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Daily Reflections Earth Healing

Daily Reflections
by Al Fritsch, S.J.

A series of written meditations and reflections

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Table of Contents: Daily Reflections

October, 2011

Copyright © 2011 by Al Fritsch

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Picture 984
 An autumn favorite, Short's aster, Epicauta funebris.
(photo: Janet Powell)

Reflections October, 2011

     In our temperate zone, October fools us, for we think of it as a continuation of September; however, October is different -- and much of this difference is frost, our herald of autumn.  October comes with a blaze of color: gold, crimson, brown, yellow, and an intermix of green that recedes as the month progresses.  Some of us, who find summer heat more difficult with each passing year, regard this month as the most pleasant of the year.  The weather generally consists of cool brisk and foggy mornings with the mist lifting and allowing agreeable afternoons and ever-shortening evenings as the month progresses.  The yellow jacket awakens us from dreams of never-ending October.  Tree and ground squirrels scurry about; birds flock together; the geese are on the wing.

     Do a little moving about yourself.  Make October all the more pleasant with a visit to a fall festival or sport event, or attend the last outdoor picnic of the year.  Take time to see the brilliant outdoor colors, and thank the Master Painter of all creation. 

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Picture 715
Green Dragon, Arisaema dracontium.
 (*photo credit)

October 1, 2011  Twenty Suggestions for a Busy October 

      We ought to busy ourselves in preparation for the upcoming harsher weather and consider this what-to-do list: 

      * Pick final frost-sensitive garden tomatoes, beans, and peppers and prepare to insulate the more sensitive vegetables so they are not killed by frost and wind (presuming late frost areas);

      * Enjoy the fresh autumn greens: endive, arugula, kale, mustard, spinach, lettuce of different varieties, Swiss chard, parsley, and collards;

      * Put on the plastic covers to winterize certain vegetables for late autumn and winter harvesting;

     * Harvest or purchase pumpkins and squash for decorations and pies;

      * Camp out amid the fullness of the colored trees, and take along either bedding and clothes to endure the chill;

     * Finish stacking firewood for the winter heating stove and ensure that others do the same;

     *  Fill the bird feeders for the departing aviary friends heading south, and to fatten the ones staying through harsh months to delight us through the winter days;

      * Take an autumn walk through the woods or country roads with someone who admires the landscape;

     * Observe the scampering squirrels and let them have the walnuts and hickorynuts if they insist, for that is their winter store;

     * Make sure the auto and other motor vehicles and implements are winterized, and the summer lawn and garden equipment have been drained and properly stored away until 2012;

      * Attend a special autumn festival or church event where all celebrate the season fully;

      * Put covers and plastic sheeting on the uninsulated windows and glass panels on doors, and add any caulking that may prove necessary to close out air leaks;

     * Stay aware of the weather and the drops in temperature so that you have time to photograph that first frost of the season and the last flowers in the garden;

      * Decide on the winter reading period and make plans to pack and carry along books and magazines in case of a sudden snow event that will maroon you somewhere;

      * Compose an autumn poem of a story that occurred during the summer that is well worth remembering;

      * Harvest the elderberries for a pie, a cobbler or some other baked treat;

      * With cooler weather thank God for surviving the heat of summer and the plentitude of the autumn harvest;

      * Get out winter clothes and the snow shovel and the materials to use on walkways and roadways; and

     * Observe the sounds and smells of the month.  

      Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the coolness of autumn; in a spirit of gratitude help us plunge into the season ahead.







Summer into Autumn
Grasses, swaying in autumn breeze.
 (*photo credit)

October 2, 2011      Restore the Forsaken Vineyard

     There was a property owner who planted a vineyard.  (Matthew 21: 33-43)

     It's harvest time.  Vineyards are familiar sites in the Holy Land, for grapes are the national symbol, and the vineyard is a favorite and cherished place.  To mistreat a vineyard is like cutting a tree -- a sin against the land and people.  In St. Matthew's gospel, this parable with its setting is an allegory (a teaching method for moral principles where things and people have a hidden symbolic meaning).  The vineyard is cared for by the owner, but the tenants refuse to share the produce with those sent, and even mistreat the slaves.  This allegory identifies Israel, the vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel (Psalm 80), as that which bears wild grapes.  The wicked tenants reject the son of the King who is sent.  Rejecting the will of God is wrong, and so we learn lessons that apply to all of us who do misdeeds as well. 

     A few years back, the Public Broadcasting System had a two-and-a-half hour show on Pope John Paul II, and though it passed over some important parts of his long life, it did focus on certain themes, one of which is the Jews and how John Paul II strived to eradicate anti-semitism from the Church in his example and writings.  It said now through that Pope's efforts the Polish people confess sins of anti-semitism.  Both the story of Israel and this persistent anti-semitism may seem remote to many of us, but they invite deeper reflection.  If the parable were on road rage and how some drivers curse or even punch out the fellow in front of them in a traffic snarl, it might be closer to home.  But isn't the parable itself right at home, and the problem of mistreating God's gifts (our Earth) the same as that of the wicked tenants? 

     Look more deeply.  God has patiently prepared this priceless planet from times of old (billions of years, in fact), and Earth has evolved in the glory of its uniqueness in this vast universe.  We are tenants for, in our short span of mortal life, we are privileged to live on this planet containing a delicate balance of fresh air, potable water, and fertile soil.  But we have messed this Earth up, littering it, subjecting its messengers of plants and animals to inhospitable environments, and threatening, endangering and even killing them.  Through actions causing environmental pollution, we have threatened Earth herself.  

     In part, we are the current problem, and that makes it all the more disturbing.  However, we must not lose heart; we must listen to the Spirit prompting us to curb our selfish ways, conserve resources, and share our many gifts with those in need.  We may be part of the problem but, as brothers and sisters of Jesus, we can also contribute to the solution.  We have the awesome power to give our Earth new life, if we work together and do not lose heart.

      Prayer: Lord, teach us to discover that our gifts are fragile and in need of constant protection and healing.  







Summer into Autumn
White crownbeard, Verbesina virginica.
 (*photo credit)

October 3, 2011   Acknowledging Social Addictions        

      People who observe addictive behavior and seek to relate to addicts who suffer from a host of personal addictions (alcohol, drugs, etc.) focus on individual behavior, efforts at control, and available means of healing these addicts.  The prime attention is to address the individual's dysfunctionality and improve the addict's health, social relationships, work activities, and other responsibilities.  Here addiction is a personal plight, and the importance of such attention and treatment is not discounted. 

      Social behavior mirrors individual conduct; so does social misbehavior.  Social addiction is increasingly emerging whether  specific practices or materials are truly addictive (a decade ago, President Bush stated that Americans are "addicted to oil").  The economic and political system that we call our modern world in the West and emerging nations is mesmerized by material consumption, and experts tell us that 70% of the entire world economy is based on increased consumer spending.  Autos, spacious homes, cell phones, electronic devices, and resource intensive (animal product) foods point to a culture overly focused on material acquisition, retention, and consumption.  The captains of industry and commerce seeking to satisfy this "wanted" (not needed) consumption have accrued a growing disparity of wealth never before amassed; all the while, millions aspire to enter this materialistic culture.   

    The compulsion to buy, mall, and use more and more consumer products that never satisfy lead to competitive demands on scarce resources; this results in our environmental crisis with its unsustainable and Earth-damaging quest to extract, use, pollute, and dispose of wastes. The unchallenged practice is addictive, with all the parallels of personal material addictions.  Cultures reinforce this practice through peer pressure and advertisement and pervasive commercialism.  At this point the three major sins of omission emerge as social temptations.  Denial is a refusal to acknowledge personal sin and that such consumption leads to global harm, climate change, and threats to the very life of this planet.  If the threats are perceived, the human tendency of consumers is to excuse themselves and shift responsibility to enlightened or powerful leaders or experts.  The problem is magnified by many who recognize harmful social dimensions and the inadequacy of policy makers to confront it.  To keep from being overwhelmed, nervous observers escape to other sub-addictions.  

      When the social addiction is perceived and some action seems necessary, the road is not yet clear.  First, we may modify behavior such as to limit consumer intake so the addiction is not debilitating; second, addicts could surrender to a Higher Power and work with others for joint addiction controls as seen in the forthcoming reflection.  

      Prayer: Lord, give us deeper spiritual insight to see the problems that face our planet, to convince others of the need for reform, and to view our failures as culprits and silent observers. 






Picture 830
Efficient camouflage, Pandorus Sphinx Moth (Eumorpha pandorus).
 (*photo credit)

October 4, 2011  Confronting Social Addictions

      On this feast day of Francis of Assisi, we find someone who confronted the social addictions of his family and culture.  He sought to confront these conditions personally, and he found Christ as a companion on his mission to bring compassion to all around him.  Francis chose to do this through poverty and simplicity of life.  He confronted wrongs through a reinforcing group of like-minded voluntary poor.  Thus, the group's appetites were controlled and they became models for the wider community.  This voluntary attractiveness meant a solidarity with the poor to a far deeper level than merely observing social addictions and personally shunning or modifying them.  Here, compassion or suffering with others becomes a participation in the redemptive act itself.   

      We are moved by voluntary associations that seek to become models for others, but these must compete with a prevailing culture of consumption.  A few people will simplify, but will the great multitudes?  Bob Sears, my colleague of many years on ecological matters, agrees that movement to social addictive behavior requires a close look for clues at levels of addictive controls and cures.  Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) moves addicts away from their attachments through twelve steps that include convincing individuals of their weakened state, exposing the need for support groups, and surrendering to the need for a Higher Power with continued assistance in the control process.  However, Bob points to the experience of Chris Prentiss in the book AA's Twelve Steps that the addict must go beyond controlling an addiction to curing one from a dependency on drugs.    

