February 3rd, 2006

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Good Morning!

Yesterday, I went with Karena to the waterfalls. I took a beautiful poem that I will share with you today, and read it out loud there amidst the thundering of the rushing water. I felt urgency about going yesterday, knowing there would never be another day quite the same. I knew I could not wait. It was like the day I needed to visit the salmon in Muir Woods.

Unfortunately, it was a bit much for me, so I came home, and slept, and then, realized my temperature was rising, so we kept monitoring it to make sure I didn't have to go to the hospital. With chemo, the minute it hits 100.5, it is a danger zone, and you have to call, and go, since there aren't enough white blood cells to fight infection. I slept though, and I feel fine this morning. It is another lesson in limitation. The day was a beautiful treasure, though, despite the discomfort of fatigue, a sore throat and swollen glands at the end. I am certainly now well-rested, and curious about the unfolding of a whole new day.

Elaine sent this poem to me yesterday. I read it by the waterfall.  Elaine  spent a year making a very special doll.  The doll's  name is I'Lana. This poem is her message.

Elaine said, "Try to read it as if she is talking to you. She is this ancient shaman, a grandmother, a crone. Here are her words for you, Cathy:"

Here are her words for you:

I am the phoenix that rises
out of the ashes.  You know of death,
of loss, of grief.  You know that
one day you, too, shall die.
Listen, then, so that you may live fully.
Listen, then, so that you may drink deeply from the river of life.
All you need, I hold for you in my open hand.  It is the knowledge that
you are the beloved.
You are whole.
You are full.
You are enough.
All you need do is
make space to emerge. 
It is simple.
Do what brings harmony to your soul.
Listen to your yearning.
Dare to have desire.
Do what pleases you.
You are blessed.  Don't you know that?  Don't you feel it?
Feel the blessings, my child.
Feel all of your feelings.
You are in your body to feel and to act and to hug those you love and to feel tears on your cheeks and to
dance and
breathe and
sing and
You are a beloved child, born of the Goddess' breath.  You are loved just as you are.  I am pleased with you.
Make space for your Self
to walk
to take solid steps on the earth.
Go now.  Live.

What an incredible gift!   I bow my head in thanks!

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fog this morning -
nothing to see but the closest trees
resting like fingers next to me -

my mother with me this morning
that womb that opened when she died
the womb that brought me here
opened now to space and sky

karena said yesterday her dad gave a yank and away her mom went. Her death was as easy as that. I felt my father, too, hovering, calling my mother to come. There may not be time where they are now, and yet, I sense urgency, even there, depth of feeling, warmth of care.

Karena said after her mother’s death, she looked like a little bird lying there. After my mother’s death, I slept in her bed. A glass egg I had given her dropped in the night. As I picked up the pieces, I felt her telling me the egg was broken now, and she was flown away. The cardinal she loved sat on her bird-feeder for hours looking in at us, helping us see.

I read this to Jane this morning and she remembers a line from the book Gilead on what heaven will be like, “just like here, only twice as nice.”

It works for me. : )
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Jane's Poem of the Morning!!

The orange cat does not belong to us.

We learned his name when we moved here.

Wednesday is garbage day.

That is Little Boy.

He comes and goes like the gleam in an eye.

Sometimes we just think we see him.

He makes us smile.

The way a parent smiles.

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Poem for my mother today!


        The Sound of One Hand Clapping

                  the ashes of mother,

                  scattered, tossed, spread

                  in a meadow tended by trees -


                  the ash in the air forms images in the evening light


                        mother and father,

                                    holding hands,

                              lifted in  a cloud-like drift to the woods -


                    we sit on a bench

                    a peal of thunder

                    the hand clap of one




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Op-Ed in the NY Times today!

Op-Ed Contributor
For the Love of God

Article Tools Sponsored By
Published: February 3, 2006

WHEN Pope Benedict XVI issued his first encyclical ("Deus Caritas Est" or "God Is Love") last month, it took some people by surprise. Many expected the document to focus on the "dictatorship of relativism," which Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had denounced in a speech to his fellow cardinals before his election as pope. But love?

After all, the study of human love had never really been a central topic in the cardinal's personal academic work. In that sense, it was surprising that he would choose it as the subject of his first encyclical. I suspect, however, that behind his choice lies a concern that has characterized much of his theological work for the past 40 years or so: the role of religion — or, more precisely, fundamentalism — in the threats we face today.

The encyclical's release coincided with the publication in English of a book about the future of Western civilization by Marcello Pera, the president of the Italian Senate and an atheist, in which he argues, perhaps surprisingly, that European civilization is no longer able or willing to defend its commitment to freedom and the dignity of the individual because of the weakening of its Jewish and Christian roots. The book also contains a supportive response from Cardinal Ratzinger, who makes the point that the rejection of this heritage stems from a fear of the intolerance of religious fundamentalism. This is an argument he has advanced before, most notably in a debate with Paolo Flores d'Arcais, an Italian scholar, before an overflow crowd in Rome a few years ago.

