imagine an atom, buzzing amongst the others.
Imagine an element, trying to make a difference in the world.
Imagine a cell trying to create and preserve life.
Imagine an organ, working with other organs to keep somebody alive.
Imagine a human, working to keep a job.
Imagine a family, trying to comfort each other in the dark of night.
Imagine a village trying to flee the raiders.
Imagine a country trying to flee the raiders.
Imagine a continent trying to get the chaos to cease.
Imagine Earth trying to live, but there are too many opinions.
Imagine Earth, orbiting the sun, stuck on an endless loop.
Imagine the Sun, a small speck of a star, moving through space, with little planets clung to it, holding life.
Imagine the Milky way, controlled by a black hole, where eventually everything will go.
Imagine all the galaxies, destined to someday collide.
Imagine all the universes, and other dimensions, trying desperately to convince themselves they are real.
Imagine the unknown, trying so hard to be found.
Imagine the trillions of unsaid thoughts and ideas floating in space.
Imagine the oh so small humans, trying to find their place.
Imagine the humans that are imagining something bigger.
Imagine a human child, where the littlest thing could be a trigger.
Imagine a teen, trying to be seen,
When really, they are quite small,
With almost no value at all,
Compared to the Sun, and stars.
Whose light shines too bright
For anyone to match.

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Mother Moon

I love the moon
I want to cover it all up with frosting and eat it like it was cake
I love her
and I will give you a piece.
- Delilah Rose, WBUUC R.E. second-grader

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Chalice Reading: Julian Schwendeman

Leon Logothetis, is a man who decided to take an awe inspiring journey across the world with only a yellow motor bike, no money, relying on the kindness of others for food and shelter. He said:

“From a distance the world probably seems like a big bad scary place, if you listen to the news or even ask the person next to you they will likely talk about war, poverty, corruption and hate. And they are right – from a distance. But I believe that up close, there is enough good, enough love and enough pure kindess to make the world go round and that is what inspired my journey.”

This month’s theme is power, and I thought this was a perfect example of how power is being used for good. So I light the chalice today for the power of love and kindness.

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Submission: the practice of claiming power

Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Show Your Soul | 0 comments

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I was reflecting on the May theme SUBMISSION: The Pract ice of claiming power, and one of the photos I contributed to the art show came into my mind and became a wonderful metaphor for me to think about this theme.

The glacier slowly moves toward the sea and eventually calve s enormous chunks of ice into it. So… is the glacier submitting to the sea and claiming power, or is the see claiming power and submitting to the glacier? Does it matter if the glacier is retreating, as most glaciers are, or advancing, as this one currently is? Where are there parallels to the metaphor in my life?
—Mark Kotz

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How to Handle the Sacred

1) Torahs, Qur´ans, and Bibles

As everyone is gathered and watching,
make sure no one drops the weighted body of books.
Take care that scrolls, for example, can walk
on their two rolling pin legs, in the palms and fists
of 13-year-old girls and boys, or anyone
allowed to examine the language
for hidden illness, and make repairs
as one would to newborn skin.

2) Socks

Buy them in the food co-op with your bags of rice and sugar gingers.
One size up so the cold-water label can be ignored, and they can be washed
in warm water. If you are the creative type with cloth, consider composting
the old cold cottons or making animals out of them. Allow yourself
to spend $15 a pair, made by somebody named Maggie.
Someone you would curl your feet into.

3) Breasts
Warm your hands by them. One at a time, slide under the cloth
and diagonally across the chest. Hold one, then the other, until the heat of each
starts a conversation about the history of your hands.

4) Books
When you sleep put one in front of a pillow beside you.
As you read before sleeping, translate words foreign in your mouth.
With a pencil, draw a kite string from the word to the meaning
you jotted down in the margin. So by the time you finish,
the pages are flying in the sky, inside your head of sleep.
—Elissa Cottle

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Peach Orb

As I drove home from work, late
Going east
The moon was huge on the horizon
Soft glowing ~~ peachy color
Such a beauty!
It was a risin’
On the horizon.
It glowed and rose, higher and higher.
Soon I could see it more clearly
But . . .
I saw not the face in the moon of a man,
More like the symbol for yin and yang.

Driving north, the moon followed me,
No longer hiding behind large city buildings.
Out of the city, it would leap between the occasional
Building by the roadside.
Then peek at me through leafless tree limbs, as it was a cold, dark late winter’s eve.

