March 18th, 2011

muir woods

Balance -


I've been to Muir Woods the last two days.  The stream is running and the hills are green.   It is renewing to be there and everyone is in awe with the beauty.  Children stand and look and say, "Wow".  

It is a Holy Place.

Though my understanding is that there is no danger of radiation reaching this coast, I continue to receive emails on preparing for this danger.  My local community in preparation for emergencies now has a kit I can buy for my car and home.   A two-person car/truck kit is $60.00 and a two-person Household kit is $100.00.  I think it is good to be prepared and I wonder where preparation stops.

Japan was prepared for an earthquake and lives were saved.  Lives also were lost.  There is a balance on what we can do and choosing how to balance is complex, and yet, our news sources continue to simplify.

This is an interesting article on how our U.S. news sources were not prepared to report on what happened in Japan.

Part of it is simple. It is about cost. News is now a for-profit, for big profit,  business and yet it is sad to see how little some of the reporters and newscasters actually know.  What happened to curiosity, expansion, risk?

I don't expect newscasters to know everything about everything but I do expect a basic level of knowledge, and in this world of instant access to so much information, I don't expect a newscaster who seems ignorant on the location and composition of Japan.  

Perhaps we used to idolize those who delivered the news.  Maybe they earned it. I think some sensitivity training is now in order as to how to approach those who've just lost everything. Isn't this obvious? And yet the movie Broadcast News pops to mind. Dumbing-down and emotional manipulation have been going on for a long time.

We have seen politicians, priests, newscasters, and actors taken off their pedestals. John Wayne was not a rugged cowboy. He was an actor. All of this is a way to say I think it is important for each of us to dip into our own curiosity and need to know and balance like the rushing water our specific need to prepare.

goldsworthy - branch

Opening -

We know the heart opening,  Perhaps that is what we are seeing in Japan.  The opening of the earth allows a better view of  the opening of the heart.  

I receive the following by email today. I don't know Jane Brunette or how this was first distributed but I feel this opening of Japan, this literal opening, is reaching our hearts in new and refreshing ways.

One thing I've felt in this talk about nuclear reactors is that I sit in a house with lights and heat, a dishwasher, a washer and dryer.  What am I willing to give up?  Am I?   Do I accept the risks?   It would seem I do.

Jane gives an amazing statistic:   Andy Couturier wrote in a blog post that in Japan, it takes one nuclear reactor just to power all the drink dispensers that allow people instant 24-hour access to hot and cold drinks.

I think today we may all be asking ourselves whether these drink dispensers are really necessary and maybe they are.  In the past, we might have built a fire to heat our soup.  Now, we can push a button to add hot water to a Styrofoam cup.  What aren't we noticing in what we consume?

Blossoming through shared suffering: Examples from Japan

Mixed in with the disturbing images coming out of Japan is a flower seen by a woman in Tokyo as she walked home from work after the earth shook and the waters poured in. Yuka Saionji saw a little flower and thought, “all of us can now try to run away from radiation, but what of this flower? I bent down to the flower and just felt moved to say, ‘I’m sorry.’ ”

I read this on Yuka’s blog post and my eyes filled up. It made me want to thank her publicly for being able to maintain such sensitivity in the midst of tragedy. This is the act of a true flamingseed: one who uses difficult conditions to blossom into awareness and compassion. And she isn’t the only one. She reports on so many others using this time of deep, shared suffering as fuel to open their hearts and serve others in whatever way they can. Here are a few examples from her post:

—I saw an old lady at a bakery shop. It was totally past their closing time, but she was giving out free bread.

—There was a lady holding a sign that said, “Please use our toilet.” They were opening their house for people to go to the restroom.

—My co-worker wanted to help somehow, even if it was just one person. So he wrote a sign: “If you’re okay with a motor cycle, I will drive you to your house.” He stood in the cold with that sign. And then I saw him take a gentleman home, all the way to Tokorozawa!

—When I was waiting at the platform, so tired and exhausted, a homeless person came to us and gave us a cardboard to sit on. Even though we usually ignore them in our daily life, they were ready to serve us.

—An old man at the evacuation shelter said, “What’s going to happen now?” And then a young high school boy sitting next to him said, “Don’t worry! When we grow up, we promise to fix it back!” While saying this, he was rubbing the old man’s back.

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mission blue butterfly

A Bigger Picture -

As I contemplate my last two posts, I see how they go together.  We don't need big-wig anchor people to tell us what is going on.  The people themselves are reporting and recording the news.   I've long felt the internet was equal to the invention  of fire and the printing press, but I think today I see how huge this is, what we are all involved in creating.

