Monday, August 18, 2008


When you start reading the meditations of a monk who was also a clear eyed social critic, you never know where you’ll end up. But, I think it’s going to be a heck of a ride

Psalm 50:18. “When you see a thief you join with him; you throw in your lot with adulterers.”

The root word for adultery comes from the Latin “to corrupt” and, the usual meaning of adultery is sexual. In fact most of the actions that our society recognizes as “sins” seem to be confined to the sexual. Who’s sleeping with who may be a sin, but that’s the least of our problems.

 I’m beginning to believe our social definition of adultery is a little too, shall we say, confining? Marriage is a covenant, a promise.  Can we take this past the sexual? What other covenants (promises) do we have as a society? Beyond the if you tell me I’m buying sugar, I better not find salt in the container covenant between seller and buyer? How about this one?

I, insert name here, " do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." The wording comes straight from the Constitution.

And my little meditation doesn’t even cover the sweetheart contracts between our elected hired help and corporations that used to be run by some of the hired help. I guess they’re hoping that while we’re distracted by wardrobe malfunctions, the over the top antics of cable comedies, and  the potential unions of Molly/Holly and Adam/Steve, we won’t notice that some of the elected hired help have stolen everything that was and wasn’t nailed down. Including the nails.

Adultery in high places anyone?

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Figworts are a type of plant that includes snapdragons. I have no idea what kind of figworts the hermit was looking at.


Thomas Cowan included this story in his book Yearning for the Wind. There was hermit who lived by a lake in Ireland. Early one morning he set out with his boat in search of a fish for his breakfast. As he rowed he spotted the hermit from the other side of lake heading his way. Without a boat. The other man appeared to be walking on the water. Each regarded the other. The first man finally asked “what are you doing out here?” (apparently he refrained from asking the obvious-how are you staying above water) The second answered, “I’m looking for flowers for my alter. What are you doing trying to row a boat across the meadow?” When the first one replied that he was fishing for breakfast, the second directed him to a clump of flowers (the figworts, whatever kind grow in Ireland I suppose) with the comment that the fish were biting over there. The hopeful fisherman caught his breakfast and the dry shod worshipper found the flowers for his alter.


Perhaps the story of Jesus walking on water is as much a matter of perspective as faith. And perhaps there’s not much difference between the two.  


Has it really been two weeks?


Yeah, I kind of fell off the radar for a bit here. It’s been an “interesting” couple of weeks. The Umatilla teacher sister came over for a short visit weekend before last. It’s the first time since the family moved to eastern Oregon that she made it over all by herself and stayed at our house. Not that staying with the in-laws is a real burden; Rick’s mom lives all of two blocks away.


But, the kids are pretty much grown and miracle of miracles, Rick is healthy this summer. We got to spend some good time together. Just as important, she was able to spend a lot of time with a long time friend who has been going through some tough times and she really needed a shoulder to lean on. Our biggest problems are time and distance. I’m nine years older, a completely different personality and they live half way across the state. It was a good visit, a really good visit.


We no sooner got her on the way home when the universe decided we hadn’t had enough lemonade or something. Thursday before last mom called me at work with three pieces of news: I was only expecting one. My nephew (Portland sister’s oldest) is playing his last year at the U of O this year and his family was coming down that day to watch a practice. That they were at our house was news I was looking forward to. Trouble is Lucky had to go to the vet and mom had just found out the transmission on the van was going out. Replacement cost? Oh, about $3,500.00. On a vehicle less than ten years old with less than 90,000 miles.


The cat is fine. It took a visit to the vet and some blood tests to find out she had an elevated white count, we don’t know from what and here’s a RX for an antibiotic. (sound of teeth grinding) We don’t know what the problem is but drug her anyway. If you can. I figure anything or anybody who can raise the kind of ruckusshe did can’t be that sick. I swear she knows what it sounds like when you’re getting the stuff ready and she definitely knows what towels are for. That cat could put Elvis impersonators to shame when it comes to the shimmy. And the stuff is banana flavored. When’s the last time you saw a cat chowing down on a banana? Not. Oh, hell drug is on Petmeds in pill form. Guess where I’m going if we need it again. I’ll slip it in her tuna.


As for that misbegotten excuse for a Oldsmobile? After careful consideration we traded it in for a 2007 Buick. Mom’s not ready to hang up her keys yet. It’s a good looking, one owner car and we went through the dealer she’s been trusting for about thirty years. So that’s how we spent last Saturday afternoon. Oh joy. I’d spent the morning waiting for the cable guys to show up and get us hooked up under a promo for digital cable. It’ll probably be worth it. Darned if I know yet. We haven’t watched enough TV this week to find out and we have another remote to keep track of.


The weekend wasn’t a total loss. Lisa from Coming to Terms was down for Scandie so we went out before it got busy and got in a good visit. We’ve made plans to go up north over Labor Day with a stop off to check in with dad. We haven’t made it to the cemetery this year. It’s not like he doesn’t know what’s going on but it feels kind of nice to check in with him once in awhile. LOL


It’s been hotter than heck Friday and Saturday. Hot, we expect but this part of the country is not known for staying hot all night. I keep telling myself tomatoes, tomatoes tomatoes as I drip. And it’s supposed to be in the seventies tomorrow. What a change.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008


A story told by a man of deep, abiding and clear eyed faith.

A seventeenth century rabbi told this story. Two men were traveling through a forest. One sober, the other drunk. They were attacked by thieves who beat them and stole everything they had, including their clothes. When they finally reached the first village outside the forest the villagers asked them what had happened.

The drunken man (apparently still under the influence after all this time, but then this is a parable) answered first. “Everything was fine. Not a thing happened on the trip.” I suspect the villagers looked at him, each other, back to him and one of them shook himself a bit and asked the obvious question. “If nothing happened, why are you bloody, bruised and where in the name of all that’s holy are your clothes?”

The sober man broke in. “Don’t believe a word he says. There are outlaws in the forest. They attacked us. They took everything we had down to the last stitch of clothing. Be careful that what happened to us doesn’t happen to you”

Thomas Merton used this story in the preface of his collection of essays in Faith and Violence: Christian Teaching and Christian Practice published in 1967 as the country entered the worst of the violence related to the civil rights movement and the Viet Nam War protests.

The drunken man was so blind drunk that he “slept” through the whole attack and didn’t realize he was naked. (heck I’m surprised he was able to move much less walk if he was that blasted: but this is a parable).

 In his essays Merton asked this question. Can faith, religious or political, act as blinders or an anesthetic? Do we see the violence, fear and anger in others while being blind to our own? Do we keep insisting that we must be free to defend ourselves by any and all means available while denying others the right to defend themselves? “Our violence is good, your violence is unacceptable.” Does this sound depressingly familiar?


Sunday, August 3, 2008


Spent some time with the camera yesterday morning. This is one purple coneflower plant and the bees totally adore it. I counted at least three dozen blossoms or buds from this side before I gave up.

The three busy bees. There were more, but these were the ones that sat still long enought to get the shot without using a tripod.

This shot is kind of cheating. My camera is set to create the largest possible picture. Then I can crop out what I want. I can end up with what looks like a true close up shot without having to fool around with my tripod. The blossoms were just loaded with busy little visitors.