March 23rd, 2006

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A morning of full beauty -

I wake at four this morning, enchanted with the coming light, and, also, enchanted with two new books and an assortment of magazines. Calvin Trillin has a beautiful tribute to his wife Alice in the New Yorker this week. Radiation gave her 25 extra years of life, and yet, Calvin seems bitter that it also took her life. When she died, the doctor said "her heart had been destroyed by radiation." And yet, she had twenty five extra years of life. Calvin is grieving, and I understand, and I see how I am choosing to ignore the long-term side affects in all of this. If I gain twenty five more quality years, how can I be anything less than thrilled? I believe if I only gain five years, I will be thrilled.  One year.   Two.

In the last two days, I spoke with my chemo oncologist and radiation oncologist about all that I have gained. This is a gift. It is prayer.  We are united, patient and healers, in sacred work.  The form has changed from the shaman with his drum, but the intention is the same. 

Bruce Stutz wrote the book, Chasing Spring,  as a way to recover from his heart surgery.  He wants to understand what inspires the plants in spring.  He learns from David Mauzerall that "plants, with their efficient means of production, manufacture up to 10 times more food than they themselves need to survive, even more food than they need to reproduce themselves."   Why?  We don't know.   But isn't that what we do when we give?   People today will analyze the pictures taken yesterday of my lymph nodes and breast, and use computers to figure out the absolute best way to set up those rays to radiate what needs to be radiated, and avoid the rest.  They are doing more than survive and reproduce.  Each of us is doing much more than survive and reproduce.  Perhaps that is the key of life, this overflowing abundance and willingness and desire to give and connect.   Receive today!   The world is rich.   
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Hearing Photosynthesis!

David Mauzerall, presented in Bruce Stutz's book,  Chasing Spring,  has devised a way to HEAR photosynthesis.  Can you believe it?  Look out on all this green.  Can you imagine hearing, as well as seeing, smelling, touching, and tasting the green?

Mauzerall says, "A spinach leaf sounds different than a lettuce leaf.  One species of algae will sound different from another.  A healthy plant will sound different than a stressed one."  "I send a pulse of light through a leaf in water and the energy that's not absorbed expands in the water and creates sound waves. It's not new. Bell modulated light to create sound waves."

Stutz explains.  "In 1880, four years after he perfected his telephone, Alexander Graham Bell decided that transmitting voice by light would be far more effective than electrical transmission over wires. He designed a system in which sound waves hitting a sunlit mirror were reflected as light waves.  (Wow!)  The recaptured light could then be reconstituted as sound.  It worked - when the sun was out and when there was no interference.  A hundred years later lasers beamed through fiber-optic cable allowed the fine control necessary to transmit sound at the speed of light." 

Stutz continues.  "Mauzerall's device was far simpler but its larger applications might ennable scientists to tune in on the photosynthesis of a forest to find out the state of its health."

Stutz asks Mauzerall what he hears.  "I hear the whoosh of just-created oxygen."   Listen to the whoosh.  It's why we are here. 
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in the body -

The theme of the Spring 2006 issue of "tricycle, The Buddhist Review," is The Enlightened Body. There is a wonderful article by Reggie Ray on "Touching Enlightenment." I suggest buying the magazine but you can also go to and click on the "earth breathing" icon, and be lead through a wonderful meditation practice. I did it this morning and it is well worth doing.

There is also an interview with Jane Hirshfield in this issue. She has a poem on not discriminating or denying.
It is called "A Cedary Fragrance" about her time at Tassajara, a Zen retreat center.

A Cedary Fragrance

Even now,
decades after,
I wash my face with cold water -

not for discipline,
nor memory,
nor the icy, awakening slap,

but to practice
to make the unwanted wanted.

by Jane Hirshfield from Given Sugar, Given Salt.

I found out yesterday my feet will probably bother me another two months. If you can sleep, it seems, it is not considered a big deal, and I love to sleep, so I continue to wiggle my toes, hoping to wiggle tingling away, but, for now, perhaps, I will wiggle in the shade of cold water, and pray to accept wiggling my toes like a bunny nose.
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little reminders -

I take my shower and see my red Sparkie marks. I might have preferred black, as red looks like blood, so I have a bloody splash on my right, and interesting symbols on the left. I have a third eye on my sternum. I will get my tattoos next Thursday. They ask that I not laser them off when I am done, as they might need them again. Well, they won't need them again, but I am not lasering anything off. I will be proud of my tattoos.