      A holistic recovery method is necessary, and that all energies must be directed to healing.  This opens the door to new and creative ways to address the addiction problems at the individual level -- procedures that find good merit when addicts find self-worth in converting dependencies to new creative energy levels.   

      At the level of general consumer or social addiction, the problems are not so easily solved.  Earthhealing must consist of more than conservation (control measures) of resources when the entire system is highly dysfunctional.  We cannot deny the addiction; we cannot excuse ourselves from taking responsibility, and it is not proper to escape (an addictive process in itself) by attachment to less polluting or resource-intensive material things.  The solution must be positive, must be effective, and must be spiritual in nature.  We need God's help to address the heart of the environmental crisis; we must be willing to surrender ourselves to this Higher Power, and we need the help of others who are sufferers with us.  A willingness to suffer with them is compassion, and one that does not resort to violence. 

      Prayer: Lord, help us to see that a surrender to you and your power as saving Lord touches the heart of the afflicted, because this solution must be heart-to-heart, not by commands to be subservient but to be participative in your grand design. 







Picture 991
Field thistle, Cirsium discolor, native Kentucky wildflower.
 (*photo credit)

October 5, 2011    Healing Social Addictions

      The third and incomplete focus in dealing with social addictions is to move from acknowledgement (a creation-centered, rational approach) to confrontation of the problem (a personal redemption-centered, voluntary approach) that allows a certain amount of control, but not deep social healing.  To heal demands ever deeper penetration into addiction, and this is the demand for accompanying our God in the act of salvation of our wounded Earth. 

      We cannot do earthhealing alone.  Something deeper is needed than acknowledgement of a problem HERE before our planet, and voluntary means of control that are urgently expected in this wounded Earth NOW, because of the damage to individuals and their communities.  We are inadequate at the individual or even local communal level and must stretch out to a WE -- a social team approach that sees renewal of all and not just the individual as goal.  The problem is created and there is misuse of the balances found in nature, but rational creation-centered approaches only acknowledge problems and do not solve them.  Individual instigated actions as to redemption-centered approaches show urgency, but they do not penetrate a global level in which we must identify ourselves with the flora and fauna.  We are invited to the deeper level of poverty that embraces the human and other living creatures as well and to see ourselves as addicting and addicted.   

      A first level of humility is to acknowledge that people are crushed by addiction, but in so doing we stand at a distance and yet want to enter into the sufferings of others in some manner.  At the second level of humility, we enter into the control of the addiction through approaching solidarity to the addicted party.  At a third and deepest level of humility to which the Spirit beckons us, we admit our part of the community of the addicted.  We take on the addiction as a surrender of the deepest variety.  Here we are poor with and among the poor -- and removed from those who regard their wants as part of their privileges.  Here "commons" takes on a spiritual dimension -- for ultimate success depends on raising an impoverished world with God's grace.  We are responsible at least by implicit addictive behavior and, as democratic people, by having allowed addictive conditions to arise and co-exist uncontested.  

      The poor will lead the way.  A renewed or resurrected Earth resides in the dreams of the poor who hunger for the basics of life.  Because of the full meaning and operative nature of this authentic dream, the poor embody a potential empowerment to rise as a body and take what is rightfully theirs/ours.  This has to be more than mere forsaking of wealth (an act of power by the affluent).  Genuine healing is ideally performed when all give generously and all take only what is necessary and share with all. 

      Prayer: Lord, help us to go beyond simply knowing about addictions, and leading others to control their impulses.  Help us to accept the deeper reality of healing and to enter the community of the impoverished in order to carry out this process. 








Picture 935
Kentucky's prickly pear cactus,  Opuntia humifusa.
 (*photo credit)

October 6, 20111  Compassion and Social Addiction    

      The challenge for global activists is to see the problem of addiction as both an individual and a social matter.   This social insight refutes the position of libertarians who would most likely deflate any mention of a group having a social consciousness.  On the other hand, a social awareness of addiction challenges neo-liberals, who are truly part of the system and are convinced that mere tweaking of that dysfunctional system (see Reclaiming the Commons, Chapter Three), will return ecological balance to the planet.  Furthermore, those who see the need for profound change include many who prefer violence -- and yet this could trigger the privileged to a violent counteraction.  Instead, we must join non-violent global radical forces who seek lasting change. 

      Bob Sears indicates that individual addiction is approached through progressive levels ("Interrupted Love," Journal of Christian Healing, 26, #2. Fall/Winter, 2010).  The challenge is to take his insight and transpose it to our shared social level.  As our three previous reflections indicate, we discover a social problem (materialistic affluence or its desire), an avoidance (corrective measures through voluntary simplicity), and curative measures of ever deeper levels (acceptance that we are part of the impoverished social addiction).  One may see these levels in a secular manner; however, with God's grace, believers seek ever deeper relationships to God -- creator, savior, and spirit.  Christians acknowledge their weaknesses, surrender to divine mercy, and show willingness to take Spirit-inspired participative action as healers in God's family fashioning a New Heaven and New Earth. 

      Ecologically, social addiction is so deep that mere voluntary practices (recycling, insulating, eating nutritious foods) do not solve the problem; nor do technical improvements (driving efficient vehicles, adapting renewable energy); nor do forms of violent renewal (terrorism).  We need resources, including financial ones, now held by the powerful wealthy (Reclaiming the Commons, Chapter Eight) in order to pay for shared resources; these involve essential materials for one billion of the world's destitute.  

      Theologically, a resurrection-centered spirituality is called for and is based on an ever-deeper personal surrender to participation in the Divine Act of salvation.  Jesus is an activist; Mary is a co-activist.  This sharing in non-violent activism goes to the compassionate divine heart.  We are willing to suffer with others and become one in their weaknesses.  This reaches beyond rational insight, passive surrender, and violent revolution.  Rather, this continues the activism of Jesus in driving out moneychangers and challenging Pharisees; we journey with Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, enter the Cana feast, and stand with her at Calvary.  Earthhealing becomes an involved process. 

      Prayer: Lord, share with divine compassion shown by those close to you in union with Earth's suffering people and other creatures. 








Picture 1002
Yellow crownbeard, Verbesina occidentalis, Mercer Co., KY.
 (*photo credit)

October 7, 2011    Campfires and Playing with Fire 

      Once more Fire Prevention Week makes us pause to look beyond standard fire prevention procedures and caveats found in previous October reflections.  For some of us who have camped in virtually every state and some provinces of Canada, a campfire at various times and seasons seemed the most important component of a good camping experience.  The blaze, the crackle, the smell and taste of wood smoke, and the warm feeling on cool nights makes this a sense-filled aspect of being outdoors.  However, drought and environmental considerations make such favorite considerations a thing of the past.  This brings back memories of starting a camp fire in Oregon when the bone-dry tinder just about exploded -- and we became so frightened that we immediately put the fire out.

      If we look at campfires in their prime existence, these were the sites where early human beings took charge of their environment, for here they controlled fire (through flint or by carrying coals to a new combustible deposit site) for warmth, cooking, driving away wildlife, and lighting.  The campfire invited togetherness and then the first of ageless litanies of campfire songs and poetic expressions of the yearning hearts of people coming to know their powers.  In more recent times, making a campfire successfully was a mark of maturity, native skill, and natural expertise, as well as a time of being appreciated by those less versed in such practicality.   

      Looking beyond the benefits of campfires, we see that in many places today due to various climatic and ecological conditions, such fires are discouraged or even forbidden.  Often such fire sites are messy and disturb wildlife and landscape alike; it takes precious resources when such fires use locally grown materials in certain areas.  We know that a few of the worst Western state fires this year have been started as campfires that quickly got out-of-hand and eventually burnt tens of thousands of acres of grassland and forested areas.      

      We are in an age when playing with fire by grown-ups is considered as inappropriate as allowing infants to play with matches.  However, the Easter fire event on Holy Saturday is when we put this entire affinity with fire into the Liturgy itself and the resurrection mystery.  We are all mesmerized by fire since the first human conquest (control of the combustion process for betterment).  Being drawn thus is the nearest thing to a learned/instinctive reaction that we possess as human beings.  We are somehow wired to fire and yet we need to control our wiring in an ever more mature manner.  Campfires are often mature people playing with fire, and we have to learn that refraining from this is both a safety and an environmental issue.  Alternatives may need to exist: simulated lighting that looks like campfires even with color and odor.  Has that been invented and patented yet?   

     Prayer: Lord, give us the grace to know how to use all your gifts well, even the gift so mundane as fire itself.   







Jewelweed, in bloom..
(* photo by Lindley Ashline, Creative Commons)

October 8, 2011  Jewelweed Benefits throughout the Year 

      Our Daily Reflection on June 28, 2006 tells of the glories of the beautiful jewelweed (some Americans call it "touch-me-not"), Impatiens capensis.  Is there more to be said?  A problem I always had was that the sap was a wonderful ointment for poison ivy or mosquito bites and scrapes of all sorts, and yet during the off-season nothing of this sort seems available.  Maybe there are no mosquitoes after frost, but the poison ivy is still a nuisance.   Actually, one can preserve the soothing ingredients of jewelweed for the rest of the year, if the material is prepared properly and kept refrigerated.



     One cup of oil (olive, soy, sunflower or canula oil). 

      Four ounces of fresh jewelweed (can be leaves, flowers,   stalks, or even roots) chopped into small pieces or two ounces of dry jewelweed. 

