Frog Chorus on Ash Wednesday

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I got up early, starting my day out on the deck under the stars.  The frog chorus was loud, now that there’s been rain.  I know that frogs and other amphibians are most at risk of extinction due to climate change.  It feels so reassuring to hear them singing so heartily.  The frogs are still here.

Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is a day of prayer and fasting, a day to remember Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness, and my own.  A day to share with others in a service of ashes, to remember our mortality and to repent for the sin of the world.  Later, Guari and I will read T.S. Eliot’s poem “Ash Wednesday,” as we do every year.

This poem brilliantly portrays the dual Lenten focus on repentance and acceptance of our mortality. It expresses a sense of dust and ashes, of hopelessness, of powerlessness to change. These feelings resonate with many people facing the pain and challenges of the world today. But then, in the poem, surprisingly:

The lost heart quickens and rejoices

for the lost lilac and the lost sea voices

and the weak spirit quickens to rebel

for the bent goldenrod and the lost sea smell

quickens to recover the cry of quail

and the whirling plover.

The earth has the power to call us back to life, through the divine Spirit that moves through creation. In some mysterious way, the earth can provide us with an antidote to despair and can renew our spiritual connection with what is deepest within our souls. It is our context, our “ground of being,” through which the Spirit touches us, reminding us of what is real and important, who we are, and with whom we are connected.

Teach us to sit still,

even among these rocks,

our peace in His will.

And even among these rocks,

Sister, Mother, and spirit of the river, spirit of the sea

Suffer me not to be separated,

And let my cry come unto Thee.

Observing  Ash Wednesday opens my heart and gives solace to my soul.  The frog chorus calls me back to life.

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A New Year’s Poem

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Guari and Sherry at Guari’s 70th birthday party

This December we have had lots of birthdays and other wonderful celebrations with family and friends.  It’s been a joy, and now we’re moving into 2016.  Some new things are coming up, including a book I am writing.  I don’t make resolutions, but I do have plans, many of which require work toward personal and social transformation.

The following poem by Mary Oliver has helped me through various transitions in my life, and I’m reminded of it again now on this New Year’s Day.  I wish all of you the best on this day and throughout the coming year.  May this year be a turning point, a year in which we live and act in ways that bring spiritual fulfillment and hope for a world of justice, peace, and healing of the earth’s natural systems.

The Journey

by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice – – –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.

‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations – – –
though their melancholy
was terrible. It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do – – –

determined to save
the only life you could save.

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Peace for the World, Healing for the Climate

My dear friends,

Yesterday I was arrested once again at Beale Air Force Base, along with seven others, and charged with trespassing.  This video was filmed after we crossed the line onto the base.  In it I begin to explain the connections between US military policy and climate change.  The letter that we attempted to deliver to the base commander gives a more detailed explanation of our concerns and our reasons for demonstrating.

As many of you know, I have been arrested at Beale several times for protesting against the Global Hawk drones that are operated from Beale and against the U.S. drone warfare program.  Far more civilians than terrorists are killed by U.S. drones, including many children.  Terrorists use anti-drone sentiment to recruit more terrorists, creating an escalating cycle of violence and the rationale for endless war.  There have been regular anti-drone protests at Beale and at drone bases around the country for several years now, and we aren’t going away.  Seven more arrests were made today.

The demonstrations yesterday and today were timed to coincide with the conclusion of the Paris Climate talks.  These past few days there have been “red line actions” in Paris and around the world, demonstrating that our leaders must not cross the many red lines that will lead to climate chaos and that people will continue to demand action for climate justice.

I am a person of faith and a follower of Jesus.  I pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, and I am sure that the divine will is for peace, for justice, and for the flourishing of creation.  I know that the Spirit, called by so many names, is at work in the world even now, in people who haven’t succumbed to the greed, violence, and despair of our times.  I have hope that the world can change, that another world is possible.  But for that to happen, we the people will have to rise up and work together fearlessly, regardless of our spiritual or philosophical beliefs, to make real what is possible.

Rise up.  Live in hope.

Sharon

 

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See other blog postings about actions and trials related to Beale demonstrations

Other blog postings about climate change can be found here.   Order Sharon’s CD– Climate Change:  What Do We Know?  What Can We Do? or download a free MP3 version. 

Letter to Beale Commander

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December 14, 2015

Dear Colonel Douglas J. Lee:

We are here today to demonstrate at Beale because of the links between the US military and the grave threat of climate change.  World leaders who met in Paris have reached a global climate agreement, but it fails to take account of greenhouse gases generated by the military.  The US military is the single largest user of petroleum in the world, emitting a massive amount of greenhouse gases, and is the main enforcer of the global oil economy. Yet the Pentagon has a blanket exemption in all international climate agreements.

A Pentagon report asserts that climate change poses an immediate threat to national security, with increased risks from terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty, and food shortages. It also predicts rising demand for military disaster responses as extreme weather creates more global humanitarian crises.  According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, climate change will soon become the biggest factor driving population displacements.  This, too, creates the potential for humanitarian disaster, population upheaval, and an increase in anti-immigrant hysteria.

