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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


September 2005

september calendar

Copyright © 2005 by Al Fritsch

Early September wildflowers near Livingston, KY    © 2005 Janet Powell


photo of covered bridge kentucky

Valley Pike covered bridge, Mason Co., KY              © 2005 Janet Powell
See September 22: Covered Bridges

September seems to slip in upon us without our noticing it. It is not dramatic as is the month of May with its new foliage or the first of November with the loss of leaves. September is here with little change from August, except that the air is crisper, the mist deeper in the morning, and the days are noticeably shortening.  The cheers from the weekend football games seem to punctuate the late summer air and announce the coming of autumn.

September is the time of the apple season and the fresh cider and apple jack. And the abundance of produce is beginning to taper off with the season of the green peppers and the last of the green corn, squash, and watermelons. It is when one sees pumpkins and pears appear at the farmers' markets. With September come the harvest moon, hickory nuts, hazelnuts and walnuts, ripe pokeberries and elderberries, hustling squirrels and swarming birds, extended cobwebs and busy yellowjackets, hunters in the woods and hikers on the trail in cooler late summer weather. September is Labor Day and the fall festivals. September is making sorghum and housing tobacco, is sowing the winter wheat, and doing some of the last hay cuttings in the fields. September is the growing season's last chance.










September 1, 2004 The Second World War Begins

I remember the Second World War vividly even though I was
quite young. In fact, I remember that infamous September first,
not because it was the day Germany invaded Poland, but because on
that Friday my mother took me to a half day of school to register
for the first grade -- and the teacher was Sister Imogene, who just
died this June at 103 years. Over that weekend in 1939, Great
Britain and France declared war on Germany and the conflict quickly
expanded to include a sizeable portion of Europe. As the war
progressed and was discussed by my relatives, I strove to overhear
their conversations and to listen to radio news reports as well.
By the third grade I was reading the newspaper in a rather halting
manner in order to glean war information.

That Second World War took a heavy toll on people throughout
the world with an estimated 50 million casualties. People died in
concentration camps, on the Russian front, in ever more frequent
air raids, and in fighting on land and sea. By the time the
Americans entered this conflict in December, 1941, the fighting was
being waged in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Now we hardly appreciate
the focus, the concentration, the dread, and the anguish
experienced by so many, both those in the military and loved ones
far from harm's way. Rationing made us acutely aware that others
were sacrificing much more than we in relatively safe America.

While the hopes of the First World War were that it was the
war to end all wars, that was not said of the Second, for people
were somewhat more realistic. However, all hoped that more efforts
were to be undertaken to reduce conflicts among neighboring
nations, so that global wars would not repeat themselves. The need
for international cooperation was more in the minds of the Allies
during that time. The planning was initiated during the conflict
itself for a United Nations with more power to act than the
previous League of Nations. The aftermath would also require a
massive rebuilding program that became the Marshall Plan. But the
aftermath also included a Cold War and a race for nuclear power;
these happenings were brightened by the silver lining of
cooperative efforts to bring about international peace.

September first was not a day to celebrate as was the end of
the conflict on May 8, 1945, in Europe and August 15, 1945, in
Asia. This September day reminds us that the drama of armed
conflicts comes with the terrible suffering of displaced,
abandoned, maimed and terrified people in so many places. Only
after the war did my family find out that our cousins in Alsace
were forced on September 1, 1939, to undergo part of the largest
evacuation ever undertaken by the nation of France. Nor did we
know until after the war that the home town was devastated in the
last months of fighting (the winter of 1944-45 by American
liberating forces). These events were only a few of many of
similar episodes. The folly of war is never so clearly
commemorated as on a September first. Let this be the beginning
lesson for us all. We simply cannot afford to let it happen again.








September 2, 2005 Late Season Garden Tips

I strive not to be repetitious and yet one cannot talk about
garden tips without saying some of the same things over. When it
comes to September and when the fall garden is way behind due to
drought, it is difficult to find worthwhile tips for this remaining
part of the garden year. Isn't it time to give up? No, and for
two reasons: there are fall vegetables that still have a chance;
there is a wider range of vegetables that could be helped by a cold
frame and still started at this late date. Granted, it is better
that the brassicas be put in the ground as plants and some seeds
such as beans, melons, peppers, and cucumbers simply stored away in
a dry container for the next growing season. It's too late for
warm weather and slow maturing crops.

* Choose cooler weather vegetables to grow at this time such
as kale, kohlrabi, turnips, radishes, mustard, collards and endive.
In most cases, moisten the seeds just before planting and keep the
rows or beds damp to jump start the plants. The early stages
always need moisture and tender loving care. Remember that many
weeds like a late summer growing spurt as well, and will compete
with the newly sown beds or rows.

* Assist with coverings to accelerate the growth. Cool
autumns will retard the growth of many vegetables as might be
expected. Now is the time for cold frames and coverings that
retain the warm atmosphere of daytime well into the night. As
always, much depends on the weather; a dry summer that continues
into autumn is very difficult to manage. Also much depends on
watering devices, which could prove quite worrisome for the non-
professional gardener. Finally, much depends on one's willingness
to nurse the new plants along under trying conditions.

* Set a goal of fresh vegetables throughout the season and
anticipate fresh greens and root crops that will fill the table
with goodies even after frost. This anticipated goal allows us to
move forward with determination. If planting in rows, then a
certain amount of mulching is recommended as well as frequent
irrigation. New plants take much water and so, if the season
continues to be dry, cut down on the amount of space devoted to
each autumn crop and stick with those requiring less moisture such
as collards and avoid the sensitive ones such as lettuce. What is
good about autumn is that plants will not bolt or go to seed as
fast as in springtime. Thus the spring vegetables may do better in
autumn in such milder climates as here in Appalachian Kentucky.

* Another approach to late cropping is to protect the summer
crops that will continue to produce in autumn such as cherry
tomatoes and green and hot peppers. Proper protection will allow
produce to be obtained well after frost. Root crops that are
protected such as carrots and onions will also give good yields
even under adverse moisture and temperature conditions. Just don't
say "its too late." Where there's a will, there's a way to fall





September 3, 2005 The Greenhouse Effect

We step into a greenhouse on a sunny winter day and quickly
notice to what extent that the sun's rays that have entered the
windows have been converted to heat waves that cannot easily
escape. The room is far warmer than the cold outdoors. We notice
the same effect in a sunroom or a parked automobile. This extra
heat can be utilized within solar greenhouses and cold frames (see
September 8, 2004). However, the same warming effect occurs
through increased concentrations of carbon dioxide and several
other gases such as methane, which find their way into the
atmosphere. As levels of these gases rise through increased human
industrial activity such as fossil fuel powerplants, we can expect
rising temperatures.

Some scientists think that it takes only relatively small
average rises in global temperature (only one or two degrees) to
cause major climatic changes such as more frequent and more intense
hurricanes and melting of ice caps. We have had more frequent and
more destructive hurricanes in 2004 and into this year as well.
Also some of the hottest summers of the last hundred or so years of
weather recording have been in the last decade. Other observations
resulting from rise in overall temperatures include the noticeable
receding of glaciers in higher elevations in Europe and the
Americas and the melting of the Antarctic ice cap with resulting
release of massive amounts of water into the oceans. This, in
turn, is causing the oceans to rise, thus affecting lower lying
regions such as some of the small island nations in the Pacific
Ocean as well as the densely populated low-lying Bangladesh --
which could lose half its land mass, if the oceans continue to rise
at current rates for the next seventy years.

Our country will not be devoid of ill effects from global
warming as well. Think about the loss of low-lying wetlands in
Louisiana and the coastlines of already crowded Florida. Coastal
erosion with rising ocean levels will demand expensive protective
measures or simply abandoning some threatened coastal properties.
Some of the land mass will have more rain and some less, thus
changing crop-growing patterns throughout much of the Midwest grain
belt. To what degree these changes will occur is still
undetermined. The overall effect of rising temperatures could be
improved growing conditions in some marginal lands such as parts of
Eurasia and Canada. But even these possible positive effects are
hard to determine. The rapid spread of the warming effect makes
its difficult for temperate plants and animals to adjust and
migrate to more suitable climatic conditions. And will tropical
diseases spread into the warmer areas?

Our country continues to stand alone on this question of
global warming even as more and more of the scientific community
speaks out about the severity of the greenhouse effect. The United
States has not ratified the Kyoto treaty to limit global warming
pollution and withdrew in 2001 from discussions of the treaty and
its effective implementation. As individual consumers we must
embrace energy conservation measures (see August 23, 2005). Both
as citizen and consumers we must realize that our political and
individual actions do make a difference.






