Character does matter.
Character does matter.
I don’t have much to say today, but I felt compelled to mark that today is the 100th day that I have been cloistered away from my workplace. I can’t really call it a quarantine anymore because I am out and about and doing things. (I went to a socially- distanced Black Lives Matter gathering yesterday). I guess I’ll just call it Day 100 of the New Normal. One hundred days ago I would never have thought that our world would be where it is right now.
Originally photographed in the late 1980s.
It is my intention today to declare that I have had enough. I am sharing this statement issued last week (before the latest massacres) from the leaders of the Washington National Cathedral.
“The escalation of racialized rhetoric from the President of the United States has evoked responses from all sides of the political spectrum. On one side, African American leaders have led the way in rightfully expressing outrage. On the other, those aligned with the President seek to downplay the racial overtones of his attacks, or remain silent.
As faith leaders who serve at Washington National Cathedral ¬– the sacred space where America gathers at moments of national significance – we feel compelled to ask: After two years of President Trump’s words and actions, when will Americans have enough?
As Americans, we have had such moments before, and as a people we have acted. Events of the last week call to mind a similarly dark period in our history: “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. … You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?”
That was U.S. Army attorney Joseph Welch on June 9, 1954, when he confronted Senator Joseph McCarthy before a live television audience, effectively ending McCarthy’s notorious hold on the nation. Until then, under the guise of ridding the country of Communist infiltration, McCarthy had free rein to say and do whatever he wished. With unbridled speech, he stoked the fears of an anxious nation with lies; destroyed the careers of countless Americans; and bullied into submissive silence anyone who dared criticize him.
In retrospect, it’s clear that Welch’s question was directed less toward McCarthy and more to the nation as a whole. Had Americans had enough? Where was our sense of decency?
We have come to accept a level of insult and abuse in political discourse that violates each person’s sacred identity as a child of God. We have come to accept as normal a steady stream of language and accusations coming from the highest office in the land that plays to racist elements in society. This week, President Trump crossed another threshold. Not only did he insult a leader in the fight for racial justice and equality for all persons; not only did he savage the nations from which immigrants to this country have come; but now he has condemned the residents of an entire American city. Where will he go from here? Make no mistake about it, words matter. And, Mr. Trump’s words are dangerous.
These words are more than a “dog-whistle.” When such violent dehumanizing words come from the President of the United States, they are a clarion call, and give cover, to white supremacists who consider people of color a sub-human “infestation” in America. They serve as a call to action from those people to keep America great by ridding it of such infestation. Violent words lead to violent actions.
When does silence become complicity? What will it take for us all to say, with one voice, that we have had enough? The question is less about the president’s sense of decency, but of ours. As leaders of faith who believe in the sacredness of every single human being, the time for silence is over. We must boldly stand witness against the bigotry, hatred, intolerance, and xenophobia that is hurled at us, especially when it comes from the highest offices of this nation. We must say that this will not be tolerated. To stay silent in the face of such rhetoric is for us to tacitly condone the violence of these words. We are compelled to take every opportunity to oppose the indecency and dehumanization that is racism, whether it comes to us through words or actions.
There is another moment in our history worth recalling. On January 21, 2017, Washington National Cathedral hosted an interfaith national prayer service, a sacred tradition to honor the peaceful transfer of political power. We prayed for the President and his young Administration to have “wisdom and grace in the exercise of their duties that they may serve all people of this nation, and promote the dignity and freedom of every person.”
That remains our prayer today for us all.
The Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington
The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral
The Rev. Canon Kelly Brown Douglas, Canon Theologian of Washington National Cathedral”
From where do our ideas for creative endeavors come? I think our inspiration comes from our interaction with the world around us — the natural world and the people in it. From those sources we extract portions, break them up, shuffle them around, ponder and consider, scrap them all and start again– until we come up with some sort of creative prompt and subsequent product.
I know I like to think that any creative idea I have came from some deep well of inspiration within me. Maybe it does, but I also know that this well of inspiration consistently needs to be filled with memories of the experiences I have with the exterior world. There are only two activities from The Artist’s Way that I have found useful. One of them is the “Artist’s Date” (the other is writing every day). I try to go somewhere or engage in some sort of activity either by myself or with other people that will fill that well. Since I spend so much time drumming, cooking, gardening and engaging in reflective self-care activities, my writing and image-making often engage those themes.
