Grandmother’s Stories

I remember being fascinated by the stories my grandmother told of her early days. Horses and wagons. Moving to Kansas in a covered wagon. The tornado which destroyed their farmhouse a few months before my dad was born. The floods they endured after record cloudbursts up-river.

What kind of stories will I be able to tell my grandchildren? Or my children theirs? What could happen if we don’t take immediate steps to change the direction we’re headed? These might become the good old days of fairy tales and adventure stories.

Just imagine. . .

The silver-haired woman smoothed locks of the squirming girl child in front of her. “Hold still, Cam, dear. Two minutes. I’ll get your braids done.”

“Aw, Gran,” the child protested. “I hate when you fix my hair. It hurts.”

“The longer we wait, the more it will hurt. Shush now and sit still.” She combed the locks with knobby fingers, veins of age rising on the backs of her hands. “If only I had a comb.” The woman sighed.

“What’s a comb, Gran?”

“It’s a tool to help work out the knots in a little girl’s hair.”

“You used to have a comb, didn’t you? Years ago, when you were little?”

“I had many things, Cam.”

“Tell me.”

“We had plenty of combs and brushes for our hair. And our teeth.”

“Teeth! You combed knots out of your teeth?”

Gran laughed. “Not exactly. We brushed our teeth to keep them healthy.”

“So they wouldn’t fall out of your mouth, right?”

“You remember, child. Yes. We had a lot of things you’d never believe.”

“Like what?”

“Like cars, to drive us wherever we wanted to go.”

“On wheels?”

“With rubber tires. And we had a whole house for every family. And plenty to eat, with appliances to fix our food.”

“What’s a ‘plance’?”

Gran laughed. “Appliance,” she pronounced the word carefully. “Appliances were tools for a house. There were refrigerators for cooling our food to keep it from spoiling, and stoves to cook our meals. We had tools that would chop our food, or mix it up so we could bake cakes and pies in our ovens.”

The old woman’s fingers worked quickly, easing tangles from the child’s hair. She traced a part down the middle of her granddaughter’s head and tossed half the tresses to the front, across Cam’s chest.

“Tell me about the water,” Cam said.

“Oh yes. There was water, running from faucets in the kitchens and bathrooms—water to wash our food—and the dishes we ate on. We had water to wash ourselves. Even our hair!”

“You washed hair?”

“My yes. There’s nothing that feels so fine as a soft and silky head of clean hair.”

“And you could wash every day?”

“Every single day. Twice if we wanted to.”

“What about the flushes?”

“Our fancy toilets? Every family had one or two in their houses—special thrones for a privy. And you could flick the handle on the tank and flush your products down with swirling water.”

“Like magic.”

“It seems so now, little Cam. It didn’t seem magical to me then. When you have so much that is right at your fingertips, you get lazy. And you take it all for granted.”

“Like it will always be there?”

“Exactly. Like it was always there and always will be. Then something happens that shakes you awake and you realize how lucky you have been.”

Gran finished the second braid, knotted the grimy ends and tied a bit of twine around it.

“Tell me the story again, Gran. Tell me about how you lost my grandpa.”

Gran removed a polished stick from her own silver hair and shook her locks until they cascaded around her shoulders. “What—has Philip given you a day off?”

Cam grinned. “He’s off somewhere with the scouts. Tell me the story again.”

“About Grandpa Stefano?”

“Yes.”

“Ah. That story.” Gran combed her own hair, smoothed it into one long tress and twisted it to the top of her head. Holding it with one hand, she fished the polished stick from her worn skirt pocket and worked it through the twist until her hair was again secured neatly on top of her head. “I think you’ve heard this tale before. Where should I begin?”

“Where you always do.”

“Of course. It’s always best to begin at the beginning. Come with me, Cam. Let’s walk.”

Imagine the wasteland where Cam and her grandmother would walk. Then think of the huge wildfires we’ve seen each of the last two springs. Think of the erratic and unpredictable weather patterns. Think of the epidemic of earthquakes influenced by fracking procedures. We could be one, maybe two, generations from a life very different from what we now know. Our choices matter very  much.

Vote, while you still can. Vote for a candidate who respects the voices of the little guys. If we can’t change our leadership, our landscape and our future could look very bleak.