They also say some women have their right breast "raised" to match the left, since somehow radiation makes the one radiated "Perkier." Go figure!! I said I am fine with two mis-matched breasts. I just want to have a life, and if one reaches toward the ground, and the other up toward the sky, well, it will just add to to the reminders of balance I continue to aim toward cultivating. I actually think it is funny. I have signposts on my chest, and, now I will have breasts pointing in two different directions. How could one not find humor in that?

Smile today. Smile in all your cells. Raise your cheeks to the sky. Now, I really smile. The meditation I suggested to you last posting is about bringing your lower cheeks to the earth, so do that, and raise the upper ones to the sky, and we can all be pointing and reaching up and down and all around. No wonder I have red arrows, circles, and squiggly lines. All directions are mine to align.
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A lovely, cool, and breezy afternoon!

I went to Costco for the camisoles that the doctor says are the best to wear, and there, I got side-tracked in the book aisle, so I now have Frances Mayes new book, A Year in the World,  and Elie Wiesel's new translation, by his wife, of Night.

I am feeling tired this afternoon, so I think yesterday wore me out more than I realized.  Also, I need the newer machine because of how my heart likes to be involved in things.  It doesn't just drop when I lie on my back,  so I will lose my 10:00 daily spot, for one a wee bit earlier, possibly 8:00.  I am a morning person, so it is okay.

Here is a poem by Federico Garcia Lorca.  Enjoy!!

Who cut down the moon's

(Left us roots
Of water.)
How easy to pluck flowers from
This infinite acacia. 

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Welcoming Solitude!

There is a voice within you that no one, not even you, has ever heard. …There is a welcome for you at the heart of solitude. When you realize this most of the fear that governs your life falls away. The moment your fear transfigures, you come into rhythm with your own self.

John O’Donohue from his book Anam Cara (which means soul friend in Gaelic)
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Cindy Sheehan!

I admire what Cindy Sheehan has done in defense of her son. He sounds like he was the most amazing young man, and to know he volunteered based on lies from the recruiter, and, then, to die, well, it is hard for me not to feel great anger at that. I also do not understand how Bush continues to ignore the financial, as well as emotional cost of this war, but then, he had never had to deal with either in his life. Money has not been an issue for him, and when his little sister died, he was not allowed to grieve, and so, now, here we are in a quagmire of pain.

Cindy Sheehan's words:

Volunteers for Endless War
By Cindy Sheehan
Thursday 23 March 2006

Being on the road constantly and being in the trenches for peace leaves me little time (and, if truth be told, little inclination) to keep up with George's dishonest and often incoherent ramblings; nonetheless, this week, two of his more calculated comments caught my attention.

The first comment was on the White House lawn on Sunday, March 19th, the 3rd anniversary of the invasion. By the way, the White House website has entitled this speech "The President's Remarks on the Third Anniversary of the Liberation!!!! (italics and exclamation points added by me) of Iraq." A few sentences in his short remarks were:

Ours is an amazing nation where thousands have volunteered to serve our country. They volunteered to - many volunteered after 9/11, knowing full well that their time in the military could put them in harm's way.

Notice how many times George says a variation on the word "volunteer:" three times in one sentence. This caught my eye because right-wing warniks who don't want to take any responsibility for supporting George's war of terror and it's accompanying mayhem are always reminding me that Casey "volunteered." And you know what? The warniks got me there! Casey did volunteer. He volunteered in May of 2000, to, first of all, serve his country and, second of all, get the benefits that his recruiter deceived him about. The biggest lie that Casey's recruiter told him was that "even if there is a war, you won't see combat ... you scored so high on the ASVAB test, you will only go to war in a support role." The tragic thing about this false promise is that Casey, a Humvee mechanic, was killed in combat five days after he arrived in Baghdad. The truly alarming and upsetting thing about the false promise made to Casey, though, is that recruiters are using that same lie today to potential volunteers while our country is in the middle of an occupation where many of our troops are being deployed for their third and fourth tours of duty.

