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Diary of a Worm’s Life in a Home “Growing Power” Box and Garden

Rain Garden July 31, 2009

Front Lawn Garden 08/09

Garden 08/02/09

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More Merton - Sunday, January 31, 2010

As more persons see the world as it really is, the good and the bad, more and more the writings of Thomas Merton are quoted and seem to speak to the now. My friend Jim Forest, author of the revised, expanded edition of Living With Wisdom: a biography of Thomas Merton sent me this reminder from Garrison Keillor’s “Writer’s Almanac”:

“It’s the birthday of Thomas Merton, born in Prades, France in 1915. Merton was a Trappist monk, but he was also the author of more than 50 books, 2,000 poems, and a personal diary that spanned much of his lifetime.

“Merton decided to write his master’s thesis on William Blake and found himself deeply influenced by Blake. He converted to Christianity and, in 1941, entered a Trappist abbey in Kentucky where he remained for the rest of his life.

“In a diary entry written before becoming a monk, Merton wrote, ‘Going to the Trappists is exciting. I return to the idea again and again: “Give up everything, give up everything!”

“Merton became well-known throughout the world, in part because of his writing, in particular his autobiography The Seven Story Mountain (1948). “

Also at the bottom of an email from a Catholic Worker was this new quote from Merton: “We must not lose sight of the real problem, which is not the individual with a revolver but death and even genocide as big business. . . .It is this polite, massively organized white-collar murder machine that threatens the world with destruction.” — Thomas Merton: Essential Writings (Maryknoll, N.Y., Orbis Books: 2000)’‘

For a person who lived his life in a Trappist abbey as a monk, away from the world, Thomas Merton saw the world as it is, in a timeless way. Yes we need more Merton.


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Money Matters! - Saturday, January 30, 2010

Picking up my box of organic fruit and vegetables from Share, a non-profit, volunteer-run food buying club program, it occurred to me how affordable healthy food can be when people work together. I wish Share would sell more than organic vegetables, fruit and ground beef, but I am thankful for these items. Corporations work together and thus ‘fast food’, usually not so healthy, is cheaper than healthy food.

Will Allen of Growing Power says the good food movement is now a revolution. I hope so, but as of now I see it as more the latest ‘big thing’ and but not really revolutionary. Until we can make healthy food ‘affordable’ I do not think the good food movement will be a revolution. Money matters in this world where we live.

A sad example of how much money matters is in the halt today of evacuating seriously injured Haitian persons to Miami for surgery. When the state of Florida questioned who was paying for the medical attention, the White House halted emergency evacuation of Haitians to the USA. This is forcing overcrowding and dangerous conditions at the hospital set up at the airport, which will result in one or two hundred deaths in the next few days.

A positive news story of how money matters was the report today how the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will spend 10 billion dollars in the next ten years to vaccinate children all over the world, saving about 8 million lives.

As I see it the only way we can overcome a world that operates on “money matters” is a world where we, the people, work together.


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Seeds Of History - Friday, January 29, 2010

Finally today I ordered seeds for my winter sun room and early spring growing. Maybe now that the seeds are on their way the weather will warm.

A few days ago the people’s historian, Howard Zinn, died. I first met Howard in 1969 when he was an ‘expert’ witness at our trial of the Milwaukee 14. Our defense for our direct action of destroying 1A selective service records was that our act was a necessary one of conscience and civil disobedience to stop the selective service system from drafting young men to fight in an unjust and immoral war in Vietnam. By this time Howard was well known as a historian of the people, a person of nonviolence and a leader against the war in Vietnam.

His and our argument that direct action was needed for change and to save lives, as expected, did not win the day. We were convicted of burglary, arson and theft. The fourteen of us went to jail and moved on with our lives. Howard went back to Boston University and continued to be a great writer and historian. His most popular book came in 1980, “A People’s History of the United States”.

Over the years I have heard about Howard Zinn and read many of his writings. The one thing that strikes me most about his writings was the call for ‘direct action’. The people’s democracy in his view was a bottom-up one, and real change only came when the people demanded it and were willing to risk “civil disobedience” to attain rights.

Recently a video the People Speak, based on his book, was presented on the History Channel. Well known actors read and sang the words of everyday men and women who changed history by their direct action and words.

Finally tonight I added some videos from a recent interview with Howard Zinn and obituaries about him to my web page about him.

Today I purchased seeds to plant and spread the seeds of the people’s history.


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Persistence Pays - Thursday, January 28, 2010

Persistence Pays Off — Jody
crosses the finish line

In a posting Monday I observed how the wisdom of Thomas Merton’s advice to “concentrate not on the results but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself” made sense in my life these days. Related to focusing on the “truth of the work itself” is persistence.