It looked mystical, magical, mysterious!
It did look round.
Yes, I’m sure it is round, as it looks like a circle,
Which is round.

Let me stay in my reverie this night
The beauty of that orb in the sky
So lovely
Peachy
Goddess-like

Looking on us with love
In spite of ourselves.
May we linger in our mindfulness
May we gather her energy
May our intention be for wisdom
In this dark hour.
—Diane Markel

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Docket #377 by MJ LaVigne

Today, on April 27, 2017 a young man named Sergio, who has lived in the United States since he was 6 months old, will present Homeland Security with a check for $743.76, and board the deportation plane for Mexico. From afar the immigration debate seems complex. If you get closer the system’s injustice is hard to miss.

An out-of-sight lock clanged closed as #337 entered the courtroom last week. Dressed in an orange jumpsuit, his wrists cuffed, ankles hobbled by shackles, he looked like the teen lead singer in a Christian rock band.

He had pled guilty in North Dakota to possession of marihuana paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor. He received a warning. Then North Dakota authorities turned him over to ICE.

Her voice soften by kindness or exhaustion, Judge Kristin Olemanson speaks so low people on the rear benches had to lean in to hear. They have not come for Sergio, and neither have I. But he is the one whose story sticks with me.

Sergio’s innocence is not assumed. Sergio can’t defend himself because he’s not being accused of a crime. This is an administrative court. Sergio can’t be released on bond because the North Dakota incident is categorized as a drug offense. He could be held indefinitely in the private prison system.

He emerged from his mother’s womb in the wrong place. Like skin pigment, gender, and inherited wealth, the geography of your nativity is out of your control.

I was born in Indiana. My parents, grandparents, and an older sister where all born in Minnesota. What if I were forced to return to South Bend? We left there when I was three years old. I pass as a native Minnesotan. But I have this secret status.

What if corporation were required to stay in the state and city where they emerged? Imagine that.

At the end of the hearing Judge Olemanson wished the young man ‘good luck.’ Her puny, but heartfelt encouragement embarrassed me. My chin itched terribly. I was scratching it as Sergio was led back out the door, and the lock clanged. It’s been itching today as I watch the planes take-off from Minneapolis.

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Walking in Tamarack Park I came across wild Marsh Marigolds that bloom in we t swampy areas in early Spring. My husband Don and I discovered them many years ago in O’Brien State Park. Brought back many warm memories. Take a q uiet walk in your special place? What comes up for you?
—Gail Diez

 

 

Immanence: the practice of blessing the world

Posted by on Apr 1, 2017 in Show Your Soul | 0 comments

I see these flowers as rising up to bless the hard earth. —Ellen Lowery

I see these flowers as rising up to bless the hard earth. —Ellen Lowery

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SELF TALK FOR TROUBLED TIMES
You are old, maybe wise enough to know
what you must resist courageously,
where you need to persist wholeheartedly.

Isn’t it obvious when you wake grateful
for this sweet body that carries you,
blessed by this tender earth that holds you?

Really it couldn’t be more straightforward:
your sole purpose is love, and that is
all it has been or ever will be.

So stop worrying and get on with it.
—Peggy Ludtke

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Light has always signified the presence of the holy.  But, really, it could be just two people holding hands. Ken Stewart


Light has always signified the presence of the holy. But, really, it could be just two people holding hands. —Ken Stewart

sys-dividerI’ve been trying to imagine archetypal figures to fight the battles of our times. Daily now there are threats to the rights of common people. People flee from famine, corruption and failed states and live for year in limbo of makeshift camps and uncertain futures. Long-held protections of our air and water, the very finite resources of our lives, are being put at risk because of an ever-increasing population and sometimes for the sake of corporate greed. In the face of climate change and global warming, some politicians are putting their self-interest first and a blind eye to its reality and the human suffering that has already begun. The earth feels victimized. A concerned Mother Earth is watching. —Judy Fawcett

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Simplicity: the practice of living by heart

Posted by on Mar 1, 2017 in Show Your Soul | 0 comments

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Photo by Ken Stewart

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Morning Run in April, Interrupted by a Sudden Sound. . .
Three geese,
dipping tails into
a pond of pigment,
rise,
and with broad strokes
paint sky where there had been none.
More join the canvas
Adding clouds
and trees–
budding and expectant.

I forget to watch my feet.