      Two capsules of 400 iu Vitamin E oil. 

      One teaspoon of tea tree oil. 

      One-and-a-half ounces of melted beeswax (3 tablespoons) if you desire a solid salve. 

      Add oil and jewelweed to a small crock pot or double boiler. 

      Heat over low setting of crock pot for four to five hours  (double boiler simmering water for three hours). 

      Strain out plant materials. 

      Squeeze Vitamin E capsules into mixture. 

      Add beeswax and tea tree oil. 

      Stir until cool and pour into containers. 

                      ------------  Pat Novak, Irvine, KY 

      If properly preserved the ingredients will not turn rancid for at least a year.  Once collecting the ingredients, a fresh batch can be composed annually.  The good part of doing so at the end of the growing season is that one can enjoy the orange or yellow jewelweed flowers throughout the growing season and the moisture content will decrease over time (the moisture is not an active ingredient).  At least dry the jewelweed until later in autumn (about two stalks per ounce).  A very low-priced ointment! 

      Prayer: Lord, keep us aware of the little things of life. 










July in Kentucky
Ripening pawpaw (Asimina triloba), native Kentucky fruit.
 (*photo credit)

October 9, 2011      Come to the Banquet                  

   The reign of God may be likened to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 
                                                                                     (Matthew 22: 1-14)

     As we prepare to celebrate World Food Day next week, we ought to see that our Creator has given us a banquet of food gifts -- if we only use them conservatively and share them with people in need.  Celebration in the form of sharing food and a meal is found in virtually all cultures; it was observed in Israel and in the Canaanite culture that preceded it.  Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and Africans have celebrations and festive foods -- much as our American Thanksgiving meal is a festive event.  Guests and seating arrangements are often carefully planned.  Jesus was undoubtedly social and liked meals and feasts.  He was at a wedding at Cana for his first miracle, and he attended enough feasts that he was asked why he did not fast from eating and drinking.   

      Jesus used one such occasion as the background for his parable; he manifested his social nature to include the perpetual memorial -- the Eucharistic meal.  In fact, the reign of the Kingdom of Heaven is like a meal -- full of life and joy, including inviting and sharing.  The multitude allows for social support as do churches and chapels of all sizes, or vast gatherings such as at the recent World Youth gathering in Spain.  We celebrate our common past through gatherings; we prepare for and expect a greater future when we all assemble and share with each other. 

     God prepared this Earth during billions of years for our arrival and presence.  In only an instant of geologic time, we human beings have entered the scene and left our marks on this fragile Earth.  We have not appreciated God's gifts, whereas we ought to have constantly said, "thank you,"  a free act, which only human beings can utter.  Gratitude for gifts given is the pinnacle of created beings.  Our past contains a multitude of gifts, of which some were sequestered by a few of the most greedy who, in turn, failed to share these with all people; this resulted in hunger and destitution affecting millions. 

     Meals reach beyond being memorials of the past, and are the preparations for a new future life.  We celebrate weddings and anniversaries that look as much ahead as to the past.  Through sharing food we are encouraged to join forces and make the world a better place; we know that time is short and that we must work together to preserve the quality of that precious life.  As Melville says in Moby Dick, "I am a man running out of time."  The banquet fortifies us for the journey ahead.  It is a foreshadowing of a future heavenly banquet, and it gives us the energy to carry on in moving to eternity.  All of us need to gather with joy and ease of heart, seeking forgiveness for past misdeeds, and seeking grace to prepare to share a future heavenly banquet.  

      Prayer: Lord, help us to conduct ourselves properly in the banquet before us, sharing the good things with those in need. 







Field corn
Golden ear of corn.  Family farm in Woodford Co., KY.
 (*photo credit)

October 10, 2011  Indian "Three Sisters" -- Corn, Beans, and Squash 

      On Columbus or Discovery Day, it is wise for us to recount the many blessings that resulted when Old and New World cultures met in the 15th century.  We hear of many forms of settlement when that meeting occurred, some with benefits and some with unhappy outcomes.  We hear of the spread of diseases and horrible stories of exploitation; we also learn about the multitude of benefits that include agricultural products and expertise.  Corn or maize is a major New World gift to the wider world along with tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, tobacco, pumpkin, squash, and certain legumes.  We may forget that Native Americans used highly sophisticated techniques for producing plentiful supplies of these foods. 

      The "Three Sisters" included corn growing on stalks, beans climbing up these stalks as though they were bean poles, and squash at the ground level acting as living mulch to retain moisture and avoid weeds.  The combination of the three was ingenious and took sizeable land areas for plantings but did not require tilling the entire surface areas.  Where fertile land was in abundance, this proved to be excellent cultivation practice that only required sowing and reaping in the autumn.  The produce that resulted all lent themselves to be dried and stored for consumption during the winter months.  Furthermore, Native Americans had green-corn harvest festivals and introduced the world to corn on the cob.  The resulting beans and corn cooked together yield tasty succotash.   

     Native Americans were introduced to the "three sisters" at different times; corn came about 800 AD and beans about 1200 AD with the crops coming from tropical parts of the New World.  Cultivation of squash was far older (about 700 BC) and plants were more native to the temperate regions.  However, by 1200 AD and beyond the "three sisters" held agricultural prominence, and led to more permanent settlements with women being the ones who tended the crops.  This was especially true among Iroquois nations of the American Northeast. 

     I have raised the "three sisters;"  the combination works, but I discovered that my garden space limitations does not allow for extensive cultivation.  On small plots, it is far more economical and prudent to grow salad greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, and other crops that do not take much space when judiciously placed (as does the growing of corn).  An added aspect is that the beans return nitrogen to the soil and thus allow a balance in growing, though some fertilizing was part of the Native American culture.  People are unaware that these natives people cultivated vast tracts of land (sometimes hundreds of acres) from upper New York to beyond the Mississippi River valley.  They either cleared the land or turned Prairies into cultivated fields. The entire surface area did not require total surface tillage -- a major labor saving practice. 

      Prayer: Lord, teach us to be open to the lessons taught by primitive people and to learn to respect their expertise in many areas involving ecological balance and food production. 








Broken fountain / Natchez Trace, Tennessee
Fallen leaves collected in a broken fountain.
 (*photo credit)

October 11, 2011      Champlain's Dream and Lessons to Be Learned

      As of this initial writing in late spring, I have completed the audio-book, Champlain's Dream by David Hackett Fischer.  I listened to this while driving and found that it is excellent for occupying time and a benefit for those with limited reading time.  In fact, I heard this ten-hour story twice and found much more information the second time around.  The book gives a respectful insight into the early French explorer, Samuel Champlain.  Rarely do I recommend books, but this story is deeply impressive because of the tolerance Champlain showed towards Native Americans, his willingness to live among them, to learn from them, and to exchange the good of French culture.  Even the word "savage" does not have the pejorative tone we place on it today, but was derived from silva, the Latin word for forest  -- the woodland people.

      The dream of Champlain was so different from the savage reality of the European religious wars with which Champlain had been involved in the late 16th century.  He was a loyal subject of his beloved leader, Henry the IV (Great), who treated Samuel like a son.  The death of the king set Champlain back in his efforts at colonizing Quebec and the Canadian regions of the St. Lawrence and Acadia -- but not entirely.  Champlain's ability to bounce back was astounding, for no adversity held him down.  He gave his North American friends and the early French colonists a willingness to overcome obstacles, in an effort to settle what was to be Canada.

      The skills of this great explorer were enormous -- maritime shipping, military leadership, fund-raising, gardening, map-making, governance in the colonies, house-building, fortifications, and on and on.  He was a human being and some things did not work perfectly, such as his married life.  However, Champlain's sense of justice and integrity impressed both colonists and Native American residents -- and the Sac and Fox continued an oral tradition of favorable tales about this unusual European for two centuries even after they moved to central United States.  Champlain did not receive honors or monetary rewards of any noticeable degree and he fell out with later French rulers and bureaucrats, but he never lost hope.

      Throughout his three decades in North America, Champlain remained committed to a remarkable Grand Design for France's colony.  A leader who dreamed of humanity and peace in a world of cruelty and violence, he was a true visionary, especially when compared to his English and Spanish contemporaries. If Samuel Champlain were living today he would support our quest for sharing the commons with all the unfortunate of the world -- for he was a devout Christian with a global vision.  He was a man of his times; he accepted hierarchical monarchy but would have valued today's democratic government, where all are regarded as equal.

      Prayer: Lord, teach us to listen well and to learn from what we hear as much as from what we read; help us be aware of famous people of integrity such as Samuel Champlain.  









Monarch, Danaus plexippus on goldenrod
Monarch, Danaus plexippus, on goldenrod. 
 (*photo credit)

October 12, 2011  Cumulating Small Earthhealing Acts: Good or Bad? 

      We can reflect on doing small acts to heal our wounded Earth: picking up litter, disposing of a container properly, or turning down the noise-maker.  Good, yes, but also bad?  Sometimes. 

      The benefits of small ecological acts are often enumerated on this website in many ways: consciousness-raising on the part of the person to individual and domestic resource use and conservation;  negative awareness, namely, wastefulness by others who may have to be reminded of their duties as consumers to use resources properly;  a growing sense of respect for modern technology and its impact on the total environment; a grounding in concerns at our local level;  gratitude for a multitude of individual gifts given for my limited use; growth in observational skill about the changes of nature's seasons and conditions; opportunities for exertion in doing physical exercise in constructive ways; and new ways of teaching others positive aspects about our Earth.  In little ways we grow spiritually, psychologically, and possibly ecologically -- to a point; however this point requires discernment. 