I have been acclaimed and defamed for being very persistent. When I had a business selling direct mail advertising, persistence really paid off. Sometimes it took me four or five years before a business customer would purchase an ad in our magazine. Once I had a customer I very seldom lost the customer to the competition. Persistence made me money.

In the social and political realm persistence can often be ignored or dismissed, but it is just as important. A good example happened today when the Marquette University Tribune, after many persistent efforts, published my viewpoint on Marquette University’s hosting military training on campus. See Viewpoint: ROTC has a place at Marquette. My message might still be ignored and dismissed by Marquette administrators, faculty, staff and students, but at least it will make the message harder to ignore and dismiss. Persistence might not bring the desired ‘result’ of teaching war no more at Marquette but it did pay off.

A friend who, like me, tends to have too much on his plate, called me today. As we were talking, we started to realize that it was not hard, persistent work that made us uneasy, but it was trying to do too much and having control over it that was bothering us. I joked at the end of the conversation how we must always see the big picture but work hard on the little piece of the picture we are working on and let the rest be.

Jesus says that if we ask something persistently we will get it. Persistence pays.


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Breaking The Silence - Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Army Chaplain Recruiting Poster

A friend sent me last Sunday an article about The Christian Military Chaplaincy. If you read it under Featured Articles and know me a little bit you will know why. I am driven by a force, greater than I, to speak out against violence of human beings on human beings, be it in the streets or at war. The ethical and moral teachings behind this article on military chaplaincy are the same as the ones that drive our Marquette University Peace Action (MUPA) movement to have Marquette Be Faithful to the Gospel and No Longer Host Military Training on Campus, which violates Christian moral values and principles on war and violence.

When looking for a picture for this post I find a military recruiting poster for chaplains on an another article by Father McCarthy on this subject: Pentagon Mammon Molds Christianity. He points out in this article, as in the other one, that in conformity with Pentagon authorized policy, U.S. Military Chaplains do not teach the theology and norms of their Church’s Christian Just War tradition or Gospel Nonviolence to recruits and military personnel. With the military dictating what Christian values can be taught or not taught by chaplains to soldiers, the picture takes on a whole new meaning that is repulsive to Christians who seek to stop violence of humans on humans.

Tomorrow morning a group of us will stand in the cold for a prayer vigil of three recent homicide victims in Milwaukee. How many more men,woman and children must die in the USA, Iraq, or Afghanistan before we stop teaching and preaching violence and war? Military Chaplains, like the rest of us, must break the silence and say “enough!”


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Sweet Results - Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Caco pod in Venezuela

After talking about the value of work itself over results last night, I ended up with possibly some results from the value of my work. For some time now I have tried to explain to persons that I am not opposing ROTC programs on university campuses but the teaching of military values over religious values and the teaching of means of war, like ‘reflexive killing’ that contradicts moral and ethical values on campus. Persons keep trying to pin me as anti-ROTC and when they finally understand what I am trying to say they ignore me.

The other day I thought the same thing was happening when I had a long conversation with an editor of a newspaper. As soon as he understood what I was saying he said he had to get off the phone. I valued my work at his understanding and moved on. However, today he called to say that he had some extra room in the newspaper coming up and asked me for an article on this issue of teaching war on a college campus. It was a welcomed and unexpected result.

If it works out, I will be more pleased than normally I am with publishing my work because the results were unexpected. To write, to act, to do what you believe is right without expectation of ‘results’ make the achievement of results much sweeter.


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Work For Work Not Results - Monday, January 25, 2010

Today I received another quote from my Thomas Merton from my friend Jim Forest in Holland. Jim, an author of a book on Merton, Living with Wisdom has sent me lots of quotes form Thomas Merton but this one was different. It was found on the Harper’s Magazine web site accompanied by a painting from Winslow Homer. Also it was written by Thomas Merton in a letter to Jim Forest in 1966. But probably most important of all it was words that I needed to hear today.

The picture is on the side and here are the words under the title: “The Value of Essential Works.”
“Do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, essentially an apostolic work, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself.”
–Thomas Merton, in a letter to Jim Forest dated February 21, 1966, reproduced in The Hidden Ground of Love: Letters by Thomas Merton (W. Shannon ed. 1993).

Why this quote was so timely is that events in my life have left me struggling to strike a balance between trusting and having faith and working hard for results. Some say to me that it is fine to have the right intentions and there are just things you cannot change. On the hand some say that only results count. Hard work without results is failure.

The quote helps me understand that we need to focus on the “value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself.” Otherwise said the means, the work, is just as important, if not more so, than the results or goal.

For example, it helps me understand why I felt so frustrated at a meeting tonight of a group of good people that has worked hard on peace and justice issues for many years. I felt really frustrated after the 2 ½ hour meeting not because of the results or no results that were achieved, but by the fact that in all the time and words spent at the meeting there was no serious talk about issues or actions of peace and justice which the group is dedicated to. I realized I do not need results so much from groups as this as much as the group focusing on the “value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself.”


