Night comes to the Cumberlands. Late
February snow on the mountains at sunset.
Harlan Co., KY
March 1, 2008 Gardening in the
March for earnest gardeners is well into the season in our part
of the country, but it is the beginning of the season for those who
start late or for the first time. It is time to launch the
gardening season by preparing some ground, obtaining the right
seeds, and fetching some simple tools. Here are some hints that
other backyard gardeners may or may not tell you:
Survey the place. Plot out the space and find out the type of
soil around the house (it may be clay fill dirt or good top soil),
the amount of sun or insolation on the area (trees or buildings may
partly block the sun), and the condition of the surface (crabgrass
may have taken over the area). If the task of preparing the soil
is going to take extra effort, either enlist help, get a power
tool, or scale back expectations for the extent of garden space.
Consider multipurpose use. Most of us have to be creative
with the limited backyard space available. In severely limited
areas, plant while allowing playing areas for kids, picnic areas,
and sun and entertainment space. Backyard gardening may include
seed plants for birds or flowers for butterflies.
Plan what to plant. Selections are based on what the
residents like to eat and on what can grow best in the given space
according to soil type and climate. Shady areas should be planted
with certain greens and other vegetables such as cucumbers that
like the shade. Crops such as corn should not be planted in
limited space. Pumpkins or gourds are okay provided they can run
across non-tilled green space. Consider native plants which thrive
and are more hearty. If they are perennials like berries or
horseradish, they do not need to be planted again each year.
Start NOW and start small. Beginning at the earliest possible
time is the secret to good gardening. Some early sowing may not
survive but covering tender plants with cloth or newspaper on cold
nights protects the early garden. People tire of excess produce
and prefer variety (see March 8th). Some of the selected herbs,
flowers or vegetables can be placed in pots which take less room
and can be rearranged when the space is used for recreation. The
walls of outbuildings can serve as support for a lattice for vines
such as tomatoes, peas, beans, grapes or kiwis.
Consider aesthetic aspects. Gardeners are artists who
envision the living canvas that differs with the seasons like a
cathedral's colored windows in changing sunlight. Are you willing
to see the garden as art worthy of special care and design?
Keep records of vegetable yields, a map of planted areas for
future reference, notes on unusual weather conditions and photos.
Prayer: Lord, you are the master gardener and you give us the
use of Earth for our essential needs. Help us to see that our own
backyards can flourish through our earnest efforts.
Halberdleaf yellow violet, Viola hastata
growing in dry pine woods. Wolfe Co., KY
March 2, 2008 The Blind Man and Faith
At the mid-mark of our Lenten journey of faith (Laetare Sunday)
we are heartened by the drama of the story of the blind man in
John, Chapter Nine. Here is a person who really must act as a
courageous single individual, for even his parents forsake him
under the pressure of the established order all around. Of all the
passages in the New Testament, this one impressed me most in my
early spiritual journey. What honesty and integrity! What
fidelity and bravery! This blind man remained faithful even though
ostracized and thrust out of the synagogue and placed in a life-
We find help in a community of faith. But there are times
when a solitary witness must stand up for faith because others
refuse to assist. Rare examples stand out. The first is that of
Franz Zaggerstadder in Austria who was able to show that he would
not fight for the Nazis under any circumstances, and for that he
was executed by Hitler's regime. He was buried in a hidden grave
in his home town, for people were ashamed; and he was virtually
forgotten until Gordon Zahn, a conscientious objector in the Second
World War heard about an Austrian who did the same and wrote "In
Solitary Witness." Franz's cause is moving to sainthood.
The second example is that of Joan of Arc, the maid of Orleans,
but really a Lorraine cow-herding teen-age maiden who was called by
St. Michael and St. Margaret to lead the French army, which was in
disarray. Though she did not bear arms, she was the banner bearer
and went ahead to encourage the soldiers until she was captured and
tried, defended her own faith (showing the Holy Spirit will tell us
what to say), then was condemned, and burned at the stake. As the
flames leaped up around her she cried, "Jesu, Jesu," and the
English soldiers remembered all their lives her haunting last
The man born blind affirmed Christ and thus was thrown out of
the synagogue and that means put outside of the approved religions
in the powerful Roman Empire (at that time the Jewish religion was
one of the tolerated ones). He, as a Christ follower, became an
outlaw, lion's bait in those troubled times when John's Gospel was
On this joyful Laetare Sunday we pause and rejoice with Earth
herself. Our joy with the start of March extends to all creatures.
Peace of soul as expressed in this rejoicing is found in the born
blind, one who went from not seeing to a person of faith willing to
accept all consequences. In these troubled times we are the
solitary witnesses in this world. In doing so, we witness to the
need to heal our wounded Earth with whatever it takes, and economic
and political conditions make this all the harder.
Prayer: We pray with the Church, today's "Entrance Antiphon:"
Rejoice, Jerusalem! Be glad for her, you who love her; rejoice
with her, you who mourned for her, and you will find contentment at
her consoling breasts.
Two white oaks, gracing the skyline, Anderson Co., KY
March 3, 2008 Faith, Fiction and Fantasy
As Lent passes the mid-mark, we review our commitment to faith,
which is now a focal point in the coming weeks. If hope is the
virtue of Advent, and love and its applications are those of the
Pentecost season, we now focus on our faith commitment, both
personally and within our church community. What constitutes this
act of faith? How deep is it within our lives? How do I profess
my faith in deed, as well as through a credal formula or prayer?
Fiction was never part of my life. Even as an infant I could
not believe Santa Claus could climb up or down chimneys, for the
whole myth was totally unbelievable. My folks told us the costumed
characters were hired from local stores and we could believe that
better than flying reindeer. Nor did fairies, witches or goblins
enter our farm world. The natural world was composed of real
beings; the supernatural world of Faith had little place for
speculation and fantasy. Thus I never liked fiction though some
historic novels do make sense for political purposes. Certainly
fiction has its literary worth, its entertainment value, and its
ability to captivate people through story-telling. But the best
stories are from real life, not fiction. However, fiction does
seem to enter our daydreams and is needed.
Fantasy is bizarre and uncontrolled imagination. If used to
produce fictional writings it may be called a productive tool of
employment. Sometimes, as a daydream of an unfulfilled desire, it
has its place in a person's future, in the dreams of what could
happen to make the world a better place, in the visions of things
to come. But for some of the mentally ill, there is a confusion of
the future with the present, and such people live in a "fantasy
world." Unfortunately, this type of malady touches a great number
of people, some distraught and others "normal," allowing fantasy to
enter into and encroach on the present condition of matters. In
driving, we may fantasize as to what an accident with that truck up
ahead could be like; in working we may do the same about an
upcoming event or how we would talk with an important personage.
A Down-to-Earth Spirituality strives to see the present for
what it really is, not a fantasy, not fictional, but the real world
in which we live and have our small part to play. It is part of
the journey of faith in which all our efforts in authentic living
are called forth -- proper planning, assessment of resources,
soundness of mind, meaningful deed, and continual search for God in
our lives. We cannot confuse this quest for reality with fiction
or fantasy in any form. Our ever deepening grasp on our threatened
world is our way to separate reality from the pretending; the
latter occurs among those who strive to live unsustainable lives by
floating in the air and forgetting about the Earth below.
Prayer: Lord, keep our feet on the ground, our eyes focused
on the road, and our minds alert. Help us to know what needs to be
done and not to live the fantasies that so many espouse who live on
credit cards and unsustainable lifestyles. Teach us to speak.
Remnants of summer, waiting for spring (a dried, lone teasel)
March 4, 2008 Fostering Greater Respect
Life can be quite stressful, especially when we lack respect
for ourselves, those around us and all of creation. Respectful
relations, courtesy and proper manners may be wishful thinking
about our past. Examples from abrupt e-mail to foul-sounding talk
shows, from rude driving habits to curt responses at the store make
us wonder whether civility is eroding in our land. Do we still
respect -- our past, our family life, our neighbors, our religious
practice, our state and nation and the leaders, our environment,
the political process, commercial and professional advice, and our
elders and wise folks?
Is it possible that we have allowed the erosion of respect
through silence when we should speak, through our own haste and
lack of manners, or through pranks, jokes, back-biting, unresolved
disputes and cynicism? Has a past courteous respect wasted away,
or was it ever there? Did respect erode imperceptibly through
commercialism, wars, legalizing abortion, crass exploitation of the
land, and the ever expanding gulf between the rich and poor? What
about MTV, ready cash through credit cards, talk about rights alone
instead of rights and responsibilities, and a heavy volume of
Maybe we were respectful in the past, but that may be quite
romantic hindsight. Whatever the past in its fullness, we get
clues that there has been a history of lack of respect for life,
for country, for leaders, or for church practice. "I for me" can
play havoc to any common atmosphere of respect. To pay respects to
someone who is sick or to the bereaved is an age old custom that
deserves preserving. To pause when the funeral passes is still
another such practice of respect that the undertakers tell us is
fast disappearing. To welcome people into a community, to offer a
seat to an elderly person, or to send get well cards are signs of
respect that we hope will not be lost.
Why is respect eroding? Is it a decadence in our culture? Is
it the break down of marriage, family, community and neighborhood
that all occur when respect for others fails? Is there a
championing of irreverence and informality in the mass media?
Some suggest that the breakdown in respect and reverence extends
both to the people and to the Earth itself -- broken down
communities and broken down biosystems, as mountains are leveled,
valleys filled, and the vegetative cover stripped away to satisfy
distant chipmills. If we are persuaded by commercial interests to
regard our region as worthless, then we are lulled into silence
when destruction threatens. When corporate campaigns of
materialistic advertisement bombard us with sensual messages, it
appears that we are left powerless to change the tide of events.