Two robins,
Draw a solid stripe across my path
And settle on the grass,
Green, without a doubt,
Their shadows.
Jean Doolittle

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Photo by Ken Stewart


Photo by Ken Stewart

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Prayer: the practice of staying awake

Posted by on Feb 6, 2017 in Show Your Soul | 0 comments

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Singing can be a kind of prayer. —Ross Grotbeck

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Ode to the Moon
Something about you,
Full moon on a clear night,
Something about you
Pulls me to the window.

I bask in your radiance,
Stare up at you and the stars,
Bright lights through
The skeleton trees.

You brighten these
Darkest of nights,
In the cold mid-winter,
Illuminating the sparkling snow.

I bathe in your glow,
A milky wash over my weary soul.
You make me pure anew,
Fill me with Love’s light reflected.
—Joanna Coyle

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Grief Walk
I carry my grief around with me like a lump of clay.

At times, it is a mangled, warped mass, beleaguering me as I slip into a dark hole of fear and anxiety. It weighs me down until I am a crumpled mass, tossed to the floor, with tears flowing uncontrollably.

At other times, I realize the clay is still fresh, and I can shape it how I like. I can make it smooth and round, like a ball, and use it as an invitation to a game of catch. I can toss it back and forth this way, with a new acquaintance or a trusted friend, in a conversation that inevitably brings more healing.

My grief feels solid and eternal, though I know, in time, it – like me – will return to the Mother, and be enveloped in her embrace, becoming something entirely different in the never-ending cycle of renewal.

The clay is a medium. It can be worked, transformed into a beautiful piece of art, a Creation, an expression of the Divine.
—Joanna Coyle

 

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Ice Palace Stillwater
Look up!
Is it mountains?
Is it water, the ocean?
Is it clouds, the sky?
Bluer than your eyes
seeking the truth

Or is it a cold heart
Waiting to be melted by hope?
Waiting, waiting – Will the waiting end in change?
It will take a while but
On a sunny day this too shall pass.
-Gail Diez

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Salvation: the practice of healing

Posted by on Jan 1, 2017 in Show Your Soul | 0 comments

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Ode to the bog in winter

i see you as you are
dry golden stalks
broken, tattered
blowing wildly in the icy wind
the water at your base still flows
but it is frozen in patches
dark and foreboding
the footprints of creatures crisscross the snowy path
crows and owls hover in desolate trees
the only evidence that life is active on the bog now
darkness descends and for the time being
you are laid open with nothing covering you
in the frigid grip of winter

i see you as you have been
you were — not that long ago — green, pliant and alive with activity
birds singing around you and settling on your branches
calla lilies, cinnamon ferns, marsh marigolds bursting with color
while your spring-fed waters meandered toward the mighty Mississippi.
along the edges, in the woods, trillium unfurled as anemones fluttered into bloom
on the marsh, turtleheads took their sweet time to show off those funky white blossoms
and duckweed provided food for shy turtles, paddling waterfowl and other visitors
on hot, sunny days, snakes basked lazily on the wooden boardwalk
kids and dogs toggled between curious and scared, despite their being harmless and shy
by the time that dragonflies ushered in the late summer
you felt as full to bursting as a new mother’s breasts,
mushrooms populated the forest at the edge of your marsh
jewelweed blossomed in bright eye-popping shades of yellow and orange
leaves turned golden — even those on the tamarack trees — and fell to earth
the season turned

i see you as you will be
in March, when the pussywillows bravely reveal their plush, silvery buds
in April when tender fiddleheads arise from the crispy, matted undergrowth of dead cattails
in May, when red-winged blackbirds and migrating songbirds declare their arrival
and cheerful yellow marigolds make a bold statement that the flowers are back too
in June, when warmth returns enough for the snakes to take their places out in the open
and native plants — like mad-dog skullcap — offer their healing powers

who bears you up through the dark times?
what gives you the strength to withstand this harsh moment?
do the roots of each plant grow stronger by connecting to one another?
what happens beneath the surface that provides you with energy and direction?

even without these answers
seeing how you withstand winter’s threatening hand
and knowing that you will once again — as always — surge boldly to life
it is enough to believe that renewal is part of our universal nature
that hope is real
and that a larger force of Goodness is at work
— Dana Boyle

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 Afternoon at the Mound
By M J LaVigne

There’s Indian mound near the freeway exit, a conical earthen structure, three stories tall and centuries old. It stands on the high ground between the Mississippi and the Saint Croix Rivers. At its foot there’s a natural fountain, a spring that even flows in cold weather.