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Cooking and Gardening - Sunday, January 24, 2010

Julia Child

Last night we watched a movie video called Julie & Julia . Julia is Julia Child, the American cook who brought French cooking to the USA and television. The movie confirmed something I had observed before, that cooking, like gardening, is a healing endeavor.

Creative cooking, like gardening, has meant a lot in my life since I stopped working for money, (called retirement). about four years ago. Since retirement I feel like I have been very busy and working hard but, unlike a job for income, there is no beginning or end to the work, it just flows on and on. Like working in a job you enjoy, the more you do, the more there is to do. So taking time for creative gardening or cooking is a self imposed time out for the busy retired worker.

Since the The Pilgrimage of Peace to India I have been cooking Indian food from recipes I learned from my friends in India. I can cook some Middle Eastern recipes from my childhood. The rest of my selection is mostly my own creations, borrowing from different ethnic and American dishes to create my own. Cooking this way, without a set recipe, is fun since you do not know how it will turn out and you never cook the same thing twice. But maybe now I should take a serious look at some other recipes, like some from Julia Child. Following a recipe, rather than using what you have, is a challenge for me, since it forces me to shop more carefully. But it can be a learning experience and make for some delicious foods.

The Julie in the movie was a young woman who turned a blog “The Julie/Julia Project,” into a memoir, Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. This Diary of the Worm is like a blog, but instead of writing about the challenge of cooking all 524 of Julie Child’s recipes in a year, I write about observations in daily life, especially from gardening and creative nonviolence. These postings will never be as popular as Julie’s blog was, or have a book or movie based on them. However, it serves, like gardening and cooking, as a healing source. Cooking, gardening and writing, together with silence and reflection, give meaning and insight to life.


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Worms Are ‘Natural Persons’ Too! - Saturday, January 23, 2010

The recent Supreme Court 5–4 ruling that major corporations have all the rights of ‘natural persons’, human beings, has many persons upset. As ‘natural persons’ this means corporations have the right of freedom of speech, and with their money can control elections and the legislative process. Is it not that they do not already do so, but now they can do it openly and legally. Maybe Walmart or ExxonMobil will run for president. They both were born in the United States and are of the right age.

Now if corporations, created by human beings, are ‘natural persons’ with the same rights as human beings, what about other creatures in nature. What about animals? If Walmart is a ‘natural person’ certainly an ape is too. They say the genetic makeup of apes is something like 98% or more similar to human beings. I am not sure corporations even have a genetic makeup.

What about plants? They certainly are natural and if a non-living corporation is a person, plants are a higher form of being.

However, the real good news of this Supreme Court ruling is for worms. I have been watching a series on the Charlie Rose TV show about the human brain. One of the scientists in the series studies worms, with the smallest of brains, to learn how the human brain works. Just like week we saw how many worms socialize. A major corporation may have many persons with brains working for it but no biologist would study a corporation to learn about the human brain. A worm, however, unlike Walmart, could never run for President of the USA, although born in the United States, a worm would not be old enough.


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Essential Values - Friday, January 22, 2010

Philip Berrigan

I drove a friend this morning to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to turn in a paper to her professor and take a brief exam. Waiting for her in the student union I read three papers she had written for her classes. One was about Dorothy Day, co-founder of Catholic Worker; one was about Philip Berrigan, a person who inspired many of us in our resistance to militarism in society; the third paper was a basic understanding of the faith of Islam. There was not a lot of new information in the three papers but the simple, clear and straight forward way the subjects were presented impressed me and help me to find a connection between all three subjects I had not made before.

I realized how these two persons in history and the faith of Islam were driven in part by the same value: to stand with the oppressed, by the grace of God, against the powerful and mighty of this world. For Philip Berrigan and Dorothy Day, who lived in the same time period, this stand meant similar and different things. For Muslims it has meant different things over the centuries. However, the essence of the commitment of all three is to be with the lowest and marginalized, and to struggle with them in a spirit of love and generosity.

Thanks to my friend, who by asking me for a ride helped me realize a little more deeply one of the essential values of life.


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In His Own Words - Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lorenzo Rosebaugh in El Salvador

On this web site you can find a lot about my deceased friend Lorenzo Rosebaugh OMI. Lorenzo, to all who knew him in the USA, Brazil, El Salvador or Guatemala, was a simple but extraordinary person. He was truly someone who could say, as Gandhi, “My Life is my message.”

At Christmas time Fr. Joseph Mulligan S.J., a friend of Lorenzo, sent some of us this blog of 23 newsletters that Lorenzo wrote over the years from Central America, including his testimony about his jail experience in Brazil in 1977. There are many words about Lorenzo but, like his book To Wisdom Through Failure, his own words, born from his experiences, are the most telling. Enjoy these reflections of Lorenzo in these newsletters.


