Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pericopae: Juxtaposition

Paper flowers created by the bride decorated the wedding hall & party.

Tell me, I say:
I want to know

how is it that today
laughter from small children
gamine, rosy and precocious
lights up the night
more brightly than
the lighted ferries
appearing in the dark
like gliding specters
of entire buildings
sprung up from the deep
in darkness and surprise
suggesting a world
beneath this world
of mermaids
porpoises and trident kings

West Coast Story

this is a night
of new beginnings
a union of two souls
lifted out of despair
making promises bold
with renewal and hope
joining two families
through two souls
giving selves and all
punctuated by
flowers shaped by art
words shaped
by the grime of the road
experience and romance
words and flowers
the power of
the brush and pen
the marriage of
writer and artist

East Coast Story

while across the land
a vast continent
containing lives and loves
stories beyond counting
an artist
who conjures lifescapes
out of cyber floss
and whimsy
and a healer
who heals all who come
no expectation of payment
no fanfare
stare into the night
of final slumber
noticing the pores
in the cement
of second chances
playing cards
for one more chance
to beat the odds
yet finally
overcome by life's river
flowing by too fast
flowing by unaided

Mother's Story

a mother heaves
and weeps
anticipating the loss
of one more beloved
of the illness of yet another
numbering her losses
on all her fingers
and toes
there is nothing else
left to lose
nothing else precious
that hasn't been taken
severe and sear
like the scar across the land
left by mountaintop mining
like the blackness
of a scorched earth policy
betrayed by the bodies
she birthed decades ago
the enemy is cells
growing uncontrolled
the enemy is cancer
rend now the tents
they shelter no more
retreat into the desert


the enemy is
loss of hope
the enemy is
it's life
and all its tributaries
like spilled milk
spreading across
the ground
the enemy is
to be riven
the enemy
is life
a circle
of starts
and stops
the enemy
is our hearts
the enemy
doesn't matter


The answer is:
Only love
and its calamities
in the end
save our sanity
in the end
reap our history
in the end

Portrait of the cyber artist by VitaminCeCe

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Conversation . . . even when it's hard

Last night, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori had a conversation with over a thousand people at Temple Beth El. The venue was chosen, because none of the Episcopal venues was large enough in the Diocese of Fort Worth. Our hosts from the diocese estimated about 25 people from the former Episcopal congregations also turned out to converse with Jefferts Schori. The Episcopal Church's Executive Council is meeting in Fort Worth this Wednesday through Friday, and eight Council members also attended Jefferts Schori's conversation.
The presiding bishop recounted the two Creation stories in the Bible, emphasizing the order in which they are purposefully told: first, God's declaration that all that God has created is good, very good, and then, the story of humankind's fall.

She also recounted the story of Jesus' baptism and told the gathering that not only are we baptized into Jesus' death and resurrection, but we are also baptized into Jesus' baptism, when the heavens open up, and God declares, "You are my beloved, in whom I am well pleased."

The gathered people were invited to spend five minutes in silent meditation, imagining God saying to each of us, "You are my beloved, in whom I am well pleased." Afterwards, Bishop Jefferts Schori asked how it felt to hear those words from God, and the responses were very moving. Several people said they felt humbled, and others said they felt affirmed and energized.

Then she asked, "How is conversation different when it starts with belovedness?"

The message that the presiding bishop delivered was simple: We must converse with one another, even when it's hard, asking the image of the beloved in the other person, "what can this image of God teach us?" We begin by listening, seeking to see the image of God in the other.

Bishop Jefferts Schori pointed out, "You need to listen with the expectation you will learn something." She continued by linking that listening to evangelism, which begins with hearing someone else's story, and only then, after listening, sharing your own story of the Good News of God in Jesus Christ in your life.
Bishop Jefferts Schori made the point that we need the diversity of all of us, from cultural differences to differences in theological perspectives, because none of us has the whole truth. We need all the diversity in order to reflect the image of God . . . even when it's hard.

On another note, it was of interest to this writer, a member of Executive Council, to witness a handful of people in the audience asking questions about the lawsuits over property in the church and the process of returning to The Episcopal Church from another church. I observed hurt and anguish over the history of the last several years in the Diocese of Fort Worth, but also a sense of shalom, of welcome and hospitality to all travelers, from the large gathering. The shalom seemed to be good humored and gentle, an acknowledgment that the road has been rocky and strewn with hazard, but promised homecoming to be sweet.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Martin Jacques: Global Racism

Martin Jacques is an economist and writer whom I very much admire. I have used and introduced to many others an excellent article he wrote for the Guardian/UK, published on September 20,  2003, about global racism entitled "The Global Hierarchy of Race" with the subtitle "As the only racial group that never suffers systemic racism, whites are in denial about its impact." [See the article here.]