      Risks exist in doing small acts: we can miss the big picture by focusing on minutiae; we can become satisfied with what we are doing in a self-righteous manner; we can become critical of what others are doing or failing to do to the point of irritating them;  we can excuse ourselves of reaching out to others in parts of the world; and we can avoid exerting and risky activities that challenge the dysfunctioning economic and political system in which we are immersed.  

      As a little kid I would daydream that if we had a house fire I would at least grab my shoes and a fly swatter and run for the door; at least I could save something.  Then the thought came; how about helping to put out the fire?  Arranging deck chairs on the sinking Titanic no matter how perfectly executed will not save the sinking ship.  Then it begins to dawn that tiding up small areas may have a ripple effect, and yet may not stop the hurricane that is coming.  Thinking globally and acting locally prepares us to do more, namely to think and act collectively with others globally. 

      Small acts, when offered in a global perspective generously and openly, lead to grander acts on the spiritual plane.  In fact, small acts can be transformed into grander acts, and this is precisely what we are called to do in our spiritual life.  When united with the Lord, prayerfully and sacramentally, we have a spiritual power to transform little deeds into bigger ones, deeds of cosmic sacrifice -- and we have a responsibly to do so.  We may have opportunities to effect grander scale change, and the invitation stands to do so.  Our physical and mental efforts may be limited by age, condition, or opportunity; our potential spiritual efforts can be immense if we think big and act accordingly. 

      Prayer: Lord, give us a sense of power found in being close to you, and to see that through this power we can effect change.









Natchez Trace, near Tishomingo, MS
Along the Natchez Trace, near Tishomingo, MS. 
 (*photo credit)

October 13, 2011  Nuclear Waste Disposal and Modern Mythology Day

     A myth is a traditional story (generally of unknown authorship) with some sort of historical basis that tries to explain some phenomenon in nature (origin of Earth, animals, people. etc.).  We do not know the precise person who started the myth that nuclear wastes could be properly disposed, though Elizabeth Dodson Gray once suggested that it was begun by nuclear engineers who had never changed diapers.  Nuclear waste differs from a diaper in that it does not undergo rapid decomposition -- for worrisome radioactive levels remain way past our lifetimes. 

     The Obama administration authorized the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future (BRC) not to find a new site for the abandonment of the Yucca Mountain, Nevada radioactive waste project, but rather as a method of coping with the current waste materials that need some safe containment.  Is "disposal" even the right word when worrisome toxic materials remain for centuries?  Amazingly, some of the expert advisors to the BRC are more interested in continued generation of that waste, not its termination; the operative principle with which that group works is an expectation to make dirty diapers disappear -- but the won't. 

      When Art Purcell, Mary Davis, and I were working on "Critical Hour" from 1988 to 2004, the question came to us over and over, how can we explain a safe solution to the nuclear waste disposal issue.  It remains an ongoing puzzle.  When hot spent-fuel rods are put for a number of year in water-filled, on-site pools at nuclear powerplants, one still has problems (as the Japanese at Fukushima soon discovered after the earthquake earlier this year); critical coolant can leak out and refilling that pool can be difficult.  Furthermore, these pools are open to be sabotaged through terrorist acts as can, to a lesser degree, the powerplants themselves.  Earth Healing, Inc is part of the coalition of groups that favor some basic environmental safety procedures: 

     * Stop generating radioactive waste; 

     * Affirm that ending the Yucca Mountain project was proper;

     * Radioactive wastes more than five years old need to be removed from the fuel pools and placed into dry casts;

     * The dried casts need to be hardened to protect against natural disasters, terrorism, and unforeseen events;

     * and there should be no unnecessary transportation of radioactive waste to "interim" waste sites.

                                        See <www.nirs.org> 

      These elements are not solutions, only ways to handle a bad situation until a better one can be developed.  Hardening materials could be of such permanent material that they will appear indestructible -- but it is the "appearing" that causes the ongoing puzzle to remain unresolved -- and the myth of safe disposal.

      Prayer: Lord, teach us our limits and how we find these in problems such as nuclear waste disposal. 








Autumn bouquet
Autumn bouquet.
 (*photo credit)

October 14, 2011      What, the Devil?  Is Evil Personified? 

      Is it not time (after 2,100 reflections) to mention in a title the unfamiliar subject of the devil?  Or put another way, are some of us so afraid of being ostracized for even considering this subject, that we avoid it?  Would we rather speak of "evil" lurking in our or other people's hearts?  Are they right who say that we will not talk of the devil because all spiritualities are good in themselves?  Is this introduction of the diabolical off limits for an ecumenism of spiritualities?  Did this author have to suffer the indignity of being shunted to a special single-person session at the World Council on Religion in Chicago in 1992 because he held there were evil spiritualities?  And is that not the price of defending the founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius of Loyola, who championed the discernment of spirits -- and not all are good ones? 

      Should we go a little deeper?  Is it possible that the evil spirit spends time assembling proof for the unwise that IT (I hesitate to say "he," and certainly for the sake of sensitive females "she") does not exist?  For is it not true that if evil is personified, then our universe in some fashion has this presence of evil relating personally to people in our midst, tempting them, and enticing them to misdeeds and greed?   Does this reach deeper than personal allurements and temptations to excessive or inappropriate use of material things and practices?      

     What about those of us who are convinced that the current economic/political system is heavily under the charge of the evil spirit who is somehow master-minding the entire dysfunctionality that we perceive all to often?  Is the devil behind the profit-making, self-centered, greed-filled motivations of so many of the brightest and most ambitious in our midst?  Do people who are committed materialists (and never talk about anything spiritual whether good or bad) fall under the devil's sway while never averting to such a condition?   Is this not where God's power enters the picture and diabolic powers are battled by people armed with spiritual instruments of grace furnished by the Holy Spirit?    

      Do these questions baffle you as much as they do me?  Have we been remise by speaking of "Spirit" with a capital letter when we mean the "Holy Spirit?"  Do we fail to acknowledge the titanic battle of good and evil involving persons beyond ourselves?  What about this series of questions?  Does it avoid the basic issue of the nature of evil in our midst?   Are we once again failing to face the reality that is all around us, and a devil that we pretend does not exist?  Is it not the diabolic purpose to entice us not to believe in personal evil?  In fact, should we pray that we face reality, for that is the mark of authentic spirituality?  In doing so, must we go farther and say that with God's power we can be what we say, when we pray in the Our Father, "Deliver us from evil?" 

      Prayer: Lord, let my questions be proved helpful for me and for others, and help us answer all of them as best we can. 








Odd insect (Family Reduviidae - Assassin Bug) on thin-leaved coneflower, Rudbeckia triloba
Insect (Family Reduviidae - Assassin Bug) on thin-leaved coneflower, Rudbeckia triloba.
 (*photo credit)

October 15, 2011  Domestic Ecology and Enthronement of Sacred Heart 

      Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque who helped promote the devotion to the loving heart of Jesus through prayers and actions.  One of these devotions is the "enthronement" (placing in a prominent part of one's house no matter how humble the place) of a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, whereupon peace is promised to come to that place.  Such a simple procedure with appropriate prayers is the start of establishing peace at our basic place of residence, with the hope that from this location of peace a ripple effect will go out to all the world.  Here is a good example of acting very locally, so local that it is within our home, and that the domestic ecology will influence a broader one.   

      Some ask a cleric or leader to come and conduct the ceremony or to give a special blessing, though this need not be the case.  The placement is itself the important event, and all household members are to be alerted as to why this enthronement is so important, as a source of peace and reminder of the respect coming from all domestic dwellers.  The basic prayer for such an enthronement is:

                 Enthronement of the Sacred Heart 

     O God, bless this house and all residents who live here.  You desire that all who visit or stay will help create a home where the love of Christ radiates to the neighborhood and the world.  Let this be a source of domestic blessing, a model for others to see and imitate.  Make this a haven for your divine blessings and change the lives of those who dwell here so they are always mindful of the covenant of your Love with us.   

      Most Sacred Heart, hear these prayers.  Through this blessing of the picture of the Sacred Heart, may your likeness and the symbol of your love be engraved into the atmosphere of this dwelling.  Make this a holy place, one of peace as promised to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in 1674 as an important component of the devotion to the Sacred Heart.  Let all here cherish the honor of your likeness in this prominent place for all to see. 

    Most Holy Spirit, guide those who are devoted to the love of Christ to share that love, starting at this Christian home and radiating out to all the world. 












Sandstone arrangement
Findings in the forest.
 (*photo credit)

October 16, 2011         Render to Caesar  

    Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and give to God what is God's.

                                         (Matthew 22: 15-21)

     The Gospel story of giving to Caesar and God what is due to each occurs on Jesus' final journey to Jerusalem.   The two parties (Pharisees and Herodians) agree in one thing: to reject Jesus as messiah and challenge his authority by putting him to tests.  Their hypocrisy is revealed when Jesus asks them to produce a coin, a tacit admission that they really did use Caesar's coinage, though they refused to do so in the temple.  This was because the image of the emperor on Roman coins was a sign of unjust authority and imperial godlike character.  Moneychangers were held in low esteem for converting dirty pagan money to temple coinage.  Jesus turns the tables on those who seek to trick him by getting them to admit they had Roman coins in their possession. 

    Throughout history there have been  conflicts of church (God) and state (Caesar), of the right to practice one's religion in the face of an authoritarian state, or the state siding with one religion to force conformity on another.  One recalls Thomas More, "The Man for All Seasons," who tells why his love and respect for the king makes him want to help the king keep his oath of office (Magna Carta), with respect to their shared Christian faith.  We could find instances of such choices down through history and wonder whether we too have a financial and credit system that borders on being a state religion of sorts; we too must render to both God and to mammon without overstepping boundaries. 

