Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I have your bones right here

The headlines in today’s newspaper reads “Revelation or good TV?” Below a picture of two large stone boxes is this blurb:

“Limestone ossuaries founding a 2,000-year old tomb in Jerusalem may have held the remains of Jesus of Nazareth, left and Mary Magdalene, right. That’s what filmmakers and researchers claimed Monday when they displayed their discoveries to the media in New York.”

Film makers? You bet…the filmmaker in this case is the same man who directed the movie Titanic – James Cameron.

Later in the article it has this to say:

“The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” produced by Oscar-winning director James Cameron and scheduled to air March 4 on the Discovery Channels, argues 10 small caskets, called ossuaries, discovered in 1980 in a Jerusalem suburb may have held the bones of Jesus and his family.”

Sound like a Hollywood stunt? It is. Sound like the plot from a Hollywood movie? It was – Google “The Body” a movie made in 2001 with Antonio Banderas. The article is the plot of the movie. Sound too incredible to be true?

It is. That’s exactly what, according to the rest of the article, buried on page 7 of the same paper, the archeology community thought in 1996 when this same garbage was spouted. Read on and this is what you will see in the same article:

“In 1996, when the British Broadcasting Corp. aired a short documentary on the same subject, archaeologists challenged the claims. Amos Kloner, the first archaeologist to examine the site, said the idea fails to hold up by archeological standards.”

The article goes on to say that the ossuraries do not contain any bones. They were reburied, it claims, when the tomb was discovered.

So lets take a good hard look at what the article claims is definitive proof that the tomb contained the bones of Jesus (which have been conveniently removed). The article says this:

“One of the caskets even bears the title, “Judah, son of Jesus” hinting that Jesus may have had a son, according to the film.” Let’s look at one of the experts they have called upon.

A Toronto filmmaker – yes FILMMAKER – named Simcha Jacobovici says another of the Ossuaries has the name “Mariamene”

At this point, based on the FILMMAKERS assumption that ‘Mariamene’ is the name of Mary of Magdalene, they go on to have someone calculate the odds:

“But the filmmakers had statisticians calculate the likelihood that any other family in first-century Jerusalem would have had that cluster of names.”

So, despite the fact that the archeological community already rejected the claims that the “bones of Jesus” (again, conveniently absent) were found in a tomb in Jerusalem –

Despite that, we have the authoritative word of two FILMMAKERS that all of Christianity has been wrong for the last 2,000 years. But wait, there is more.

The article ends with this blurb:

“But Jacobovici [remember this man is a FILMMAKER] said DNA evidence can nonetheless be collected from the boxes. He said DNA analysis has so far proved that Jesus and Mariamene, the putative Mary Magadalene, were not siblings and therefore could have been husband and wife.”

“Putative?” I had to look up the word and my friends, I have two masters degrees. Lets consider the dictionary definition:

Putative – “generally considered or deemed such; reputed.”

Ok, here is where I am going to get a bit un-nun like. For putative it seems to me a better phrase might be “wild-assed guess” So we have the authoritative word of, not the archeological community, which has already rejected the films claims once, but rather the assumptions of none other than HOLLYWOOD. As far as DNA evidence saying that the two people in the ossuaries are not related and could have been married? Well DNA evidence can also prove that my DOG and I are not related and I can be married to him if I am STUPID enough to do it.

Far be it from me to dispute the authoritative claims of filmmakers based on wild assumptions and cooked numbers that Christ did not raise from the dead. However,

My grandfather would have had this to say about that. He would have grabbed his crotch and said…


Monday, February 26, 2007

Hatred Catches Up With You

My apologies if you read this blog on a regular basis. If so you have noticed a break of more than a couple of days – the reason for that being that I am now a staff writer for another website (a podcast on Itunes). That, work, religious duties, duties for the convent keep me busy these days. If you do not read this blog on a regular basis…

….well…forget it. This is may be your first time reading this.

In any case, there were some interesting articles in the local paper yesterday. The first one that caught my attention was a small one (on the bottom of the first page no less – it must have been a slow news day) that told of local parents that were suing the local school board to keep their children from learning about gay marriages in school. To his credit, the judge ruled that education does not interfere religious beliefs. What I found amazing was that parents would teach their children to hate. Amazing how, as I have said in these pages before, people will use part of the book of Leviticus to justify hatred for people (Gay men and lesbian women) but conveniently forget the versus a few chapters later that allows slavery so long as the slaves come from a neighboring nation. Both, obvious, are nothing short of some justifying personal hatred and trying to inflict it on ages and generations to come after them. It also amazes me how people can hate other people for who they love, whether it be of the same gender or not – but mass murder by the thousands in a place called Iraq is somehow acceptable. It has even gone to the point where we have a president who tells us he prays to ask God to tell him if it is ok to send troops to their death. Well, as I have said, he isn’t praying to any God I know.