Prayer: Lord, teach us to return to reverence in our prayer
life. We owe You so much and we forget so easily. If You teach us
to pray reverently, then we will extend this atmosphere of respect
to all around us, humans and other creatures as well.
Bluegrass sky and landscape in late winter
March 5, 2008 Select a Healthy Garden Variety
Additional points about what was discussed about gardening on
March first are worth considering. How do we select the proper
garden variety? Here are some suggestions for this growing year:
* What do you like to eat? That question should not be overly
rigid for it is good that we learn a new vegetable each year. But
some of us are tomato people, some greens people, etc. The
question tailored to year-round eating habits includes what
preserved foods do you favor during the off-season? Postpone
choices that are difficult to grow or to preserve. All growers
like to specialize while allowing some change over time when
tastes, health, and digestive processes call for differences.
* What are the soil conditions? Soils may differ greatly from
house to house. With proper nurture and soil amendments conditions
can improve over time. Clay soils are a challenge but so are sandy
soils. Consider soil improvement now.
* What is the microclimate? General climate zones are found
most gardening books, and these can prove helpful in seed
selection. Besides general climates, we need to recognize local
microclimates, because there are great differences depending on
which side of a hill or valley a garden is located, whether on high
ground or river bottom, and how proximate the garden is to forested
areas. Regional early or late frosts may determine selection.
* What are your space and placement limitations? Some
vegetables such as melons or corn take more space to grow (land
extensive). A shortage of space may limit how much if any of such
crops are grown -- or whether the melons can spread out into
untilled lawn space. Some vegetables are tall and some squat. Put
taller growing plants (corn, Jerusalem artichokes, caster beans or
sunflowers), or those growing on trellises on the north side, so
they do not block sunlight from low-lying leaf or root vegetables.
* How's the sun situation? Plants require differing amounts
of sunlight. Determining this does not require year round
checking. Insolation on a given site or portion of a site can be
established by using a Solar Pathfinder --
* Should you rotate crops? Grow different varieties on the
particular land in succeeding years both to reduce the possibility
of pests and to better use nutrients.
* Are you interplanting faster growing varieties? Omit slow-
growing plants (e.g., parsnips, peanuts or salsify) when you desire
two crops in a single growing year, or interplant slow with faster
growing ones. Planting greens or radishes in among slow growers
allows harvest before the slow grower needs additional space.
Prayer: Lord, show me how to choose all things wisely.
Ripples around a rusty nail, embedded along the shoreline of Lake
March 6, 2008 Genetic Engineering?
Innovations, which emerge in this complex world, at first seem
most enticing, and then, after a little more investigation, reveal
pitfalls beyond the hype of their commercial sponsors. A subject
demanding the red flag of caution is the potentially lucrative area
of genetic engineering (GE) with its genetically modified organisms
(GMO) that can have unforeseen impacts within the life of our
planet. Substances should not be released into the environment
with inadequate scientific understanding of their environmental and
human health impacts. Among such GMO problems are:
* Irreversibility -- GMOs could be genetic pollution, which,
once released into the environment, could not be recalled.
* Corporate dependency -- The expensive GE research is
controlled by for-profit corporations whose primary goal is a
return on investment, not the public good. Through seed company
buy-outs, these corporations could control food production and
educational research facilities. Time honored seed-saving
techniques would be lost, and these growers would be forced into
corporate dependency. GMOs could cause pollen drift and thus
threaten neighboring organic farming operations and cause a
subsequent loss of certification.
* Transparency -- Without proper notification as to what is
produced consumers would be unable to refrain from consuming GMOs
for moral, religious or heath reasons. Labeling and segregating GE
ingredients are necessary steps towards controlling their use.
* Human health issues -- GMOs could cause unintended harm and
damage to the nutritional content of foods and may even add
contaminants, which could increase breast and gastrointestinal
cancers in human beings; as foods, GMOs could result in antibiotic
resistance; GMOs could become a source of human allergies.
* Superbugs and superweeds -- The GMO could spread through
nature and interbreed with natural organisms in uncontrollable
ways. Many government-approved GMOs contain their own pesticide,
a toxin produced by the BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) bacterium
plants that survive weed killers (Roundup Ready). However, the
ubiquitous nature of these plants could invite resistant strains of
insects to evolve readily, and the pesticide is within the plant
structure used for food. Cross pollination with wild cousins could
produce herbicide-resistant weeds.
* Possible environmental effects -- Monarch butterfly larvae
die after eating milkweed dusted with genetically engineered corn
pollen; Europeans find that the same happens to environmentally-
friendly ladybugs and green lacewings; and some think honeybees
could be affected. Residues of BT toxin in GE altered grain crops
persist in soils for months and depress microbial activity.
Prayer: Lord, teach us to be prudent in all matters.
Fritillary (Speyeria sp.) butterfly on thistle
March 7, 2008 Prune Trees and Shrubs
It is time to think of this season's fruit and berries and so
we need to complete our pruning before the new life comes in full.
While late winter is normally pruning time for woody species in our
part of the country, still a longer pruning season is possible
depending on the species. Some prune on warm late fall and early
winter days as well. An exception to the late winter pruning rule
is the sweet cherry, which is pruned in August because there is
less danger of bacterial infection then. Properly pruned and
trained trees live longer than unpruned ones and produce the
largest yields of higher quality fruit. A well pruned tree is more
accessible in harvest time as well. The sense of care and love for
the property is immediately evident in a well pruned orchard or
yard furnished with fruit trees.
The act of pruning is truly an expression of good art. We are
configuring the tree to our image of an ideal shape. It is far
closer to sculpturing than some might admit. In fact, one can get
lost in the process of pruning after the first shoots and dead wood
have been removed. People who prune admit to the sense of
enjoyment, that comes in making the tree into a more perfect shape.
Fruit trees can be trained to either an "open-center" or a
"central leader." Fully dwarfed apples and standard and dwarf
pear trees should be trained to either a central leader or an open-
center crown. Standard apples, sweet cherries, peaches, and plum
trees should all be trained to the open-center system.
A beginning pruner should learn tips from an experienced
pruner in what to leave and what to cut. Rather than merely
discussing with the expert pruner, accompany him or her for a part
of a day and learn pruning technique. Generally beginners tend to
leave too much but that is not always the case. When a tree is
overcut there is little room for repair. Make a clean cut and do
not allow the bark to tear. A proper pruning tool is necessary.
Pruning extends to the shade trees, which are planted for
summer shading and/or winter wind protection. Do your own removal
of dead limbs or branches, unsightly parts of trees, sprouts along
the main trunk, "V" crotches on younger trees, branches that
interfere with utility lines, branches that rub or cross another,
and all top branches but the one nearest the vertical for trees
where a single leader is normal. Professional pruning is
Prayer: Lord, teach us this Lent to prune away our personal
dead wood, namely, the tendencies that block our becoming more
fruitful in your service. Help us to focus our spiritual growth on
what is most needed for gaining the wisdom and understanding it
takes to be true healers of our Earth.
A cluster of rotten fruit, a great find for flies
March 8, 2008 List Tree Benefits
Our environment would be improved if every school child could
list the benefits of trees just as they recite the alphabet. Most
people can list trees used for shade, timber, fuel wood (even
though they have never cut fire wood) and for fruit and nuts. But
the list of benefits is quite lengthy. Maybe an A-B-C of Trees
could prove helpful. Construct some rhymes to accompany the
learning process. Trees offer the following:
Apples, so tasty -- and easily cooked;
Beauty in itself so overlooked;
Cooler areas from the hot summer sun;
Wow, the temperature's drop has begun?
Different wood products, a million and one;
Erosion control in so many ways;
Fossil fuel buried millions of days;
Good for healing after land has rested;
Habitats for squirrel and birds nested;
Insulation as breaks from winter's sharp route;
Justly deserved privacy for all about;
Isn't it quieter among the trees
when we come to enjoy the breeze?
Kinder places so neighbors live in peace;*
Leaves for raking and for compost pile;
Market enhancers that improve property sale;
Nuts, the delight of which bards have sung;
Oxygen, coming from forests, our Earth's lung;
Purifiers of our air where toxics have clung;
Quick sinks for carbon dioxide from any source;
Replenishment of aquifer, water course;
Spongy soil to absorb the moisture deep;
Tree saplings for another generation's keep;
Utility for anchoring a clothes line;
Vista enhancers with a tourist sign;
X marking property in olden days;
Yard shade that cools our homestead;
Zest and energizers in barren watershed.
* Trees as Social Benefits. Drs. William Sullivan and Frances
Kuo of the University of Illinois interviewed three hundred
residents of buildings of identical architecture. The only
difference was that half the buildings were surrounded by trees and
half the buildings by urban deserts of concrete. Where there was
"accessible nature," people reported stronger ties and better
relations with their neighbors than did individuals in the more
barren housing areas. Individuals near pockets of trees felt safer
and had less violence in their homes, and would be most likely to
use reasoning to overcome conflict. The researchers found that
trees reduced mental fatigue and that residents were more likely to
be future-oriented and to generate creative solutions to problems.
Elephant foot, Elephantopus carolinianus
March 9, 2008 "I Am the Resurrection"
Jesus wept. (John 11:35) Scripture's shortest verse!
On successive Sundays during the middle of Lent we have the
stories of faith in John's Gospel (woman at the well, Ch. 4; blind
man, Ch. 9, and the raising of Lazarus, Ch. 11). The woman is
ostracized by her society; the blind man with new sight is tossed
from the synagogue; and now Lazarus is in the tomb because of
Jesus' late arrival. But in all three cases the conclusion is that
they find a connection with Jesus, and for them there comes to a
happy ending. All three are unique journeys of faith and include
the anguish and struggles of those around them (community, family
and close friends) as well as of the individuals just mentioned.