     On the question of rendering we recall that every gospel passage has individual and social applications.  The poor belong to God; to neglect the poor is to fail to give respect to the Creator.  We must respectfully ask: to whom does this Earth's limited wealth belong?  To those who have the power to take and retain it with laws on their side?  Or to those who have basic needs?  Doesn't the "Cardinal Frings Principle" (taking coal through "theft" when one is without fuel), still apply?  Must we choose between those who have tax privileges and exemptions, and mothers and children on WIK programs?  In this year of threatened financial default and higher demands for curbing debts, we need to ask very basic questions.   

      The people of this world can be good at heart and show this through inspired actions.  The ruler Cyrus (Isaiah 45: 1,4-6) was just in dealing with the people in exile and recognized their  national aspirations and their desire to return to their own homeland.  Today, millions of refugees would like to return to their homelands but they have no work opportunities.  Amid the financial crisis that faces us, we know that the opportunity to earn one's livelihood must be given a high priority.  Ultimately, disrespect for human beings is disrespect for the Author of life. 

      Prayer: Lord, help us to learn respect for what and to whom we render deference.  Let us see the poor and unemployed as worthy of respect and special attention during difficult times. 








Persimmon fruits, my Thanksgiving treat
Fruits of the persimmon, Diospyros virginiana, native Kentucky tree.
 (*photo credit)

October 17, 2011      Observe World Food Day 

      These Daily Reflections have said much about food, especially during October and November, 2010.  What does "observing" mean on this special day?  Attending a festival?  Preparing a nutritious meal?  Feeding the hungry?  Contacting a legislator's attention to world food insecurity?  Recalling that the world's population will climb and level off at nine billion by 2050, with demands to double food production by mid-century?  Reflect on these hints as well: 

      * Never waste food or allow others to do so if at all possible.  Some say half of the world's food supply disappears "between field and fork" -- enough to eliminate world hunger if properly utilized.  During the course of a year, Americans waste 22 of 77 lbs. of fresh fruit purchased, 36 of 173 lbs. of grain products, 39 of 131 lbs. of fresh vegetables, 27 of 70 lbs, of poultry and 43 of 168 lbs. of milk, 4 of 28 lbs. of cheese, 0.7 of 5 lbs. of butter,  4 of 26 lbs. of eggs, 0.9 of 9 lbs. of nuts, 4 of 15 lbs. of fish and seafood, 36 of 103 lbs. of red meat, and 24 of 121 lbs. of sweeteners.  National Geographic, July, 2011.   

      * Turn lawns and yards into edible landscaping for vegetables, herbs, fruit, berries and nuts -- and do so tastefully;

      * Eat less meat, for this meat requires far more resources than consuming the feed that goes into animal products indirectly, and thus make available more grains for hungry people; 

      * Support a teach-in for healthy foods, especially at school cafeterias and other institutional establishments; 

      * Resolve to grow more of your own garden produce next year, and to extend the garden's productivity well into the autumn and even into early winter;   

      * Preserve excess food supplies for your own benefit and that of neighbors and loved ones. 

      * Lobby Congress to eliminate subsidies for food-derived biofuels that are using 40% of this year's American corn crop, and ask that through converted subsidies this grain can be stored for human use in times of famine in various parts of the world;  

      * Attack local malnutrition as well as that in other countries, and insist that solutions to problems for the poor be found and have funding in an age of financial difficulties; and 

      * Pray and work that food security will be given equal if not greater funding than military security -- and to see that various forms of insecurity are related. 

      Prayer: Lord, give us a sense of food consciousness, not just for what we eat but for what we waste, grow, preserve, and share with others who are in need. 









 Bird's treat
An apple for the birds.
 (*photo credit)

October 18, 2011      Food Insecurity, and Terrorism 

      In early summer when this reflection was first drafted the BBC reported about the hunger affecting ten million people in the horn of Africa; the reports spoke of one mother abandoning her family of six kids because she could not face watching them die of hunger.  Is this the terror of hunger?  At the same time two-thirds of the needed funds to meet this year's drought in that part of Africa were still lacking -- but the amounts were less than one day's expense of what our country spends on combating anti-terrorism.  What if we were to give some of that funding to combat real terrorism among hungry millions in Somalia or Ethiopia? 

      In yesterday's food day we reflected on wasted food -- that which is prepared for food but never eaten, but tossed away.  What if -- the corn that were used this year to make ethanol for our energy-wasting vehicles (and driving practices) were left as bulk grain, and this material used to alleviate hunger in drought affected parts of the world?  Waste creates an atmosphere of insensitivity that distances us from people who suffer the terror of hunger each and every day.  Insecurity comes in various ways.  For some, it is not having the means to keep the family alive in harsh conditions; for others who are caregivers, it is not having supplies to feed those pounding on the door; for still others, it is the lack of sufficient petroleum to fuel vehicles; for others who are traveling, it is the threat (though somewhat remote) that some angry person will blow himself up on our plane if he can get past security barriers; and still for many of us, it is our own insensitivity to the essential needs of our neighbor in other parts of the world.  In the last case, insensitivity breeds and accelerates insecurity.

      Security is an evasive issue.  Security means a feeling that we are protected by like-minded and vigilant people; it involves interrelatedness and generally rests within a local vicinity, a home, or domestic surroundings.  The growing connectedness of our world resulting from Internet and instant communications makes us aware of the planetary extent of our neighborhood.  Thus insecurity in one place affects others of us in another part of the world.  A failure to be with others in time of need is creating a new threat to world security that goes beyond military preparedness and financial concerns; it involves the growth of social awareness.

      This is a wake up call.  If such global security breaks down by our insensitivity to fellow human beings in need, then are we the cause of the hunger in some degree, and are we party to the terrorism that is experienced in the hearts of the Somali lady who abandoned her kids when she had to escape watching them die of hunger?  Just as security comes in many forms, so does terrorism, and what we seek to avoid is individual terrorist attacks on innocent people in all places.  This is Food Day plus one. 

      Prayer: Lord, teach us to see hunger in its raw intensity as it affects others, and to become truly compassionate people.  









Martyrs's Shrine Midland Ontario
(*photo by Digi Pig, Creative Commons AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved)

October 19, 2011     Visit the Martyr's Shrine 

     Martyr's Shrine is sacred ground where people of many nations  and cultures gather to enter into communion with those all over the world who sacrificed their lives for faith and for justice.

                       Mission Statement of Shrine 

     Earlier this year Mark Spencer and I visited the Martyr's shrine at Midland, Ontario.  This site is related to early Jesuit mission efforts, and I spent a formation period in 1968 at Auriesville, New York, the site of three of the North American martyrs' place of death.  Near  Midland is the Ste. Marie settlement, the site where two other of the eight Jesuit martyrs (John de Brebeuf and Gabriel Lalemant) were killed in 1649, and near where the others met their martyrdom. 

     The shrine is located one hundred miles north of Toronto.  It is open to visitors during the warmer months.  The grounds are easily accessible and well-kept with flowers, ample parking, good walkways, souvenir shop, educational center, nearby reasonable lodging, cafeteria, and a shrine with daily services during the warmer months.  Special attractions include memorials and altars located around the grounds dedicated by ethnic groups in honor of their own martyrs and religious leaders.  The graves of Fathers De Brebeuf and Lalemant are within the reproduced palisaded village/religious center across the main road adjacent to the shrine.  Water and land touch, water as means of travel and commerce for 17th century Jesuits, and land where Hurons lived.

                         Huronia's Gifts 

      Darkness retreats on summer's longest days,

        when first light contests the night; 

      A gold-pink streak, illumines verdant lands

        imprinted with sapphire hands of waterways. 

      It is an unfolding form, an instance soon gone, 

          a sight to behold by early birds,

      A moment of fleeting grace, fulfilling place, 

          a loon's cry announcing the new-born dawn.  

        Thus comes streams of Good News,

         enhancing color, bringing on what's bright,

      Relentlessly new day drinks in the shadows,

         as pale and varied hues the rays defuse.


      Blackrobes from the East overcome strife,

         bring gifts of light, find abiding light,

     taking and sharing with those present

         mortal blows to usher in eternal life.    

      Prayer: Lord, inspire us by the sacrifices of martyrs to be to be enlightened to see current difficulties as divine gifts. 








A lone tree
Still standing.  Russell County, KY.
 (*photo credit)

October 20, 2011    Witnessing as Long-Term Spiritual Investment 

      Uneasiness creeps in as we reflect on the life of martyrs.  That was the same ill ease I experienced in grade school when reading about the painful deaths experienced by Isaac Jogues and the 17th century North American martyrs.  Why did they sacrifice at relatively young ages with little success in sight?  Yes, they were people of deep Christian faith, and they wanted others to share that faith with them.  If a martyr is a witness to the Lord,  power rests in witnessing, and that power extends to future generations.  Thus, part of the witnessing is not for immediate results but as a long-term spiritual investment  

      Why was Osama Bin Laden buried at sea earlier this year?  Chalk that up to bypassing a potential martyr's shrine.  Terrorists seek to influence others through blowing themselves up for a cause, even though the other victims are quite innocent.  We would say in one instance that this is a waste in so many ways, but it does show that others in desperation regard their own lives as worthy of being sacrificed as an investment for change.  Truly suicidal "victims" may be drugged or seduced into such acts and, in one sense, they risk weakening the power of their witnessing as much as strengthening it -- for witnessing can always be misunderstood.   