So the end result is children teach their children hatred.

Then they are amazed when their children put that hatred into practice. The same paper had another article in it, also on the front page. A local school has amongst the students who are in the minority, students who are black. These young black children have had to suffer outrages no children should. One little girl has had to suffer the word “Ni**er” (I will not type the entire heinous word here) scrawled across her locker, written in notes slid into her locker, and whispered in her presence in hallways. It is not just the children who are to blame but their hate mongering parents. No child should have to grow up in this atmosphere. Yet we can see the reasons why – parents teach their children to hate. But eventually that hatred catches up with them. I think of an event that happened when I was very young.

There was a local “public housing” project that has long since, Thank You Jesus, been torn down. When I saw this place I wouldn’t have allowed a pig to live in it. One day a man from Texas stopped at a drug store in this housing project purportedly to ask for directions. He was shot dead. My friends, no one is shot dead simply for asking the way to the downtown area. Ask yourself the manner in which this Texan asked for directions. We will never know the truth of it. But if the request included words such as “boy” and “Ni**er” you have your answer why.

Hatred catches up with you.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Turtle Island

Today I would like to share with you all a part of the book I wrote for the convent called "Congratulations you baby is a boy and a girl" The turtle is a symbol of strength in Lakota culture. It is said, that even when a turtle is killed his heart keeps on beating. In fact land on which we live is called "Turtle Island."

She watched the river slowly ripple over the rocks, listening to a hawk screech in the distance. The sun reached toward noon as it filtered through the branches of the trees over head. She sat there on the log, next to her Grandfather, where they had stopped to rest. She enjoyed their long walks along the river best of all.

“See that?” said her Grandfather, pointing to something moving slowly along the muddy banks of the river.

She looked to where he pointed and there, slowly making its way along the edge of the water, was a small turtle.

“You might not know it, but that little fella is strong. Stronger even than you an’ me.”

“That’s silly Gran’pa, he’s just a little turtle.”

The turtle disappeared under some plants and Grandfather turned to her.

“I’m not talking about what he can carry on his back. I’m talking about what he can carry in his heart. Fact is, even after he dies, his heart will keep beating. That’s why the turtle has always been a symbol of strength.”

Turtle Heart…

We each go through life with our hopes, desires and dreams. The dreams of our youth ay sometimes change. If we are lucky those dreams do not fade away entirely. In a world fraught with frustrations that could easily stress Gandhi, it is easy to lose sight of those hopes and dreams. We may find ourselves swallowed whole by the corporate world, the way the media tells us life should be, and the pressures of every day life.

W.C. Fields once said, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. Don’t be a damn fool about it.” It is easy to find ourselves at a place in our lives where we begin to lose sight of our dreams, ourselves and even our sanity. We may be among the many tired, huddled masses, yearning to be free of the office cubes and the neat little box society tries to fit us in…only to find ourselves leading lives of quiet desperation. Still, like the turtle’s heart, most of us continue on, even if the reason is one of necessity…fulfilling the basic needs of life…food, clothing and shelter. Yet even strength born of necessity can reach the breaking point. Sometimes the turtle’s heart quits beating. Like Saul on the road to Damascus, there comes a time of epiphany…no matter how brief…when we tell ourselves that there has to be more to life. When we try to find that missing something, when we reach for our dreams, of if we strive only to be ourselves, with our own values and goals, instead of those forced upon us by others, there is much to stand against us. As we travel this path it is easy to lose sight of the good that we have done with our lives.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Say Goodby to Harboy

A Native American view of nature and the nature of Heaven.

A typical question I have heard asked of Christian priests, religious and ministers is, “Will my dog go to Heaven.” When I hear of a minister somewhere that has told someone "no" it makes me very sad, but for more than one reason. First is the cruelty of any individual who does not understand the grieving process that someone goes through who loses a beloved animal companion.

The second is the self centered attitude that the answer reflects…

It is remarkable how western society has continually come to think of themselves as the king of the hill, the top of the heap, the masters of nature. I once listened to a lecture by a professor from MIT who said that he used to think he and his students where “part of the solution” until one day he realized that they were “part of the problem.” As I write this from the Midwest of the United States, we are butt deep in snow – a blizzard that many meteorologists attribute to global warming (the idea behind this is pollution thinning the ozone layer and allowing the Earth’s heat to escape), Whether you believe what is said about the effects of global warming or not, it doesn’t take a rocket scientists to see how we have all suffered because of our detrimental affect on nature. It is remarkable, for example, how we still depend on daily transportation fueled by black goop that is pulled out of the ground rather than cleaner alternatives.