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Wake Up People! - Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Gaza or Haiti?

Checking all the news channels tonight to find some world news other than the Republican victory in Massachusetts, I saw a brief report that there was a serious 5.9 earthquake in Haiti today. I was saddened and surprised to hear this terrible news. But suddenly this news channel turned to more talking heads talking about the election yesterday. I quickly searched the other news channels to find only more talk about the election and nothing on Haiti. I searched the internet for Haiti earthquake but could only find that the new earthquake was this morning, and lots of fund raising sites for Haiti and stories about the rescue.

I feel like shouting “Wake Up People”, people are dying in Haiti while food, water and medical supplies are not getting to the persons who need them. What good is all the fund raising when the aid is getting there so slowly? Despite this new earthquake the media is losing interest in Haiti using a survival story or fundraiser story here and there. The US military has landed thousands of troops at the Haiti airport while Doctors Without Borders airplanes with medical supplies are turned away. Where are the major hospital ships off shore of the coast of Haiti? Where is the food, medical supplies and water to the people after 8 days?

People in Gaza of Palestine are still suffering the siege of Gaza and lack food, water and medical supplies. After the military invasion of Israel into Gaza the landscape of Gaza looks that of Haiti. People are dying, like in Haiti, for lack of food, water and medical supplies.

A local young man was buried today who was sent to Iraq for 9 months to kill or be killed and survived only to be sent to Afghanistan where he was killed.

So while we talk and talk and have fundraisers, the killing and violence go on. I am so tired of words (TOW) and, inspired by Words of Inspiration, seek action. A voice cries in the wilderness: Wake Up People.


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Beyond Words - Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The nightmare the people of Haiti are suffering is beyond words, or as a friend would say “beyond human suffering.” Pictures do a better job than words of describing this natural and man-made horror, but even pictures can only say so much. But we must stop and watch this tragedy so we do not forget. The Boston Globe newspaper has a photo essay with heart wrenching pictures.

Tonight on the news and ABC’s ‘Nightline’ I noticed the media has moved on from Haiti to other news items like the upset victory by the Republican candidate for Senate in Massachusetts. So, lest we forget, I present these pictures.


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Words of Inspiration - Monday, January 18, 2010

March Today

Today I attended a local rally and march to honor the memory Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. From the words of Dr. King that were read, to the words of the many speakers, I learned little, if any, new information. But I was inspired by the words as by the music. Words of inspiration, not information, are what we need these days — words of inspiration that lead to action, not more words.

From what I heard today I was inspired to write this imaginary talk of Martin Luther King Jr. addressing the people at the rally in Church today.

I am in this Church preaching to the choir — you people who have been active in civil rights, justice and peace movements. I was blessed to know of a few of you personally. To you, blessed ones, in Milwaukee today I say:

Do not honor me but honor what I stood for and gave my life for. Here is where I believe I would be if I were in Milwaukee in these days, struggling for truth and justice. I would be speaking out in word and nonviolent action against Milwaukee’s participation in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In particular, just as I did with LBJ, who I strongly supported for President, I would be challenging the local US Congressional Representatives in Milwaukee. I would hold Rep. Gwen Moore accountable for her vote for additional military spending for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and demand that she reverse her position and take a stand with congresspersons trying to end both wars and curb military spending.


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Back To Nature - Sunday, January 17, 2010

Beauty of Nature

Every once in awhile in my life I need to remind myself to go back to nature. For me going back to nature means throwing aside my hardness of heart, listening to the silence in and around me, seeing God in all things, tasting and touching the excitement of each moment in life. Simply said it means being my true self. It is not that I will ever attain this state on earth but the struggling and searching for this self is all I can do and is enough.

Practically speaking going back to nature means working daily on my home growing power model inside or outside. It means taking time to read and reflect. It means listening to others and acting on my conscience even when it is not convenient.

Concretely speaking it means planting some more seeds in the sun room planters; finishing organizing and cleaning my office; reading the rest of the book on Dorothy Day and starting a new book; being available to friends and family; doing tasks around the house; planning some action on stopping military training at Marquette University; doing some studying and research on topics like history of Haiti; spending more time outside.

Going back to nature can mean something completely different to someone else but it will always mean being true to self.

Thanks to the magic of Facebook and the internet, I made contact with a friend that shared a community house with a group of us over 40 years ago. In communicating to each other by email and updating each other on others who lived in this community house, my friend of the past mentioned that so much has happened to him between those days in 1968–1969 and today. I am sure that is true for him as for me. However the part of our true selves we shared is still there, perhaps changed but still the same. If we can both go back to nature and be in touch with ourselves, we will again, instantly, have so much to share. Going back to nature is a constant quest.