September 4, 2005 Fraternal Correction

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts. (Psalm 95)

Correction is always part of the journey of faith because we
can deviate from the true path and hardly notice it. We need
others to be companions on our road so that the wrong turns are
pointed out to us, and we are able to make proper adjustments in
order to keep on the course. These caring individuals have a
genuine love for each neighbor and so do not want wrongdoing to
gain a hold on the person; the correcting person is interested in
each person's salvation as in his or her own, and so the mercy of
a loving God is extended to those in need.

Individual response. In the gospel (Matthew 18: 15-20) Jesus
teaches us the way to correction that is filled with concern for
the wayward and constant mercy. The person is doing something
wrong and that cannot be endured in silence. Something must be
done, and so the first response is to go and point out the wrongful
practice but to keep it between the two persons. In this way
corrective measures can occur with the least embarrassment or
social disruption.

Small group response. But the one-on-one situation does not
always work and we are all aware that the practice unfortunately
continues. Then it is necessary for me to take it a step further
and go to others who are to help where I am unable to do so by
myself. Usually a person has heard from me on too many other
issues and so takes this one lightly or "with a grain of salt."
The bringing of others who agree with me to the scene has a
dramatic effect, for it says the case is known to others and they
are intent on collective correction. This second level will often
have an effect, but in some cases it too will fail.

Community response. When the first two levels are exhausted,
correction is extended to the "church," which here means the entire
believing community. In this context the wrongful practice is made
even more public because the entire community is being affected by
the wrongful action. Again the words of Jesus are heard about the
binding on earth being a binding in heaven, as mentioned two weeks
ago in Matthew, Chapter 16. This repeating of the words shows the
importance of the function of moral judgment in the life of the
faith community. We cannot be silent; we must speak when
wrongdoing is done; we must bear the costs of correction.

Total response. This brings up back again to the total life
of our planet, a life that is threatened by those who do wrongful
acts and waste precious resources meant for the good of all. We
try correction at the individual or small group level but, if and
when these correctives are not effective, we do not hesitate to
take the matters to a larger community or political agency. We
cannot stop when ineffective, but must still seek correction for
the good of all. The practice of fraternal correction is part of
the total healing process needed to save our wounded planet.






September 5, 2005 Labor Day and Dignity of Work

I enjoyed working both when young and later when older. Work
is something one learns to love from those who regard it with
dignity, that is provided it is not demeaning or of such difficulty
that it harms the worker or others. I hesitate on Labor Day to
lump all compelling or necessary exertion as dignified labor,
because those enslaved or in forced labor conditions would
rightfully disagree. Here we speak of labor freely undertaken or
contracted, and labor regarded as worthy of achieving results for
the benefit of the individual, family, and/or community.

Celebrate work. About half the world's workers are tolerant
of or even like the work they are doing. They find joy in the job
well done and are generally satisfied with conditions. The parts
of labor disliked are accepted as part of work even if improvements
are not forthcoming in the foreseeable future. The other half of
the workers do not like their jobs but regard them as needed in
order to survive. The work is better than no work, and there is a
dignity in being able to provide for oneself and dependents. Work
can be regarded by those rising in the economic ladder as a way to
gain the necessary resources needed for life. In this respect work
can be liberating even if the worker would rather be doing
something else. In more cases, the work is the financial source of
the necessities of food, clothing and shelter. Often people who
have retired from a permanent job still find that the needed
resources are impossible to obtain on limited income because of
health or other costs, and thus they return to work. They can at
least celebrate having the stamina to continue working.

Create work opportunities. Those who have never worked due to
age, health or economic condition do not appreciate the effort and
the resulting definition that emerge through work. They sense a
need to practice the art of work, especially if they have been
neglected or pampered people. "I can tell whether the person ever
worked," is often heard. Experienced workers know that the
experience did something to them. So often what we did as young
people in farm chores is not available to youth today, and they are
seldom asked to do responsible domestic tasks that require patient
endurance and creative effort, and produce results worthy of their
talents. Quite often volunteer opportunities are the first work
for the inexperienced. Others are given work experience as part of
the way they receive their schooling -- and this has been highly
successful in the "Christo Rey" work/study high school experiences.

Dignify work. When we see work as fulfilling ourselves in
some way, we are on the road to becoming earth-healers. For those
who do not yet experience this, we need to show the benefits in
being able to give something of ourselves to and for others. The
dignity of work is related to our respect for the gifts God has
given to us and our gratitude that we are able to use to some of
our ability. Thus in this atmosphere of respect we assist others
to see that their work is meaningful and that they are the ones who
ultimately give it dignity through cherishing it.




September 6, 2005 Civility Eroded

A few years ago I was conducting a funeral with the proper
signs posted in front of the church saying the spaces would be
taken by hearse and the vehicles of the immediate family. Before
the immediate arrival of the funeral procession, a car pulled up
and a woman got out to go downtown to do business. The undertaker
assistant reminded her that a funeral procession was coming. Her
reply was that this was as much her parking place as that of a
funeral, and she proceeded downtown to do her ever so important
business. The action was one example of the erosion of civility
that we see around us every day. People feel they are being
infringed upon by out-of-ordinary circumstances -- and it is they
who come first in their own eyes. The rest be damned!

Civility is defined as politeness or a politic manner of
behavior in act or utterance; it involves a formal way of doing
things. In all, it is the way we all conduct our affairs so that
we benefit from generosity or the lack of rudeness or insensitivity
in others. Civility is found in walking or parking or driving or
speaking with others. A friendly society is one that functions
with maximum civility especially when the unexpected occurs.
However, this can break down under stressed conditions either
deliberately or through inadvertent lack of sensitivity to the
basic needs of others.

Giving the above example triggers those in conversation to
mention one case after another, things happening that one would
never dream would occur in a civilized society -- except that our
people show the selfishness now present. It is not true that
Americans have always been polite; senators beat up others in the
chambers with their walking canes in the 19th century and people
under great stress have done rude things in public or private since
the start of the republic. Traditionally, politeness was taught as
a form of respect for others, and especially youth were to learn
ways of being nice to others. Americans have been known for being
more curt and aggressive than others, for being pushy and wanting
their own way. These characteristics easily erode the boundaries
of civility and allow us to think that our way is the correct one
and that anything goes in getting it. This applies when queuing up
for tickets or when resisting reprimands from a teacher in school.
Our society favors aggressive behavior.

Given the current situations what can be done? For one thing
it is best to point out the incident while it takes place and to
make a big enough fuss so that the person is aware that he or she
is being uncivil. Do not barge into this line! Remove the car from
the funeral space! Support the teacher! Resistance to civic
erosion is the best remedy against it. If each of us resolves to
point out how it would have been better to do this or that deed
another way, we may make the point, but not improve our own popular
standing. However, something must be done -- and maybe this
discussion is a little help in that direction. Civilization
demands civility, and we are each guardians of it.






September 7, 2005 All are Artists

Today is Grandma Moses' birthday and that gives us the courage
to say we all are artists to some degree. It's questionable how
many professional artists agree with this thesis, but most would
say that we all have aspirations to create things with our hands.
It may be in painting, sculpture, architecture, designing, cooking,
metal-working, weaving, knitting, gardening, or a hundred other
things. My dad liked to make wooden carvings, something he started
as a youth, and our community agreed that he became a master of his
primitive art in his retirement years. I have found floral
arrangements somewhat creative in themselves but I take little time
to pursue that form of art -- though it does seem satisfying.

Appalachian people seem to be drawn into the arts when they
have free time and especially after retirement. Making a variety
of items that others would never dream of appears to satisfy their
artistic drives in very special ways. They believe that a major
ingredient of successful art is in the selection of materials and
ways to arrange them so as to bring out particular expressions not
commonly observed. The individuality of this Appalachian primitive
art is what is so special and enduring. In some ways, a rigid
structuring of the art forms that these people practice would most
likely destroy their creative urges and reduce them to mechanical
workers. That is why the quilter should decide the design and
stitching of a quilt, not some outside marketing expert.

Given free reign to express oneself, one should take the next
step and muster the courage to go public. Just wishing to do art
is not sufficient, and becoming an art critic is not being an
artist. The public display of one's expression is like a word
spoken for the first time. It tells others what is inside and is
now coming out at a birth for all to see and either appreciate or
turn away from -- and the latter possibility is what holds so many
people back. Being an artist at heart means we have to stand by
our work and accept the deed as an utterance of what is inside us.
A comment like, "well if that is the best you can do, don't waste
the art supplies" is cruel and may lead to withdrawal. But it
shouldn't. Most likely, the insulting person is afraid of
expressing his or her own creative art.