 

A Mother’s Dream

Soon I will be traveling to spend a special birthday with my youngest, a beautiful woman now of 24 years. By this time next year she’ll have a child of her own crawling around, maybe tottering some first steps. I recall the wonder and anticipation I felt awaiting her arrival. And I remember the instant love, a mother’s bond, a determination to do whatever I could to see that she had a chance for a meaningful life.  I would give my life for my children. I suspect that many mothers–and fathers–feel this way toward a new life entrusted to them.

That was about the time when I renewed my interest in protecting the earth, our home planet, to preserve its vitality for generations to come. I wanted my children to experience the beauty of nature, to revel in the wilderness as I had when young. I wanted them to grow up with principles, and goals, and a sense of justice for the good of all, even wild creatures of God’s creation.

I imagined that mothers the world over held high hopes for a new baby, though the hopes might differ in their content. How would my hopes for a child in Kansas differ from the hopes of a new mother in Haiti? What hopes do new mothers harbor today? What hopes do you have for your new sons or daughters?

Below is a poem written when my youngest was weeks old. Thanks to my good friend, Lynne Hunter, for the photos from Haiti.

A Mother’s Dream

From a Kansas perspective                                            From a Haitian Perspective

PICT0773

Her brown eyes filled with wonder at the moment of her birth

And they have yet to lose the spark that miracle did place.

I wonder, Baby Girl of mine, as you arrive on Earth

What is your future?  Can I see a hint within your face?

20110527_180 (2)

His brown eyes filled with wonder at the moment of his birth.

But will that spark begin to dim, this miracle a waste?

I wonder, Baby Boy of mine, as you arrive on Earth

What is your future?  Will you be granted one with grace?

PICT0642

My girl, I thank the Powers that be for your sake on this day.

There is a list for which you’ll never have to pray.

A home with food and clothing and a roomy place to play,

Security for all you need to make a life each day.

20110527_387

My boy, I thank the Powers that be for your sake on this day.

There is a list for which you’ll never have to pray.

A character built up through need, through learning to say nay;

You will be patient, understanding, quick to share your play.

PICT0687

And yet, my child, there are some things that I would ask for you.

Dear God, please give her challenges enough to grow within.

Spare her the clutter of a life empty of all that’s true;

Too many options, too much ease, affluence her great sin.

20110527_74

My child, there are a lot of things I ask in your behalf.

Kind Father, grant his needs be met so he’ll become a man.

Give him this year good nourishment.  Protect him with your staff.

See that he grows to have a chance and thus fulfill your plan.

PICT0771

My little child, whose birth inspired in me unequalled awe—

100_1231

I’d give my life if I could know your innocence will prevail.

PICT0807

Lord, give her character built by patience; teach your loving law—

20110527_65

Dear God, protect him; let him grow; our hope do not impale.

PICT0636

My girl, refuse a life of idle ease.

20110527_118

                                                            Son, learn to fight. Do not let go of things you need.

PICT0806

                Daughter, reject the load of justices denied to others so we can live right.

20110527_41

Grow up my son.

PICT0835

Be strong, my girl.  Choose your road with care.

 

His brown eyes filled with wonder at the moment of his birth

And they have yet to lose the spark that miracle did place.

I wonder, Baby Boy of mine, as you arrive on Earth

What is your future?  Can I see a hint within your face?

20110527_180 (2)

Her brown eyes filled with wonder at the moment of her birth.

But will that spark begin to dim, this miracle a waste?

I wonder, Baby Girl of mine, as you arrive on Earth

What is your future?  Will you be granted one with grace?

PICT0773

Rolling Up the Sleeves of Hope

PICT0799      A few days ago, I attended the annual meeting of our state Interfaith Power and Light. The guest keynote speaker, founder of the national organization, was Rev. Sally Bingham of California. She delivered an inspirational message.

Key points included the notion that climate change is the most important and serious challenge facing this generation, and those to come. It is a spiritual and a moral issue. All faith traditions include tenets of stewardship for our God-given world. If our habits, our lifestyles, generate waste products which ultimately will destroy the basis of life as we know it, it is our moral responsibility, our sacred duty, to do something about it. In the Christian tradition, we must acknowledge that “What you do to even the least of these, you do to me.”

Creation care is a matter of faith. It is as important as love for our neighbors, and the mission of saving souls. For there will be no souls to save if we don’t protect our air and our water. Ultimately, another way to care about people is to care about the environment.