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Action is Remedy for TOW - Saturday, January 16, 2010

St. Francis of Assisi

Are you suffering from TOW (Tired of Words)? I came across a remedy today in a quote from the bible: “Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” (1 John 3:18 ) This quote fits well with other quotes running through my mind and letters recently like Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” (St. Francis of Assisi); “Love ought to show itself in deeds over and above words.” (St. Ignatius of Loyola)

This remedy of using action over words fits well with two other quotes I have been using recently as a way of life I am trying to adopt: “The greatest challenge of the day is how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?” Dorothy Day; “My Life is my message. You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

Words are valuable and necessary to communicate but too many words can be tiring and often frustrating. Actions speak louder than words and without action words are meaningless. Action is the remedy for those of us tired of words.


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Double Birthday Day - Friday, January 15, 2010

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Donating money today for Haiti I was asked if I wanted to donate in memory of anyone. At first I said no, but quickly thought and said my dad, whose birthday was Jan. 15th. My dad was a quiet, hard working man. From working on a car, to building a recreational room, to welding, my dad was skilled in so many ways of physical labor. My dad enjoyed all forms of physical labor from cleaning out the gutters to working on an electric problem.

His manual skills made his loss of memory with Alzheimer’s so much the more difficult on him and the family. He went from dong major maintenance on his and my house to not remembering how to start the lawnmower. It was hard for him to be dependent on me, very manually unskilled, for the simplest job.

But my dad in his older age developed a sense of humor, something he never showed any of us in his younger years. He started joking with all of us. Unfortunately the disease of Alzheimer’s took over his mind and he even lost his new found sense of humor. After my mother died he did not want to live any longer and died eight months later.

My dad’s work ethic was truly inspiring in my life. Although my work has been in business and ministry I have this drive to work hard.

My dad shared his birthday with a well known person, Martin Luther King Jr. Although we celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday next Monday, his birthday was the 15th. Martin Luther King is truly one of the greatest Americans of the 20th century. His life and words have inspired me to fight for human rights with nonviolence. His call to arms is with me in all I do.

As I grow older I appreciate the lessons of work ethic from dad and the lessons in struggling for truth from Martin Luther King. I try to put the two lessons, work ethic and struggle for truth , together. Together they make for an exciting life. Today is double birthday day.


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Contrast! - Thursday, January 14, 2010

For our family there was a lot of attention today spent on medical care. My adult son was in the hospital getting treatment, my wife went to a spine clinic for pain and I had a visit to the dentist. We three are all blessed with medical insurance that covers much of the expensive care we received today.

For the people of Haiti, despite the world focus on the country today, is experiencing a lack of medical care for a country suffering a tremendous disaster. Dead bodies are lying in the streets; serious injured persons are going without medical care and despite 10, 000 care agencies operating in the country there is significant lack of coordination and administration of services. People of Haiti did not have adequate medical care before this earthquake and now the thin fabric of medical care has been torn apart.

Today I read in the newspaper that President “Obama $33 billion for 2010 war push” over and above the $700 billion plus the military is requesting. Today President Obama said the USA would spend $100 million for aide to Haiti. How many $100 millions in $733 billion plus?

Today President Obama has said he would temporarily stop the deportation of Haitians from the USA but did not say he would give Haitians Temporary Protective Service (TPS), something normally given to people coming to United States from a nation with political or natural disaster upheavals.


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Prayer and Money - Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cry of Girl in Haiti

Birthdays are times to celebrate but this birthday was overshadowed by the tragedy of the earthquake in Haiti. Haiti is among the poorest countries in the world, has struggled with many natural disasters and political unrest, with suppression of the democratic desires of the people. Now comes this disaster of such great proportions. What to do? All I can think of to do is donate money and to pray. Catholic Relief Services, an organization that I respect and trust, has provided me with an opportunity to do both. I made a donation on their web site and a friend sent me this prayer from the Catholic Relief Services in Haiti.


God of all creation, as we weep with our family in Haiti , console us.
In this time of crisis, open our eyes to look beyond the disaster
to see Christ in our brothers and sisters in Haiti , as Christ sees us.
Be with us as we stand in solidarity with those living and working in Haiti.
Be with us in our mourning and guide our efforts to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, comfort the grieving and stand for justice.
With your mercy, sustain us at this time as we continue to work for peace and justice.

For our Brothers and Sisters in Haiti Affected by the Earthquake

Lord, hear our prayer.
For the Haitian people, that help comes to them quickly and comfort comes to those who hurt.
Lord, hear our prayer.
For the lost or buried, that they are found and reunited with their loved ones.
Lord, hear our prayers.
For the relief workers, that they have the tools they need, the courage and the strength to respond fully.
Lord, hear our prayers.
For the families in Haiti and in the United States who are waiting to hear from loved one, that good news comes to them.
Lord, hear our prayers.
For those whose who have perished, may their souls rest with you, oh Lord, where they will find eternal love.