Art may be decorative, and here is the ultimate place for the
budding artist to express hidden talents. Maybe the art is not
meant for an art show, a museum, or even a fair or festival. Maybe
it will never win a prize or be respected by recognized critics or
professionals, but it could be decorative in one's own room, house,
yard, outbuilding, or on a roadside sign or gatepost. One's art is
worthy of public display; it says this is my way of making my place
more beautiful. We can enhance nature through decorative works. In
some ways, Appalachian people are more apt to take just such steps,
to show others who they are and what they regard as truly personal
ornaments. Thank heavens some are willing to break out of the
bonds of non-professionalism and expose the artist within. Let's
hope more will have the courage to do the same.





September 8, 2005 International Literacy Day

We need a citizenry where all can read. In this small broken
planet that needs a healing process involving all citizens, the
ability to read is imperative. That is why International Literacy
Day has such deep significance. It makes us aware that the
privilege we have to read this essay is not afforded to every
person -- and that half the world (including the functionally
illiterate, infants, elderly with lack of mental powers and others)
could not read this either in English, or the languages into which
it is translated (six), or potentially could be translated. Even
the literate people often have difficulty reading fluently.

What must we do about it? I do not want to pretend I will go
out tomorrow and select a local illiterate person and spend hours
and hours teaching him or her how to read. I doubt whether I have
the time or patience -- and much of both is needed in a one-on-one
situation among adults who missed the elementary reading skills.
The fact is that to overcome illiteracy in our world it will take
a massive mobilization of people who are moved to teaching others.
I greatly suspect that if some countries would offer bounties to
literate people to teach others, the spread of literacy would
proceed far faster. The teacher's pay is certainly worth the
considerable effort. And many retirees and others may wish to
volunteer to help combat illiteracy. A small surcharge on all
luxury items in the affluent world could easily pay for a massive
worldwide campaign to eliminate illiteracy by the year 2030.

Turning attention to illiterate adults, we find people who
know they are handicapped in comparison to others in this age of
Internet and instant communication. Some illiterate people try to
hide the fact and thus withdraw from the social contact that would
betray their condition. Others depend on their children, who may
not have acquired proper business skills; some of the poor must pay
fees to have letters written or read; still others pretend to read
medical instructions or vital information with fatal consequences.

Granted a number of people deliberately cease reading either
because it is a difficult chore or because they find it more
convenient to get information by radio or television. These become
illiterate by choice. For all those who do not read, the message
is clear: earthhealing as global undertaking depends on your
existing or potential reading skills. Only a limited amount of
practical information can be told or shown through illustration;
much more is in printed format.

Beyond the purely utilitarian demands, one finds the added
benefit of the sheer enjoyment and literary potential in reading
books, newspapers, periodicals and even the subtitles in movies.
A whole new world opens before one's eyes. Libraries beckon and
invite all. The new reader finds new ways of thinking and grows in
appreciation of the human family. This person becomes aware that
widespread literacy is a necessary condition for the global
cooperation required in today's world. Can we make it occur?




September 9, 2005 What about all those Appliances?

After over 600 reflections we still have not asked this
question as to the appliances that surround us in our home. They
are the gadgets that clutter our domestic space and are taken for
granted after a short while. Just think back a century ago when
grandparents were scrubbing clothes on a wash board, or beating out
the dirt on a rock, or doing some other hard labor of love to bring
cleanliness to the homestead. Think about making fires for cooking
breakfast and warming the coffee, lighting a kerosene lamp, getting
all news from a neighbor or newspaper with no electronics, or
bringing the food from the springhouse where it is partly
refrigerated through natural cooling. Without noticing it, we have
let appliances become an integral part of our life -- and we
realize this fact whenever electricity is absent for a few hours.

* Replace inefficient appliances. People do get new or more
modern appliances. A most important consideration must be energy
efficiency. The laws of the United States require that the energy
use of the appliance is posted and easily available. If the energy
efficiency material is puzzling, the salesperson will assist in
understanding what is meant.

* Use appliances conservatively. Some of us do not have dish
washers or use air conditioning, but many others do. When one does
use a dishwasher, conservationists recommend adjusting to an
energy-saving setting for drying the dishes (don't use heat). Hot
water heaters could be turned down to the highest temperature
required for domestic use, which is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. When
washing clothes use only warm or cold water and refrain from hot
water settings. So often we use the wrong appliance: the microwave
could do the same heating as the stove with less energy. Cooking
large batches is a better practice than cooking frequent smaller
ones. That also applies to washing larger loads of clothes.

* Know the energy use of existing appliances. Some
appliances, especially resistance heating devices, are heavier
energy users than others. The practice of long use of air
conditioning is another major energy consumer. With a little
research one could find out how much the various devices use. One
need not keep certain appliances such as stereos and televisions
plugged in or on when not in use, for these consume some
electricity even when they are turned off. Some people keep
computers on standby, which consumes energy as well.

* Refrain from more purchases. Having said all this, can we
still ask whether we are over-applianced? Many people are. We
could use a safety razor, or sharpen the pencil with an old-
fashioned sharpener, or dry at least some of the clothes on a
clothes line (see April 19, 2004). We may not want to buy just one
more device, and know that it will be costly on electric use and
contribute to global warming. It is always helpful for those who
are conservation conscious to refrain from adding still more
appliances. Give your home an appliance examination.



September 10, 2005 Flea Markets and Yard Sales

Why write on this subject? It may be because flea markets and
yard sales are great opportunities to recycle materials that are
being stored but not used. If we are able to find buyers who need
the particular garment or household article, then we have reduced
the cost of manufacturing, shipping and marketing it. That's the
ideal, namely, a buyer who needs to purchase the material and a
seller who does not have to go through middle people. Still we may
find a "bargain" that the consumer with an impulse buys but doesn't
need at all.

To the seller: The hope is that ideal customers arrive,
enough to sweep up all the items being displayed, and most of them
discerning that they find a real need for an item being sold at
this time. The seller wants the client to be satisfied and so
displays the item and where it can be touched and scrutinized.
Sellers can volunteer to talk about the history of where and when
purchased, the cost, and how well the item has served them through
the years. They vouch for the utility of the item all the while
showing respect for the genuine needs of the buyer.

To the buyer: This purchase opportunity becomes a chance to
read the seller's facial expression as well as weigh his or her
words. A bargain may be in the offing. The transaction lacks sale
gimmicks and hype; the item is generally at a far lower price than
a similar new item which may or may not be as good. Buyers can ask
questions of the seller who knows more than most sales clerks in a
shopping mall; and there is no hurry to acquire the item right
now, unless a crowd of potential buyers is breathing down one's

Added benefits: Flea markets and yard sales are opportunities
for people to come together. There is much give and take in
conversation, and social graces are required in order not to look
bored or exhausted even though selling can be a trying operation.
People like the unhurried atmosphere that differs so much from that
within a supermarket or downtown shopping mall. The seller is not
working by the hour nor pressured to get a sale; the buyer is also
not pressured to buy and thus can give more time to talking over
and even haggling about the price of the item.

I think the flea market and yard sale, though different in
character, still harken back to court days in our American past.
They were times when people brought a large variety of wares to buy
and sell as well as exchanged information. People come to know
others in the process of gathering under circumstances that are not
part of the mainstream American commercial environment. These
occasions give color and life to a long tradition of "trading" with
others. Maybe it is far more important that the items change hands
and in the process we connect with the hearts of others. Maybe
what is missing in our fast moving world is nurtured and preserved
to some degree. We are coming together and spending time to
practice resource conservation -- a truly earthhealing practice.




September 11, 2005 Forgiveness Again and Again

Forgiveness is an almost inexhaustible topic of reflection and
one we should set as theme over and over. It includes the peace of
Christmas, the mercy of the sufferings on the Cross, and the joy of
Easter's resurrection. Being prepared to forgive is at the heart
of the Lord's Prayer and really is a topic for all seasons.

Creative aspects: Forgiving is bringing back life -- the life
of the person forgiving, the relationship of that person to a
forgiving God, and the relationship of the forgiving person to the
one forgiven. Nurturing these bonds or relationships is the most
creative thing we can do in our lives. That is why forgiveness is
so utterly important and why we must be prepared as Jesus says to
do it over and over. It's not a one time event. We become more
like our loving Creator when we forgive from our hearts.

Restorative aspects: Forgiving must go beyond a mere uttering
of words or acceptance of another who rubs us in a wrong manner.
We find an added need when reflecting on the frayed relationships
prior to forgiveness. We discover our own insensitivity that
sometimes -- but not always -- makes us part of the cause of the
strained conditions in our hurt world. Restoring relationships
must be accompanied by our seeking forgiveness from God for our
part in damaged relationships. We are able to become compassionate
toward others, even aggressors, and not just to limit ourselves to
saying that we forgive them. We see them in themselves and find
there a sense of their human condition, which needs healing as much
as our own broken relationships.

