February 29th, 2008

deep sea turtle

Good Morning!

Good Morning!!   I wake up and my stomach is upset, so it is either something I ate or the flu and it is what it is.   It is odd though to feel  weakness and fatigue rather than my usual morning perk.   I realize now this is our extra day, the tulip we get every four years.  Hooray!   First thing, this morning I look for the moon that has been such a bright beacon these last few mornings, but today, it is resting behind the clouds, and I may need to do the same.  I do not feel well today at all, and for comfort, these words come:

Begin to recite the following phrases directed to yourself.   You begin with yourself, because without loving yourself, it is almost impossible to love others.

May I be filled with loving-kindness.

May I be well.

May I be peaceful and at ease.

May I be happy.

    Jack Kornfield

Book Cover

Permission -

I gave myself permission to lie down and rest, then, ate a gentle breakfast and perused the Book Passage newsletter.

There, I learn of a new book by Laton McCartney, The Teapot Dome Scandal: How Big Oil Bought the Harding White House and Tried to Steal the Country.

Here is the blurb.  I'm not sure if it will make you feel better or not.

    "When you read Laton McCartney's book, you'll meet scoundrels who make today's bunch seem like amateurs. Woodrow Wilson had placed three major oil fields under control of the Navy - big oil wanted them.  Paying off convention delegates, they managed to get Warren Harding into the White House.  The events that followed included the murder of the nominee for Secretary of the Interior by his mistress and payoffs masquerading as losses during poker games.  The result?  You guessed it - big oil got everything it wanted."

    And still does.  I remember learning about the Teapot Dome Scandal in school but I don't remember this much intrigue.

The Book Passage newsletter also has a section called:  Advice from Miss Paige Turner.   Someone wrote in about how to choose and bring in new members to their already-established book group.  Dare they bring in men?

Miss Paige Turner has a detailed response, and concludes that one can revive a stale book group by adding new members and diversifying.  Of course, we all have a different idea of what that might mean. 

Here is how she concludes:

    "Diversity can promote more stimulating discussions and opportunities for expanding and exploring beyond one's own comfort zone. However, when I suggested this to one book club leader (the members of her 11 person group were all female, all Caucasian, all close to the same age and all lived in the same neighborhood) her retort was, "Why, our book club is already quite diverse - two of us are Catholics!"

owl - great white -

Light -

White Owl Flies Into and Out of the Field
Coming down out of the freezing sky
with its depths of light,
like an angel, or a Buddha with wings,
it was beautiful, and accurate,
striking the snow and whatever was there
with a force that left the imprint
of the tips of its wings — five feet apart —
and the grabbing thrust of its feet,
and the indentation of what had been running
through the white valleys of the snow —
and then it rose, gracefully,
and flew back to the frozen marshes
to lurk there, like a little lighthouse,
in the blue shadows —
so I thought:
maybe death isn't darkness, after all,
but so much light wrapping itself around us —
as soft as feathers —
that we are instantly weary of looking, and looking,
and shut our eyes, not without amazement,
and let ourselves be carried,
as through the translucence of mica,
to the river that is without the least dapple or shadow,
that is nothing but light — scalding, aortal light —
in which we are washed and washed
out of our bones.
~ Mary Oliver ~
(House of Light)

white owl

Emails -

I keep a great number of emails in my inbox folder, and then, periodically go through and peruse, especially when I am in procrastination mode like now..

I come across this from my sons in 2004.  Chris sent the Bush one, and Jeff added Orwell.

"In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Thus, political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging, and sheer cloudy vagueness. Political language [is] designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable."


-- George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language," 1945.




"This is a person and followers who are trying to say we don't want democracy, as a matter of fact, we'll decide the course of democracy by the use of force, and that is the opposite of democracy."