Climate skeptics suggest the threat is over-rated. What if they’re right? What if we clean up our act to stem a crisis that may never happen? At the very least, we’d accomplish some good things: our children would enjoy a future world where people could live healthier. Wealth would be more equitably distributed. Our air and water would not be for sale to the highest bidder, but would be clean and plentiful for all.

What if the environmentalists and climate scientists are right and we sit back and do nothing? We face a bleak future, one in which this lovely planet will no longer provide a home for humanity and countless other life forms that God created.

It makes a great deal of sense to act in a way that insures a future for life on Earth.

Bingham concluded her address with an invitation to say yes to the call as stewards of creation. “Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up,” she said. We are called to respond actively toward a vision of hope for our future. There’s a lot of work to do. Let’s get busy.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sanctuary: A Photo Essay

“A picture is worth a thousand words”. I wonder how many scenes can be pulled from just one word?

Sanctuary

courtesy Vijay Sherring
courtesy Vijay Sherring

Sanctuary

PICT0680

Holy

 hOly

HoLy

HOLY

Sanctuary

PICT0747

Sanctuary

PICT0685

Sanctuary

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

nctuar

y

SanctuarPICT0121y

Sanctuary

Sanctuary

Sanctuary

Sanctuary

Sanctuary

Sanctuary

Sanctuary

Sanctuary

sanctuary

PICT0794

sanctuary

PICT0799

reverence

reverence

reverence

sanctuary

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sanctuary

PICT0678

SANCTUARY

PICT0648

Sanctuary

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sanctuary

PICT0150

Sanctuary

PICT0102

“A picture is worth a thousand words” but how many scenes can be pulled from just one word?

PICT0656

s a n c t u a r y

PICT0655

sanctuary

PICT0781

sanctuary

PICT0662

SACRED SACRED

SACR SAEEED

SAC   R  RED

sanctuary

PICT0646

s a n c t u a r y

PICT0660

PICT0787Sanctuary

Sanctuary

PICT0640

s a f e 

sanctuary

DSC01379

sanctuary?
courtesy Rebecca McCutcheon, The Winfield Courier
courtesy Rebecca McCutcheon, The Winfield Courier

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

sanctuary?

PICT0764

PICT0757

sanctuary?

PICT0780

sanctuary?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

s-a-n-c-t-u-a-r-y-?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

YY

Y

S-A-N-C-T-U-A-R-Y-Y-Y-!!

Y

DSC05102

s-s-s-a-n-k-ch-ch-ch-u-r-e-e-e-e-e

DSC05108

Sntay anurySncay nct ractr –ntuy –ncta-tu–     r     –    y

aaghh!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sanctuary

Sanctuary

SaNctuary

Sanctuary

SancTuary

Sanctuary

Sanctuary

SanctuaRy

SancYtuary

s-s-s a n c h u r e -E – E !

e

PICT0798PICT0790

Sanctuary

Y

Sanctuary
 
Y

Sanctuary

IS IT IS IT IS IT IS IT?

sanc . . . .

SAFE SAFE SAFE

sanc . .sanc . . . .

nc . . . . sanc . . . .BE

sanc SANCtuary. . . .SANCtuary

PICT0135

S A C R E D 

PICT0813

 S  A  N  C  T  U  A  R  Y  !  !  !

 
 
And Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out those that sold and bought in the temple, ond overthrew the tables of the moneychangers . . . . And he told them, “Is it not written my house shall be called a house of prayer among all nations? But you have made it a den of thieves.” Mark 11: 15, 17
 
 
 
 
For more information, see
http://www.vjsexoticsafaris.com
http://www.rideforrenewables.com
http://350.org
http://www.tarsandsaction.org
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpfWCpRvY9c&sns=fb

http://www.winfieldcourier.com/archives/article_e9faf415-cec6-562c-963e-98c3916b12c3.html

Once there was a Rooster

Dear Septanna,

Perhaps it was predictable that I should become an environmentalist, an earth-lover, a tree-hugger, defender of Nature from encroaching civilization. I was born in the month of May, the green month. PICT0635May’s stone is deep green emerald, the color which has always been my favorite. Green represents life, renewal, constancy, dependability. And hope. Green, the cool background color, frames splashes of vivid prairie blossoms during May. Just as the foliage of a wild rose bush catches and holds dew at night, green is a beautiful color, but in a quiet way.