I am in awe of Muir Woods.  I am in awe of all of you.

The rain pours down again today.  It is so green here that I felt like I was in Ireland for St. Patrick's Day.

Enjoy the blessings we share.

california poppy

Posting -


I believe that each of us wonders at times if anyone is reading what we post.

I started here as a way to post about my health.  My health was interesting to people because I was going through chemotherapy and radiation.   People were interested in a moment to moment report so I began with those I knew personally and then people found me.  I think 
jblindsight   was the first.

My health improved and we were hot in the election process so many of us joined together in posting about the election.  It seemed we were in a fair amount of agreement and there were few squabbles over the election years.

Then, the economy dumped and people had to take a different look at their lives.  Friends had health problems.  I didn't feel comfortable posting about the problems of others though I had been revealing of my own.  I felt a need to recluse, and often wondered what it was I did want to say and share.

The posts from Japan are reminding me that God, or Spirit or Consciousness or whatever you call this place of Source and Connection, is in the Details.  The details of each life are important.  We do want to know and yes, there are jokes about people not wanting to know how many cups of coffee you had that day and I do not like the short format of Facebook but I see there is a place for it and I also see there is a place for sharing here.

I do want to know the details of your lives.  I want to know you.  I enjoy the pictures, the ups and downs we all go through, the pain and the joy.   People say this is an artificial environment, that we don't risk anything emotionally here, but I know that is not true.  My awareness is with Alan's mother, with Zebulen's daughters, with the weather around the country because you are there.   I am in Georgia, Chicago, Ohio, Washington.  I care.

goldsworthy - pebble circle

Connection -

I didn't understand Live Journal when I first came to it five and a half years ago, didn't understand how it could be free.

My son, who set me up here, said that I didn't understand that I was the content.  They should be paying me.

We've watched Facebook become worth unimaginable amounts of money.  I understand it is about the advertising and the sharing of our information but it is also about something more.

From the Ted Talk I posted the other day, I saw how the words typed here "add up," are tracked, so if we type about love and connection and sharing and stopping to look at a tiny flower growing out of the cracks, well, then, that is what we are talking about and thinking about and that change, that change is happening Now and Now and Now.  

Post of the beauty of your child, dog, cat, parent, friend.   What we share here does matter.  It is not just words tossed into air.
mt. tam fire lookout

Epiphany -

The Thomas Merton Institute for Contemplative Living invited people to share an epiphany they have experienced.

You can read them at:

I was particularly struck by this one by Thomas A. Zimmerman.

This experience is from way back in the beginning of my young adult life. It was January of 1973, and the setting was Elgin State Mental Hospital Elgin Ill. It was the January Interim course field work assignment for my Psychology Major. The assignment was to a residential home for whom were called at the time, "the chronically insane". This was a rude introduction to clinical psychology for a 20 year old intern from Elmhurst College. Basically the first week was one of shock. People in various limited states of consciousness ambled around the "day room". Most were not groomed well. Some had intellectual deficits, and others had emotional problems, like severe Manic Depression and various levels of Schizophrenia. It was a ward for the hopeless. The staff turned me loose to be in the day room and experience the ward. They did not seem to know what to do themselves, let alone supervise a rookie college student.

By the end of the week I decided to change my major from Psychology to something else‐‐anything else. And then came a decisive prayer‐‐" Lord, this is a waste of time. These are not even humans in here. This is totally hopeless". That night an answer came to that prayer in the midst of much tossing and turning. Somewhere the words came," They are human, my children. What makes you any better than them? Stop treating them like they are not human and treat them with the same respect you would any of the people you so call "normal".

Humbled, I returned totally changed the next day. The residents were greeted with warmth and compassion, by name. They were listened to respectfully, even if not really understood. Their needs were taken up with the staff. They were treated like human beings and not hopeless clinical failures. After 10 days of this, the staff were becoming impressed with the changes in patients. They narrowed it to me, the somewhat quiet and lost intern. So one day they called me to the unit meeting and said, "We have noticed a marked improvement in the residents since you started working with them and we want to know what you are doing to be so successful with them". I swallowed hard and said, "I just treat them like they are human beings". It was too simple of an answer than what they were looking for. The answer lost me credibility with the staff. But it was fine with me. God had changed my heart to see all beings as of great worth and worthy of love and respect.

38 years later, I am a Pastoral Psychotherapist and church pastor. That one lesson learned while at Elgin State Mental Hospital carried me through countless encounters with many people in very humble situations.

It was a foundational epiphany.

Thomas A. Zimmerman
Bourbonnais, Illinois