      In the North American martyrs' situation, many Christians would regard their sacrifice as a power that continues down in time to our day.  Perhaps radical Moslems would say the same about modern suicide attacks.  Dramatic actions are costly.  Can we witness in alternative ways by willingly doing ordinary sacrifices, that is, making a living and sacrificing for those who come after us.  The quiet witnessing of good people is part of that spiritual investment, that being willing to do less dramatic but equally meaningful things that witness to the power of sacrifice. 

      Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan's Punjab state was assassinated by his own bodyguard at the beginning of this year;  the governor publicly supported reform of the nation's blasphemy laws when a Christian woman was falsely accused of blasphemy against Mohammed, a capital crime.  She had refused to convert to Islam and was denied access to the village water well.  In defending her, Taseer was shot dead and the assassin was regarded by some (a question of how many) as a hero.  The martyr was standing for the basic rights of an unfortunate citizen -- truly an unusual martyrdom -- though all are to some degree.  Taseer's daughter resolves to carry on her father's efforts even though it is an unpopular issue in highly- charged Pakistan, where her own life will be threatened.   Hopefully, by hers and others' efforts, such blasphemy laws will be repealed.   

      Prayer: Lord, teach us the true worth of sacrifice and witnessing, and give us the chance to do this in undramatic ways for the benefit of everyone now and in the future.  Help us to give honor to those who deserve it and to learn lessons from all who die in testimony to what they believe.  










Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana
Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana, reclaiming the garden plot.
 (*photo credit)

October 21, 2011       Respecting Limited Garden-Space 

      Becoming aware of space is a variant on a number of previous reflections dealing with (outer) Space Week, sacred (respectful) space, and proper use of (storage) space.  On this evening when we could observe the Orionid meteor showers, we can become more conscious of the vast space out there, the living space in our homes, the acceptance of audio space to play music, space to be private, pray, cook, or space to walk about.  Early this morning the classical NPR music station announcer suggested that one point a loud Wagner finale at a hard rock-playing neighbor.  No, this will NOT promote respect for (audio) space. 

      Let's consider respecting limited garden space, for ignorance, inexperience, or failure to be tidy may waste opportunities to grow more produce.  Some plants such as corn take much space and so we accept that fact and plant something else.  Space-conscious people consider the following: 

      *  Know what grows over a period of time, for an immature tomato plant can take up little space when inserted into a row of greens or radishes, and then in summer require more space after the first crop is harvested; 

      *  Select veggies that take up less room on the ground.  Cucumber, squash, tomato, or grape vines grow with little ground space needed if allowed to be trellised or staked. They will need fertilizing and watering even when other crops become living mulch; 

      *  Realize that grape arbors can serve as growing area and yet the space beneath can be good sitting or ever storage areas, especially when garden and recreational space is at a premium; 

      *  Potted plants can be kept indoors longer or adjusted to various places as earlier plantings are harvested, and thus space is used at all times at a maximum; 

      *  Know the sunny and shady conditions of your garden space for this makes for greater productivity.  A cucumber can thrive in near shade; beans cannot.  However pole beans can be selected so as to climb above the shaded surface under proper engineering; 

      *  Forget about pumpkins (they take much space) unless they are permitted to spread over unused pavement or lawn; 

      *  Roof gardening has potential provided a strong roof; and  

      * Consider sequential gardening, e.g., spring greens, summer melons, autumn root crops.  Even in temperate zones, we can grow crops using protective coverings well into early winter and beginning in early spring.  Make allowances for hardiness. 

      Prayer: Lord, give us the wisdom to see that all gifts -- even our space -- has limits demanding creative use. 









Lake Barkley
Lake Barkley at Land Between the Lakes.
 (*photo credit)

October 22, 2011  Placid Environmentalism: Pale Green or Yellow?  

     Leaves turn from green to yellow at this season, and maybe the same can be said for attitudes about earthhealing, if we are not careful.  On August 8, 2009, our Daily Reflections discussed "green" being used in many ways: envy, foliage, and environmental practice.  Various degrees of greenness exist: preservation of aspects of creation through education, regulations, and enforcement and conservation practice; accepting that we are to blame and take individual conservation measures to heart; and ultimately entering solidarity with our fragile Earth and taking all measures needed to halt the destruction occurring all around us.  Here greenness means using well all the gifts at our disposal -- in an experienced way.   

      Each degree of green beckons to deeper involvement.  To say that culprits are to blame is a distant call to change; to say I "recycle my waste" begs the question as to whether I consume too much of what causes the waste; to say that I hug a tree may not include concern about climate change that threatens that tree.  Green practice may be the excuse that one has done enough, and thus fails to move beyond individual satisfaction to the social dimension of delving into the causes of the environmental crisis:  tens of millions in China, India and other emerging nations are increasing their appetite for the very resources, the extraction and processing of which have damaged the planet during the last century.  Their degree of greenness is to be questioned.   

      True solidarity deepens the color green when it hears the cry of the poor -- yes, poor people and poor Earth, a social justice issue, for our resources belong to all, not just to be as privileged.  Placid greenness is to fixate on some individual practice and omit that deeper and troubling social dimension.  It is like arranging chairs on the Titanic, or singing songs in a canoe drowning out the roar of the upcoming waterfall.  Placid greenness in such areas as use of food materials for biofuels, nuclear power as "clean" energy, and carbon trading practices (previous reflections) are not really green at all.  Other practices are good in themselves if one does not become so fixated that this or that practice consumes inordinate amounts of time (e.g., specific food selection and preparation).  "Placid" or faded green means never calling into question the dysfunctional system that causes the environmental crisis.  The hesitancy may be due to fear of being different, ostracized, regarded as radical, or being a party-pooper while the canoe hastens to the unknown waterfalls.  

      The question of any treatment of green environmentalism is how serious does one intend to be.  For the status quo seekers, it appears enough to give lip service to Earth, and take on one or other practice that never threatens the system and makes others regard you as a conformist in the comfortable sense.  This is when green turns to cowardly yellow. 

      Prayer: Lord, strengthen our courage so that we take the responsibility to learn the causes of the environmental crisis.










Passiflora incarnata, passion-flower
Passiflora incarnata, passion-flower, in early Autumn.
 (*photo credit)

October 23, 2011   How Do We Love God with Our Whole Heart?       

      You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  (Matthew 22:37)  

      Jesus says we must love God with everything we have, but how do we give all, and how do we know we have done so?   The "must" baffles us in some ways.  We each know that love is necessary in our lives, and that to love God is the very first lesson of the Catechism.  We say it.  Jesus interconnects this love of God with love of neighbor, thus showing that the testing of our heart comes in our outward treatment and attitudes to our neighbor. 

      You must love your neighbor as yourself.  (Matthew 22:39) 

      This love of God/neighbor is more than pious words, or rote prayers, or automatic answers to the primary catechism questions.  Love involves meaningful deeds, even to those we dislike.  We gradually learn that misdeeds speak loudly about our degree of loving others.  Deeds, when done with sincerity and fidelity, give quiet assurance that we love what we are doing; we come to know where our hearts are at a given time and that allows us to assess our love life.  Our neighbors tell us how we love our God, and the greater the love we show, the stronger will be our grounding in the love that Jesus says we "must" have in loving God and neighbor.    

      Yes, we never love enough and so our efforts ought to be to deepen our love -- but how?  At the Last Supper, Jesus gives his disciples and all of us a new commandment, to love as he loves.  Thus our love must imitate that of Jesus, the most perfect model of love.  We read the Scriptures in order to see his deep respect for others, extending healing to the sick, teaching and ministering even when he is tired, and suffering and death for all in the most forgiving manner.  Jesus' deeds involved a surrender to the Father.  The goal of our love is the Source of all love, God.  God gives us the power to love, and thus we surrender to God when we seem too powerless to love.  Alone we love little; with God's help we can dive into the ocean of divine Love, and allow that ocean to penetrate our entire being including our hearts.  This infinite sea of love contains a compassion that goes out to all our brothers and sisters.  We are able to enter into the sufferings of others as though they were our own, and thus we can love others as ourselves. 

      We thank God for the power to love others, and thus we do so willingly even when it is difficult.  If we accept that our love involves God AND neighbor, we realize our advancement in love requires another.  We can only love others fully if God gives us the grace to do so.  Our surrender is the key to our advance in love.  Growth in love is based on growth in openness, and here we continue on the journey to godliness with the Lord. 

      Prayer: Lord God, who is Love, teach us to love.  Touch us and allow us to see that love grows as we surrender and not as we seek to do more and more through some inner efforts apart from you.









Pine grove / Red River Gorge, Kentucky
A view from the forest floor, Red River Gorge, KY.
 (*photo credit)

  October 24, 2011  United Nations Day 2011: Year of the Forest  

      On this United Nations Day we recall that the world body has declared forests the area of attention during this year 2011.  This is an important consideration due to the dramatic decline in global forest cover during the period after the Second World War, and well into the 21st century.  About half of that cover worldwide has been removed or degraded due to unsustainable timber harvesting, clear cutting for grazing and farm land, and other forms of development.  While we are aware of the need for the forest commons on a global scope, many of us still do not realize the seriousness of the threat through so-called "development."  Forest destruction is slowing down as developing (and developed) nations appreciate the value of existing forests and how precious and delicate they are. 

      Hopefully after the Cancun, Mexico climate-change conference last December, the world is more inclined to assist developing nations in saving their forests, the "lungs of the planet."  However, it is highly problematic whether that assistance ought to be in the form of carbon-trading schemes (quite hard to determine true trading value) in the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) scheme. Far better would be a program to tax extractive practices and plow that money back into forest preservation programs.      