-George W. Bush, in reference to Shiite cleric al-Sadr

April 5, 2004



Rosary steps

Serving -

Rachael Naomi Remen

Noetic Sciences Review
Spring 1996

In the Service of Life

In recent years the question how can I help? has become meaningful to many people. But perhaps there is a deeper question we might consider. Perhaps  the real question is not how can I help? but how can I serve?

Serving is different from helping. Helping is based on inequality; it is not a relationship between equals. When you help you use your own strength to help those of lesser strength. If I'm attentive to what's going on inside of me when I'm helping, I find that I'm always helping someone who's not as strong as I am, who is needier than I am. People feel this inequality. When we help we may inadvertently take away from people more than we could ever give them; we may diminish their self-esteem, their sense of worth, integrity and wholeness.


When I help I am very aware of my own strength. But we don't serve with our strength, we serve with ourselves. We draw from all of our experiences. Our limitations serve, our wounds serve, even our darkness can serve. The wholeness in us serves the wholeness in others and the wholeness in life. The wholeness in you is the same as the wholeness in me. Service is a relationship between equals.

Helping incurs debt. When you help someone they owe you one. But serving, like healing, is mutual. There is no debt. I am as served as the person I am serving. When I help I have a feeling of satisfaction. When I serve I have a  feeling of gratitude. These are very different things. Serving is also different from fixing. When I fix a person I perceive them as broken, and their brokenness requires me to act. When I fix I do not see the wholeness in the other person or trust the integrity of the life in them. When I serve I see and trust that wholeness. It is what I am responding to and collaborating with.

There is distance between ourselves and whatever or whomever we are fixing. Fixing is a form of judgment. All judgment creates distance, a disconnection, an experience of difference. In fixing there is an inequality of expertise that can easily become a moral distance. We cannot serve at a distance. We can only serve that to which we are profoundly connected, that which we are willing to touch. This is Mother Teresa's basic message. We serve life not because it is broken but because it is holy.

If helping is an experience of strength, fixing is an experience of mastery and expertise. Service, on the other hand, is an experience of mystery, surrender and awe. A fixer has the illusion of being causal. A server knows that he or she is being used and has a willingness to be used in the service of something greater, something essentially unknown. Fixing and helping are very personal; they are very particular, concrete and specific. We fix and help many different things in our lifetimes, but when we serve we are always serving the same thing. Everyone who has ever served through the history of time serves the same thing. We are servers of the wholeness and mystery in life.

The bottom line, of course, is that we can fix without serving. And we can help without serving. And we can serve without fixing or helping. I think I would go so far as to say that fixing and helping may often be the work of the ego, and service the work of the soul. They may look similar if you're watching from the outside, but the inner experience is different. The outcome is often different, too.

Our service serves us as well as others. That which uses us strengthens us. Over time, fixing and helping are draining, depleting. Over time we burn out. Service is renewing. When we serve, our work itself will sustain us.

Service rests on the basic premise that the nature of life is sacred, that life is a holy mystery which has an unknown purpose. When we serve, we know that we belong to life and to that purpose. Fundamentally, helping, fixing and service are ways of seeing life. When you help you see life as weak, when you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. From the perspective of service, we are all connected: All suffering is like my suffering and all joy is like my joy. The impulse to serve emerges naturally and inevitably from this way of seeing.

Lastly, fixing and helping are the basis of curing, but not of healing. In 40 years of chronic illness I have been helped by many people and fixed by a great many others who did not recognize my wholeness. All that fixing and helping left me wounded in some important and fundamental ways. Only service heals.

Reprinted from Noetic Sciences Review, Spring 1996

orchid - tiny


Here's the latest on Kara whose Chinese name means orchid.

"Friday, 12noon, Kara will be taken by ambulance to the Pacific campus of CPMC for a one o'clock appointment to have a pic line put in. She  has to be really still for this to be successful, so please visualize Kara being really calm, thinking about happy things, and the pic line going in very easily and smoothly!

She'll then be taken back to Californina Street to be discharged, and HOME she goes! She's feeling a little anxious about going home, but she'll be able to get more rest. She's going to need an IV infusion four times a day, so a nurse will be going over to train them with the IV. The surgeons want to keep her on the antibiotics via IV.