It’s the last day of the year, my birthday. I tie a skirt over my snow pants, pat the tobacco pouch to make sure it’s around my neck, slip cleats on my Uggs, take off my glasses, put them in my ski coat, get the dog out of the car, and crunch off toward the mound over the ice-rutted parking lot.

When I was here earlier this week I could see a hole like a raw grave half-way up the side of the mound. I do not walk on mounds, so I dared not get too close. But I have come back today with the things I need to offer a proper prayer.

When you are in ceremony you take off your glasses so that the spirits are not repelled by reflections from your lens. The tobacco is an offering, the skirt a gesture of respect. This place is passed by thousands every week, but protected by that obliviousness which tends to descend on auto-encased humans.

This is Dakota homeland, in particular the Mdewakaŋtoŋwaŋ the Spirit Lake People. At the center of Minnesota’s state flag, an Indian horseman rides off to the west. This is our foundational fiction. The Dakota have not gone. Nor have we leveled all of their landmarks, or yet felled every ancient oak. They stand in our midst, protected by our not noticing.

The dog and I stop at the springhead. Without my glasses the tor looms larger in the muted midwinter light. I strike a match to sweet grass and smug my head, my hands, my feet, and the dog. I put some tobacco in the open water, which burbles from the breast of the earth, as it surely came forth when this mound was built. Pidamaya ye. I say thank you. I call the land aloud by its rightful name “Mdewakaŋtoŋ makoce,” Spirit Lake homeland.

Now I walk toward the mound. The hole yawns darker against the dusting of snow.  The dog does not follow, but waits at the foot of the hill. I do not go up all the way. I do not look down in to the hole. That seems too bald an act, or perhaps I not brave enough to see what’s there.

Doubtless, those who dug in to this mound told them selves they were salvaging. I can understand the desire to dig. I want to know what lies below too. I want to salvage. But it does not need my salvation. The land has protections I don’t understand.  I am here mostly for the diggers, for those of us who trifle with places old and holy. We do need prayer.

I string the prayer bundles along two dried and sturdy weeds a little ways below the wounded hole and say aloud, “I’m sorry.” I say it in English because I do not know how to apologizes in Dakota.

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Peace: the practice of spreading light

Posted by on Dec 1, 2016 in Show Your Soul | 0 comments

How will I help create Peace? I will find one thing that resonates and I will do that. Then I will find another. These will combine with what others are doing. Each one of us makes a difference. Together we “Give light, give peace, give hope, and the people will find a way…”
-Laurie Kigner

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One Night

One night when the wind scattered the stars
Some wakened and soared like birds;
Elated in flight, they carried new light
That brightened the dreams of all sleeping
-Ellen Lowery

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Colors

Gold’s radiance lightens sorrow’s darkness
Though despair there summoned winter’s longest shadows.
White had covered all with forgetfulness of snows, but
Might yet yield its blanket to reflect the brilliant concert:

All our colors, a choir singing forth the spectrum:
Rejoicing for red birds, rejoicing for brown stones,
Rejoicing the smallest yellow flower in creation’s reach
That we may find at last
Eternal spring, luminous message of peace.
-Ellen Lowery

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Worth-ship: the practice of holding what matters

Posted by on Nov 1, 2016 in Show Your Soul | 0 comments

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Photo by Ellen Lowery

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Reality

Have you wondered
Why the power
On this earth
Is so often wielded
By those unworthy
Of the task?
-Phil Hinderaker, 2004
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Photo by Carol Caouette

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BWCA

From
Stones, weeds, bits of life—
smoke rising through
a tunnel
past piney fingers to arching milky blue and dark

Stars piled and jumbled.
What holds them there?
What are the outer limits?
Where do things stop?

Down here, below, reflections rippling
Repeat the questions.
-Mim Weber, 2002

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What matters most to you in this moment?
When is it difficult to hold onto an attitude of respect, worthiness?