In spite of these security risks, the U.S. military is not working to mitigate the release of greenhouses gases.  Instead, it is beefing up its fossil-fuel intensive infrastructure and using drone warfare and other attacks to respond to problems militarily, fueling hate and creating more terrorists.  Violence breeds violence.

We oppose the Global Hawk Drones that are housed here, which provide surveillance that help identify targets for attacks by the US military, including killer drone attacks.  We oppose the Pentagon plan to increase its drone fleet and double its number of drone pilots.  We oppose all offensive US military action, and are especially outraged by the US attack on the Doctors without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.  We join with people around the world in calling for an impartial investigation on this matter.

With the recent disclosures by new whistleblowers and former drone operators, we know that drone strikes are 1) not as effective as our government claims they are, 2) killing thousands of innocent civilians, 3) creating more enemies than they are killing, and 4) damaging the health & morale of our military personnel.

Colonel Lee, we challenge you and your military and civilian superiors to begin the conversion of all military assets to peacetime use and to spend most of the bloated military budget to develop alternatives to fossil fuels and to work for goodwill and a just peace among all nations and peoples.  The only way to create the will for peaceful solutions to global problems like climate change and terrorism is to simultaneously work for justice and peace. Another world is possible, but waging wars of domination will not get us there.

We are attempting to deliver this letter to you in person.  Since you represent the leadership of the US. Air Force at Beale, we request to meet with you personally to explain our concerns.

In Peace,

Sharon Delgado                                  Mauro Oliviera                        Shirley Osgood

Flora Rodgers                                     Susan Pelican                          Pamela Osgood

Barry Binks                                         Jane Kesselman

 

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See other blog postings about actions and trials related to Beale demonstrations

 

Light in this Present Darkness-Reposted

I am reposting “Light in this Present Darkness,” which I posted three years ago.  It is just as relevant today, as mass shootings continue.

No Evil for Evil

In the midst of winter darkness, people of various spiritual traditions are preparing to celebrate the return of the light.  For me, this year’s Christmas pageant was especially poignant, as the children acted out the story of the birth of a special child.  Following the killings at Shady Hook Elementary, a shroud of darkness has settled across our land.  How can we celebrate in the midst of such unspeakable tragedy?  Where is God, where is the light?

The only light I see is the light of Love, which brings us into being, nurtures us and works through us to nurture others, and leads us in the direction of hope for a more peaceful, just, and compassionate world.  This Love, which is the only God I know, enables us to keep going, caring for the children, enduring hardship and even suffering to make their days bright.  It was this day-to-day Love that motivated Shady Hook’s principal and teachers to try to protect the children in their care.

This Love, “in which we live and move and have our being,” is the light in the midst of this present darkness.  This Love is our only hope.  It points toward a brighter future.  But we can’t see the way Love is pointing if we can’t see where we are.  We must awaken to where we are as a people if we are to see the direction we need to go.

Many of us think of ourselves as spiritual, but we live in and tolerate a society that is violent to the core.  We can see the outward evidence:  bullying of children and others, child and spousal abuse, hate-filled rhetoric in the media, violent movies and video games, military-style weapons available on the open market, gun violence.  We are outraged and frightened by the most shocking incidents, but we don’t know what to do.   Start carrying guns, as suggested by the gun lobby?  Will more people with more guns make us safer?  I don’t think so.

The problem is that there is also an inner dimension to the violence that we see all around us, and even within us.  The violent milieu of our society is supported by a world view that is largely unquestioned by politicians, by the media, or by religious institutions.  US society glorifies domination and violence.  We see ourselves as the Number One nation and promote the “American way of life” as better than other ways of life.   We take for granted our right to use any means at our disposal, including drone warfare, to enforce our will.  Our criminal justice system, which is racially biased and unfair to the poor, is based not on restoration, but on retribution.  Our foreign policy is based on a view of global Empire and is supported by a military-industrial complex that seeks to dominate the world.

At the same time, our society glorifies the Market.  We are told that the Market can best allocate society’s resources, and that taxing the wealthy at a higher rate or putting rules on corporate behavior will drag down the economy.  This is the rationale for cutting services of every kind.  Giving “the Market” so much power means giving power to those with money.  This enables powerful corporations and wealthy individuals to consolidate their power and wealth by dominating political and economic policies.  Such policies do not support services for the mentally ill, victims of domestic violence, or other vulnerable people.  They do not, for that matter, support schools, libraries, or any other public institutions that we have until now taken for granted.  Rather, they increase the gap between rich and poor, which studies show is linked to increasing levels of violence.

To prevent more mass killings, gun control laws are necessary, along with increased funding for mental health services.  But these actions alone will not bring about the social transformation that is needed.   To live into a more compassionate future will require us to face the current darkness and acknowledge that we, as a people, are on the wrong track.  We have allowed ourselves to be swept along by compelling myths and powerful institutional forces that harness money and use violence to dominate our world.

We can choose to resist complicity and join with others to work for the common good.  We can face the darkness, celebrate the light, and by our actions embody hope so we can assure the children that there are brighter days ahead.  Love will be our guide.

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