      Earlier this year I promised my friends Paul and Pat Gallimore that prayers would be offered for their son Yanu who was in the thick of fighting fires for the U.S. Forest Service.  Our country has been plagued by the worst set of forest fires in our memory, and he and all the fire fighters need divine protection.  Extended drought conditions, especially in the earlier part of this year, along with accumulated thatch and diseased trees in many forest areas, coupled with lack of protection barriers, have led to enormous fires in Arizona, New Mexico and other western and southern states. 

       We all need to protect forests as best we can. My parishes are located in the Daniel Boone National Forest service area, with portions owned and the entire area under the protection of that federal agency.  This is part of what the noted biologist Lucy Braun called "the Mixed Mesophytic Forest," which is the oldest and most varied temperate forest in the world.  Our efforts over the years at the ASPI Nature Center was, and still is to teach students respect for, and pride in this immense and rare treasure.  This is to counter the propaganda by commercial interests that forests are only of extractive (timber) resource value.  Once people see the priceless nature of our forests, they value them as worth visiting, hiking within, and protecting from damage in any fashion.  In fact, commercial tourist potential far exceeds the resource extractive value and this is gradually becoming known in Appalachia. 

      Prayer: Lord, help us see the true value of our forest and to respect and protect them as brothers and sisters in this threatened world.  










Land Between the Lakes
Lily pads in autumn, near Cadiz, KY. 
 (*photo credit)

October 25, 2011   Disarmament Day: Do Away with Nuclear Power

      In one way or other, to want to disarm a world is quite wishful thinking, but in truth the goal is not totally idealistic.  Think of conversion of one and a half trillion dollar military budgets to world health and food agencies, furnishing enough food for a billion destitute people and the health facilities needed to care for two billion of the world's poor.  World security would be greatly enhanced -- and there could still be defense money for local police forces.  Costa Rica has no military.  Why not us? 

     We feel guilt associated with the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombing of 1945; we know that disarmament is only part of the total program and that, ironically, a quicker approach may prove to be getting rid of nuclear power-generating facilities -- the powerplants using -- and needing -- nuclear fuel.  If a guilty nation promoted atoms for peace, let it be one of the first to abandon this form of electricity generation ASAP, for preparing  materials for power generation is to tap the very sources for bomb material.  The fact that several nations, namely, Germany, Switzerland, and now Italy are already taking these steps could be a stimulus for all countries, even those with nuclear armaments (U.S., Russia, UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea).  However, the last one is a rogue. 

     Fossil and nuclear fuels have been heavily subsidized.  Since the Second World War, nuclear power has received as much in subsidies each year from 1950-90, as wind power received in its entire subsidy until 2007 -- or $3.75 billion.  This favoritism has highly skewed the total energy picture to such an extreme that the general public has come to believe that non-renewable fossil fuels and nuclear power were actually cheaper.  This is a bold-faced lie that the energy propagandists sought to foist on a gullible public.  Without federal subsidies --

             wind would be 6 to 7 cents per kilowatt hour

             coal would be 9 to 32 cents   "

             nuclear would be 11 to 20     " 

       Why support fossil fuels and nuclear power if the total expense is so great?  Are these groups supporting governmental interference with markets at a time when they rage against it?  The fact is that wind is far cheaper than other types of power once environmental costs are incorporated.  Wind does not always blow, but an associated energy source could be natural gas or even wind-driven pumped storage systems.  However, disarmament is more than transition to alternative energy sources.  Turning a world peace dividend into health and food improvement will have multiplying effects in our war-weary world.  Cutting military budgets worldwide would get a jump start if we cut the U.S. military budget, half the world's total.  Nuclear weapons and powerplants must go ASAP.   

      Prayer: Lord, give our people the courage to cut military expenditures and to utilize funds saved for global improvements and far greater food and health security. 











Turtlehead, Chelone glabra
Turtlehead, Chelone glabra.
 (*photo credit)

October 26, 2011  Playing Games with Ecological Issues 

      You are a party pooper for breaking up our electronic games.

     "I'm sorry but the house is on fire and it would be good to do something about it." 

      Some of us get the impression, when we hear people pondering whether they would do something about recycling, that they fail to see the depth of the environmental crisis.  More of us are to blame because we treat the public as though they are kindergartners.  We permit some to complain about higher-cost environmental regulations and other to become environmental crisis chasers without doing more than re-reporting bad news.  How do we get them to see that we can't play games with mother nature; energy-guzzling devices and vehicles are adult substitutes for toddler toys at a time when all of us must mature and take environmental matters seriously.  

      Earthhealing is serious business.  To make light of pollution or climate change is to act immaturely at a time when people ought to get serious.  Certainly over-seriousness can hurt causes; some humor is needed for contrast and relief. 

      Earthhealing involves big issues. The plea of many is that they cannot handle any more issues, for their plate is full.  True, but they will need to pick and choose as to what information to focus on at a given time; however, don't belittle the environment. 

      Earthhealing will extend beyond my time.  Our mortal span is not the ultimate criterion of which to focus.  In fact, most issues will not be totally resolved during our lifetimes, but that is not an excuse for busying ourselves with short-term successes. 

      Earthhealing can become game-play under certain conditions; however, it is not all fun and delight.  Many like to engage themselves with artificial puzzles.  Fine!  Others prefer real ones.   The work of healing our wounded Earth is difficult and involves all the talents we can muster in order to win -- and here we can't afford to lose, for the poor and destitute depend upon us.   

      Earthhealing leads to positive solutions.  All too often the manner that youngsters are introduced to ecological issues implies that it is more facile than it really is.  Fun and games have their place, but a burning building is worth saving through fire-fighting teamwork, and saving the building is a positive goal.  

      Earthhealing is a maturing process.   Youth like to feel that they are regarded as adults on occasions -- and ecological issues invites the participation of all.  Whether it is tree planting or trail upkeep, concrete results are experienced by each participant. 

      Prayer: Lord, teach us to be serious about saving our wounded Earth, but with humor to see that we cannot do it all ourselves.  Help us to learn to work with others and to experience success at least to some little degree. 









Eastern wahoo, Euonymus atropurpureus
Eastern wahoo, Euonymus atropurpureus.
 (*photo credit)

October 27, 2011  Seed-Saving Programs and Endangered Species

      Seed-saving is now becoming popular in order to promote heritage varieties.  These are in danger of being lost by the rush to grow a small number of desired varieties of everything from grains to apples.  The stampede to conformity tells us sad news: 90% of the grain varieties used in China less than a century ago have disappeared; of 8,000 varieties of livestock some 20% are endangered or already extinct; of 7,000 apple varieties in the 19th century fewer than 100 varieties remain.  Alarm is being raised and some are trying to address the issues. ("Food Ark," National Geographic, July, 2011, pp. 108-131).

      Causes for species decline are multiple, but one problem is that a few of the developed "miracle" varieties of the twentieth century have become so popular that others (especially local varieties) have been abandoned with the race for greater yields and more desired products.  Local seed-saving and reuse has gone out of fashion, to the detriment of biodiversity that took ten thousand years of painstaking domestication to develop.  That diversity is needed to meet the demands of new (climate change) or old (Irish potato famine of the 1840s) conditions.  Climate changes will challenge certain popular varieties in yet unknown ways whether by hot or cold temperatures, drought or overly wet conditions.  

      This stampede to new varieties in the past few decades has been fraught with dangers of a global nature, and preservationists are trying to make us aware of hidden dangers. In response to species loss, some have started projects to store in safe places the diverse seeds that are threatened or endangered -- and could go extinct.  Preservation of stores of such species was first conceived by the Russian botanist, Nikolay Vavilov in the 1920s, who envisioned centers of plant origin to be established at various key places; Vavilov died of starvation in 1943 in a prison, a victim of Stalin.  Heroically, others have taken up the idea of regional and global storage facilities and the Global Crop Diversity Trust and others are gathering specimens and storing these in safe places.  One is Norway's Svalbard Global Seed Vault -- a massive undertaking embedded in the permafrost of a sandstone mountain on far northern Spitzbergen Island.       

      Seed-saving at a local or regional level is now becoming  popular by those who want to preserve heirloom varieties grown by their grandparents and ancestors.  One can find examples on the Internet of exchange programs near to your home.  We consider this local act as an important part of a community of diversity lovers; participation teaches respect for heirlooms, especially where flavor and growing conditions were prized in earlier times.  Arguments for diversity extend beyond flavor to maintaining the food-growing potential of our planet. 

      Prayer: Lord, teach us to respect the efforts of our past,  the patience of farmers who domesticated our flora and fauna. Help us to see the value in preserving these as well. 







 Microkarst outcrop, Land Between the Lakes
Microkarst outcrop in western Kentucky.
 (*photo credit)

October 28, 2011 St. Jude, Patron of the Impossible: Earthhealing? 

      Today is the Feast of St. Jude, the patron of hopeless causes and hospitals.  However, we know that nothing is impossible with God -- and that gives us courage in dreaming of healing our wounded Earth.  Still, we realize we must do all we can possibly do to bring about success while depending also on divine help.  Teamwork is at the heart of our Earth-saving endeavors.  What we often overlook is that the success depends on a community of participants -- the noble caregivers of Earth, and also the culprits who are hurting Earth at this time.  People must change their ways and become part of the team, and that depends on cooperative efforts.  Freely assisting is always the best way, but at this time we do not have the luxury of waiting until others decide to respond -- for they may obstruct our efforts.  Coercive action may be needed. 