Blessing aspects: We always want to bless others and that is
a perfect way to extend God's love to all. We seek to direct that
impulse for blessing others, which springs from our hearts, to
those whom we are presently forgiving. We wish them well and do so
in all sincerity. We don't want them to continue immoral or
hateful acts that may strain relationships, but we wish them the
best that they can become. Our blessing helps bring this about --
for any blessing that leaves us and is not rejected will be
beneficial both to the one giving and to the one receiving the
blessing. A blessing is the spiritual fertilizer that allows the
community to grow. It is so much a part of the Good News, the
spreading of God's kingdom in our world.

There are some who have suffered abuse or hard times with
people they really love, whether that be a husband or wife, a child
or parent, a friend or co-worker. These can become the saints of
this world who are willing to forgive when others would counsel
leaving, forgetting and never looking back. Jesus tells us to
forgive, not seven times, but seventy times seven (Matthew 18: 21-
35). We are to be responsive by continually forgiving, for that is
the characteristic of our God -- who can and does extend infinite
mercy and forgiveness to us many times over. That mercy and
generosity is what we give to others in a very special way.





September 12, 2005 Hispanic Heritage Week

The Hispanics are part of us, so let's celebrate. The land
areas that were colonially Spanish include California, Texas, New
Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Florida. Others states could be added
depending on the time period and interest, though Hispanic
colonizing was not a major thrust in most of them. The total
population of the six states just mentioned is about 30% of the
total U.S. population. Hispanics in these and most of the
remaining states of our country are a growing minority and comprise
about 43 million people, with half of last year's U.S. population
increase being Hispanic. The ethnic maps at this web site indicate
the expansion of Hispanic groups in such unlikely places as
Georgia, Oregon, and Kansas. A closer look at county-by-county
statistics shows sizeable increases of Hispanics in virtually every
state in the Union, even though this ethnic group is not yet
predominant in a particular area. Hispanics are now America's
largest minority.

Some may regard these emerging statistics as worrisome and
think that the United States is losing its "Anglo" identity.
Certainly, the rise of Spanish as a second language cannot be
denied. But that has a distinct value, for now our people are
challenged to be bi-lingual -- and that is a blessing. Our only
hope is that the Spanish-speaking practice continues in the second
generation after the arriving one. So often second generation
Americans tend to reject the old country traditions and lose their
ability to speak their parent's native tongue -- to the detriment
of everyone. Let's hope our Hispanic people can avoid this.

Besides the practical hard facts of population growth and
bilingualism, we can look a little deeper and find so much to be
thankful for in our Spanish heritage. The sense of hard work and
family life are often mentioned as characteristics of the Hispanic
community. A sense of solidarity and friendliness prevails as well
as the many traditions both cultural and religious that are carried
over into this country -- shrines, festivals, fiestas, and special
days to honor loved ones both living and dead. The Hispanic
tradition is one of hospitality, politeness and formal respect --
though with time some of these grand traditions may erode as do
others within our American culture.

We owe so much to the Hispanic people in our midst. The firm
bonds that unite the nations in the Western Hemisphere will only
grow with a deepening appreciation of our Hispanic heritage. This
is the time to reaffirm that bonding, which really started long
before the Monroe Doctrine and yet has grown with Pan American
unionism and trade treaties -- some of which are yet to prove their
worth. Hopefully the United States as big brother will not play a
repressive or dominant role to such an extent that the other lands
will lose their independence through a subtle economic imperialism.
All of us must guard against this occurring, though we know there
have been shades of it in the past. A strong western culture
includes the Hispanic element as an integral part.



September 13, 2005 Rebuild New Orleans Like it Was?

Really? Rebuild New Orleans below river and sea level again.
Are these promising words those of a leader or a cheap politician?
To rebuild some place that has been devastated on a flood plain has
been counter to the philosophy of the Federal government for years
and made to apply as far as flood insurance goes. Some might say -
- are you out of your cotton-pickin mind? And just about anyone
with any degree of practical wits would concur with our stated
national policy, except when it comes to concrete circumstances.
The Gulf Coast devastation was predicted and New Orleans has always
been called "a disaster waiting to happen." Now it has happened
and it is no comfort to say I told you so. What do we do now that
we are the wiser?

I have nothing against New Orleans except its exact location.
In fact, it's a great community to visit and the people are
wonderful. But that is not the point. A relocated place even a
short distance away could still be great to visit.

What is so frightening is not this rather "tough love"
decision based on a rather rational philosophical position, but the
fact the subject of relocation can hardly be broached in our
somewhat dysfunctional society. Who would dare say that a half
million folks can't make the home behind levees that are now
needing to be twice the size in order to sustain the expected new
number five hurricanes? Dare we at least say it to our taxpayers.
And won't a future hurricane certainly come again? We can't go
without our fossil fueled vehicles anywhere we wish; we can't
control to use of these fuels; and we can't ever say "no" to anyone
who wished to generate more and more greenhouse gases. Thus can we
hardly say no to old New Orleans made over in its former image?

One answer to taxpayers facing tens of billions of dollars for
this city alone can be an act of tough love, namely, we help
relocate and reestablish your poorest and are happy to do this, but
we don't think it's right to return to that location for
residences. Maybe keep the shipping and railroad yards down where
flooding won't kill people, but demand that residences be on higher
ground. The poor suffer most when those inevitable floods come,
and the poor were pushed into the flood-prone areas years ago.

Midwest small towns have been moved out of the Mississippi
Valley tributaries by order of the Corps of Engineers, e.g., the
victims of flood in Falmouth, Kentucky in the Ohio Valley. What
happened in the Midwest could surely apply to Louisiana, for some
relocation amid much heartache has already occurred in the past few
weeks. And it has been a horrible scene that no one wants
repeated. Some say, why did God do this to us? But God did not
tell us to stand and face down hurricanes. Nor does God want us to
say "evacuate" without giving people the means to do so. The
hypocrisy is an extreme. Cut taxes for the rich and tell the poor
to do the impossible. Maybe it's time we exercise some tough love
on all our people and give priorities to where they belong.







September 14, 2005 Recycling Old Cell Phones

Cell phones are being used by the majority of people who want
to be instantly wired to their loved ones. While I am not a cell
phone user, for cell phones do not work well in our mountainous
terrain, still I am part of a diminishing minority. Really I do
not fault cell phone users except when they try to call me while
speeding down the highway. We all see too many cell phone drivers
who act in a rather careless manner.

All in all, cell phones are everywhere. In this year alone
there will be some three-quarters of a billion new cell phones.
Many of these devices are acquired as replacements for those that
do not have all the latest features, but are still functioning
instruments. The discarded ones remain on the shelf for want of
throwing them away. Most people realize that discarded electronics
are worrisome as part of the waste system. Can they be recycled?

Now consider a better environmental hint than allowing them to
remain idle. Put cell phones in every vehicle even for people like
me with no cell phone. Even without a subscription or contract
with Verizon or other providers, the U.S. government requires that
cell phones can operate, for every cell phone sold in our country
allows the caller to dial 911 when emergencies occur. And road
emergencies do arise as I have found out through years of driving.
There are stranded people, weaving and drunken drivers, obstacles
in the roadway needing to be removed, and tail-gating vehicles that
may be stalking someone. One small complication: one must keep the
cell phone batteries charged in some fashion either within the
vehicle or before the trip.

The sheer number of cell phones makes placing used phones in
cars only a small recycling use. There is another cell phone use
and that is through collections for developing countries where
working cell phones are the major means of communication because
the physical network of wiring is non-existent, especially in rural
areas. This demands that the donors know a collecting group that
distributes phones overseas. One company that tries to facilitate
donations is American Cell Phone Drive <www.americancellphonedrive.org>.

A third way of recycling cell phones is through selling them
to PaceButler Corporation, the details of which are found on the
Internet at <www.pacebutler.com>. This company will buy cell phones
(generally in quantity) and can offer financial returns to non-
profit groups that seek to launch fund-raising for their
organizations. The company is willing to pay up to fifty dollars
for modern cell phones in good working condition. The non-working
ones have less or no financial value, but the components can be
salvaged for reuse in the industry. All electronic discards are
worries for the waste disposal industry and companies that
specialize like PaceButtler, will at least find the best reuse of
the multitude of these devices now being discarded for more up-to-
date features.






September 15, 2005 Cromer Ridge

The first off-road vehicle site in Kentucky;
very convenient for the riders from other states,
just off I-75 at Exit 49.
It's also ever so nice for green eco-people,
who show it to the media and other voyeurs,
like a paraded freak, without involving local people.

The odd part is that most all ORVers disobey the law
driving more than a quarter mile on public roads,
using private land with no written permission.
Who dares denounce tourism -- budding business number one,
except that leakage here -- tourist money going outside --
is one of the highest rates in the world.