PICT0085Like me. I’ve always been a quiet person. Public appearances never come easily to me. I am much more comfortable alone on my prairie, pen and notebook in hand, dogs panting happily at my feet after a run through the native pasture. The only sounds I hear besides their panting are wind whistling through bare branches on the trees surrounding our nearly-dry pond, and the screech of a hawk circling high above our heads.PICT0106

Gentle and kind-hearted, I wouldn’t hurt a flea.  Well, maybe a flea. But you get the idea. I am the calm greenness surrounding today’s flashy and assertive personalities.

So what happens when my prairie is in peril from the short-sighted choices of billions of people? What can I do to shake my fellow humans awake? You wouldn’t think there’d be much a timid, background sort of person could do. Those who have great wealth seem to possess the power on our planet today. They seem to be seduced by the prospects of even greater profits and will wield significant influence to exploit our finite planetary resources for short-term gain. At your expense, dear Septanna. But what can one shy grandmother do about it?

Just when I feel all is lost, I recall the rooster. And I find hope.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce there was this rooster.He was supposed to be a hen, an araucana hen, no less. He should have laid eggs with pastel green shells. Several years ago I bought three araucana pullets for the novelty of having green eggs. Two of those pullets turned out to be roosters. There was only one hen. Pullets are supposed to be female chicks so all three should have laid eggs.

Somebody made a mistake.  Twice.

As these two roosters grew, they began to crow. One turned aggressive. He terrorized his brother, his sister, and every other hen in our chicken house.

I exiled him to fend for himself outside the chicken yard. You may be wondering why I didn’t just make some chicken noodle soup. Well, that’s me—prisoner of my own soft heart, I was incapable of harming this fighting cock. I couldn’t kill this rooster. But I wouldn’t have stopped a coyote from hauling him off. He was exiled. He paced the chicken yard perimeter day after day, month after month, even (yes) year after year. He plotted in his wee bird brain how he might gain access to the hens again.

I’d scatter some grain for him every morning—couldn’t let him starve either. But I wasn’t going to let him terrorize my hens.

So he charged me. Imagine that! I was the person who let him live, the provider of his daily food. But he charged me. He seemed to wait until I turned my back and, with a rush of feet across the ground and a flurry of wings, he launched himself toward my legs, spurs outstretched.

I took to carrying a child’s plastic bat with me to do chores. If I thumped the bat on the ground as I approached, he seemed to get the message. He left me alone. Most of the time.

There were still instances when I heard the rush and thunder of his charge behind me. Then some interesting things happened inside me. My heart rate  jumped to double in about two seconds. I’d turn toward this fighting cock, raise that bat and swing with all my might. No thought process was involved, simply act and react, a mere instinct to fight my aggressor. On more than one occasion, the bat connected squarely with this rooster’s head. I knocked him silly. He’d stagger around and slump to the ground, quivering and jerking in spasms.

I felt instant remorse. “Oh my God, I’ve killed him!” I thought. As if that would be a bad thing. For me, though, kind-hearted timid little me, it was a bad thing. I dropped the bat and retreated to a safe distance. I watched until he struggled to his feet and dragged himself around the corner of the hen house.

Eventually this rooster met his fate, but not at my hands. However, because of his aggression, I learned that somewhere deep inside of me, I have the instincts and the adrenaline to fight when I feel threatened. I think that’s applicable to our world today, Septanna. My intuition tells me that many of the choices made by my fellow human beings pose a threat—not just to me, not just to my prairie, but to you as well. And there’s nothing more dangerous than an angry mother, be it a bear or a human being. Maybe it’s time to start carrying my bat again and fight for you in every way I can imagine.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Letters to Septanna

Contemporary American culture is notoriously short-sighted. We can’t see beyond the tips of our noses, or into the next hour, let alone the next century. Gratification must be instant–because after all, we deserve it.

PICT0634Yet there is a growing need to evaluate our lifestyle choices for the consequences forced onto unborn generations. Native Americans put it this way, “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.”   (From the Great Law of the Iroquois confederacy.)

Just how long would that be? It would vary from family to family, of course, but in my own, seven generations covers about 200 years. Could my great- ancestors-times-seven have imagined life in the twenty-first century? I doubt it. Nor can I visualize everyday life in the year 2213. But perhaps there will live a child two hundred years hence, the great-granddaughter of my yet non-existent great-grandchild. She’s the thread of an idea right now, but I’ll call her Septanna. “Sept” for seven and “Anna” for my progeny. What would I tell Septanna about life in my time?

This new category will include letters to the twenty-third century.