Praying and giving money might not be much to do for the people of Haiti, but it is all we can do for now.


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Avatar, Nature, Nonviolence - Tuesday, January 12, 2010

On a web page devoted to connecting the growing power of nature with the nonviolence of Gandhi, King, Day and Jesus, it is only natural to offer some thoughts on the blockbuster movie Avatar . I saw it in Florida over Christmas time when we were enjoying some of the beauty of nature, like sunsets at Siesta Key beech.

We saw it in 3 D and all its digital glory. It was a fascinating production, but at the end I was sad, despite the fact that the good guys, the natives on the planet of Avatar, with help of a few Americans, overthrew the nasty, violent, greedy, militarized Americans. I was sad that after the good, green creatures lost their spot on the planet to the vicious military attack of those seeking the minerals on their land, they became just like their enemy. After the defeat, at the encouragement of American-turned-Avatar-citizen, they reached out to all the inhabitants of the planet to build a force to violently overthrow the aggressors. They turned to violence to avenge the violence against them. Although the bad guys made a preemptive attack and had superior weapons the good guys, using violence and with help of the violence of their god, defeated the bad guys and drove them off the planet.

My problem with this story is that in life violence never brings peace but only more violence. In real life the bad guys would return with even greater weapons and defeat the people of Avatar. (Maybe that will happen in Avatar II). After the natives lost their first home and the sacred tree that stood tall over the spot, they had a chance to relocate, concede the minerals they had no use for, and live like the rest of the people on the planet in peace and with nature. But these natives, under the leadership of a human turned native, chose the call for arms and to adapt the same tactic, violence, as their enemy. This is the story of Animal Farm put into the high tech, fantasy world of science fiction.

I must say my wife was disappointed to hear the above and said it was because of my conditional view of violence and nonviolence that I had to offer this criticism. She is right. Life, conscience, faith and history teach me that this fantasy movie has a message that is a fantasy: that peace can be delivered by violence. This is not the way of nature or nonviolence. So the Nonviolent Cow gives thumbs down for the movie Avatar.


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Life Was Simple? - Monday, January 11, 2010

California Trees

Often simple things are hard to do. For example, today I was trying to help a person transfer medical records from one place to another. One agency said they could not transfer records that were gathered at another agency, permission had to be granted by everyone, phone calls had to be made and when all was set for the transfer a fax machine broke down, delaying the transfer till who knows when.

Gardening is simple even though some try to make it complicated. Basically you grow what you have sown. Earlier this winter I had sown some salad green seeds in the sun room planters and tonight, like other nights, we had home grown salad greens in our salad. I have not sowed any salad seeds recently so that when this crop is done it will be a while before I sow and harvest another crop of salad greens.

As I have mentioned before, when I was young, in simpler times, we thought the advancement of technology would leave us with lots of leisure time. Technology did explode but instead of more leisure time we are busier than ever. Life is more complicated.

I have really noticed recently that many simple things are made hard. More technology, more bureaucracy, more division and specialization of skills and resources, rather than simplifying living have made it more difficult. No wonder I am so tired these days. Or maybe it is just that I am getting old and thinking of the ‘good old days’ when life was simple.


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Without Sun - Sunday, January 10, 2010

Without the sun, life on earth would cease to exist. Winter days without sun make the sun room very cold, even with small space heater and five-pane insulated windows. Like many persons on dreary days without direct sunlight I feel a little dreary. We need sun for light, heat and energy.

For this winter I had hoped to build a box on the roof on my sun room to catch the heat of the sun and blow it into the sun room. I did not, but even if I had, without the sun there would be no additional heat.

I can understand how early humans worshiped the sun since life is dependent on it.

My office area is a mess and has been for awhile. Despite good intentions to clean and organize it, I have not. This week I have set to clean and organize the office as my goal. One of the first things I am going to do in the office, next to the sun room, is to improve the light in the room. Better light will not only reveal the mess the office is now in, but also give me an energy boost to clean the office.

I would take a picture of the before situation of the office but I am too embarrassed to do so. However, if it becomes as clean and well organized as as it can be, I will take a picture.

The office is separated from the sun room by a glass door and glass windows. So I have been working on the sun room as part of the reorganization of the office. I wish I could count on a week of sun while I organize and clean the office and sun room, but life must go on when there are days without sun, so on days with sun we can celebrate.


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Tired of Words (TOW) - Saturday, January 09, 2010

Talking to someone recently the person used many words and ideas. In his mind the many words and ideas were joined together. In my mind they were disconnected words and ideas. When he asked me to validate his talk I said I did not understand the connections but that his actions would speak louder than any words.