Residents know there's something mighty wrong,
and we're reaching the limits of tolerance.
One deceased ASPI board member said he kept the
watermelon patch free of ORVers by using piano wire.
We vacillate; my days of a trusty shotgun are gone;
these holes of ass are now allowed to trespass.

Just what won't work:
Posturing about closing off the area by decree;
Elites feeling sorry for the land and people;
Talking to the ORV associations as though they have power;
Asking manufacturers to stop the ads
that show vehicles on fragile lands.

I hate resorting to booby traps
with a host of shysters in the wings
to sue and take our property in a wink.
"Somebody might get killed," you say! As though the
five or more local ORV riders killed each year
are not really dead -- just pretending.

Let's get one thing straight.
We in public interest aren't runnin' for office
and we don't care a whole lot about feelings.
We'd like your support in whatever fashion given,
but just don't call us "off-beat"
for standing up for land and people.

And remember ORV riding is rapidly becoming a national
environmental problem.

September 16, 2005 Selective Service for Men Only?

Am I right that the single "male only" designation in America
that has never been contested by feminists is the Selective Service
requirement? At eighteen years of age, each American male is to
register for possible drafting in case of a national emergency.
This has been the case for much of the 20th century, and a draft
was actually in effect during the Civil War as well and to a
limited degree as far back as the Revolutionary War. One realizes
that such male exclusivity was natural when only men voted and were
accepted into the army to fight in our numerous wars. But times
are changing. Women are now in all branches of the armed services
and a number have been wounded and died in the Iraq conflict.

I am convinced that more could be done to confront the latent
militarism of this nation by requiring all to register for the
draft. This will be repugnant to parents and grandparents, uncles
and aunts of young girls, but it would present our country with the
dilemma of what it means to fight so many wars in distant lands.
The resistance to such registration would trigger a new dialogue
about our own role of being policemen and policewomen of the world.
Now we have to say that all youth, not just males, are to bear the
burden of such a grave obligation. Some will choose to be
conscientious objectors and that is their privilege, but it must be
a shared opportunity for male and female alike. Exclusion of
females is no "privilege" in our modern society; it is based on an
outmoded tradition.

In every respect this is a feminist issue, for it opens the
door to people of a wider variety of political stances who will now
look at critically our militarism in all its forms. People may
find it objectionable to draft women at some future date, but some
other countries do so today. It is not a totally new concept.
Women are able to make good fighters for it takes more than brute
strength to operate the highly mechanized ship or a computer in a
military base today. Women in the long run do these tasks as well
as the average man -- if not better.

The most important thing is for young men who are being
registered to challenge the practice of only registering them and
leaving out the other half of the population. They are the parties
most affected by this current legislation, and most certainly, if
challenged, it will either be thrown out as too restrictive or
expanded to require women to register as well at age eighteen.
This is an invitation to young men to rise to the occasion and
challenge the existing legislation as discriminatory. And in all
honesty I think the peace community may see a potential for further
reexamining issues during this current war on terrorism. This may
prove to be a moment of reconsideration. It may prove to be the
opportunity for women to raise their voices. We do need to rethink
our commitment to military activities throughout the world. Let's
all take part. Here our young folks might play a pivotal role.




September 17, 2005 Citizens Henry and Monroe

This is Citizenship Day and one in which we think back on the
duties and privileges of being an American citizen. I have
recently read two books on influential Americans during the turn of
the 18th and 19th centuries: The Son of Thunder: Patrick Henry
and the American Republic
by Henry Mayer and James Monroe: the
Quest for National Identity
by Harry Ammon, both books published by
the University Press of Virginia. Together they tell the story of
the American Revolution with little emphasis on battle reports --
though Monroe crossed the Delaware with Washington and took part in
other campaigns. What became evident in reading both books was the
idea of an American Revolution came quite suddenly in about 1774
and grew to immense proportions in a very short time.

Henry and Monroe were Virginians who were similar in ultimate
goals and in vocations, being lawyers and farmers. However, they
certainly had different backgrounds and personalities. Patrick
Henry was a talented poor boy who made good in all his practical
and impulsive behavior, excitable, popular, and always tending to
an evangelistic preaching style in legislative and court house
addresses. "Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others
may take, but as for me -- give me liberty or give me death
." His
radical firebrand nature excited the frontiersmen and the Virginia
countryside; word went out that he was a true patriot to radicals
throughout the colonies. He was a human catalyst for revolution
and ultimate independence though he was less keen on a strong
central government. He lacked the intellectual talents of John and
Samuel Adams, but these two respected him while many other
political figures (along with Tories in Virginia) considered him a
maverick. However, he was Virginia's governor for five years.

James Monroe was a young college student from Virginia lowland
aristocracy at the time of the Revolution. He quickly volunteered
for the army, became an officer, left the service during the War,
became a lawyer and statesman and gave immense service in a host of
roles (legislator, representative, ambassador, secretary of state,
and president to name a few). He was popular in a different way
for he did not like political parties and essentially was the only
president elected unopposed. He was intense, honest to the point
of scrupulosity, sensitive to the needs of others, discerning, and
forward thinking in so many ways. At first, he was similar in
political philosophy to that of Henry, but drifted apart with time.

In reading these two lives we come to appreciate the birth and
early struggles of our republic and how much credit the founders
truly deserve. I now appreciate the people and circumstances that
brought about our country and often wonder what I would have done
if living in those troubling times. The very concept of
independence from King George gained momentum so rapidly; the
endurance through the military period and the repeat of the Second
War of Independence is a fantastic story. We honor Henry and
Monroe for becoming responsible citizens and sacrificing time and
effort to give so much service to our budding republic.




September 18, 2005 Divine Generosity

The Lord is near to all who call upon him. (Psalm 145)

Our salvation is not owed to us, but comes through the grace
of God, the generosity of God, the mercy of God. We are not
deserving but ought to be thankful for all that is given to us.
The parable about the workers who are given wages for working
different numbers of hours in the vineyard will cause us to pause.
But we should not be looking at "more effort, more wages."

This is a story of God being generous with all, those who come
and work faithfully in a life-long journey of faith, and those who
come late and still get the same gift of salvation. As Isaiah
says, "for my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my
ways, says the Lord
." (Isaiah 55:8) We marvel at these words
about the manner in which God acts; God is an infinite ocean of
generosity. We can be easily tempted in our lack of generosity to
think we deserve something through our own efforts and therein
forget the gifts given by a generous God. We can be looking over
our shoulders at what others receive and wanting still more to be
ahead of them -- through an over-estimation of self.

This passage may not be a lesson in labor relations, but
something needs to be said for those seeking a livelihood. Those
who are unemployed have the same demands for a daily wage as those
who were able to work the entire day. An honest worker deserves a
wage and we realize that this is what they ought to receive. But
so should those who desire to work but can find no work at this
time. They are caught up in the anxiety of the day that is moving
on, and yet they must return to a hungry family empty-handed at its
end. What a burden! The late comers too, in the compassionate
words of the late Jim Wyker, an Appalachian activist, are now
receiving a just wage -- for the day and not just the number of
hours worked. God is a merciful God, a generous God.

The privilege of working. We are to see as St. Paul does that
laboring fruitfully for the Lord is the calling we have here and
now -- and it too must be done in thankfulness for God's outrageous
generosity to us.

Can God's ways become our ways? In one sense, never. But we
can become more godlike in our actions, in recognizing generosity
and in dispensing mercy to others. While we can never equal God's
ways, we can try to imitate the divine patterns of seeking and
finding those who desire to work during the day but can't. We need
to be sensitive to the good-hearted who want salvation but do not
know in what direction to turn. One way to perceive our world is
that most are lost and are not worth our efforts; a far more
godlike manner is to perceive that most could do far better, if
properly directed and given some chance. Our task is to go out and
find those willing to work, and give them that opportunity. But it
is more; our task is to open our hearts, be diligent with our
hands, and turn our thoughts to doing good for others.




September 19, 2005 Stormy Weather

"Stormy Weather" was a musical starring Lena Horn I saw as a
youth. It was and still is a good title for certain seasons or in
life when violent storms seem to come unexpectedly and can make
major changes in the way we act. I remember my own panic when on
a trip with my parents in 1981. While in Charleston, South
Carolina the announcement was made that a hurricane was approaching
the coast, and we wondered why the streets became so deserted in a
very short time. Like the local inhabitants, we immediately
attempted to get out of the way and let the storm carry on its
course. All of us have certain priorities when it comes to stormy
weather, and they tend to crowd out other considerations. Once
safe, we wonder whether we really behaved properly.

Some people are not frightened by stormy weather and seem to
glory in getting right out in the middle of the rain and wind.
There are always a few who just want to greet the incoming
hurricane -- even though others may think they are crazy and police
attempt to make them evacuate. The resisters like to confront
power at its very source and to consider it a thrill to live
through the episode.