In a 21-minute TED talk in London in October, 2010, Jacques gives an excellent summary of the place of China and Asia in the world scheme of things to come. If you look at race, then, in a global context, you can see why it is more accurate to talk about racism in a multicultural context rather than merely looking at the issue from a Black-White American perspective. Jacques addresses the provincialism of the strictly American/Western perspective.

[A side note: Jacques' wife, Harinder Veriah, a Malay-Indian attorney, died in hospital in Hong Kong back in 2000, the victim of racism in the Chinese hospital where the dark-skinned non-Chinese were relegated to "the bottom of the pile," in Veriah's own words. Here is a link to an interview with Jacques, published on November 26, 2000, in the South China Morning Post, in which he talks about his wife's death and racism in Hong Kong and his actions to address racism to honor her memory. Here also is a link to a statement by Jacques, who with his 11-year old son, prevailed in a lawsuit against the hospital, thus engendering the beginning of legal changes in Hong Kong to protect racial minorities. So, one can see that racism is an issue that occurs elsewhere in the world and is not merely a Black-White problem in the U.S. One can also see that the resistance of those who have been victimized by racism, including filing lawsuits to force institutional change, is necessary everywhere that racism is encountered.]

[From the site] "Speaking at a TED Salon in London, economist Martin Jacques asks: How do we in the West make sense of China and its phenomenal rise? The author of "When China Rules the World," he examines why the West often puzzles over the growing power of the Chinese economy, and offers three building blocks for understanding what China is and will become."  Watch here >>

Here are the key elements of Jacques' thesis, as identified by him in his book and on his Web site.  Please go to Jacques' Web site to read the entire list of twelve key arguments. Here, I have only listed a few.

When China Rules the World
The Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World
1- There is not simply one western modernity, instead we are witnessing the birth of multiple modernities
5 - China’s impact on the world will not simply be economic; it will also have profound political, cultural and ideological effects.
8 - At its core, China is a civilization-state rather than a nation-state, a fact which will become steadily more apparent
11- 92% of the Chinese believe that they are of one race, the Han Chinese, unlike the other most populous nations such as India, the United States, Brazil and Indonesia, which recognize themselves to be highly multi-racial and multi-cultural

Monday, February 7, 2011

Just a little bit busy

As happens in everyone's life, I've been just a little bit busy and preoccupied with daily living. Thus, I've neglected this blog since my last post of December 26th, but I'm back!

Directly after Christmas, Herb and I took a brief trip to Southern California to meet up with our friends Mike and Becky from the Tri-Cities where Herb lived and worked for the past three years. (You may recall that Herb moved back to our permanent home in Colorado when he had his kidney transplant on October 5th.)

As we grow into our golden years, we are committed to nurturing our friendships despite the geographical distances that separate us. The fact is that when many of us reach the golden years, we've moved around and left friends behind. With some judicious saving and conservative spending, we have the wherewithal to make travel to visit friends a priority.

Becky & Mike at Hollywood & Vine

The four of us went to Hollywood & Vine for dinner and an evening of clubbing.

Lelanda & Herb at Hollywood & Vine
Clubbing meant checking in at Cinespace to see three live performances and an edgy fashion show organized by the fabulous Connie Lim. Check out Connie's gorgeous Sugar music video on YouTube at She's a 23-year old who's going places. Cinespace was hopping. The music was loud. We felt like we were young again for a night.

Herb and I are leaving on Wednesday for San Francisco where we'll meet friends Maeda & Keith from Honolulu and Deborah and John from Pacifica for four fun-filled days. Deborah is my friend of 40+ years whom I met when we both lived in Plattsburgh, NY. Maeda is my friend of 30+ years whom I met while we both were working at First Hawaiian Bank in Honolulu.

Deborah and John in Las Vegas, 2007

Keith and Maeda with Gov. Abercrombie, Election Night, 2010
 Check out our plans and the links to the venues' Web sites:
  • Taking in Fisherman's Wharf followed by dinner at Forbes Island, a quirky restaurant venue on a tiny island off of Pier 39. (Be patient on the Forbes Island link, which takes a moment to load and is worth viewing.)
  • A day in Napa Valley touring wineries followed by dinner and slot machines at the River Rock Casino in Alexander Valley just an hour further north. Herb's the designated driver in our rental van. We had stayed at the River Rock Casino next to the Vancouver, B.C. airport several years ago and enjoyed its ambiance and diverse dining options.
  • Chinatown San Francisco, the largest Chinatown outside of Asia and the oldest one in the U.S. We are looking forward to some yummy dim sum!
  • Beach Blanket Babylon, the world's longest running revue, followed by dinner at The Stinking Rose, in North Beach. The photos of The Stinking Rose promise lots of character in that restaurant.
I sometimes think I've missed my calling, because I thoroughly enjoy doing the online research to find the sights, sounds and tastes that celebrate the vitality of the places that we visit. I'm grateful for friends who are as adventurous and eclectic in their interests as Herb and I.

Until the next post, Aloha!