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Universal Mechanics

What
wound up the world
to its present motion—
sea to cell,
worm to seal,
seed to tree?
We,
blessed and cursed
with our devotion,
seek to find
what mechanism
spawned us—
air, earth, water, fire,
the singing choir
of sons, daughters,
mirth and tears.
What inspires our need
for laughter,
slaughter?
We never tire,
but ask these questions
every hour
with every breath
from birth
to death.
-Ann Bushnell, 2004

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Covenant: the practice of traveling together

Posted by on Sep 28, 2016 in Show Your Soul | 0 comments

Without a covenant, however informal it may be, between Man and Trees, would we still be walking together? –Laurie Kigner


Without a covenant, however informal it may be,
between Man and Trees, would we still be walking together?
– Laurie Kigner

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Two (or more) for the road

What is a relationship, what is promised?  Martin Buber contrasts the I-thou with the I-it relationship, describing I-it as the typical domination of others as objects for the I’s needs or purposes.  We might call this the way of the world, but not the only way.  Our covenant might be seen as the pursuit of not just an I-thou relationship, but the practice of upholding this kind of relationship in community.  We pursue common purposes, but while doing so, honor the freedom and potentiality of others.

This is an uncertain and risky enterprise.  We have not creeds that might allow us to disqualify errant members.  We ask for service, but cannot demand it. We are flawed human beings.  Some of us are tired, frail, afraid, none of us (that I know of) is totally selfless.  So we have not and will not transcend the realm of I-it relating.  The ways of the world remain a weight we carry that tempers our ideals.

–Ellen Lowery

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COVENANT: The Practice of traveling together

Covenant:   Synonyms:  commitment, pact, pledge, promise

Antonyms:  disagreement, denial, refusal, misunderstanding (from Thesaurus)

Covenant is a word with special meaning at WBUUC; I did not hear it very much before joining this congregation in 2009. We did talk about covenant in the convent, where I was from 1964-70—yes, the turbulent 60’s. There, it was referred to as a commitment between God and His people.

Here in WBUUC, it seems covenant is an agreement we have with each other as a congregation of deeply spiritual, compassionate, caring, listening people who want to express our love for each other and the world. We might do this through activism for justice, through lovely congregational singing, listening to the choir and guest musicians and through participation in our Sunday services. In addition, we agree to provide service to each other and the wider community, to live in peace and to love one another. What a commitment—love one another!

How do we do that? Maybe we travel together on this “Road of Happy Destiny”—a phrase used in the book, Alcoholics Anonymous. (p. 164) Traveling, wandering, meandering through what we call “life” we meet unexpected challenges and help each other steadily grow through them. We experience unbelievable joys we share—thus doubling the blessings! Remember the “old” saying? “A sorrow shared is halved, a joy shared is doubled.”

On this blue orb
As I move and live and grow my being,
Surrounding me, if I let them,
Are fellow travelers who

Commit, from time to time,
As do I,
To come out of our shells and
Become
Concerned with each other’s well-being
Committed
Caring
Loving
Showing compassion

We gingerly, hopefully, gradually
Open our hearts
Our hands
Our wallets
Our selves
To help one another
Seek peace
Care for the web of Existence
In our little corner of this Earth
– Diane Markel

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February 2016
Sleet turning to snow stung my face
cold as my disbelieving heart
as we left my daughter’s condo
that Sunday evening

How I drove home I do not know
trying not to think of her body
lying across her bed, as if asleep
beautiful face peaceful
framed by her auburn curls

In the days that followed
I borrowed your strength,
leaned on your love.
accepted your help,
as we travel together.
–Louise Pardee

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Journey Journal. Sign Press, polymer plate printed map collage on Crane’s Lettra paper, and Cave Paper covers protect pages tipped into accordion spine. Book structure selected to expand our journey.
—Cindy Gipple

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Forming Circle
We came together as strangers;
Sitting in Circle.
Uncertainty took a seat and sat in silence.
Vulnerability cautiously joined the circle feeling inadequate.
Nervousness filled the space with chatter.
“Am I worthy” lowered into the chair unnoticed.
Courage spoke of in-authenticity.
Tenderness revealed heart.
Awareness hovered over like a cloud.
Lightening Struck; heart emerged.
Contribution became present.
Respect grasped both hands.
Dawn Ellison, MD

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Hope: the practice of beginning history

Posted by on Aug 30, 2016 in Show Your Soul | 0 comments

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I experienced this photo just after the shootings of Alton Sterling, Philandro Castile, and the Dallas police officers.
The change in light caused me to glance up from my work. I found that I was immediately filled with a level of hope that something was shifting,
that now, more than ever, our awareness has been raised and we can find a way to move toward an inclusive and interrelated society
based on love and compassion.
–Laurie Kigner