And that brings me to the subject of dead parrots…

What has dead parrots got to do with the western view of mankind dominating nature? Plenty…bear with me a bit. I had a parrot named “Harboy” He was one ornery cuss. But he was also smart – very smart. As I am wont to say at times, smarter than some of the people I dated. He would talk to us, play games and when ever we left for anywhere he would say “Say goodbye to Harboy” Well one day Harboy died. I was hysterical with grief. For a birthday present that year I received a brand new baby parrot. I raised her from a bottle fed baby. Then when she was old enough to talk something remarkable happened. Despite the fact that we had never EVER mentioned Harboy the new bird began to have regular conversations with my dead parrot Harboy. Yes, that’s right – she sees dead parrots; or at least talks to them. Now at this point you may tell me I am nuts, or you may take my word for it. I guess it’s a bit like the song I hear over and over again at Christmas “Grandma got run over by a reindeer”

You may not believe in Santa, but as for grandpa we believe.

In other words, you may not believe that pets have souls, but I do believe – we are visited by one. But what has this got to do with mankind’s view of nature?


The same sort of mentality that refuses to believe that animals have souls is the same sort of mentality that thinks mankind is the top of the hill to dominate nature. Yet when I was taught by one of my elders, I was taught to see nature as an inverted pyramid, with mankind at the bottom and all of nature spread out above us. They are there for us to learn from and teach us. I could go on and on about lessons from nature, and perhaps at a later date I will. Do you think animals are just “dumb animals” and don’t have a soul? The bible, and Pope John Paul II disagree with you. Here is a wonderful passage I found on one web site”

In the beginning of our Scriptures, we see God creating 'every living creature' (Genesis 1:21, 24). The Hebrew words (transliterated) are 'chay' (living) and 'nephesh' (soul). 'Nephesh' is mentioned over 400 times in the Old Testament signifying soul. The words 'chay nephesh' are used from chapter one, verse 20, when the waters are filled with living creatures. The close translation from Hebrew is: 'And God said: Let the waters swarm [with] the swarmers [having] a soul of life …' and in the next verse: 'And God created the great sea animals, and all that creeps, [having] a living soul …' (The words in square brackets are not used in Hebrew, but are understood.) In verse 30, God provides food - purely vegetarian - to every living thing, in which, the Hebrew adds, '[is] a living soul'. There is a definite separation here between 'every green plant', which of course are living things, and every creature possessed of a 'living soul'. In chapter two, the second, and older Creation account, the first human being was created from dust, then God 'blew into his nostrils [the] breath of life and man became a living soul', a 'chay nephesh'. Here we have the real sense of 'nephesh', or soul, as a being animated by the breath of life. This reminds us of the glorious invocation of psalm 150, where 'everything that breathes' is to praise the Lord.

Pope John Paul II: 'animals possess a soul'

When Pope John Paul II declared in a public audience in 1990 that 'also the animals possess a soul and men must love and feel solidarity with our smaller brethren' some people must have thought this was a new teaching, unaware of the Holy Father's scholarly familiarity with the authentic Hebrew texts.

Source: http://www.all-creatures.org/ca/ark-186soul.html

So to me, the proper question would not be “will my parrot go to Heaven?” but “When I go to Heaven will my parrot and his friends let me in?”

There has been more than once in my life when I have met people to whom the answer from my parrot would simply be:

“Say goodbye to Harboy”

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Eternal Embrace -- revisited

The Eternal Embrace – revisited

I wrote earlier of a “prehistoric” couple that had been unearthed near Verona Italy. Well, the follow-up is good news and bad news. The good news is that the couple who, deeply in love, wished to remain together, even in death will still remain together. Elena Menotti, the archeologist who led the dig, is quoted in a recent associated press article as saying, “we will work to keep them together.” It is nice that they will not be pulled apart in the interest of “science.” The bad news is that the loving couple, whoever they are, will be put on display Mantua, Italy. Is this any different that having a picture of the bones on the front of every major newspaper in the world? I don’t know. The picture brings home many important messages to the people who are alive now. Displaying their actual dead bodies?

Think of it this way.