Hurricanes seem to be coming with greater frequency and
violence -- and some scientists see this as a result of increasing
ocean temperature due to global warming. The culprits are
ultimately ourselves and our use of electricity and the resulting
carbon dioxide emissions. By cutting electricity use, such as
through compact fluorescent lighting, we can reduce the use of
fossil fuels and thus the resulting global warming emissions. Yes,
we could be causing a certain number of storms and these may hurt
or kill people thousands of miles from here.

Are we really the cause of storms? If a personal "storm of
life" such as family discord or substance abuse is included here,
then the direct human causes are more evident. But human-induced
storms, when occurring as global weather patterns, seem somewhat
far-fetched. But are they? Our current scientific knowledge
allows meteorologists to predict to some degree of accuracy the
degree of storm intensity and even a possible path that the
incoming storm may take. Such communicated information allows us
to go to a shelter or get out of the path as soon as possible.

But the discussion is about more than getting the proper hail
insurance or improving the structure of the house against future
storms. Yes, through our excessive use of energy resources, we can
become the generators of more violent storms, which can cause death
and injury and immense property damage such as the recent Katrina
hurricane on the Gulf Coast. If the coming generations experience
the violence seen this and last year during our hurricane seasons,
protection will become all the more difficult. Who will be able to
afford housing in Florida due to the high cost of storm insurance?
One possibility is that we as a nation begin to take global warming
seriously and start doing something about it.





September 20, 2005 International Day of Peace

We learn to live with peaceful attitudes. The bravado of war
that seemed present in the 17th and 18th centuries has long since
receded with the massive devastation of continent-sized conflicts
from Napoleon to Hitler. The competitive demands of warfare within
the European community have so receded that in hardly a lifetime we
find such conflicts almost unthinkable. Many are striving to
resolve current conflicts and regard themselves as committed to a
path of peace, but is that actually the case?

Although we have advanced in our understanding of peace within
our immediate human communities, we still have room to grow in
understanding when it comes to the international one and the global
environment as well. Many would like to say the recent upsurge of
terrorism in the last decade in Moslem countries or among immigrant
Moslem communities is due to something in the teachings of
Mohammed. But is it? If a community is threatened and sees its
way of life being overcome by other forces, it may seek to strike
back in any manner possible. That striking back is what we are
experiencing, especially by unemployed or disenchanted young folks.

Critics say that these conflicts would be greatly lessened if
Americans and Europeans would diminish their presence on the
Arabian peninsula and end military operations there. Other would
obviously disagree, but the theory is not that farfetched. Secular
western ways are quite offensive to many practicing Moslems. When
young people, especially see no other way to express their
opposition, they may and do resort to violence. In so far as we
promote that secularism that they despise, then we share in the
blame and are not people of peace to the degree we first imagine.

Furthermore, we seem to lack the proper approach to peace on
another front, namely the planet itself. We make war when we allow
global warming or when we permit the importation of exotic and
potentially invasive species. We also do so when we permit
conditions to exist that threaten or extinguish our native plant
and animal species. War does not just occur between human beings,
but by humans on plants and animals and the Earth itself.

We used to have a type of wild amaranth that got into my
family's barn yard when I was a young child; this plant covered
much of the surface of the half acre plot. At times I would
imagine I was an army making war on the weed, and I would slay the
plants with my stick that served as a bomber. It was a type of
human warfare and allowed me to expend energy on some species I did
not like with its prickly "stickers."

On the day of international peace, we must rethink our own
relationship with other human beings and the plants and animals
around us. Do we take the proper measures to ensure that less
violence is done, some of which results from our own actions or
failures to act? And do we pray that peace comes to all, not to a
targeted few but truly to all on Earth?




September 21, 2005 World Gratitude Day

As summer comes to an end, it is fitting that this day be
devoted to World Gratitude. We Americans often think that the rest
of the world owes us thanks for all the gifts given. In fact, we
sometimes owe gratitude for the most unusual things. We can
respectfully consider that --

* We have used far more of the world's resources than our
proportion by population, and yet the world has not shown immense
displeasure at this grand taking of things;

* We have been indebted to our Native Americans for practices
and philosophy taught, and yet we have done little to respect their
rights to land and self-governance;

* We have used the labor of persons as slaves or indentured
servants in the building of our nation, and yet given little back
in restitution;

* We are ungrateful for our own ancestors in the faith. They
spent years of toil and labor to ensure a future for their
offspring on down through many generations, and yet we so often
forget about their contributions;

* We ignore the immense efforts of monks and religious of old
who preserved and copied the manuscripts and literature of western
civilization so that we may have access to this treasure with ease;

* We give little attention to other cultures, especially to
the unwritten ones, which are so many unique and exquisite flowers
in the cultural garden of this planet -- and we allow other
languages to be extinguished with hardly a tear;

* We show little gratitude to the Earth itself, that delicate
system, which must be cared for with all our efforts, so that it
will be home for generations of people coming after us;

* We so often ignore the human sacrifices of those who gave
their public or military service for their country so that it may
exist in freedom and prosperity;

* We give little attention to the pioneers who came to our
shore and who crossed the mountains and settled the valleys and
plains, building roads and settlements so that we may live more
tranquil lives;

* We ignore the brave souls who devoted much of their lives
to religious testimony, scientific research, and arts and crafts.

* We overlook the vast gifts that God gives to each of us to
learn, communicate, share, encourage, live a good life, and have
friends. Just enumerating God's gifts today would be most fitting. 




September 22, 2005 Covered Bridges

The covered bridge is a sight so familiar in my youth that I
overlooked its uniqueness. Many of these bridges have been torn
down over the years to make way for wider concrete structures.
They were built throughout the 19th century across many Kentucky
creeks and rivers to accommodate rural folks, protect bridge
timbers and flooring, but mostly to keep horses from being
frightened. Otherwise, my Dad said, the horses had to be
blindfolded and led across bridges because they were afraid of
heights. Besides, the bridges were generally toll ones making the
private owner a respectable living.

Pictured here is the Valley Pike Covered Bridge, across a
tributary of Lee's Creek near the Valley Pike Road in my home
(Mason County) territory. It is 34 feet long, 15 feet wide and 14
feet tall, built in 1864 and rebuilt in 1972; it is the only
privately-owned covered bridge left in Kentucky. Twelve others are
owned by highway departments of which seven are in this or adjacent
counties (the Buffalo Trace region). Furthermore, the different
ways of constructing the various bridges is an art in itself.

My favorite is the Goddard Covered Bridge in Fleming County
near State Route 32 south of Flemingsburg; it is the oldest (1820)
and connected with wooden pegs. I can still remember the thrill
of crossing that structure by auto years ago. It is in a beautiful
setting with a white church in the background. It bears the hoof
marks of Colonel Everett's calvary unit of Morgan's Confederates
when they raided this part of Kentucky in 1864. Let's hope these
surviving covered bridges remain and retain the markings of our
collective heritage.





September 23, 2005 Native American Day

In this year of emerging ethnic consciousness we ought to pay
respects to the Native American nations that have comprised at one
time much of the territory of the United States. The history of
the reduction of these Native American territories, the conquests,
the broken treaties, the forceful removal from eastern American
areas, and the deliberate destruction of bison to cripple food
source independence are all sad tales in our American history. They
go all the way back to colonial times and especially the
Revolutionary War, but also include the Jackson era removals and
the last Indian battles in the decades following the Civil War.

Early references tell of general friendliness and hospitality
by Indian tribes to the first explorers, fur traders, and settlers.
Only with forceful removal and conquest did the Indian resistance
develop and lead to some of the struggles recorded by early
homesteaders. In the long campaigns, the Indians lost; and in some
cases their nations disappeared, while in others they were removed
to Oklahoma or western reservation areas thought by settlers and
developers to be less valuable. When gold was discovered in the
Black Hills, then the "worthless Indian land" became valuable and
the Sioux had to retreat. The Energy Bill just passed has
provisions to put nuclear wastes on Shoshone land, mine more
uranium on Navaho reservations and build new nuclear powerplants on
other Native American land. The act of conquest continues.

All the while, the Native American has given us much for which
to be thankful, from the moccasin to the canoe, from turkey,
cranberries, squash, tomatoes, corn, and pumpkins to ways of
fertilizing soil and using native plants for medicine. The manner
in which the Native American has treated land is well worth
understanding and imitating, as is the respect for all plants and
animals. The way we give back what is received as gift, the manner
of cultivating the soil, and respect for our valuable forests are
all contributions from the Native Americans. These gifts are Good
News, and we need to announce this and show appreciation for the
contributions of these wise and generous people.