Although she is well enough to go home, she is "still a sick puppie"."

They are requesting people to sit with Kara during the day and "prayers for a smooth pic line procedure at 1pm, and a good transition going home."

What a relief!

Book Cover

our politicians at work -

Our accountant, Dave Simpson, sends this note with our yearly appointment letter.

    "You will find some new language this year, mandated by (in my opinion) the worst piece of federal tax legislation since 1976, an 'earmark' Charles Rangel attached to last May's military spending appropriation less than ten (10!) hours before the floor vote.  Trust me, no Congressman of any persuasion knew he/she was voting a new set of tax return rules."

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boys and girls -

This is an excellent article by Elizabeth Weil on teaching boys and girls separately, to honor and reward their differences.  Even the ideal temperature of the room is different for boys and girls, and they respond to different colors on the walls.   They see and hear differently.   It is fascinating material, and could make a difference in how students are taught.

It is a complex issue, obviously and the article ends with this:

    "But schools, inevitably, present many curriculums, some overt and some subtle; and critics argue that with Sax’s model comes a lesson that our gender differences are primary, and this message is at odds with one of the most foundational principles of America’s public schools. Given the myriad ways in which our schools are failing, it may be hard to remember that public schools were intended not only to instruct children in reading and math but also to teach them commonality, tolerance and what it means to be American. “When you segregate, by any means, you lose some of that,” says Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation. “Even if one could prove that sending a kid off to his or her own school based on religion or race or ethnicity or gender did a little bit better job of raising the academic skills for workers in the economy, there’s also the issue of trying to create tolerant citizens in a democracy.”"

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Education -

The Wall Street Journal today has an article on What Makes Finnish Kids So Smart?  High school students rarely have more than a half-hour of homework a night.   Kids don't start school until age 7 and they don't agonize over college because it is free.  The children have a great deal of personal freedom.  Parents don't hover, and the kids test high.  "They earned some of the top scores by 15-year old students who were tested in 57 countries."    Check out the article: 

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Mort Sahl and Dick Gregory -

We saw Dick Gregory and Mort Sahl tonight.  It was quite a show and in a way that was different than I expected.  Dick Gregory came out first.  He is 75 now, and very concerned about the world and the way the Bushies generate fear.   He said God and fear are opposites.   He also spoke about this area, where nannies are paid to change the diapers of the children, and the parents walk around with bags to pick up their dog's poop.  He said we could end the war by telling people their dogs have to go fight.  People wouldn't tolerate that.   He said we have a humane society for dogs.  What do we do for people?  How are we caring for our children?

Mort Sahl came out second.  He is eighty and had a stroke two weeks ago.  Clearly, it affected what he could do and say, and he was brilliant.  He knows everybody, all the politicians of our past, and his insights were fascinating.  He, too, spoke of the churning and creation of fear.  We can't function there.  He also said that political candidates used to have fun, used to tell jokes.  You don't see that now.   They both were clear that it is a different world, and not for the better.

Dick Gregory stood at the door at the end, and I got a big hug and blessing and got to give him a kiss.  These are two amazing people and it was a privilege to see them in such a small space.   It was also a mature audience, and I wondered if the years weren't essential to understand the jokes.  At one point, they both sat on stage, and just answered questions from the audience about all they have experienced.  They would then free-associate.   They were funny in a sad way.  I suppose it is not a funny time in history, and these two certainly believe in what America was, and wish that children could know the America before Bush.   They spoke of how this was a great country, and it was founded to separate church and state.   It wasn't really funny what they said.  It was wise.  I felt two wise men were sitting up there on the stage telling me what can be, what we can return to, what was.  It was very touching and I am with the character of these two men tonight.   Also, both men spoke off the cuff.   I doubt there were writers involved, and wisdom, compassion, and understanding flowed.

I am touched.