There is a movie I saw some long time ago. For the life of me I can’t remember what it is called at the moment, except that the producers where Native American or “American Indian” depending on which term you prefer. In the scene, some young Lakota students walk up to a team of archeologists. One student, holding a shovel, asks one of the archeologists where his grandmother is buried. When the archeologists asks why, the Lakota man says, “You’re digging up my grandmother, I am going to go dig up yours.”

And thereby hangs a tale or two…

Some of the Eastern American Indian tribes have had to be so concerned with grave robbers that they have to have tribal members patrol their cemeteries, for fear people will dig up the graves to steal the objects, including the very clothes people are buried in, simply because of a “street value.” For myself, my traditional clothing took me two years to make, hand sewing on thousands of tiny beads. I too worry that if I am buried in my traditional clothing someone will dig up the grave for the clothes so they can sell them.

What is the point? The point is about respect. But respect is a two way street. If you want it, you have to give it in return. Like unrequited love, what good is unrequited respect? While I may at least attempt to love those who hate me, don’t complain if you treat everyone around you like dirt, and they reciprocate in kind. If there is a lack of respect for indigenous people, like American Indians, I too, have seen and experienced a lack of respect the other way around. Let me share a passage from a book I wrote for the convent called “Congratulations your baby is a boy and a girl”

“Red necks and REDNECKS…

There is a tendency to view Native Americans as either being constantly drunk or noble and austere. The truth is somewhere in between. As I found, and a elder later put into words so eloquently, “even amongst red necks there are rednecks.”

This point was vividly demonstrated for a friend, Judy, and I at a rural pow wow, where our limits were tested. Before we even arrived, a man was forced out of the dance arena simply because a handful of veterans did not like what he was wearing. These were men, unconnected with the pow wow, who assumed that being a veteran conferred upon them some quasi-official status of authority. Those holding the pow wow did nothing. Unfortunately for my friend and I, the ruckus was over with by the time we arrived; otherwise there might have been some portent of what was to come.

We arrived for the evening session, expecting a wait to dance. At the time, I was the only member of the family that had regalia, traditional clothing, in which dancing is done. My regalia reflects my service to my country as a veteran and my personal battles outside the military. It is the regalia of a woman warrior, which I have earned. I was registered for the woman’s traditional dance. Not long after my friend and I were invited to a meal for those who were participating in the dance. Dripping sweat in the hot July afternoon, we waited in line for our food. A voice came from behind us. It was an elder we had not seen in some time. This is what traditional pow wow is about; reuniting with old friends, and dancing to honor elders, ancestors and the Creator. We spent the remainder of the meal catching up on news with our elder.

After the meal, Judy and I made our way back to the dance arena. We were intercepted by the same man who had signed me up to dance. Incredulous, we listened to the words he spoke to me.

“We feel you should dance with the men.

Make no mistake. This was not meant as a privilege. It was meant as an insult. This was meant to question my gender and role as a woman. Before I could utter a word, Judy leaped to my defense. It was not long before her very verbal and very vehement objections attracted the attentions of one of the cronies of the man who stopped us. While Judy diverted her vindication toward the new arrival. I simply took my driver’s license out of my pocket and shoved it in his face.

“Does that say female? Let me get my glasses.”

If his reply was meant to aggravate Judy and I, he made his mark. Judy barely contained her anger as the newcomer donned his glasses. Peering over his bifocals he was presented with irrefutable proof of his error.

Like so many other men, these were mired in an archaic, idealized, self conceived image of womanhood as delicate, docile, and subservient. The view they held was little more than misogynistic conceit that in this case was being passed off as a matter of tradition and faith.

By now my friend was hopping mad. I walked on, as she stormed along a half step behind me. The same voice that came from behind us from dinner, now called out from behind us again. The elder invited us into his come to his camp to visit with him again. The elder, unaware of what had just happened was jovial and friendly. It was not long however before a young man invited himself in to camp, interrupting our conversation with the elder. Announcing himself to be the “spiritual advisor of the pow wow” he compounded his rude act by ignoring the elder and launching into a diatribe aimed at me. It was a diatribe meant to once again bring into question my gender and my role.

“What has this got to do with spirituality?, demanded
the elder.”

What followed was a stream of excuses. I met all of the “spiritual advisor’s” accusations with calm denials. Satisfied, his demeanor changed and he extended a hand welcoming me to the pow-wow. The young man who supposed himself to be a spiritual leader, in direct contravention to what any elder present was willing to acknowledge, was little more than an apple…red on the outside and white on the inside. The charlatan advisor, like his Cro-Magnon cronies, used a pretense of faith as a thinly disguised veil for his prejudice. It was a twisted logic used to reason away hate by the unreasoning mind of a bigot. How often have member of society tried to pass off blind hatred as the mores somehow giving them permission to hate?