Maybe we mere-mortal creatives re-purpose other ideas gathered from our worldly roamings, but what about those individuals whom we credit for inventing lofty ideas and devices that have had profound impacts on the world? Archimedes, Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, DaVinci, Shakespeare, Locke, Curie, Tesla, Einstein? Where did those ideas come from? If you look at some of them who we consider “geniuses”, most of them were philosophers and scientists. What do they have in common? I don’t know about all of them, but I know some of them kept notebooks where they worked on their ideas, no doubt drawing from the same sources that you and I do: the external world. In fact, I think Plato is the guy who came up with the notion that there is a place where everything in the world has an Ideal Form, a perfect Idea of it, and anything we create is merely a reflection of those ideals.
I propose that we can be just as inventive as these folks. The key is to take the ideas from the well and work and re-work and experiment and write and consider that work until we re-create something glorious on paper or canvas or film or device. They did. So can we.
I am just writing this off-the-top of my head. I am still working on this notion. I may re-work it again. That’s the point! Keep working until you get it “right” (or at least close to it).
Now get working. 🙂
ljg (c) 2019
Happy Chinese New Year!
Welcome to the year of the pig.
Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com
I remember that once, when I was very young, I had an earache and a family member blew cigarette smoke in my ear to alleviate the pain. I don’t remember if it worked or not. In retrospect, this act seems bizarre, and I am somewhat skeptical of its effectiveness. I also remember that whenever someone in the family had severe body aches, a liberal quantity of foul-smelling “liniment” was applied to that person. Since I don’t recollect ever seeing a television ad for this product, I did a little research and found out that “liniment” is the name of any herbal infusion or tincture used as a topical remedy for pain.
No, we did not live in some remote cabin in the woods. We lived in the suburbs. And we did take regular medicines, and, as needed, we did go to medical doctors. Nevertheless, these quirky folk remedies occasionally were employed.
More recently, an older family member mentioned that a great-grandfather of mine did “water-witching”. This is the act of finding water using dowsing rods. Another family member said that was nonsense, that my great-grandfather was not a dowser, but had in fact only hired a dowser to find a place to sink a well — which I guess was not nonsense.
Anyway, my point in mentioning all this is that there was a time when such folk ways were the norm. No one thought they were “paranormal,” “New Age,” “magickal,” “earth-based,” “of the devil” or “alternative.” Folk-ways were a part of a world view that for the people of the time were normal and effective. It was just the way things were.
As a city girl, born and raised, I have been for the most part cut off from this heritage. I’m never going to need to dowse for water (I’ll call a plumber) or have someone blow smoke in my ear (I’ll take an antibiotic). But I can see the benefit of returning to the use herbs, healthy food, exercise and fresh air to maintain good health. I can see the wisdom of joining the ancient folk medicines of Europe and Indigenous America with that of traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic health practices. They are cheaper and gentler on the body in many cases–though I will still go to the hospital if I feel like I am having a heart-attack.
These ancient ways were typically handed down from mothers to daughters, or from sages to their students. Typically the teachers would find the most teachable student in the family and bestow this knowledge to the next generation.
Maybe my vague recollections of these ancient practices and my current study and application of these practices is a way in which this knowledge is being bestowed upon me.
Postscript: After I wrote this, I found this Ted Talk. The scholar echoes what I am trying to say here:.
ljgloyd (c) 2018
It seems appropriate on this Earth Day weekend that I spent a little time working in my small container garden. In the past, I have not been overly successful with gardening, but this time I approached it in a different manner. In the past, I would determine that I would plant a garden, and then spend large amounts of time sweating and toiling, ultimately not seeing much of a return for all the effort.
This time I am letting the plants grow themselves. What do I mean by this? All I need to do is four things: plant when the temperature is warm enough, and provide them with proper light, nutritious soil, and the right amount of water. I only spend about an hour once a week checking on them, giving them a good long drink of water, and keeping an eye out for insects and anything else that might be an obstacle to their well-being. Other than doing these simple activities, I get out of the way and leave them alone to grow. Plants, it seems, have the power within themselves to grow. I don’t need to fuss over them
The medieval abbess, Hildegard of Bingen, who was a theologian, musician, writer, scientist, medical practitioner, mystic and visionary, had a word for this inner force: viriditas, or “greening” power. This power pulses with vitality and fruitfulness. It resides in every living organism. It is life in abundance.
What if we applied the same basic gardening principles to our own lives, both physically and spiritually? What if we got out of our offices, away from our computers and devices and exercised in the fresh air, feeling sunlight on our faces, eating nutritious food, and drinking lots of water? The greening power within us would heal our bodies.
Similarly, what if we disengaged from social media and all the other obstacles to our peace of mind? What if we were to take time to pray and meditate, fellowship face-to-face with others, feed our souls with things that are pure and wholesome and not negative or hateful? What if we partook of the divine Spirit that “greens” this world?
Then true healing would take place. Of this, I am certain.