I believe another aspect of George emphasizing the word "volunteer" so many times in one sentence is that he would love to absolve himself of the mortal sin of sending our troops to die and kill innocent people immorally, while still reaping (in his mind) the so-called benefits of being a "war president." George Bush wants to play-act at commander in chief, but thinks he can wash the gore of over 2,300 brave human beings off of his hands by resting assured that they "volunteered."

I have so many other problems with this volunteer rationale, too. For instance, if one volunteers to be in the military why can't one just "un-volunteer" if he/she doesn't find the lifestyle suitable; or say, if they don't find the mission compelling enough, or legal and moral enough, to go fight, perhaps die and kill innocent people for?

What about the people who volunteered after 9/11? Whatever reason they volunteered for: revenge, patriotism, a sense of duty, a sense of hopelessness - they all volunteered to protect America - not be sent to die for the war machine. They volunteered to wear the uniform of our country, which most of them didn't know or realize is the identical uniform of the war profiteers, and that they would soon be asked to invade and occupy a country that was no threat to the USA, and neither did they truly comprehend that the very thing they enlisted to prevent was being engineered by the neo-cons.

Even more exploited than our regular military are our states' National Guard units, which comprise almost 40 percent of the forces in Iraq and a disproportionately high amount of the casualties. I have spoken to many of our families who have had a national guard soldier killed in Iraq and they feel so betrayed because their family member did not sign up to go to Iraq - they volunteered to guard the nation.

In my opinion the most loathsome piece of George and the warniks who support the immorality in Iraq, while pardoning themselves for the deaths without doing any penance, is that what they are saying is essentially this: your loved one got what he/she deserved for volunteering to join our armed forces. If we want to have a military to defend our country, then it is our responsibility to elect leaders that the entire world can depend on to use our military as an absolute last resort to protect America - not as a first option to solve invented problems to fulfill their lust for mammon.

The solution to the problem of our troops being sent to die for George's war is obvious and simple: no one should volunteer to be cannon fodder for this cowardly commander in chief and the war machine. Soldiers who don't want to go to die for George should also volunteer to stay home. According to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a soldier does not have to obey an unlawful order. The occupation of Iraq is unlawful by all standards, including our own constitution.

I don't know what the American public expected when a silver spoon failure was "elected" to be our leader: a sub par student who failed at every business attempt he made and who had to be bailed out of his failures and the Vietnam War by Daddy and his friends over his entire lifetime. We are all human and make mistakes or do some things that we aren't proud of. I don't have a problem with George being a failure, as long as his mistakes are localized - as most people's are.

Now George, who as the head of the corrupt and failed ship of our state, has failed in Iraq in huge, D.W. Griffith epic proportions and has left the solution and the bail-out to some "future" president. Recently, George said in his last, unfunny stand-up comedy show, which he likes to call a "press conference," in response to a question about some undetermined, future, non-timetable-ish day when there will be no American troops in Iraq:

That, of course, is an objective, and that will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq.

This is another way for George to be bailed out of his failures and to again wash his hands of the flesh and blood that he is up to his elbows in. We should all be appalled, horrified, angry and up in peaceful arms about this statement. George just admitted that the occupation of Iraq is lasting at least almost another three years.

The answer to this problem is glaringly obvious: we need a new president, ASAP. We need someone else who is willing to ask directions and change course when it is so apparent that the course is not only wrong, but damaging our country in palpable ways. Only a delusional, self absorbed, irrational person would stay such a misguided and murderous course.

It is also conspicuously evident that even if George had the will to leave Iraq, he doesn't have the tools to get out of the chaos he has gotten everybody into there. The bull can't put the china shop back together again and the destruction won't stop until the bull gets out of that china shop.

We can't wait for future presidents. We can't wait for November 2006: people are dying every day for volunteering - and the innocent men, women and children of Iraq did not volunteer to be liberated by being killed by the thousands.

George, and every person in his administration that lied to us, needs to be impeached, removed from office and held accountable for the crimes of Iraq and the crimes against Americans.

We can't allow them to get away with murder.

Cindy Sheehan is the proud mother of Specialist Casey Austin Sheehan, who was KIA in Iraq on April 4, 2004, and Carly, Andy and Janey who hold down the fort; founder and president of Gold Star Families for Peace and author of Not One More Mother's Child.