I believe that interpreted against the background of these discussions, the encyclical offers an important view of where Benedict intends to situate the church in the cultural clashes threatening world peace today.

Benedict's conversations with nonbelievers have convinced him that their major concern about Christianity is not its "other-worldiness" but the very opposite. For them, what makes Christianity potentially dangerous as a source of conflict and intolerance in a pluralistic society is its insistence that faith is reasonable — that is, that it is the source of knowledge about this world and that, therefore, its teaching should apply to all, believers and nonbelievers alike.

The Christian faith faced a similar criticism before, Benedict has argued, when it first came into contact with the religious and philosophical world of the Roman Empire. The Roman world celebrated religious pluralism and was willing to welcome Christianity as an ethical or "spiritual" option, but not as a source of truth about this world — that was considered to be the realm of the philosophers.

At that time, Christianity would not accept a place with the religions of the empire. It saw itself as a philosophy, as a path to knowledge about reality, and not primarily as a source of spiritual or ethical inspiration. The problem was that it claimed to be the only path to full knowledge about the meaning and purpose of life.

Indeed, throughout history Christians have used this claim to justify their intolerance of other views, even turning to violence in order to affirm and defend their idea of what is true. The events of Sept. 11, 2001, reminded us that this unhappy tendency was not limited to the Christian faith, but seems inherent in religious belief. If a god offers absolute truth, then those who disagree with that god's teachings are enemies of the truth, and thus harmful to society. It makes no difference whether the intolerance comes from a Christian god, who punishes countries and cities with natural disasters, or a Muslim god, who encourages terrorists to kill the innocent.

Hence the pope's insistence on the importance of emphasizing that God is, above all, love, and that love and truth are inseparable. "In a world where the name of God is sometimes associated with vengeance or even a duty of hatred, this message is both timely and significant," he wrote. "For this reason I wish in my first encyclical to speak of the love which God lavishes upon us, and which we in turn must share with others."

For Benedict, God "loves with a personal love." In fact, human love (eros) and divine love for us (agape) are intertwined. "God loves, and his love may certainly be called eros, yet it is also totally agape." That is why God's passionate love can be described "using boldly erotic images." Faith reveals God's love to be a "turning of God against himself" that replaces the demands of justice with the demands of mercy.

It's worth noting that in the second part of the encyclical, Benedict says that the charitable mission of the church is informed by the belief that human and divine love are inseparable. This is why believers and nonbelievers can come together to fight poverty and injustice — and why the church can be trusted not to impose its social teachings on "political life."

It is for this reason that believers and nonbelievers alike should welcome Benedict's reflection on love. In a time when we are rightfully suspicious of the power of religion to stir violence, Benedict has sent a clear message: No one has anything to fear from a God who is love.

Lorenzo Albacete is a Roman Catholic priest.

It's a start!
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"Awe" story for today!

This comes today with wonderful pictures of the baby hippo Owen cuddling and being with his "mother," a male tortoise. Very sweet indeed! Amazingly, the tortoise is larger than the hippo. They look so cute together.

NAIROBI (AFP) - A baby hippopotamus that survived the tsunami waves on the Kenyan coast has formed a strong bond with a giant male century-old tortoise, in an animal facility in the port city of Mombassa, officials said.

The hippopotamus, nicknamed Owen and weighing about 300 kilograms (650 pounds), was swept down Sabaki River into the Indian Ocean, then forced back to shore when tsunami waves struck the Kenyan coast on December 26, before wildlife rangers rescued him.

"It is incredible. A-less-than-a-year-old hippo has adopted a male tortoise, about a century old, and the tortoise seems to be very happy with being a 'mother'," ecologist Paula Kahumbu, who is in charge of Lafarge Park , told AFP.

"After it was swept and lost its mother, the hippo was traumatized. It had to look for something to be a surrogate mother. Fortunately, it landed on the tortoise and established a strong bond. They swim, eat and sleep together," the ecologist added. "The hippo follows the tortoise exactly the way it follows its mother. If somebody approaches the tortoise, the hippo becomes aggressive, as if protecting its biological mother," Kahumbu added.

"The hippo is a young baby, he was left at a very tender age and by nature, hippos are social animals that like to stay with their mothers for four years," he explained.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
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A day of rest!

Today has been a day of rest for me as I allow the bones to heal, and the red and white blood cells to proliferate. I see that they need me to rest, while they do all the work. It is a suitable arrangement, I suppose, and so, I am at peace.