When we were finally left alone, the elder counseled Judy and I on forgiveness. However, all that had taken place was more than she could bear. She fled campsite to the shelter of the truck. Judy is a strong woman who never cries. On this occasion she did. Not for herself, but for the way I had been treated.

As if all that had taken place were not enough to bear, one further interloper lurched his way into camp. After a short pretense of a conversation he too decided to make his accusations even though his spiritual advisor had been satisfied.

“I have been practicing medicine too long to believe this, he said.

A woman with us in the camp spoke up.

“I thought individuals like her were traditionally honored, people of two spirits”

“Well yes,” came the hesitant reply, upon which came his own his diatribe of twisted logic and selective memory of history and tradition. Even when confront with irrefutable, undeniable proof, he could not let go of his hatred.

He was interrupted by the woman again.

“ARE you a doctor?”

“well no…I am a pharmacist…”

She had caught him in his lie…as if his conjured credentials would somehow make his blend of true tradition and good old fashion hate acceptable.

“Are you concerned with tradition? I confronted the phony doctor. Traditionally you should be honored to have me here.

I used the Lakota terms that fit the situation, which were returned with only puzzled looks.

“Traditionally I would have been asked to bless your warriors before they went into battle.

Still he chose to hold fast to his assimilated values and tell himself that what was good old cross burnin’ hatred was simply a matter of faith. At least he blessed the camp by leaving it.

Rescue me…

With the handshake welcoming me to the pow wow I felt I had won a battle if only a personal one. I also knew, even before my elder, Blackwolf, later forbid me from doing so, that I would not disgrace the elders I had come to honor by dancing at a pow-wow with individuals such as this, and so many others, who had disgraced themselves. It is ironic that the purpose of the pow wow was to “honor the firekeepers,” the elders, the keepers of wisdom. The man who supposed himself to be a spiritual advisor my friend said, “went back to his world of whisky and white man’s two step.”

I followed Judy back to the truck, where Elder Blackwolf had already come to console and counsel us.

“You asked yourself, why are people treating us like this. You were right to leave. There is a presence of evil at this pow-wow. These people don’t believe in the Red Path. They are here to honor some false traditions which is not the old way. I did not teach you to be weak. You are both strong. You came to enjoy in spirit and celebration, not to be accused of something you are not. They feel they are following the right path, BUT THEY ARE NOT. THEY ARE MISTAKEN. People should come to the pow-wow to celebrate who they are and what they have seen. To honor the elders and their ways. Not “are you of this tribe or that tribe. Are you a man or a woman.” This is not what pow-wows are abou. This is why elders left this pow-wow.”

Before we left the pow-wow entirely, I returned briefly to the camp of the elder with whom we had shared a meal. He greeted me and said, “Even amongst red necks, there are rednecks.”

“I will forgive, I told the elder, but I will also stand my ground. I will defend my ways and my elders. My elder feels that the spiritual advisor has disgraced himself. He feels that there is a presence of evil here. I dance to honor my teacher. I dance to honor my elders who have walked on and I dance to honor my creator. As the Christians say, sing and dance and make a joyful noise to the Creator.

The elder understood.

“I will not dance here, I told him, my elder has forbidden me to do so, so I will honor his wishes.”

“I too feel the spirit of evil, he replied. Many of the elders have already left the pow-wow.

I told the elder good bye and he asked to meet me at a pow-wow held in September. Elder Blackwolf had come to rescue us from people who held a spirit of evil in their hearts.”

Respect doesn’t come with a title or social position. It is not automatic. Like disrespect, it is usually earned – but not always. The cold hard fact of the matter is that not everyone lives by God’s commandment, “Love one another as I have loved you.” The world is full of people who will not love you back no matter how you treat them. That is why, as Christ told us, that the path to Heaven is narrow and the path to hell is wide. We have to be in the world but not of it. But being in the world means that if you treat people like dirt, don’t get shocked when someone else digs up your grandmother and puts them on display in Mantua, Italy.

Monday, February 12, 2007

You can take it to the bank...

One of the regular visitors to the convent is Mother Superior’s cousin. We sat in the convent kitchen yesterday, as I listened to what she had to say about the affairs of her day. It was the usual faire until she told me a small story I will share with you.

A man she knows, whom I will call George, was visiting his brother. George walked into the living room to discover his brother on his knees, apparently talking to himself. When George asked his brother what he was doing, the brother replied promptly that he was storing up prayers in his bank vault.