The last case, of Lazarus, really pertains to the greatest act of
faith for all of us -- not ostracizing or being persecuted but
rather to our dying.
This morning (January 22, 2008) National Public Radio presented the
story of the
Marie Smith, the last native speaker of the Eyak language in
Alaska. Every two weeks another language dies in this
world and here was one of them. The report mentioned that the
deceased left a dictionary so that the language could be revived.
But who is kidding whom? No one of that land or anywhere will want
to become a speaker of a dead language. However, it struck me that
the hope of reviving that language is found in the fact that it
could happen. However, our faith in the resurrection is that
Death is a definite happening. We know that we start dying
the day we are born and, no matter how remote death is for a young
person, that remoteness fades through aging and with parting
relatives and friends who leave us in some cases quite unexpectedly
and without forewarning. Dying occurs; we have to make the best
of the passing time. The story of Lazarus is that of rebirth, and
Jesus is there at the scene. What we find in the interactions that
are so human -- weeping, frustration, hesitancy and other human
emotions -- is that here are present the most natural reactions and
yet also the most supernatural; Lazarus comes back to life.
We are caught at each funeral with the growing reality of our
own mortality and know that we too must approach that great moment
of final testimony of faith -- that we will pass from this world to
the next and that Jesus is our way to new life. Thus the story of
Lazarus is our story as well, without the drama of coming from a
tomb back to our habitat here. "Life is changed and not ended" is
the sure utterance of the Liturgy of Resurrection at funerals. As
we approach the coming of Holy Week we prepare ourselves for the
definitive events in Jesus' life, knowing we are to imitate him
especially as our life's journey comes to completion.
Prayer: Lord, give to us the grace of a happy death,
something we need to pray and hope for. Only in hope do we believe
that You are the Resurrection and the life.
Synthetic fibers composing the turf at Kentucky racetrack
March 10, 2008 Natural Versus Synthetic Fibers
Many environmentally-concerned people have knee-jerk reactions
to certain issues and one of these is the benefits of natural
versus synthetic products, e.g., fertilizers, food preservatives,
building materials, etc. However, while choices in many categories
are fairly straightforward and include the use of scarce petroleum
products and exotic ingredients that could be harmful to human
users, the product world is not simple. The choice may in some
instances depend on a number of overlooked factors. With regard to
fabrics, one would like to know the need, how the natural fiber is
obtained, how long each fabric will last, and the recyclability of
Some people have a bias for cotton, for it is cool, has a
comfortable feeling, does not cause skin rashes, is breathable and
absorbent, and is generally cheaper than other fabrics. However,
that is not the end of choice options. A synthetic fiber may last
longer, may be easier to wash and/or dry, may hold its shape, size
and color, may be lighter and easier to pack and store, and may
feel just right. In such choices, there may be a combination of
personal preferences and scientific fact. This becomes more
complex when new synthetics or blends (of natural and synthetic)
are produced, which are quite breathable, are longer wearing, and
are relatively lower in cost.
Here are some additional environmental factors: How is the
fiber produced? Are non-renewable resources such as oil needed in
growing the natural cotton, flax or hemp, as well as in the
processing? Generally, the amount of petroleum used in producing
a natural material for fabrics will not equal the petroleum used to
synthesize fabrics from petrochemicals. However, natural as well
as synthetic fibers may require non-renewable fuel for processing
unless the work is totally done by hand. Among American
agricultural crops, cotton is the heaviest pesticide user, though
one can now buy organic cotton. Growing crops for natural fibers
where land disturbance occurs causes soil erosion. For centuries,
cotton mill workers have gotten "white lung," though conditions
today are generally less severe in industrialized lands than
formerly. Sometimes child labor has been involved -- even now in
certain countries. Wool is the natural fiber with the lowest
environmental impact provided sheep do not overgraze or their
pasturing does not allow for the introduction of exotic species.
Wool is warm, generally long wearing and has a pleasant appearance,
though some synthetics and blends also have these characteristics.
Global warming will limit the wool-wearing season.
All else being equal, choose locally grown natural fibers for
fabric materials; give preference to wool products from locally
pastured animals; buy goods with long-wearing fabrics, especially
for youth and those needing rugged and special materials such as in
hiking or mountain climbing; use only fabrics that do not cause
allergies and are healthy and comfortable; take into consideration
laundry and Permapress characteristics; reuse and recycle
and other cloth products; and refrain from buying for fashion.
Prayer: Teach us Lord to consider all factors and not to be
led by initial impulses that are often not based on fact.
Purple passionflower, Passiflora incarnata
March 11, 2008 Praying from the Heart: Sacred Space
An old lady on the southern front porch rocking chair says,
"Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits."
We all look for familiar space to reflect and pray and where
we find God in the silence of our hearts. Interior progress and
spiritual growth demand this silence of the heart, a peaceful
environment that comes with awareness of communion with the
Almighty. This peace of soul is wrapped in an ever-deepening
interior silence -- the very grounds on which progress of the
spirit is possible. The massive invasion of privacy in our
intrusive modern age makes a discovery or creation of silent space
a major challenge. We are all bombarded by noise and by
interruptions that break into our private space. E-mails, phones,
television, traffic, crying children, and a host of other
interruptions affect average people.
Silence of the heart is needed by all, but it is of special
importance to immobile individuals (confined prisoner, physically
ill, severely challenged), or to care-givers responsible for the
lives of others, or to the "we" who suffer in our everyday
encounters with noise. Creating silent space may be done by
individuals or in company with others who prefer communal rather
than private prayer. Ideal sacred space is where all senses are in
tune with the creator. I found a favorite rock on a bluff
overlooking the Rockcastle River; the huckleberries, singing birds,
swaying trees and sassafras smell added to the rough warm rocks to
give a sense of divine nearness. The more all the senses are
involved, the more ideal the sacred space. Thus we should seek an
ideal private natural setting as our favorite sacred space.
Churches, when open for visits, are also ideal for retreat
from the noisy world. The warmth of the Lord reserved as the
"Blessed Sacrament" is immediately experienced by many people.
Wayside chapels and shrines have been favorite sacred places in
certain cultures with deep religious traditions. America is not
generally blessed with such readily accessible places.
A federal prisoner complained about the lack of quiet space,
but he needed to be reminded that God helps us create our sacred
space. While certain surroundings may be more conducive to finding
silence, such surroundings are not absolutely necessary. Through
divine power all are able to commune with God in the ultimate
privacy of our own hearts -- in a space that no one can take away.
Prayer: Lord, increase within us the quest for sacred space,
where we can come and reflect on the goodness of your gifts.
A replica of Abraham Lincoln's grandmother,
by Mark Spencer)
March 12, 2008 Abraham Lincoln and His Birth State
When we read about the life of President Abraham Lincoln, we
find that he places considerable importance on his relationship
with the Commonwealth of Kentucky, his original home state. Though
he left it as a mere lad, still the culture, story-telling
propensity, the turn of language and the easy home-spun attitudes
of Kentucky's native children remained with him throughout his
life. Kentucky never showed much reciprocity during Lincoln's
lifetime, and he did not carry the state during the crucial
presidential elections of 1860 and 1864. Add to this the fact that
Kentucky did not respond quickly to the call to arms or the
numerous draft requests during his administration. Rather Kentucky
wanted to remain neutral to the terrible strife that swirled all
Henry Clay tried to espouse a neutral position in the growing
battle between North and South. Strangely enough, even Lincoln, a
great admirer of Clay, held this position to some degree in early
and middle life, even after he was repulsed by the existence of
slavery in his ride down the Mississippi River. His own position
about race relations shifted with time, and he became closer to the
abolitionist camp as the clouds of war actually turned into active
conflict. It took him time and mental struggle to come to the
conclusion that slavery was not to be permitted anywhere, but was
an abomination that must be done away with and could not be allowed
to linger until it disappeared naturally. In the late nights of
1862 in the middle of the Civil War, while working on the
Emancipation Proclamation, he committed the document to draft and
redraft in his mind. No other document took him so much time to
compose. He moved from pro-choice on slavery to an anti-slavery
position, and finally saw that no nation could exist half-slave and
half-free. And he came to this through prayer and reflection.
Lincoln knew and was concerned about Kentucky in many ways.
His wife came from an upper class Lexington family (his brothers-
in-law actually fought for the Confederacy) and his best life-time
friend, Josiah Speed, was from Louisville. Lincoln returned to
Kentucky on several occasions once to rest after bouts of nerve
problems. During the Civil War he realized how critical the state
was for preserving the union; and he watched over Kentucky like a
protective mother. He followed the military movements in the
Bluegrass State from the very beginning of the war and voiced
concern about retaining it in the union and obtaining fuller
cooperation from its citizens.
Prayer: Lord help us to know our roots and to be proud of
them, not in a chauvinistic way, but just so that we have a sense
of belonging and home, so we never lose our direction while
wandering through the journey of life. Give us a sense of special
caring for the needs of those closer to us.
An underground structure, ca. 1960
March 13, 2008 An Underground Home
Underground homes seem ideal in many respects:
* they use the earth itself for winter and summer insulation;
* they do not need the decorative siding materials or wall
upkeep of the above-ground building;
* they are more easily protected from theft, fire and
* they allow the landscape to be free of buildings and permit
use of the saved space for gardening and greenspace;
* they have better sound-proofing from traffic noises due to
the surrounding earth;
* they do not require inaccessible and costly roof maintenance
by those who are not agile or are afraid of heights;
* they have no gutter-fixing chores or the need of ladders;
* they afford greater privacy;
* they provide isolated retreat space for those with stressful
* they are good conversation pieces.