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A broken wing but not a broken spirit as this beautiful exotic butterfly still flies with abandon despite his limitations.
–Gail Diez

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A broken wing but not a broken spirit as this beautiful exotic butterfly still flies with abandon despite his limitations.–Gail Diez


This reminds me of the beauty which still exists in the midst of tragedy that seems to be so prevalent in our world today.
–Gail Diez

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Written in the Second Sunday Writing Group, October 9. 2011
After reading Love After Love, Derek Wolcott
White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church, Mahtomedi, MN

Mirror of Hope

Hello, you. You are familiar
almost,
vague,    shadow-memory
Becoming clearer now.
Your outlines are cleaner
your colors more distinct,
As I stare at you in the mirror.
You are even more familiar-to-me
Yes, I see you—where you start and
the chair ends—as you sit here
in front of me.
I smile at you–you smile
and nod your head.
“I know you, too,” your thoughts say
to me–wordlessly.
How can we connect without words?
We are—
We exchange thoughts back and
forth—taking turns—politely—
Telling each to the other where
We have been—back—back we go
We tell our secrets—our pain—our
Terror
Well, you tell yours.
My thoughts, they are more of
The ordinary, everyday, the daily-
Life lived these sixty plus years.
You see, I am the Keeper of the
Current Events. I am the one
Who has kept going—living Life
Being in the daily days.
You-you-you are the
Past One—ones—you
Are saying, telling, revealing
What needs to be forgiven
You tell—think—in rapid succession
All you endured.
I tell you the Present, the . . . but

 

I want you to join me, here, now
Across the chasm
I want you to come into me
To be me, to . . .
WAIT
You are me
You and i
We are one. We have been
Disconnected. Too long
You—The Pain
Me-The Daily!
We can re-join through
Letting go.
Releasing Your Pain.
You, yes, you will remain if you
Release the pain.
Trust me—here—
We are both ME.
Come, hold my hand.
Unpeel yourself from the glassy,
Mirror image. Come to me—let
Me hold you.
Yes, I will help you, I will use my
Steady fingers to peel
You from the mirror.
Join me over this chasm
Between us–
If you come to me, WE
Will let go of the Pain
Together.
You + Me  =  WE
Can release
The years of terror and pain
Come to me. Be come me
Once again—for the first time
WHOOSH . . .
Here, we rest,
we release
We love, we live in Love
now
LOVE  Now
Golden Energy
Forgive!
We did it!
High 5!
There is Hope!

–Diane Markel

sys-divider“These images represent the journey toward hope – from the darkness into the light, from isolation to connection, from being lost in exile to going home.” –Ken Stewart

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An Old African Proverb: When you pray, move your feet.
By Carol Nelson

In the rural village of Tikonko, in Sierra Leone, West Africa, hope is in short supply. The decade long civil war devastated the country, its people, schools, health care system and infrastructure. Recover and progress were slow, and then the Ebola outbreak hit in 2014-15, setting back everything. Maternal and child mortality remain among the highest in the world and average life expectancy is only 47 years. Where does one find hope in the midst of severe poverty?

In the summer of 2015, I found myself in Tikonko, working with Rural Health Care Initiative, doing a training program for the Traditional Midwives. At the prenatal clinic in Tikonko, a young pregnant woman, Mamie, looked very sad and without hope. Through the Sierra Leonean interpreter we learned that Mamie’s husband had fallen from a palm tree and died, and that she had two small children at home and very little food, only cassavas, to feed them and herself. Not a nutritious diet for a pregnant woman.

How could we bring hope for Mamie, her unborn child and the rest of her family? She had no extended family to help her. Everyone in the village was very poor, and barely making it through the hungry season, before their subsistence-farming crop was harvested.

Words of encouragement, a prayer or a blessing were not enough. She needed something concrete to make a difference. We were able to provide a small cash donation, so she could buy food and start a small business. Several months later I learned she had given birth to healthy twin girls. A picture showed a smile on her face with her babies in her arms. I hope her small business is successful.

Sometimes, a smile or a word can bring hope. Other times, it requires a much greater understanding of the situation, and the need for the right tangible assistance (food, clothes, education, housing, a loan or other opportunity) to bring hope and dignity to someone who has none. Working with a small NGO in Sierra Leone to improve maternal and child health is one way I can begin to bring hope to people in a community thousands of miles away.

An Old African Proverb: When you pray, move your feet.

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