Today our country must devote special attention to preserving
the Native American languages and cultures, which are under attack
by the predominant culture of our land (see June 16, 2004, for
preserving languages). If actions are not taken here and
elsewhere, the Native American languages, with a few exceptions for
those with more numerous users, will be among the endangered
language "species," which are dying at a rate of one every two
weeks in this 21st century. The last Delaware speaker passed from
this life a few years back; more such tales will be told in the
coming years or decades unless something is done to preserve native
languages. So often the young converse like other young Americans
and do not want to take the effort to learn what their parents
speak. The threat to Native American ways has never been greater
than in this century. Can we help retain the precious culture of
these people? That is an unanswered question.




September 24, 2005 Hunting and Fishing Day

This year some of our essays focus on the special celebrated
day as found in the "ASPI Simple Lifestyle Calendars." I was
tempted to ignore this day since I have said something already
about the ethics of hunting (see November 5, 2004). Those remarks
will not be repeated and I am not sure whether I hold the same
thing for the sport of fishing for several reasons. Fishing
involves pulling in the fish before the kill and so the choice is
still able to be made to return it to the water; fish are less
sensate than higher mammals, though one may regard this as a weak
argument; fish are nutritious and more easily prepared for meals
than many forms of wildlife; and the fisher may be wanting time to
get away and not engage in a highly exerting sport such as tramping
through woods for game. Fishing may have its place in the scheme
of things.

Hunting is losing its popularity in recent years with fewer
people engaging in the sport. Maybe it is the trouble of acquiring
the gear and the license, finding the time to go, and traveling to
an area where wildlife is in season. Some regard the sport as
dangerous. I greatly suspect that pressure from family members and
friends who do not render positive reenforcement to the hunter
makes this a less tempting leisure endeavor. In more and more
areas parading down main street with a bagged buck on the truck is
not regarded as worthy of praise. The wildlife trophy is less and
less respected -- and often downright opposed by even loved ones
who are not afraid to voice their dissent. Why hunt when others
treat you with destain?

Very few parade about town with a string of fish dangling from
the back of the vehicle. The marksmanship required of hunting is
not always found or needed in fishing, though flycasting does seem
to require similar skills. Fewer people show open dislike for
fishing which is regarded by some as a form of meditation.
Certainly some fishers are like some hunters and need to put food
on the table -- and in our ethics treatment we have never faulted
that effort, provided it is done with proper respect for the

Quite often hunting and fishing are part of the rite of
passage for youth, and often elders play a role; the seniors take
the children or grandchildren fishing or hunting and find this an
easier way to pass on their own skills and enthusiasm to the young.
To some degree my own dad did that with our family members, who now
appreciate his efforts. To the degree some parents or others find
this their best attempt, we must grant them some space, though
hoping they find other forms of passage expression as well. For
those who are hunters or fishers we hope they show respect for the
animal caught or killed, obey local regulations, obtain the proper
licenses, manifest care when near other people, respect private
property, prepare and consume what is caught or donate it to the
needy, teach younger people proper respect for wildlife, and ask
critical questions about the practice of hunting and fishing.




September 25, 2005 Our Responsibilities

Remember your mercies, O Lord. (Psalm 125)

The parable today (Matthew 21:28-32) is about two sons, one
who says he will obey his father's request, but does not, and the
other who says he will not but regrets it and obeys. The second is
regarded as doing God's will. The first most likely deceived
himself by thinking himself obedient when he wasn't, and the second
knew what he did wrong and corrected it. The second took on his
responsibilities. The parable continues with Jesus likening the
pharisees to the first of the two sons; they object to Jesus'
spending so much time with the outcasts of society, who represent
the second of those sons.

Formalism. We too can enter into the actions of the first
son, saying we will follow the Lord and then little by little doing
certain prescribed actions but failing in our hearts to be true
followers. When it comes to religion, we may obey the rules and
regulations expected of us and yet our hearts are hardened. When
it comes to respecting the planet itself, we may carry a bag of
recyclables to a deposit center in a gas guzzler and fail to
conserve on resources in a more genuine manner. When it comes to
life itself, we may answer all legal matters, pay our taxes and yet
omit good citizenship. The pharisee potential haunts us.

Proper form, not informality. The sinner who returns and
regrets wrongdoing is the model, not as an outcast who glories in
a wrongful past. The proper form is to acknowledge and take
responsibility for what one does. Today, many of us follow the
course of Adam and Eve and blame the woman or the serpent for the
wrongdoing, when it is in freedom that we act. We glory in our
freedom to choose, but when we make bad choices it is a number of
others who are partly or totally to blame. Parents certainly are
partly to blame for they may not want the youth to grow up too
quickly and take responsibility. For them, their child is never
wrong; it is the teacher or others in the neighborhood, or the
lack of government providers who must take the blame for the
irresponsible act.

I must be responsible. We are called to responsibility,
whether a president who has to give valid reasons for going to war
or an individual who is never to drink and drive. If we come down
to the heart of the parable, we are the ones who so often say yes
in an emotional moment of generosity, and then we drift away. Yes,
I am responsible for relationships with others and ask pardon in
confession; yes, I know things are not going well and I resolve to
change my ways and repair them; yes, I am a member of a community
that embraces the planet, and some of my actions have caused damage
to this fragile Earth. To be healers of the Earth and its people
means that we are to be responsible people, to show regret, to seek
forgiveness, and to start a new life of bringing health to a broken




September 26, 2005 Apples and Apples

Today is the birthday of "Johnny Appleseed" or John Chapman
1774-1845), a frontiersman who planted apple trees throughout the
Midwest, especially in Ohio. In fact, my brother Charlie, has a
thriving apple orchard near Newark, Ohio in the precise territory
where Johnny plied his trade. Charlie's apples are disease-
resistant varieties guaranteed to have no commercial chemical
residue. His apples can be obtained in a pick-your-own manner or
at his barn. Charlie knows and Johnny knew that apples please all
the senses with their exquisite taste, shiny colors, pleasant
aroma, and slick feel. Even the sound of biting into an apple is
appealing. You can't do that with a banana.

In some cultures "apple" and "fruit" are interchangeable and
the grand apple is now widely disseminated in all parts of the
temperate globe after originating in central Asia. In America, the
apple is king of the fruit basket. American apples come from
heritage types and now are found in a variety of sizes, colors and
flavors. Most of us have our favorite types and food preparations.
John Adams liked his apple jack and others like their summer or
fall apples crushed, smashed, squeezed, baked, fried, dried,
distilled, cooked down, or eaten raw. Apples are used for making
vinegar, cider, applejack, apple brandy and apple juice, for
flavoring candy and for being candied, for making stack cakes,
apple butter, jelly, sauce, apple turnovers, cobblers, cookies,
and the favorite "it is as American as apple pie." Picking apples
is work for some, and a holiday for others. In the old Midwest
when the frost was on the pumpkin and the fodder in the shock, it
was apple butter-making time -- second only in popularity to
butchering and maple sugaring, but a little less work at a nicer
season. Cider-making was almost a religious rite in New England.

My apple-related memories go way back -- climbing my favorite
apple tree, going to the cellar for apples in winter, and taking
our annual excursion to the Browning Apple Orchard (owned now by
Frank Browning, NPR Paris reporter and author of a book on apples).
What makes the apple so popular? First, it has a long shelf life
and defies rapid spoilage; it grows in various climatic conditions;
it packs well for shipping; it is not overly pulpy and dries easily
as every pioneer homesteader knew; it is versatile in ways of
preparation; it is generally lower priced than many fruits; it
contains vitamins and fiber; and finally, people like apples.

There are apples and apples. Since most growers strive to
give the public a perfect specimen; they use a variety of chemicals
to ensure that no defects or worms are present and that the
appearance is perfect; but here is where environmental problems
arise. In contrast to bananas and oranges, apple peels are often
eaten -- and a mere rinsing under a tap will not always remove the
agro-chemicals present. Furthermore, purely organic apples are
difficult to grow and are expensive. The low-priced commercial
apple is the mainstay fruit of many. We must go beyond appearance
and choose apples wisely.






September 27, 2005 Strip Mining Practices

Strip mining has been a major environmental degradation
practice in coal-mining regions such as Appalachia for a half
century. Many people living in the region became aware of the
damage being done quite early. Many landholders had sold
"broadform deeds" years before the strip mining operations,
thinking that coal mining would be through deep mining practice.
They found to their surprise that the deeds allowed the coal
industry to move in with earth movers and destroy their community
and sometimes even their homes. In the 1960s, the Widow Combs
chose to stop the bulldozers by lying down in front of them at her
home. She was forcefully removed to allow the coal on her property
to be strip mined. In the last decade that Kentucky broadform deed
permission was revoked.