Some of the disadvantages of underground homes include:
* they can be expensive depending on the mode of construction,
requiring roof reinforcement (concrete and steel) and moisture
proofing if covered above with sod;
* they can have water problems depending on how constructed,
the lay of the land, and the climate;
* the interior may become or remain damp for, without special
care, they tend to leak in areas of high rainfall;
* the ceiling problems may prove harder to repair;
* they may have ventilation problems -- a major concern if
indoor fires occur; and
* some claustrophobic-tending residents find the enclosure of
the underground house without windows quite stressful.
One compromise when contemplating building an underground
house is to minimize disadvantages by constructing a partly
submerged structure. Such buildings may have windows or half
windows or even skylights for natural lights. They may have one
side opened, preferably to the south for solar space heating. They
may have a conventional roof of lower height and lower cost than
the steel and concrete bunker variety belonging to the totally
underground house. An earthen berm around a partly submerged
structure may help give additional insulation and the privacy and
sound-proofing characteristics of a totally submerged structure.
Buried in the berm may be cooling pipes for use in pumping cool air
for summer cooling.
Note that for the partly submerged building attention must be
given to drainage. Whether the building is totally or partly
submerged seek professional advice in planning and designing the
structure for that pays in the long term.
A shopper's feet, rushing to check out
March 14, 2008 Help Create Quiet Zones
Experts tell us that natural sounds define our sense of place
-- and no one wants complete silence for that becomes its own
burden. To be able to hear the natural sounds whether of a
gurgling creek or the returning birds in the trees requires that we
tone down the human-generated noises that tend to compete with
these more desirable sounds. Lest we forget, some of the noise-
making devices include: sounding car horns, boom boxes that seem to
set the streets to vibrating, sirens, whistles, squealing tires,
lawnmowers coming soon, jackhammers, power saws, motorized
recreational vehicles -- and don't forget the talkers on the cell
phones who sit next to you. Noise-making volume seems to be
increasing; studies show rising noise levels in many urban and
rural areas with each succeeding year. There are limits to what
most of us can take, and so citizens can rightly say, "Enough!"
However, we do have an ace up the sleeve; we can regain and
create quiet space. Detecting equipment exists in the form of
noise meters that can indicate where and when noise originates and
how strong is its volume. We need not become virtual prisoners in
the noisy world with its ubiquitous discordant sounds. As citizens
we can speak up for retaining the commons of silent space. First
we work to contain or limit the noise to certain playgrounds and
areas and to certain times of the day; we can help create quiet
zones near senior citizen places, libraries and hospitals. School,
hospital and library administrators along with the silent majority
often furnish ready allies in your crusade. They most likely do
not know there were folks out there who care. See that zones are
created, quiet signs installed, and ordinances enforced.
If noise pollution persists and we have exhausted legal and
citizen recourse, consider creating quiet zones within your home
(rooms with sound proofing), yards (vegetative sound barriers can
be effective) and community sound barriers near busy highways.
Rugs, fabric wall hangings and other barriers all reduce noise
levels and provide vast returns for a modest investment. Okay,
make it quiet time when quiet space is limited. Help build noise-
free zones similar to smoke-free ones, hoping the awareness of the
benefits will spread. Of course, kids will be kids, but part of
over all education is to learn when to be silent and to concentrate
on the work at hand. Softly, ever more softly. We recall that
youngsters hesitate to complain about noise, when their peers
regard loud sounds as part of the culture and a sign of
fulfillment. However, we should encourage everyone to become more
sensitive to noise, introduce waterfalls for soothing sounds, and
carry out noise abatement science fair projects.
Prayer: Lord, teach us to also seek the quiet space where we
can pray and concentrate. It is not asking too much, for the need
for silence is human no matter if our culture allows us to admit it
or not. Teach all of us to respect the needs of others when it
comes to when to make noise and when to silence our noisy
surroundings for the benefit of all creatures.
Lily of the valley, Convallaria majalis,
from springtime garden
March 15, 2008 Wind Power Coming to Life
The gusty winds of March can knock us over and at this point
our thoughts turn to wind, a renewable energy source of choice;
wind has many more advantages than disadvantages in an age of
growing concern about global warming. Windmills for a variety of
operations made their first appearance in Europe in 1150 AD, and
spread to the south of Europe by the sixteenth century. They were
preferred over water power because water wheels would cease turning
under icy winter conditions. Harnessing wind was popular during
early American prairie settlement but lost popularity with the New
Deal push for cheap rural electricity. Older wind-enthusiasts
speak respectfully about Marcellus Jacobs, the father of American
wind-generated electricity. His wind producers at the small scale
were durable but quite inefficient by modern standards; these were
placed near use sites to minimize line losses and were hooked to
lead-acid batteries for storing energy for generating electricity.
Today's state-of-the-art, aerodynamically engineered devices can
run at far lower wind speeds (as low as five miles per hour).
Today wind power is the fastest growing energy source, even
exceeding solar energy growth -- some call the growth of wind
generating capacity a "gale force." With the price of electricity
rising and uncertainty about ninety dollar-a-barrel foreign oil
supplies, wind has many advantages. In fact, the U.S. wind power
industry grew by 45% in 2007, adding a record 5,244 megawatts (MW)
of capacity (versus 300 MW in 2007 for increased solar capacity)
for a total of over 17,000 MW of U.S. capacity. Despite all the
talk about needed nuclear and coal facilities, still wind's
increased capacity amounted to one-third of all new generating
capacity. Recall that this wind generation produces no emissions,
only a swishing sound that is music to many ears.
The rest of the world is catching the wind fever. Europe
which has a lead in capacity (Germany, Denmark, Spain, etc.) and
wind generating equipment hopes to expand renewable energy sources
form 6% today to 20% by 2020 with wind being a major contributor.
Germany is committed to phasing out nuclear power and replacing it
with wind power. Europe gives higher incentives to wind generation
than the U.S. federal government's erratic behavior to renewables -
- on again, off again incentives. However, several states are
moving towards wind with generating capacities: Texas 4,356 MW;
California 2,439 MW; Minnesota 1,299; Iowa 1,273 MW; and Washington
1,163 MW. The great bottleneck today is having the equipment
available to do the job. General Electric is the nation's largest
supplier. However, much of America's wind equipment is imported.
Several European producers are installing American facilities that
will supplement the 20,000 American wind jobs.
Our March highlighted group is the American Wind Energy
Association, Alexandria, VA <www.awea.org>
Prayer: Lord, teach us to promote clean energy in order to
enhance our Earth's needed healing process.
Late winter snow on hardy hellebore
March 16, 2008 A Journey to Faith
We start our solemn Holy Week observance with a procession of
palms, a symbolic reenactment of the triumphant entry by Jesus into
Jerusalem. We are aware that the mood during this symbolic journey
will change from "hosanna" to one of utter rejection. In some way,
this week is a condensed version of our journey of faith, beginning
in the exuberance of spring and ending with death but still with
the promise of immediate resurrection. In the course of the week
we go down with Jesus to his suffering and death; we will rise
with him on Easter to the glory of victory. Believers see Lent and
Easter as a continuity.
During the third, fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent, St. John's
Gospel (Chapters 4, 9, and 11) gives us three examples of this
journey of faith: the Samaritan woman coming to the well to draw
water, the blind man wanting to see, and the raising of Lazarus and
his sister Martha's journey of faith. These are people of faith
from vastly different circumstances drawn to proclaim Christ divine
but they all come to know him more deeply. Our individual faith
journeys involve communities of faith similar and yet different
from those in Christ's time (e.g., the local community of
Samaritans, the non-believing religious community in Jerusalem
along with fearful parents of the blind man, and the bystanders and
mourners of Lazarus' family).
Until recently baptisms were conducted in the recesses of the
Church and outside of major public services. Now the sacrament is
conducted before the whole assembly to express the communal
character of our Faith being received by each new member.
Archbishop Romero (the martyred Archbishop of San Salvador) took a
more dramatic step; he reintroduced this more communal celebration
in his territory, even though wealthy parishioners did not want to
be required to stand in line at church with peons awaiting their
children's baptism. However, the Archbishop insisted on it,
emphasizing that all are God's children with no segregation.
For the Christian, each of us must come to Christ in his or
her own way. This unique travel experience shows both our
differences and the communality of that experience. Jesus is
living water, the light of the world, and the resurrection. Each
journey is a step-by-step process, for we don't arrive in an
instant, except in rare circumstances of martyrdom. In today's
Gospel passage, Jesus is the one traveling into his city of
Jerusalem, a solemn entrance of a humble king. What is he thinking
about? How is he preparing for the last terrible week of life?
Fear of what is to come is part of our own Journey of Faith. Are
we willing to suffer with Jesus by serving our fellow human beings?
Prayer: Today, Lord, we see you riding a simple donkey and
wonder again where we stand. Help us to sing "hosanna" on this
occasion but to stand with the faithful few at Calvary rather than
with the mobs shouting "crucify him." Help us to suffer and die so
that we can rise with you on Easter Sunday.