Meeting with a group recently the persons used many words and ideas. In their minds the many words and ideas were joined together. In my mind they were also connected words and ideas. When reflecting on the meeting I understood the connections but thought that actions of the group would speak louder than any words.

I like to believe that all things are connected but know that it is not by words. Recently I have become tired of words and ideas. Like information in this age, there are just too many words and ideas. Often I hear a new use of a words or an idea, but usually there is no action but just more words and ideas.

As I get tired of so many words I appreciate more the words of Mahatma Gandhi, a man of many words, who said: “My Life is my message. You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Tired of Words (TOW) tonight, I spent my computer posting time placing six new pictures on Bob’s Photo Gallery. If a picture equals a thousand words, an action on words equals ten thousand words and a message by life is wordless.


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The Big Picture - Friday, January 08, 2010

The Big Picture

For some persons I know a minor change in a bylaw of a peace organization is big ‘contentious’ issue. For someone close to me checking into a hospital for a mental health illness was a big decision today. For soldiers in war, making a quick decision to kill or risk being killed was a big decision today. For countless Americans and persons world-wide without work, food or shelter, today was another major struggle to survive. From the looks of the nightly local news, weather reports are a big thing for many. What is a big issue to one person might be no issue or a small one to another.

From the person with mental health illnesses I have learned that what is a big issue or not is all in one’s perspective. This person can connect events and see things that are real that I only see as random events in my perspective.

I think the attraction I find to gardening or in researching is that they both involved gaining perspective. In gardening one must look at the whole picture — weather, light, water, soil and seed when growing. In researching we can often find the bigger picture, the part we miss by looking at something close up.

Silence and listening also offer chances to see the big picture. When our mind, body and spirit are silent we feel and sense all that is around us. When we really listen we can hear what our mind was so busy with that it was blocking our hearing.

Keeping everything in perspective and seeing the big picture is the way of the garden and the way of the person who knows silence in life.


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Soft Touch - Thursday, January 07, 2010

Tonight, in this day of snow, a young man came to my door offering to shovel my front sidewalk and walkway. I did not really need it done, but when he mentioned how he needed the work and had been met by rejection, I was a soft touch and said okay.

When a beggar on the street asks me for money I usually give it him or her. When a friend asks for a ride I say yes if I can. I realize that sometimes saying yes and being a soft touch is not the best thing to do, but I’d rather error on the side of trust than fear.

Being a ‘soft touch’ is not such a bad thing. Maybe someday I will need someone to be a ‘soft touch’ to me.

When I asked my congresswoman why she voted now for so much military spending while before, under an Republican administration, she did not, she said it was fear of terrorism. In an unknown situation being tough and hard is frequently out of fear while being a soft touch is frequently out of compassion and vulnerability.

Being a hard nose or soft touch is our choice.


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Collage Making - Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Christmas Concerts Graf Kids

My picture collage maker software program is back operating. So I went back and made a collage of the Christmas concerts of my three grandchildren. You can find a bigger version of this picture collage at Graf Kids.

My Russian Orthodox friend in Holland reminded me that today was the Feast of the Epiphany. The word “epiphany” comes from an ancient Greek word meaning “manifestation” or “striking appearance.” In the Eastern Christian or Orthodox Church today is Christmas Eve, the celebration of God becoming man. In the Western Christian church we celebrate the image of the Persian priests, Magi, bringing gifts of frankincense, myrrh, and gold to the infant Jesus, guided from their homeland of Iran by a shining star. In both cases today is a celebration of the manifestation of Jesus to the world.

A picture collage, like the one of the Christmas concerts, manifests an event by showing a collection of pictures put together as one. It is a collection of pictures of the event that gives an impression of what the event is about, not any type of exact description.

Life is in many ways an epiphany. It manifests itself to us in many ways. It is up to us to put the parts together, like in a collage, to get a larger perspective on the manifestation. One picture tells part of the story, but when put together the bigger story is manifested.

A really good collage maker is an artist putting together images that create a total whole. Living each day of life to the fullest takes good collage making skills.


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Let’s Start A Revolution - Tuesday, January 05, 2010

“What this Country will need is a good Revolution every 20 years.”
— Thomas Jefferson

A friend sent me the above quote today. This quote mixed with some other thoughts in my mind inspired this “easy essay” observation tonight. Perhaps tomorrow I can move from the mental to the physical.

Let’s Start A Revolution

When I was a child and heard that in Russia the leaders were elected by a consensus of all voters,
I was told that this was communism and not Democratic.
When I was an adult and heard that Saddam Hussein was elected by a near consensus vote of persons,
I was told that this was totalitarian and not Democratic.
A few years ago I witnessed an open and free election of the people of Palestine which the political party of Hamas won.
The democratic governments of USA and Israel refused to recognize the results of this democratic election.
Now that I am becoming an elder I am starting to think maybe Thomas Jefferson was right:
“What this Country will need is a good Revolution every 20 years.”
Our veterans and poor are neglected,
Greed is the name of the game,
We are engaged in two wars and preparing for more.
Yes, maybe it is time for a revolution.
Dorothy Day said: “The greatest challenge of the day is how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us.”
I am ready to revolt. How about you?
Jesus said: “That when two or more are gathered there I am”
So with two we have three and maybe more.
Let’s start a Revolution!
It is about time!