With the increased demands for electricity, most coal mined
today goes to the powerplants. In fact, trains of 100 or more cars
sit within sight of where I am writing here in Ravenna, generally
several new trains each week. It is often strip mined coal on the
way to powerplants where it is still the lowest cost fuel -- though
wind power is challenging that distinction. However, we can expect
strip mining, which is more economic than deep mining, to fill part
of the energy needs of our country for the foreseeable future.

From the advent of strip mining, people saw its devastating
effects. Such a one was friend and writer Harry Caudill in his
book Night Comes to the Cumberland. In our earliest public interest
work we sought to make strip mining practices known for their ill
effects and helped push for proper blasting regulations in
comprehensive national reclamation legislation. But even before it
passed some of us doubted the national legislation's effectiveness.
Today we prefer to promote non-fossil fuel energy alternatives
rather than fine-tuning legislation on coal mining, seeing that the
industry has ways of pretending to return land to its original
contour. Actually reclamation has proven to be a nearly impossible
task giving the confines of economics and the reality of ecological
restoration. What is "reclaimed" is not fully reclaimed; planting
invasive species and turning of strip mined land into touring
trails for off-road vehicles are not good environmental practices.

Today strip mining has taken the form of slicing off the top
of mountains, filling the valleys with soil and rocks and removing
layer after layer of coal using gigantic earth-moving equipment.
Environmentalists of another generation seem to focus on the
practice rather than on the long-range energy alternatives, and
they will at best get minor adjustments in the practice unless an
unusual development occurs. The entire political climate promotes
sacrifice zones where the stripping of the coal from one mountain
yields more fossil fuel than stripping on hillsides did in the
1960s and 1970s. Less total surface areas per ton of coal is being
disturbed. However, if strip mining continues for decades, much
land will be disturbed. Solar and wind alternatives and energy
conservation are answers -- but it will take political resolve.





September 28, 2005 The Greenhouse Effect

We step into a greenhouse on a sunny winter day and quickly
notice to what extent that the sun's rays that have entered the
windows have been converted to heat waves that cannot easily
escape. The room is far warmer than the cold outdoors. We notice
the same effect in a sunroom or a parked automobile. This extra
heat can be utilized within solar greenhouses and cold frames (see
September 8, 2004). However, the same warming effect occurs
through increased concentrations of carbon dioxide and several
other gases such as methane, which find their way into the
atmosphere. As levels of these gases rise through increased human
industrial activity such as fossil fuel powerplants, we can expect
rising temperatures.

Some scientists think that it takes only relatively small
average rises in global temperature (only one or two degrees) to
cause major climatic changes such as more frequent and more intense
hurricanes and melting of ice caps. We have had more frequent and
more destructive hurricanes in 2004 and into this year as well.
Also some of the hottest summers of the last hundred or so years of
weather recording have been in the last decade. Other observations
resulting from rise in overall temperatures include the noticeable
receding of glaciers in higher elevations in Europe and the
Americas and the melting of the Antarctic ice cap with resulting
release of massive amounts of water into the oceans. This, in
turn, is causing the oceans to rise, thus affecting lower lying
regions such as some of the small island nations in the Pacific
Ocean as well as the densely populated low-lying Bangladesh --
which could lose half its land mass, if the oceans continue to rise
at current rates for the next seventy years.

Our country will not be devoid of ill effects from global
warming as well. Think about the loss of low-lying wetlands in
Louisiana and the coastlines of already crowded Florida. Coastal
erosion with rising ocean levels will demand expensive protective
measures or simply abandoning some threatened coastal properties.
Some of the land mass will have more rain and some less, thus
changing crop-growing patterns throughout much of the Midwest grain
belt. To what degree these changes will occur is still
undetermined. The overall effect of rising temperatures could be
improved growing conditions in some marginal lands such as parts of
Eurasia and Canada. But even these possible positive effects are
hard to determine. The rapid spread of the warming effect makes
its difficult for temperate plants and animals to adjust and
migrate to more suitable climatic conditions. And will tropical
diseases spread into the warmer areas?

Our country continues to stand alone on this question of
global warming even as more and more of the scientific community
speaks out about the severity of the greenhouse effect. The United
States has not ratified the Kyoto treaty to limit global warming
pollution and withdrew in 2001 from discussions of the treaty and
its effective implementation. As individual consumers we must
embrace energy conservation measures (see August 23, 2005). Both
as citizen and consumers we must realize that our political and
individual actions do make a difference.





September 29, 2005 Teachers -- A Group Worth Celebrating

At the end of each month we celebrate a special organization,
which in the past we have specified. However, the group honored in
September is not a particular organization as such but rather the
entire cohort of professional teachers (K to 12 educators, college
and university professors, and special education and adult learning
instructors) who dedicate themselves through enthusiasm, repetition
and patient work to the education of another generation. These
noble people are entrusted with passing on a civilization to

The hard task of teaching never really appealed to me and yet,
after my recent intensive Spanish lessons from Professora
Rodriquez, I am now more inclined to appreciate the tireless work
of dedicated teachers. Why wait until so late in life to give
teachers the credit they deserve? Most of us were not overly
appreciative while we were being taught. But will we remember with
the passing years what all our teachers have done for us? They
preserved their enthusiasm, even when the students were anxious to
move on to other things; they overcame obstacles in resource
materials and unruly students; they were tired but never showed it
in the classroom.

I was tempted to dedicate this to the teachers of my life and
this would have been most fitting. As I mentioned at the first of
the month, my first and second grade teacher, Sister Imogene, a
Clinton, Iowa, Franciscan, passed on to the Lord at 103 years of
age earlier this year. She said she remembered every face even
when she had difficulty with names. And she and her community
taught us to respect the things around us and especially our
environment. They were our teachers who started us on the road,
dedicating themselves with little expectation of earthly praise or
reward. They were part of the community of teachers who form the
great body of those who transmit culture and civilization to
another generation.

I have come to believe that teachers are master recyclers.
They truly believe that the enthusiasm that they exhibit will be
repeated over and over by that next generation when their charges
grow up and mature as teachers themselves -- whether professional
teachers or teaching in some fashion at home or work.

We usually conclude with websites and phone numbers. This
time they depend on the reader. Write a note to your favorite
teachers and thank them for their hard work and dedication. It
would be worth the effort and show that you learned something
during your time together.





September 30, 2005 Birthdays Become Bittersweet

Four decades ago I heard that the average life span was 72
years. Then came the idea that if we divide the 12 months into
that 72 every six years represents another month of my normal life.
Thus January is age 1-6, February 7-12, etc. Well when I first
made the calculation and found I was in the late spring of life,
the time ahead seemed a vast expanse, and age 72 years a great
distance in the future. It did not seem so vast but still a fair
distance when I entered July and August -- the summer of life.
Then time continued to fly, and I entered the happy month of
September and the autumn of life. Autumn appeared a little past
fifty years with gray hairs and with a sense of melancholy
foreboding that the hour glass was running lower on sand. Maybe
this calculation should be discontinued. And on and on with the
December of life and the coming of winter. Rationalizations were
starting to change from those dealing with the shortening of
earthly life to the looking ahead to the advent of eternal life.

Well today I'm completing at 2:00 a.m. a full 72 years -- a
fullness of life. Sometimes we wonder whether in these latter
birthdays we should smile or cry. I won't do either. My insight
today is that none of us are average people; we just are who we
are. If I awake hale and hearty tomorrow, I can thank God that I'm
given one more day to live for the Lord. For all life, no matter
how long or short, is a gift from the Creator. We thank God for
what we have and try to make the best of it.

We have much to be thankful for and especially that we might
even live longer. Besides, since that first calculation, the
average for American males is now 77 years. We can not accurately
calculate our springs, summers, and autumns of life unless we know
for certain our execution day. Many of us estimate a life span to
some rough degree, but some find it more healthy not to calculate
at all.

Was the figuring of years ahead worth it? In one sense it
could be worrisome to certain people. But there have been benefits
in the practice of figuring the seasons of my life. We come to see
ourselves as mortal, as limited in the time we have, as willing to
make the best of what remains, and as undeserving of any part of a
long or short life. And we can do one thing more -- we can thank
God for the life already given, and offer it amid its imperfections
back to the Creator. That can best be done on some landmark
birthday. But isn't every day a landmark event? That becomes more
evident with time and the wisdom of knowing the shortness of our
lives. Forget birthdays; let's just live.

Footnote: The life insurance companies currently calculate
that a 40-year- old male has 34 years of life left, a female of the
same age has 40 years left, a 72-year-old male has 10 years of life
left, and a 72-year-old female of the same age has 13 years.


Copyright © 2007 Earth Healing, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Albert J. Fritsch, Director
Janet Powell, Developer
Mary Byrd Davis, Editor
Paul Gallimore, ERAS Coordinator

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