Cardamine douglassii, purple cress
March 17, 2008 Celebrate Spring's Arrival with Greens
Few seasonal delights equal that of gathering and cooking
the first greens of spring. Children seem to sense the coming of
spring showing more excitement in their play and more skip in their
movements. Life is quickening and all nature seems to catch the
spirit. The first shoots of greenery confirm this stance even as
we enter fully into an early Holy Week. We need to go into the
depths of sorrow for the end of this week, but that is part of
spring house-cleaning. Easter is a few days away and it is time in
Appalachia to gather greens. We take the gathering pan and knife
and venture out into the awakening outdoors. We have missed fresh
vegetables but not nearly as much as our ancestors, who did not
have access to greenhouse produce -- or products from distant
places. For them and for us we need to gather and "fix" these
"messes" of plants, either fresh and raw, or cooked in a kettle as
Spring is the natural time for such delicacies, because the
different greens are young and tender. Know where to find them in
the woods, on the roadside, in leaf piles, in gardens and lawns and
in just about any space where greenery appears. Certainly as we
age it is less fun gathering greens and then cleaning them of the
winter dead leaves, dirt and earthworms, which may be attached.
But with some patience, care and a deft hand a nutritious spring
greens dish is made ready in an amazingly short time. Dandelion is
the most important herb because it is abundant, easily recognized,
and good and nutritious, especially when young; as it matures, the
milky bitter sap will flavor the dish and require additional
washing and cooking. A good practice is cutting the crown near or
just below the ground surface so that the entire bunch of leaves
comes up and can be shaken clean -- thus removing the unwanted
litter. Some regard dandelion greens as the main ingredient, but
they can be mixed with other spring greens, which are known to the
experienced gatherer. My mother always prepared dandelions with
boiled eggs and potatoes and onions, and then wilted them with hot
bacon grease or salad oil and vinegar. It still remains my
favorite spring meal, when mixed with wild or domestic garlic.
Other single or mixed cooked greens could include early Crows'
foot and Hanner-on-the-Rock which are two varieties of
Evening primrose is also called "speckled britches" and
early as a rosette speckled or tinged with red and is gathered like
dandelions. Lamb's quarters comes a little later in our part
the country, but is one of the oldest foods of cave dwellers of a
millennia or two ago. Shepherd's purse springs up in
moist soil, as does Water-cress near to creeks and cold springs.
Upland cress is known as "creasies" and is found as a rosette
dark green leaves in early April. Wild lettuce is common in
lowlands and near streams and the most tender leaves are excellent
greens. My second favorite type of greens is poke, which also
appears in early April; the spears can be prepared like asparagus.
Prayer: Lord, teach us to find good things and enjoy them.
A grove of persimmon trees (Diospyros
virginiana) in late winter
March 18, 2008 Gather Non-Timber Forest Products Wisely
Forests have immense value apart from the timber content that
is decimating tropical rain and temperate forests at a frightening
rate. Through a growing sense of our global commons we are seeing
the value of our forests that retain moisture, store carbon dioxide
in a living storage system, cool the surrounding landscape and help
mitigate the harshness of climate. Forests can furnish cover for
the wildlife, which could be regarded as a natural non-timber
forest value -- not product.
The most overlooked non-timber forest product is that of the
view or vista itself -- a major tourist asset. That vista vanishes
when the land has been clearcut, and may even disappear for a
number of years after selective logging using sustainable methods
has occurred. The view not only has a qualitative value to
residents, but it is also of economic importance since over 40% of
tourists come to forested areas for the sightseeing. A beautiful
forest is a sight to behold and can also attract tourist dollars.
Most people would think of wild fruits, berries, nuts and roots
in the understory as part of the non-timber forest products:
papaws, mayapples, persimmons, crabapples, wild cherries, wild
plums, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, wild strawberries,
cranberries, elderberries, hickory nuts, walnuts, butternuts,
hazelnuts, acorns, mushrooms, lambs quarters, ramps, wild garlic,
watercress, teas (sumac, sassafras, mint), locust pods, wild honey,
maple syrup, etc.
* A general rule is to take a small amount for home
consumption: "Take a Mess; Don't Make a Mess." When a product is
known as valuable the temptation is to take too much. Don't
instruct fly-by-night gatherers about the plants present in the
forest. If they learn from responsible gatherers there is less
likelihood that the plants will be overharvested. Exotic species
are often brought from outside areas to forests through such means
as vehicles, poor farming practice, livestock feed, nursery plants
for landscaping, poor reclamation practice, etc., and they may
spread as invasive species. This may result in harm where
roadways, streets and development have fragmented the land.
* Invasive plants, such as kudzu, can often be quite
aggressive and crowd out the native flowers and plants. Thus
encourage their removal. "Harvest existing invasives without
damaging the forest proper." Use kudzu root for food starch, vines
for baskets, and flowers for jellies; dig the chicory root;
harvest dandelions and other exotic greens.
* When demand is great, assist in growing virtual wild species
in as near to natural conditions as possible. This applies to wild
ginseng, golden seal, bloodroot and black and blue cohosh.
* Discourage the introduction of game animals such as turkeys
that can destroy native understory due to the fowls' highly
efficient harvesting methods and digestive destruction of seeds.
Prayer: Lord teach us to treat our forests with respect.
A bright red apple, part of a home-made hanging bird treat
March 19, 2004 Watch for the Birds
Many of us have heard in song or story about the swallows
returning each year to the Spanish Mission of San Juan Capistrano,
the jewel of the Missions. This historic place contains the oldest
buildings still used in California. Each year the swallows return
on March nineteenth, the feast of St. Joseph. They also depart
with the same unexplained punctuality on St. Johns Day on October
twenty-third. On these two dates thousands gather to watch the
birds' movements. In less dramatic fashion, many of us anxiously
await the return of the birds and the monarch butterflies from
Central America and Mexico. While this waiting is part of the
ritual of spring, it involves a deepening anxiety as we note in
recent years the destruction of some of the creatures' habitats in
both the winter and the summer seasons. The numbers of some semi-
tropical migratory bird and butterflies have been in decline.
The cause of bird populations declines is hard to determine.
Thus the Audubon Society has recruited many birdwatchers to observe
certain specific areas and engage in annual bird counts. Experts
are able to compare the statistics gathered with numbers counted in
previous bird censuses and determine trends. Over time a profile
has emerged, and it is not promising for a number of semi-tropical
birds such as the Cerulean warbler. Large numbers of beautiful
sounding and bright colored birds may not be with us for long,
unless emergency conservation measures are taken. These measures
include protection of both winter rest and summer nesting habitats,
removal of feral cats, and some feeding and special care for birds.
Though some naturalists dislike artificial feeding, a strong case
is made that the toll on natural habitat is so great that such
feeding is necessary for the health of the threatened bird species.
The art of birdwatching can be a green form of recreation,
provided the watcher does not engage in frequent distant travel
(less frequent and more local trips could certainly fit under the
aegis of "greener" recreation). This outdoor hobby suits the
enjoyment needs of large numbers of people of all ages and requires
both sight and sound identification skills. Surprisingly, some
deaf people do manage to be good birdwatchers. Actually, this
recreational activity extends to observing other flora and fauna,
provided the watchers do not disturb the wilderness.
To help budding watchers hone their observational skills
furnish them with books or videotapes on wildlife and then take
them to visit an aquarium, animal farm, pet shop, zoological garden
or butterfly garden. Some enjoy animals through care for pets.
The "birders" are perhaps larger in number than other wildlife
observers because of variety and frequency of the wildlife forms
even in urban and suburban areas. Another advantage is that
birdwatchers may stand or move about with few obstacles in
distinction to having to stoop to inspect insects and wildflowers.
Prayer: Lord, help us to appreciate the birds of the air that
seem to have no care in the world; make their cheerfulness ours.
Honeycomb features, common to the Corbin
March 20, 2008 Holy Thursday: Called to be Caregivers
Holy week is also Passover when we commemorate with our
Jewish brothers and sisters the passing over of the first-born and
the delivery of the people from Egyptian slavery. For Christians
we also remember the passing of Jesus from this life to the next.
It is a solemn time with a story that is retold after the full
moon, the first after the Vernal Equinox, thus the "Passover Moon."
We return to our roots and respect the traditions of our ancestors
in the faith. The Gospel of John retells this beautiful story
within the context of the last supper.
The Eucharist is the memorial, a remembering of that event
each time that it is performed. Let's remember, be faithful,
forgive others, be united in faith and live as brothers and
sisters. Let's not separate ourselves from our community. The
meal is togetherness in the unleavened bread, the fellowship, and
the hymns and prayers together. We make ready the coming of the
Lord in a special way this holiday season. We wait with him, enter
into his suffering, accept the burdens of others out of the love
for Christ. Read St. John's Gospel, Chapters 15 through 17.
People around us call out to us for assistance. They await
the coming of the kingdom of peace and justice. We hasten that
coming by being like Jesus washing the feet (or hands) of others.
We serve others with simple tasks, encourage them to go to worship,
allay their fears, and are willing to be unsung heros and heroines
of people in need. Caring for those in need anticipates their
caring for us when in need. This poem by Esther Mary Walker pays
tribute to the caregiver whom we ought to imitate:
BEATITUDES FOR FRIENDS OF THE AGED
Blessed are they who understand
My faltering step and palsied hand,
Blessed are they who know that my ears today
Must strain to catch the things they say.
Blessed are they who seem to know
That my eyes are dim and my wits are slow.
Blessed are they who looked away
When coffee spilled at table today.
Blessed are they with a cheery smile
Who stop to chat for a little while.
Blessed are they who never say,
"You've told that story twice today."
Blessed are they who know the ways
to bring back memories of yesterdays.
Blessed are they who make it known
That I'm loved, respected and not alone.
Blessed are they who know I'm at a loss
To find the strength to carry the Cross.
Blessed are they who ease the days
On my journey Home in loving ways.
A ladybird beetle, soaking up some sun
March 21, 2008 Good Friday: Death of the Forest
Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.