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All Is Well After All - Monday, January 04, 2010

Homeless Veteran

Last night I saw a segment on the 60 minutes TV show how military veterans are being neglected and denied benefits from the VA. A friend called them ‘throwaway’ victims of our society and wonder if we were all not becoming ones. I read about the 7 CIA personnel whose bodies were returned to USA from Afghanistan. I was with a person today suffering from mental illusions where every little move was so difficult. Going to a hospital pharmacy today for a friend I saw a seriously injured person in the lobby.

What do I do, what do I say in the face of suffering and death? I need to recognize it, feel it, yet cannot allow it to slow me down. But it does.

A friend wrote me today in a Christmas greeting how my web site was leaning more to the nonviolent side, or as he called it ‘mental’ side, and away from the physical or earthy side, the growing power side, as I would like to call it. I would have to say that is true but would rather think that I am trying to integrate both sides, mental and physical, nonviolent and cow side, or at least find a balance.

I think when faced with suffering and death it is easy to lean more toward the mental side. When all is going well the down to earth and physical side seems more appealing.

What I probably need is to see more deeply into the death and suffering side of life, and put it, by reflection, into perspective so I can see “all is well” after all.


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Healing Spices for the New Year - Sunday, January 03, 2010

Healing Spices

Today a friend from India sent me a very interesting email about the use of Indian spices for healing. On our Pilgrimage of Peace to India last year the first place we visited was the Natural Cure Center where some of these natural cures make up the regular diet. I now know more why so many persons, especially vegetarians, find Indian food not only delicious but healthy.

My friend was the one who introduced me, first in India and last summer in our house, to cooking with these spices. Her daughter, an excellent cook, lives in Omaha, and promises to one day to visit Milwaukee and hold a cooking class.

This message of the healing nature of Indian spices motivates me to cook more Indian food at home. On the web page where you find the article on Healing Indian Spices you will find a few Indian recipes but there are many more to be found on the internet, at Indian grocery stores, on labels on food items and maybe, in the future, on this site.

The Healing Spices of India promise us a delicious and healthy New Year.


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Creative Conflict Over Conforming Consensus - Saturday, January 02, 2010

World Peace Gong, New Delhi, India
Unity in Diversity

In the cold of winter, sunlight shines thru the five pane AIR insert windows into the sun room, bringing light and heat. The air in the window panels and in the soil keeps the heat in the room. Planted seeds reach up from the soil to meet the sunlight. Worms dig deeper to avoid the sunlight. Adding water to the soil energizes it and brings needed nourishment to worms and roots of plants. The worms eat the soil, casting out richer soil. All and all, the elements, sun, air, water, soil and worms work together to grow plants.

Growing Power, the organization, has as its motto: “Together we are growing power.” Political movements working for change, like the civil rights movement, have been effective when diverse groups and individuals work together.

I make this simple observation from nature and life to illustrate what I see as the major problem of many present day political movements and organizations. Individuals and groups may be supportive of each other and form all types of coalitions, but often are slow or fail to act, since they cannot work together as one. Diversity is valued more than the common good, and consensus is held up as the way to proceed. Creative conflict and confrontation is avoided and thus dialog and debate becomes thwarted. In this scenario, a few can dictate to the many.

A local community organization that I have recently tried to get involved with has fallen into this way of proceeding, consensus and conforming, and a few have been able to thwart the will of the many under the banner of consensus and avoiding conflict and confrontation.

If the sun, air, water, soil and worms were working on consensus and conforming they could not work together to bring growth and new life.

The natural world is always changing. Those who can adapt, like the worm, and flourish. Those who cannot, like the dinosaur, fade away. Movements and organizations that that can stand up to confrontation and conflict continue to grow.


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Fire in the Sky - Friday, January 01, 2010

Fire in the Sky

Witnessing a sunset in Siesta Key in Florida last week I saw the fire in the sky. This struck me as a good way to end one year, 2009, and start a New Year — burning away many of the things that clog our life, with fire and zeal that will help us see the truth and act on it.

The green growth of Florida in the winter inspires me to seek more green growth in my sun room. The beauty of nature in Florida moves me to create more order and beauty in my daily life, by word, discipline and action.

Enjoying some tremendous meals in Florida reminds me of how meaningful it is to prepare good, healthy food and enjoy eating it communally.

We all need new beginnings and a new year is a good way to find one as is the fire in the sky.


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