      Changing insensitive hearts is part of the game plan, and all heaven is called upon to assist with the task.  Some throw up their hands and say "that is impossible."  People have shared with me dire personal situations with no immediate solution in sight.  That is always where God enters the picture -- and we ought to see that moment as an invitation for divine assistance.  My only recourse when the situation seems beyond hope is to encourage the waning of heart to pray to St. Jude, the patron of the impossible.  

      Poor St. Jude was so forgotten (or rather ignored) because of sharing a name with Judas (same name in languages other than English and French), the Lord's traitor.  Jude may or may not be the author of the Letter of Jude, or the one mentioned as being the "brother" or cousin of the Lord as found in Mark 6:3.  Through millennia, many Christians shunned Jude when calling on the saints for help.  In recent decades some regard Jude as the saint of last resort -- and his recent intercessory power appears. 

     Patron of Earthhealing.  Jude (also called Thaddeus in Mark 3:16-17 and Matthew 10: 2-4) is only mentioned briefly in Scripture (Luke 6:16; John 14:22 and Acts 1:13).  Jude takes a more hidden back seat role but still is patron of both hospitals and hopeless causes.  In his healing role, Jude may be a possible patron for our seemingly impossible earthhealing efforts.  Each saint is shown with symbols in place of proper names on images or statues.  Jude's symbols are a square or a rule (designer and builder), a club (was it to entice people to change their ways?), and a sword (for he was regarded as martyred and thus this expresses being a witness for the Lord).   In fact, Jude stands out as a person taking the Good News to distant lands (in tradition to Persia and Mesopotamia), to plan and design what needs to be done, to entice others to join in the participative work ahead, and to help bring about what seems an impossible task.  Shouldn't he be the patron of earthhealing?      

      Prayer: Lord, help us see that the ability to dream can be accompanied by the energy and design needed to succeed in healing our wounded Earth -- and allow us those resources like St. Jude to help with the seemingly impossible tasks ahead. 









Ripening persimmon
Ripening persimmons on the tree.
 (*photo credit)

October 29, 2011  Navigating One's Good Name in Credulity's Shoals 

     As might be expected, we cherish our own good name. 

      Credulity's shoals are the many places where the tendency to believe just about anything can snag most people: Twitter accounts and Facebook pages; cell or land phone's first rumor; 24-hour news coverage desperate to compete for information overload; people willing to shave others down to their own small size. 

      A Good Name, whether mine, yours, or another's, is fragile and takes a long effort to establish and preserve.  Once, when asked to review an environmental report, the publisher asked whether I found any potentially libelous statements.  My first impulse was to say it was straightforward reporting; on second thought, one supposed whistleblowing victim identified by the report's author was reported to have been blacklisted by an unnamed but specified county official.  With little effort, the time and place of victimhood allowed virtually any reader to pinpoint the alleged culprit if so desired.  In fact, having been acquainted with the victim, it was my suspicion that the blacklisting did not cause the lack of job, and a potentially identifiable person's good name was threatened by off-hand excuses publicized by a sloppy reporter.  Good names are inadvertently sacrificed at the altar of good stories, and that calls for caution by all of us.   

      Navigating the boat of our own business requires us to steer skillfully when considering the fragility of others' cargo of good names; these names are easily damaged by an offhand remark, a raised eyebrow, or the desire to elicit a laugh at the expense of another. To navigate takes respect for the roughness of the waterways of communication that can broadcast rumor or falsehood or even unneeded true facts far and wide.  People are in an age of incredulity and have ears trained for something new and first ahead of others. Consumers of information are open to shaving another person down to size.  To stay clear of just such dangers requires a skillful pilot -- and each of us is asked to do just that. 

      Good names are needed for healers as well as the ones being healed.  Earth's good name must be preserved and enhanced at all costs, as ought the flora and fauna flourishing here.  To protect such good names may actually make us the butt of jokes -- but such is the risk.  Widespread respect for the good name of all creation is the first level of defending good names; our halting the spread of rumors is the second; our public refutation of destructive tendencies may be a deeper level needed at times.  A good name is a resource that can be easily damaged or destroyed with little effort, even by people who dismiss others due to a "credible" allegation.  Tides run forcefully and our skillful steering of the boat of respect means avoiding damage to another's good name.

      Prayer: Lord, give us the insight to see when we can enhance another's good name, a precious jewel in a raging tide, and to find opportunities to protect their names from inadvertent damage. 








Autumn foliage, Land Between the Lakes
An explosion of October's peak foliage.  
 (*photo credit)

October 30, 2011       Practice What We Preach 

      In the Gospel passage we read today (Matthew 23: 1-12), Jesus says to observe all that the Pharisees teach but not to follow their example.  All their works are done to be seen, and they place heavy burdens on others, while they themselves do not lift a finger to help.  They do not do what they preach.  In the back of our minds we wonder, do we suffer on occasion from the same fault;  do we expect of others what we do not do ourselves?

      Preaching is a tricky subject, especially for those of us who write and encourage other people to do good deeds.  Without adverting to it, do we restrict our preaching or overextend the issues beyond our own personal actions?  When preaching much, it hard to be perfect and this admonition extends from moral leaders to representatives in all forms of government, to representatives at the UN, IMF, World Bank and on to all civic, educational and business leaders.  In fact, it applies to parents and caregivers, from shopkeepers to manufacturers.  Really, it is true to say that everybody preaches through both word and deed; all say things and fail to live their words perfectly; many fail to see that even silence, when we need to speak is its own preached word. 

      On occasions, I am asked to speak on simple lifestyles.  My inspiration is from my parents who practiced what they preached: living simply, having a relatively small house and few luxuries, working hard, and furnishing us mostly homegrown food.  Practicing what was preached to me in youth is still a lifetime challenge.  We need to constantly reexamine what we say we do to remain environmentally green and how we put this into practice through conservation of resources.  Americans find it hard to preach simple living because there is so much inbuilt waste to our lifestyles.  Some of this is inadvertent, and some is deliberate in a consumption-based economy.  However, as Jeremiah realized, sometimes we are impelled to speak even when others do not want to listen.  Social justice demands that we break our silence, and that causes us to redouble our efforts to practice what we preach.

     Some will say, don't preach at all, for people are turned off in a secular society by preaching of any sort.  That is a challenge, but Jeremiah and others show us that false prophets preach what people want to hear.  The authentic message needs to be preached because -- religion is a public act, we are called to act publicly and spread Good News; we show our commitment by doing what we said needs to be done; we are not to be cowed into silence;  rather, we are to constantly purify our actions so that what we preach is followed by us and hopefully by others as well.  If we preach peace, we ought to work for peace; if we preach thrift, we ought to conserve resources; if we preach equality we ought to work for food, health facilities and work opportunities for all our citizens.

      Prayer: Lord, inspire us to preach the Good News and to do so through encouraging words and lived deeds.  









Lonely road
Scenic drive near Livingston, KY.
 (*photo credit)

October 31, 2011      Fuel Speculation and Justice  

      The problem is through the investment in commodity derivatives (the speculators) are directly contributing to the increase in prices of gas and food around the world. 

      David Kane,  Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns         

      On this Halloween, we are spooked at times like kids by witches and goblins and other scary things.  Are fuel ghouls out there?  Earlier this year we auto users were spooked by our highest gasoline cost ever when we paid prices of over four dollars a gallon, a first in the U.S.  However, my June Canadian trip included over five-dollars-per-gallon gasoline prices.  What causes such a spike that some say is a harbinger of things to come in a few years, when ever more scarce petroleum is sought by millions of Chinese, Indian and other middle class auto owners?  The Libyan oil losses due to the 2011 warfare in this normally oil-exporting country has added to higher prices, as does the seasonal demand for fuel.  With much grumbling American drivers forked out more, but did we know ALL the reasons for high prices? 

       University of Massachusetts professors Robert Polin and James Heintz of the Political Economy Research Institute at Amherst showed the May, 2011 spike was due to oil future trading.  Without this oil speculation, the price of gasoline would have been some eighty-three cents cheaper a gallon -- yes, one-fifth less, had the financial spooks not been operating.  Should we take this with a sense of the Halloween spirit of having been fooled and nothing more, or is there something serious in this speculation that must be addressed by an alert citizenry?

      What is happening in food-price speculation, hoarding, and withdrawal from markets is also occurring in fuel pricing -- and such practices are hitting the pocketbooks of those who can least afford it.  The poor experience stretched budgets in feeding families, meeting rent payments and getting to work.  Who are hardest hit?  Certainly not speculators.  In some cases (as within my parish boundaries) people simply had to cut their limited food budgets in order to get to work or take care of medical treatments.  Fuel prices are hardest on the poor who possess older and less fuel efficient vehicles (twenty versus forty mile-per-gallon varieties). 

       The problem extends beyond America to the poor of the world who feel the terrible bite of speculators. This raises the question of the dysfunctionality of our current economic system that is worth our discernment.  We have got to pressure our democratic governments to reign in speculators and make it illegal for them to operate, and to put fines or fees on their operations so as to make them unprofitable, when profits comes from the poor.    

   Prayer: Lord, you hear the cry of the poor.  Allow us to be ears hearing these cries also; give us the courage to help bring justice to our world and address financial crimes against humanity. 

Copyright © 2011 Earth Healing, Inc. All rights reserved...

Earth Healing team:
Albert J. Fritsch, Director
Charlie Fritsch
Janet Powell
Mark Spencer

Excerpts from the JERUSALEM BIBLE, copyright © 1966 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd. and Doubleday & Company, Inc.  Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

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