We are all hurt in seeing pictures of
trees dying in a
forest, and we know that dying forests exist in many parts of the
world. This death can be due to a variety of causes including
unsustainable timbering practices, development of forested areas,
invasion of opportunistic tree diseases, fire suppression and
mismanagement practices, and acid rain and other pollutants. We
are becoming aware of the importance of our global forests (see
March 8th for tree benefits) and so we are highly distressed when
we hear of ailing or dying forests whether in the United States,
Indonesia, the Amazon, or in central Europe such as the Black
Forest of Germany.
In the quest for an optimistic outlook on life, we may find
some areas of reforestation in locations where poor farming has
previously occurred. We may be pleased about the increase in deer,
turkeys or wild geese (and the spread of the coyote) -- but these
are adaptable wildlife species that can damage the fragile forest
when they are numerous. Other forms of wildlife, especially
migratory birds, have come under immense stress due to lack of
proper forest cover. A number of frogs and other amphibians are
highly stressed due to unbalanced ecosystems of which the
forestlands are an integral part.
Besides wildlife, a number of plant species are in trouble,
and we observe die-back of dramatic proportions much as our
ancestors saw in the death of the American chestnut in the early
twentieth century. Trees such as several species of oak, the
Fraser fir in the higher elevations of the Great Smoky Mountains,
and the American elm are in trouble. The dogwoods within the
forests are dying back; certain pines in our southeast suffer
immensely from the Southern pine beetle. Hemlocks are also
suffering from invasive pest species. Some of this dying is due to
non-native diseases; others are opportunistic diseases: when a
forest suffers from pollution damage, this or that bug or smaller
organism will be able to do more damage to the weakened tree than
would have occurred in a healthy forest.
Dr. Thomas Rooney of the University of Wisconsin says that
biologists are worried about less adaptable understory forest
species. Middlesex Fells, a protected park in Boston, has lost 37%
of its understory species since 1894. Brunet Island State Park in
Wisconsin has lost 36% of its species since 1950. Heart's Content,
a protected virgin forest in northwestern Pennsylvania, has lost
between 60 and 80% of its species since 1929. Rooney has looked at
fifty-nine sites in northern Wisconsin, and in over fifty years 71%
of all understory species declined in their average local abundance
which qualifies as sustainable forest management.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you suffered and died for all. Help us
to extend Calvary to include this Earth's flora and fauna.
March 22, 2008 Holy Saturday: Sorrow Turned to Joy
We know that funerals are trying experiences. In the gloom of
the just entombed Jesus we begin this Holy Saturday -- a funeral
time. We are overwhelmed by sadness after leaving the hill of
Calvary. Before this day ends however, we will begin to have a new
and transformed perspective, a new light of springtime, first in
the rising of Jesus, and then for all of us who are to follow.
This is the light that the deceased sees in that ultimate journey
of faith when glimpsing the radiance of God's Love. Thus, for us,
Holy Saturdays are more than annual celebrations; they include
funerals of loved ones. What each annual Holy Saturday teaches us
is that we are to be the witnesses to relatives and friends that a
transformation is occurring, now only seen in the eyes of faith.
We cannot minimize the sadness of the passing of a loved one
or the experiencing of Good Friday in the lives of those who
are dying. Just as we sadly and annually lay Jesus in the tomb for
a very short time, we also take our departure at the death of any
loved one. Yes, we are sad, but it is not a lasting experience or
one filled with despair -- for Easter resurrection is soon coming.
Sadness, while real, in this atmosphere of faith is transformed
through God's grace.
Genuine joy suddenly transforms Holy Saturday as darkness
falls this evening -- and the Easter liturgy begins. At this
liturgy we find two basic natural symbols that speak of
transformation: fire and water. We come to the light of the new
fire at the beginning of the Easter vigil so that we
happiness of the first human beings who discovered fire, and this
attraction to fire is the nearest thing to a learned instinct. We
come to the experience of water because we ultimately emerged from
water. The holy water sprinkled or dipped is the reminder of our
baptism, and we are now drawn again to reach out to the water. In
baptism we were saved and drawn to the new life it signifies.
At a funeral among believers we experience both sadness and
joy through the symbols of holy water and burning incense. We know
in the certainty of faith that the sadness of the passing on of a
friend or relative is an event of new life, of a new gathering of
people. Some of us transform sadness to joy better than others at
such events. For some it takes more time. On this holy night we
strive to extend our new-found joy to others and to encourage them
to transform their sorrow into joy in the sure finality of the
Resurrection. Sadness can be transformed even though the rapid
sequence is challenging. The witnesses to the first Resurrection
found it difficult; they underwent a period of genuine confusion
and fright. With time, we will be able to appreciate both the
emotion of sadness at someone's passing and the joy that they live
on in the after life.
Prayer: Lord, teach us that what we begin in sadness will
always turn to joy. Let this day be our experience of each funeral
in which we find ourselves, and let us always look ahead to Easter.
An alpine view, Medicine Bow National Forest,
March 23, 2008 Easter Faith in 2008
Christ is Risen; he is risen indeed.
The mystery of new life greets us
once again at this Easter
time and we are as always filled with the joy, the sense of victory
and the peace that this event brings to this troubled world. The
joy comes with the excitement that the risen Lord has
defeat of Calvary. We join as witnesses to God's ultimate humor in
turning a terrible defeat into a glorious victory. This excitement
is still communicated in each Easter -- and every Sunday as well.
We have a victory of life over death in this the final age of
the world -- the last cosmic second of time. Death is conquered --
and that applies to despair, scandals, wars especially in the Holy
Land itself, and in our personal illnesses and infirmities. Today
we affirm that Jesus is the way to victory. Spring is new life,
and Easter is the supreme moment of spring. Also on this day the
Lord instituted the sacrament of peace and forgiveness, of
reconciliation. We deliberately make that peace expressive in the
full joy and hope of this feast day.
Sister Imogene, my first teacher who later lived past one
hundred, taught catechism and asked her large second grade class in
1941 for an example of a "mystery." I volunteered to the class
that my mother's chicken incubator was operating and yet all the
eggs (though laid at different times) hatched on the same day.
Life's beginnings are still a mystery to me. Note: the key was the
little kerosene lamp which was lit at a certain time and allowed
the hatching to be uniform. But when as a seven year old I
wondered why, it became part of my search for God, to ask why,
why, why Lord new life? God's ever present love is shown clearly
through the gift of new life, a story retold each succeeding
Easter. We welcome hatching our collective lives in the deeper
mystery of God's love.
On this feast of new life we bless and sprinkle the Easter
water, used for Baptism or offered to bless all creatures in our
midst. Today, we rejoice with the thousands brought into the
Church through the life-giving waters of baptism. We are from
water and drawn to water in so many ways. Though we fear water,
which can drown us, we also know that it is essential for life.
Take Easter water out to the fields, the lawns, the trees, the
flower beds and the gardens and sprinkle all generously asking God
to make them productive. Easter reminds us that God gives life.
Another reminder of new life is that each year we observe
"Easter Egg Hunts." Pleasure is not in just finding colored eggs
but helping others find them. Older kids could help the younger
ones find their limits and then join to find their own number --
something counter to American materialistic competitiveness. There
are only a limited number of eggs and Easter means sharing new
life. God loved us first; we return that in sharing with others.
Prayer: Christ is truly risen, alleluia!
The Mad Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia).
By Sally Ramsdell
read about the "Mad Bluebird" click here)
March 24, 2008 We become Our Land
We become our land because we are rooted in it; we see it as
mother of us all; we are able to find a unity with others through
the tilling of it; and we love it with a love that nourishes it and
allows it to be fruitful. Like loved plants and animals, the land
itself knows when it is loved. We become like the Creator in the
love we give, a love that knows no bounds and allows us to extend
our love to all creation around us.
We are not God; we cannot do everything. But we can do some
small things well with divine help. Our modest individual efforts
are important, but quite limited in the scale of world history. We
are not miracle workers. When taken together with others, we do
make a difference, and thus we see the importance of individual
acts becoming cooperative endeavors. While each tiller of the
soil is unique and gifted, all collectively contribute to the whole
-- and are needed for the health of the whole Earth. That is
because we see that the cooperative spirit yields something more
than the sum of individual efforts. The cooperative worker
inspires others and motivates them to participate in the greater
good; the inspiration spreads like a virus, a catalytic vitality
extending throughout the surface of the Earth itself. It is like
rhizomes extending from our rootedness in our Earth.
Land is able to produce our food and make us better for
working with it. When we assimilate food, we take in the land now
turned to produce. We become our land when we consume the
grown on it. We do not wish to "become" some distant place, like
others who prefer to buy out of season and distantly-produced food.
Rather, through domestic gardening we become our local land, and
our land becomes us. We then become truly rooted in this place,
something missed by people who think the distant exotic is better.
Becoming home bound through eating local produce has only recently
been understood even by food-conscious people.
We assimilate our land's produce, and through this eating with
the love shown to us in God becoming incarnate, we lovingly become
one with the land and the flora and fauna on the land. We pattern
the divine condescension to become one like us in our humanity, for
through love we give further meaning to all creatures on the Earth.
Just as the God-man is a bonding of divinity and humanity within
our human family, so we human beings as part of the Divine Family
are bonded to Earth herself, extending to other creatures in our
own sacrifices what is wanting in the sufferings of Christ. We
become united to our Earth in a special way by being like Christ.
Prayer: Lord, teach us to treat the land with reverence, to
touch the soil lightly, and to see that in consuming Earth's
produce we become part of where it grows. This becoming is part of
growing in the Body of Christ, something we do with each passing
day as we come nearer to You. Thus in "becoming our land" we
perform a humble act of helping to heal our wounded Earth.