George’s brother, you see, had been very ill just 2 years earlier. So ill, in fact that he nearly died. He told his brother, that when he nearly died, he was told that he needed to store up more prayers in heaven.

Coming close to death changes your outlook on life. I have come close to death a few times in my life. It changes the way you look at life – it has a big affect on what you think is important. In the case of George’s brother, he saw the importance of what Christ told us, when he admonished us to store up our treasures in Heaven, that where your treasure is, your heart may be also. In this case, the treasures were all of his prayers.

Prayers don’t have to be fancy. They don’t have to be long and memorized. In fact St. Therese didn’t like to pray the Rosary, and said so. She didn’t like long memorized prayers. She just talked to God -- that was her prayer. She lifted her heart up to God.

Considering all of the lives she has touched since she died, I would say that gave her credit for every one of those prayers, even if they had no words, and were simply Sister Therese lifting her heart and her love up to God.

God Bless You All
Sister Julie

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Eternal Embrace

The Eternal Embrace...that is what it has been called...

Recent newspapers carried the above photograph, or ones like it with a rather remarkable story…it is a story of a love affair that was 5,000 years old. The couple were found 25 miles from the city of Verona, Italy where Shakespeare set his famous play “Romeo and Juliet.” The couple were found buried facing each other, and hugging one another. All indications are that they died very young. Elena Menotti, the archeologist who led the dig put it this way…

"It was a very emotional discovery," she said. "From thousands of years ago we feel the strength of this love. Yes, we must call it love."

In looking at a larger photograph of the couple, they are curled up together, hugging one another. Looking closely you can see one person with arms around the other’s shoulders – while that person puts their arms around the first person’s neck. They are staring into one another’s eyes. No one will ever know if the couple died in each other’s arms or not. But imagine for a moment that they did -- the love that everyone felt, and you can still feel thinking about this couple, is incredible.

…and that is what it is like to feel Jesus’ love. It is a lasting eternal love. It is far too easy to rationalize it, and put it in a historical perspective. We all have heard it said, “Jesus died for you.” But think of it for a moment. How many people do you know that would die for you? Who would take your place in death so you could live? Do you know anyone? Not someone who says they would, for so many do. Who would “take the bullet” for you as they say. Yet, Jesus died for me. He died a very brutal death. He died for me, so I would not have to suffer eternal death. I think of Christ, at the moment of His death, as He stares into eternity – and stares into my eyes. He says, “I love you” and He dies…for me.

How incredibly romantic is that?

Yet few people think of Jesus in terms of romance. Well…a few nuns perhaps….and I JUST HAPPEN to be a nun. Yes, feeling Jesus’ love is like that. True, a spiritual marriage is like any other. Not every moment is filled with ecstasy. Yet there are those passion filled moments when Christ shares His love with His brides…

…and yes…it is like that, an Eternal Embrace.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The sister who would not do the dishes...

May apologies for being too busy to keep up the daily posting. Today I have something a bit different to present to you – a poem. Not your usual poem though. For those of you who know who Shel Silverstein is, you may be familiar with his poem (and song) called “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout would not take the garbage out.” One of my shortcomings of late is not doing the dishes often enough. This prompted the re-writing of the following poem dedicated to the memory of Shel Silverstein.

Sister Frances Allouicious
Didn’t like to do the dishes.
She’d scrape the pots and leave the pans,
Piled in the sink with bits of hams,
And though her sisters would scream their wishes,
She simply would not do the dishes.
With coffee grounds, potato peelings,
Brown bananas, rotten peas,
Chunks of sour cottage cheese,
They filled the sink, they covered the floor,
They cracked the window and blocked the door.
Plates with bacon rines and chicken bones,
And drippy ends of ice cream cones,
Cereal that had dried on bowls like steel,
Bowls with hardened old oatmeal,
Cups with coffee turned old and green,
Bowls with bits of tangerine,
Pots with burned on bits beefy roasts…
The dishes rolled on down the hall,
They raised the roof, they broke the wall…
With greasy napkins and cookie crumbs,
Plates with stuck on bubble gum
Cellophane from Tupperware
Saving things now covered with hair
Knives with food caked and dry,
Saucers with forks and crusts of pie,
And old bent spoons
Quickly filled the rooms,
With smells of fried and rancid meat,
And bowls with glued on Cream of Wheat.
At last the dishes reached so high
That they finally touched the sky.
And all the neighbors moved away,
And none of her friends would come to pray.
And finally Sister Allouicious,
Said, “Ok, I’ll do the dishes!”
But then of course, it was too late…
The dishes reached across the state,
From New York to the Golden Gate.
And there in dishes she did hate,
Poor sister met an awful fate,
That I cannot now relate
Because the hour is much to late.
But sisters remember Sister Allouicious,
And always do the dishes.

God bless you all,
And God bless Shel Silverstein wherever he is now,
Sister Julie

Monday, February 05, 2007

The toughest love you'll ever know

The toughest love you will ever know is learning to love someone who hates you -- tough yet that is what God asked us to do. The following excerpt from a book I wrote for the convent is about that tough love...

"Tolerance, for me, was the first step in learning how to live with myself in peace amidst a world of hatred. The beginning point was to be resolute, and even grimly determined when necessary, to be happy in my identity as a woman when the world told me on a daily basis…sometimes strangers screaming it in my face…that I was not one. At times this meant holding on to peace of mind with firm grip when it so easily slips away. Try living in peace when others hate you instantly and make it a point to tell you so. What I had to do was find a balancing point between anger and pacifism. Turning the other cheek doesn’t mean being a doormat.

As I indicated in the introduction to the book. The first, and perhaps most difficult, was the process of finding myself. This is was a long and arduous process that I went through more than once, before I found the woman I am today…a bride of Christ. Even when I found the person I was meant to be, there were many, many people who will dearly loved to take that happy, strong person away from me. It was very easy to lose myself, especially in the eyes of someone else.
Once you find that person, hold on to who you are with all your strength. Know that whoever you are, you are a child of God and are loved by him. You are the best you there can ever be. The balancing act is a matter of never and I mean NEVER letting anyone take that strong, happy person away from you…no matter what comes your way. This means not letting you take it away from you as well…through pride, stubbornness, depression or one of the other myriad reasons for losing yourself.

Let people dish out whatever hatred they want; I have learned to never be afraid to stand up for myself. Don’t be afraid to confront the hate, the stressors in your life, all those who will revile you. Simply, look the source of the pain, person, place, emotion, spiritual enemy, whatever…in the eye and tell them that they are wrong…no matter how desperately they need for you to be someone else, you are going to be who you are. They and all of the rest of creation will have to simply adjust to it…or go find some other planet to live on. Then turn the cheek again and let them discover that the abuse they wish to dish out doesn’t make any difference. Don’t misunderstand that this means allowing anger to control your life. What you are controlling is THEIR ANGER…whether THEY LIKE IT OR NOT. It is a matter of being the willow instead of the Oak. The willow bends (turns the other cheek) but remains firmly rooted where it is.
Saint Therese of Lissieux was a Carlmelite nun. She once described the process she had to go through in trying to love some the other nuns who mistreated her."

"I saw I didn’t love them as God loves them. Ah! I understand now that charity consists in bearing with the faults of others, in not being surprised at their weakness, in being edified by the smallest acts of virtue we see them practice."

- Saint Therese of Lissieux
"The Story of a Soul"

Friday, February 02, 2007

Live the dream.

Today I bring you an excerpt from a book I wrote for the convent. The essay is titled "live the dream." Dreams change, and as we go through life, if we still dream, the world at large tries to beat those dreams out of us - - but when it comes to dreams of peace, harmony and dedication to God, by whatever we name we call God, it is important to continue to dream and reach for those dreams...

"Live the Dream…

In my own search for identity, I often realized I still had not found the whole answer. For that matter, I felt that I still had not clearly defined the problem. I began to realize that I had internalized what others around me wanted me to be and what they thought of me. This began to drive me away from the very quality of life for which I had been searching. My concern over what others expected of my life had kept me from my dreams. In fact, I had stopped dreaming all together.

So often we all do this with our lives. We reach the point where we lose our dreams. As children we all dream. We dream of "What we want to be when we grow up." We dream of what we want our life to be. We dream of who we will be. Dreams are part of the lives of children. All too often, as we reach adulthood, we lose sight of these dreams. Our main concerns become keeping the bills paid and the stress of the workplace. We sometimes forget to dream of anything but how things will be when we get the next promotion. We live in a society that encourages these attitudes. Our focus is short sighted. We do not think of things in terms of the more distant future. As Elder Blackwolf taught me, the way of Native Americans is to think in terms of what ones actions will have on the future of the next seven generations of children.

But dreaming does not just mean remembering the dreams of childhood. It does mean remembering to dream as we did when we were children. Dreams change. I no longer want to "be what I wanted to be when I grow up" even though I still have interests in these areas. When I was young I wanted to be an Oceanographer, "like Jacques Cousteu." I think it is a telling comment on our society that their where no female scientists I was taught about to hold up as heroes. When I did dream again, I found myself following the dreams I used to have. Perhaps this was sometimes done out of habit. I had to "smoke on it," as Elder Blackwolf would say, with the Chanupa…in other words pray and meditate about it.