A lovely day in the woods. Franklin County, KY
March 25, 2008 The Incarnation
"Let the clouds rain down the Just One,
and the Earth bring forth a savior."
(Responsorial refrain on Wednesday, Third Week of Advent)
The Word comes from above and the Earth rises to bring forth
a savior in space and time. Jesus, son of David, is conceived in
the womb of the Virgin Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Earth is the place of our human origin, our mother and our
womb. The mystery of the incarnation is found in the meeting of
Heaven and Earth, at a time two thousand years ago, and in a place,
the Holy Land. This deep mystery of God's touching us so directly
is that personal union of the divine and human. This is God's
self-communication, Jesus Christ, a loving caring person, one of
mercy and compassion. Jesus, as man, springs from the Earth, from
Adam and Eve's children, from the House of David, from Mary as
bearer of the God-man. This union of heaven and earth in a living
earth-bound person, God's uttermost revelation to us in a person,
sacrificing, teaching, leading and loving.
The church community looks in two directions: from above,
from the teaching word of its magisterium of Pope, bishops and
theologians; and from below with the grassroots work of each
Christian person. The union of the above and below is a model of
the union of God with the people, the perfect union in Christ, now
manifested on Earth as the Body of Christ -- and seen through the
eyes of faith. We are truly people of faith when we perceive the
union of God with us and are willing to accept the task to imitate
Christ in our actions. The Church acts divinely and humanly, and
this two-fold nature is the Christ who is in our midst.
Where do we stand as observers and participants in the
Incarnation event? First, the eternal Word is now spoken in time
and thus the Earth itself is blessed in a divine way. We listen to
the advent of the Word spoken, and we stand in awe like shepherds
at the stable adoring the new-born king, the Word now incarnate.
The patron of ecology, St. Francis, initiated the crib (Creche) as
a teaching tool par excellence for all of us from small children to
wise elders. It has become a prime observational point for viewing
the Nativity happening. But we must do more at least for a moment.
Within the Liturgy we mingle water and wine and ask to come to
share the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our
humanity. We bring the word to those eager to hear Good News
through our teaching, proclamation, prayer, encouragement, and
giving information and promotion, all requiring our energy and
time. We unite in our own being a view of the world and a need to
get our own hands dirty. Observation becomes practical action,
for, if we love, we must love those near to us; if we have been
given the grace of divine life in Baptism, then we must show loving
mercy to all others as well, a global community of concern.
Prayer: Lord teach us to be incarnate in our actions.
Bernheim Arboretum prairie
March 26, 2008 Sharing Limited Space with Wildlife
Preserving wildlife habitat is paramount to maintaining the
health of many of the world's flora and fauna. Unimpeded wildlife
reserves and healthy protected migratory routes are desired because
competition between human beings and wildlife for living space is
fierce. From whales to monarch butterflies we notice wildlife
habitat under attack: from hunters, developers, marginal farmers,
greedy resource extractors, ocean shippers, airplanes, second home
buyers and recreational vehicle operators.
On top of these competing infringements on habitats, wildlife
game species (encouraged by hunting interest s) have multiplied
until they have become worrisome pests, namely, rabbits, squirrels,
white-tailed deer, "wild" turkeys and Canadian geese. In fact,
these last three species are more numerous than anytime in American
history. Deer evade many fence barriers and nibble on suburban
shrubs and flowers; turkeys (not really wild but with a mix of
aggressive cultured turkey genes) devastate the forest understory;
and geese manure lawns, sidewalks and golf greens in abandon. I
observed geese as interlopers in many cages and pools at the
Milwaukee Zoological Garden. They feed on Midwestern corn fields
and winter near bodies of water all over the nation. Why fly when
the fare is so lavish at home?
Habitat preservation is needed and especially an end to
tendencies to sub-divide and penetrate wilderness areas through
roads and other disturbances. For many species of birds and other
wildlife the lack of disturbance is the best habitat policy.
Garden growers living near wildlife habitats realize that some
vegetables are delicacies for rabbits, groundhogs, raccoons, and
turkeys. A good fence is not sufficient. A watchdog is better,
but may be unable to guard distant gardens. I have found that
sowing strips of spicy mustard around vegetable beds dissuade
rabbits, which gravitate to beans and peas; omitting wildlife
favorites such as carrots and lettuce can also help. Some
gardeners provide enough for visiting wildlife, but it is hard to
grow enough of anything for hungry groundhogs. Deer are finicky
and generally leave melons alone. However, to my surprise the
bucks would ram the pumpkins with their antlers to break them open
and get the seeds. If you like the pioneer dish "burgoo," make a
kettle of various varmints cooked overnight with potatoes, carrots
and onions; you'll find garden raiders make excellent local food
for meat eaters bent on eating local products. Deer avoid double
fences erected about six feet apart. Few wildlife like onions,
garlic, the nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant),
some of the brassicas (cabbage, collards, cauliflower, and
kohlrabi), turnips, radishes, okra or most squash.
Prayer: O Creator of all, You give us enough space to allow
the creatures of this Earth to thrive and live in harmony. Teach
us to give them their space and to plan our lives. Help us to
protect the wildlife entrusted to our care.
Hardworking hands of an elder
March 27, 2008 Mobilize Senior Citizens
If we can speak (March 8th) about the ABCs of Tree Benefits,
we can say as much about the many roles that senior citizens can
play by offering benefits for the society in which they live and
thrive. So often they (or we) are overlooked and thus need the
comfort of knowing they are loved and wanted for the betterment of
all. Here is the ABCs of senior roles:
AARP members and if you don't know what that means,
ask one of them;
Baby Boomers -- now being included in the fastest growing
portion of our American population;
Citizens, who take their duties seriously in many ways;
Devoted church-goers -- at least some are;
Elders can mediate many disputes;
Failures at getting child-proof bottles opened;
(remember loads of kids would willingly assist you)
Gold mines of activism and yet good listeners as well;
Homemakers par excellence;
Ideal Keepers of the secrets of past depressions;
Joiners of just causes worth fighting for without fear of
of reputation or position;
Knowers of the shortness of life;
Letter writers to legislators when others do not have time;
Memory storers of the ancient past, not the present;
Neighbors worth cultivating on many occasions and especially
as visitors to other elderly, the sick, forgotten folks, prisoners,
and others who need moral and spiritual support;
Old Folks, who add spice of life;
Public citizens on a host of community and national issues;
Quality of life lovers, who know how to cook and eat well;
Retirees, with shortened memories except for voting;
Story-tellers, even when stories are repeated until mellow
Trackers of problem areas in the community;
Users of health benefits and costly medicine$;
Volunteers, willing to work for literacy campaigns, citizen
organizations, museums, libraries, demonstration centers, youth
camps, abuse centers, Green Thumb programs for gardeners,
Wheels for those with driver's licenses, and a vast assortment
charitable groups which lack sufficient funding;
Wise persons, worthy of comment on many issues:
X-perienced resources, even when not great spellers;
Youth at heart, who serve well as teacher assistants and baby
Zealots of a kinder sort who can effectively lobby for the
poor, the hungry, the un- or underemployed, and the homeless,
especially for programs that alleviate their conditions.
Prayer: Lord, teach us to respect all in our society,
especially those who can be encouraged to assume new roles even in
their senior years. Help us all see this segment of the general
population as a major resource for good.
Trillium sessile, Woodford Co.,
March 28, 2008 Solar-Powered Car
The choice of a fuel for automobiles was made back at the turn
of the twentieth century over a hundred years ago. Electric cars
were built and considered as the standard, but then advocates of
the internal combustion engine (ICE) allied themselves with strong
oil companies support; they were able to win the day. By the
First World War the ICE was the clear victor, and a worldwide
search for oil was undertaken to satisfy the rapidly growing
appetite for petroleum-fueled vehicles. Refineries were built to
meet spiraling demand for gasoline and diesel. Over the years,
modifications in fuel refining and efficiency were added. But non-
renewables came at the price of air pollution, respiratory
diseases, stepped up security to protect fuel sources, and
depletion of petroleum reserves. The rising craze to have ethanol
as a substitute has given little account to the need for non-
renewables to operate the growing and processing of corn-based
biofuel and the removal of this crucial grain from the limited
global food reserves.
The world is now considering other vehicle-powered
alternatives, such as the hybrid electric vehicles; hybrids double
fuel mileage, and savings in fuel offset higher car costs. Totally
electric vehicles without a solar or other renewable energy fueling
station require using the current utility grid, which now is fueled
for the most part by non-renewable fuel sources. Thus this is
merely a transfer of emissions from the congested urban areas to
where electricity is generated. In areas of the world where
hydropower or wind power are major electricity sources, electric
cars can be recharged from renewable sources.
The sun is certainly free when utilized to recharge the
batteries. Current technology demands that much of the front and
back of the car be filled with heavy lead/acid batteries, and these
can be partly recharged from photovoltaic arrays mounted on
carports or garages (for stationary charging) or to a lesser degree
on the vehicle itself. The disadvantage of the latter is that it
is virtually impossible, even with a highly efficient, lightweight
vehicle, to get enough space for the solar recharging operation.
ASPI at Livingston, Kentucky, has a solar/electric car (a
converted Dodge Colt) that has a range of about eighty miles and is
recharged by a bank of solar photovoltaic panels on the roof of the
office. This bank is hooked up to the electric grid, and surplus
solar energy is fed back into the utility grid through what became
Kentucky's first "net metering" system. At the time of charging
the car, some additional energy is taken from the interconnected
utility grid. The total solar project cost about $10,000 a decade
ago but is still not paid off in savings. However, solar cars have
educational value that is a benefit not always counted.