I found myself afraid to dream for fear that someone would try and keep me from my dreams. I also found myself afraid to dream for fear that I could never accomplish my dreams. However, does the runner believe that the race is not worth running simply because she does not win the race each time? Is, instead, the worth of the race in the trying?

Sometimes larger dreams affect our lives. These are often the dreams of great men and women. Men like Doctor Martin Luther King dreamed of a better world. We still do not live in this world. Does this mean that his dream was not worth while? Certainly not. However, even great men such as Nicholas Black Elk despaired over this issue. He began to become discouraged because he had not seen his dream/vision accomplished. Yet after his death, generations that have gone on after him have begun to see his dreams of unity made reality. No matter how unlikely it may seem to accomplish the dreams such as those of Dr. Martin Luther King, if we hold these dreams in front of us, we can begin to see ourselves as part of the solution, rather then as part of the problem. We must learn to dream again and always hold the dream in front of us"

God Bless you all,

Sister Julie

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Letter from a friend

No. I am not feeling bad today. But on a day when I was - - when I really needed a friend who could identify, I recieved a letter from a friend -- this letter. The letter is part of a book I Mother Superior asked me to write about my life called "Congratulations your child is a boy and a girl." But just because I am not feeling bad today doesn't mean I might not tommorow or someone else out there who reads this is feeling bad about themselves today. So here is the letter (used in my book by permission) from a friend...

Hi Julie,
Please don't feel badly because a few people dislike you. Like you, I am also a sensitive person and want people to like me, but it's unrealistic to expect everybody to like you. That just doesn't happen. People don't like me because I'm:

not black enough,
have light skin,
have dark skin,
have short hair,
have long hair,
wear make-up,
wear modest clothes,
wear revealing clothes,
wear clothes,
not a "real" Buddhist
not Christian,
not Muslim,
not Jewish,
not "born again",
not a "real" American,
not prejudiced,
dated White guys,
dated Black guys,
dated Hispanic guys,
dated Asian guys,
dated guys,
from the West Side
don't live on the West Side,
don't live on the South Side,
live in the city,
don't live in the city,
work for the government,
work in a white collar job,
able to think for myself,
socialize with friends,
don't socialize with the right friends,
wear fur,
don't eat red meat,
have food to eat,
over 21,
over 40,
over 50,
over the hill,
yada yada yada

Now, given this long list of horrendous faults, can you imagine how much time I spend worrying about it? NONE AT ALL! The folks who dislike me don't pay my rent and don't sleep in my bed; therefore, they can individually and collectively go jump in the lake.
You cannot change how others perceive you. Don't forget that if people dislike you, that is THEIR problem, not yours!!!!

During the 1950's before the Civil Rights movement, some black people thought they would be accepted (liked) if they changed how others viewed them. They moved to the suburbs, bought foreign cars, got little French poodles, learned to play golf, listened to classical music, sent their kids to finishing school, stopped eating soul food, accumulated stock portfolios, and distanced themselves from their roots. So what happened next? NOBODY liked them! White folks called them "uppity n------s" and black folks called them "saditty n-----s". (If you're not familiar with the term "saditty", it's black slang for arrogant, bourgeois, stuck-up, phony, and pretentious.) Perhaps a better route would have been to focus on just being themselves, which came along a generation later.

It's human nature to focus on the negative. We quickly forget the multitudes of polite people who say "please" and "thank you" and "excuse me" "have a nice day" and smile at us every day, but we will always remember the one rude boor who snarled at us in 1978. Try to activate your Buddha nature by understanding (1) the boor's behavior is because he feels badly and needs someone to dump on, (2) saying a prayer for the boor's happiness, and (3) appreciate the kind people who outnumber the boor a million to one.

As I mentioned earlier, there are over three billion people on the planet, so the few who dislike you are in an infinitesimally tiny minority. I tried figuring out the percentage of 100 people who have an attitude versus 3 billion who don't, but the calculator went into "overflow" mode. In other words, this shiny whiz-bang computer was incapable of computing numbers that small!
Everyone wants to be liked, but everyone is not going to be liked by everyone. It's sad but true, and you should not waste any energy feeling badly because someone else has their head up their rear end. Enjoy the beauty of the whole garden instead of crying because one tiny petal on one tiny blossom on one tiny plant is shriveled.