Prayer: Lord, allow us to understand that the good of travel
must be done in such ways that we are mindful of costs to all when
we prepare to choose the means of transportation.
Late winter snow. Fayette Co., KY
March 29, 2008 Honor the Sabbath
My father, a successful Kentucky farmer, said he could
recognize a farm where the person never honored the Sabbath's rest.
The Sunday-operated place showed lack of proper planning. A need
for sabbatical rest extends beyond farmers to all people, creatures
and the land itself. The demise of the Blue Laws that forbade
working on Sunday (or Saturday) is not a blessing. People need
rest, and this includes those who service fast food restaurants and
shopping malls, all now frequented seven days a week -- and
especially on weekends -- "twenty-four-seven". Service employees
struggle to grind on, day after day, with work that never ceases.
Routine without breaks becomes unbearable, not just day-by-day but
week-by-week or year-by-year lacking pauses or vacations.
Keeping holy the Sabbath is one of the least observed of the
Commandments. People today prefer to shop and do a million chores
on Sunday. Note that in the Old Testament reading (Deuteronomy
5:12-15) the emphasis is not on resting after Creation, but on the
liberation of the people from the slavery of Egypt, and the freedom
that comes with free time. Consider that the Greeks had children's
toys operated by steam, yet they never harnessed steam to do human
work; they had no incentive, because their slaves ensured their own
leisure, although not that of the slave's. The Church insisted on
free time to pray and reflect. The monks of the "Dark Ages"
finally harnessed wind and water to do the work that others once
did by hand or the treadmills; they did so that all including
slaves and serfs may have that precious sabbath time.
Necessary functions were allowed even in the strictest of the
Old Testament restrictions on Sabbath rest. Jesus realizes that
his disciples are hungry and thus pick grain and eat it on the
Sabbath -- contrary to the faultfinders' code of activity and
inactivity. When Jesus heals a person or makes one whole on the
Sabbath, they find something wrong here as well. Jesus shows that
to heal or make whole is fundamental to life and certainly is to be
allowed, but Jesus says more; we are free to celebrate the Sabbath,
and in that freedom we have room to act.
The sabbatical means free or rest time taken off after a
period of academic or professional work, a time to be more
creative. A reduction of stressful situations should be a
prominent factor in choice of a planned sabbatical. Rest and free
times extend to family leaves through work agreements and allow for
the solitude necessary to mend fractured lives. Family leaves are
often coupled with the arrival of a child, special care for an
elderly relative, or during times of marriage problems.
Prayer: Lord help us to take breaks when necessary to relieve
the stresses around us by having some free time. Teach us to
counter this modern age that proclaims busyness to be the sign of
success and fulfillment. You, Creator of all, give us the gift of
new life. We rest because You rest in us. We appreciate rest time
for it reminds us that Your activity is important, not ours.
Anemonella thalictroides, rue anemone.
Woodford Co., KY
March 30, 2008 God's Mercy, Faith and Showers
The stories of Easter are those of God's gentle mercy on all of
us poor suffering human beings. The road to Emmaus finds
disheartened travelers, and yet with gentle prodding Jesus brings
them to deeper faith; their hearts burn when he explains the
Scriptures and they come to know him in the breaking of the Bread.
In another Easter story Mary meets Jesus in the Garden. In
another, the disciples go fishing and not catching anything all
night, Jesus directs them where to fish. God gently brings to
faith the doubting Thomas (John 20:19-31), the one needing positive
proof; and Jesus blesses all of us in the act.
On this day when we retell the story of the institution of the
Sacrament of Reconciliation we are asked about God' great and
abiding mercy towards all of us who have been loved even while we
were and are sinners. God's mercy comes to us who are not blessed
with the physical experience of Thomas, but still find our faith
whole and intact. Thomas is accepted even in his moments when he
seems to lack faith. Do we tolerate doubters in our midst and show
the same mercy that God shows us? Thomas professes his deepest and
most profound manner of belief, and the devout Christians of India
are the direct descendants of those he evangelized 2000 years ago.
"Blessed are those who did not see but who believe."
The word "shower" brings to mind a pre-nuptial party with
gifts, a method for bathing, or a bestowal on a lucky or privileged
person. Nature's mercy is the spring rain, which gently waters the
Earth and allows the seeds to swell, plants to grow, and blooms to
come. Showers are gentle, not the gully washers or downpours of
rare occasions. Showers take time to soak in and allow the forest
cover to retain moisture through sponge-like litter. A pleasant
memory of my youth was getting in the cows after a spring shower
when all the land smelled good and the air was clean and fresh with
dripping foliage and wet grass. The sky was broken with dark and
light clouds swirling about and one could only guess where a
current shower was occurring. Yes, March mercifully leads to April
showers, and these bless us with May flowers.
The goal of our Faith journey is Jesus, and so we seek to be
as merciful as God is merciful. As divine mercy showers down upon
us, so we shower blessings on others. No one of us can ever be as
merciful as God who shows mercy in every act. We poor human beings
need God's mercy, and others need ours as well. The early
Christians lived in common and shared according to those in need
Prayer: Please Lord, let our mercy and love be manifested
through sharing of our abundant resources with those who are
lacking. We see others in need, whether face-to-face or at a
distance over the media. Help us to discover those who grieve, are
doubting, or are suffering from lack of the basic necessities of
life. In sharing with them, we come to ever deeper faith and we
imitate You who are merciful and sharing with us.
Local and low resource activity:
the photographer lends her camera
in order to enjoy a recent Kentucky snowfall event.
March 31, 2008 Choose Green
Spring affords us a chance to judge our activities, some that
are greener than others. Some are quite wholesome; others
threatening and risky to human health and safety. Some use very
little equipment, have low travel costs, and operate with little
non-renewable energy; others are heavy users of the Earth's limited
resources. This list goes from most to least friendly.
Socially significant and low-resource use
1. Nature observation
2. Wildlife preservation
3. Organic gardening (vegetables, herbs, flowers)
4. Home rehabilitation and repair
5. Solar energy development
6. Nature trail building and maintenance
7. Environmental writing and publicity
8. Environmental education
9. Visual arts and crafts (using safe materials)
10. Singing, dancing, playing music, performing arts
Local and low resource use
11. Entertaining children with simple toys
12. Board games (non-electronic)
14. Walking, hiking, jogging, running (cross-country)
15 Swimming, wading, beach play (natural setting)
16. Snow-play, sledding, cross-country skiing
ice-skating (natural setting)
18. Picnics, potluck, social events (local)
19. Fishing (natural areas)
20. Home exercising, weight-lifting
Local outdoor with equipment
21. Playground activities (swinging,
volleyball, sandbox, kite-flying)
22. Canoeing, rowboating
23. Softball, soccer, baseball
24. Track, field 25. Biking (hard surface)
26. Basketball, tennis, handball
27. Dry land skiing, roller skating
28. Antique and collectable assembling (coins, stamps, etc.)
29. Gym games (acrobatics, karate, racquetball, basketball)
30. Model plane-flying, electric toys
Outdoors with equipment and moderate travel
31. Camping and backpacking (low impact)
32. Photography 33. Sailing, rafting
34. Rappelling, rope work
35. Summer camp games
36. Horseback riding (on trails)
37. Lawn croquet, badminton, lawn tennis
38. Spectator sports (outdoors) 39. Spelunking
Indoors with equipment, operating energy
40. Home decorating (lights)
41. Wrestling, fencing, boxing
42. Movie-making, home video
43. Amusement parks 44. Writing (using computer)
45. Television-watching 46. Electronic and video games
47. Computer hacking
48. Private gym activities (low use)
49. Private swimming (low use pool)
Indoors with equipment, energy, some travel
50. Opera, concert, festival, movie (automobile)
51. Spectator basketball
52. Bowling (automated)
53. Ice skating (artificial ice)
Outdoors with equipment, and human safety factors
54. Surfing, surf sailing
55. Ice sailing 56. Scuba diving
57. Target practice, archery
58. Hunting (consumed)
59. Contact sports (football, rugby)
60. Ice hockey (natural setting)
Outdoor, equipment, and travel
61. Camping and backpacking (distant)
62. Touring and sightseeing 63. Mountain biking
64. Horseback riding, fox hunts, polo (with horses)
Outdoors, equipment, human safety and travel costs
65. Skiing or snowboarding downhill (mechanical lift)
66. Rafting 67. Motorcycling (on highways)
68. Rock-climbing, mountain climbing
70. Auto-racing, drag racing, demolition derby
71. Rodeo riding 72. Hang gliding
73. Bungee jumping
Outdoors, environmental threat
74. Lawn care and gardening (motorized and pesticides)
75. Landscaping with introduced species
76. Wildflower picking, wildlife gathering
77. Beach-combing 78. Golfing (using chemicals)
79. Amateur archeology
80. Trophy hunting for wildlife (local or regional)
Outdoors, heavy Energy use
81. Overseas vacationing
82. Auto-cruising 83. Ocean cruising
84. Horse racing 85. Deep-sea fishing
86. Motorized camping 87. Yachting
88. Airplane touring and hot-air ballooning
Outdoor, human and psychic health
89. Sun-bathing 90. Gambling and cock-fighting
91. Malling and compulsive shopping
Heavy impacts of a multiple sort
92. Parachuting and sky-diving
93. Wildlife hunting for sport
94. Touring fragile lands, dunebuggy operation
95. Off-road vehicles (cross country)
96. Motor boating, water skiing
97. Big game hunting (distance)
98. Smoking 99. Substance abuse (drugs, alcohol)