Friday, September 30, 2011


I know it may be puzzling to read about love at this time of year. It's not the Christmas season when we are filled with love of church or family, and it's nowhere near Valentine's Day when we traditionally express romantic love. But as the song reminds us, "What the world needs now is love, sweet love". 

Today, so much attention is focused by the media on the opposites of love: hate, fear, dissension, and violence. Just about everyone at one time or another seems to be at the center of their attention. A large portion of the American public spends a good deal of time watching television news or reading the news in papers or online. These folks are being programmed -- or indeed, brainwashed -- into a hateful and/or fearful mentality. An us against them mentality. We are constantly being pitted one against another: country against country, the Democrats vs Republicans (and now the Tea Partiers), liberals vs conservatives, "legal" citizens vs illegal immigrants, believers vs nonbelievers, rich vs poor. We are exposed daily to the "failures" and "losers" in our society, and they differ depending upon who is telling the story. Of course, we all want to be on the successful, winning side, don't we? It can be confusing at times knowing which side that is. It flip flops on us as we switch the channels on our TV, read opinions by different authors, or hear results from the latest poll. How are we supposed to know who we are against?? Or who to hate?

Love is anathema to a good news story, right? But never has it been needed more by our society.
What kind of love is needed now? Agape is often defined as Christian love, or brotherly love -- it is a type of love that is encouraged by all religions and philosophies. But even atheists feel love for their fellow man. I've always felt that these verses in I Corinthians 13 project what would be a perfect love. There are a few additional words that define love as well: compassion, empathy, forgiveness, tolerance, and generosity. And one we often forget -- service. What would life be like if there were not those dear souls who, with love in their hearts for their fellow man, dedicate their lives to caring for others? I believe that it is the rise of greed in the hearts of some that has created the loss of quality in so many areas of service to others. It is becoming more and more the case of "if the dollars aren't there, the loving care isn't either"! And that's sad.
The song goes on to say, "No not just for some, but for everyone." Wow! wouldn't it be wonderful if we all experienced love? We may not always receive love, but we can always be love.. and express it in myriad ways to everyone and everything in the world around us. One little way I like to think I am spreading love is by purchasing the Love postage stamps. I put them on all my correspondence -- even the bills I pay by mail! Silly, but it brings a smile to my face thinking about the people who handle each piece of my mail and see that little spot of love on the envelope. I hope it brightens someone's day. I'm always eager to see the new issues of these stamps each year, and I'm upset when the post office is out of Love stamps. My favorite was one published years ago. It was a picture of the earth from space, and instead of being round it was heart shaped! 
You can tell how long ago this stamp was published by looking at the cost! These were sold in 1991.
I know that some people are put off by my habit of signing nearly all of my emails with "Love". I really mean that, though. If we are close enough to send each other emails -- even jokes -- that means we care about each other. If one can care for a stranger and offer love by way of little postage stamps or serving up food at a local food kitchen, why can I not send a little love by way of my often brief messages via the internet to people I know? I always have believed that words have powerful energy. If I put any energy into correspondence, I want it to be positive, loving energy!

I consider it an expression of love when I fill the bird feeder in my backyard.. or give the birds fresh water. Or when I feel sorry for Piper, the Great Dane who lives next door, when she is left in her pen for days on end, and I take her a couple of doggy biscuits and rub her ears and talk to her for awhile. She has even learned to "sit" politely in anticipation of her treats! When we give love, we often receive so much love in return.

We can share our love by donating to worthy causes -- money if we have it or time if we don't; by calling someone we love and haven't spoken to in a long time; by sending a get well card to cheer someone who is ailing; by forgiving someone who has inadvertently (or purposely) hurt our feelings; or by visiting a lonely person. And of course, there is always the Internet. To send a personal email -- even a short one -- to let someone know you are thinking of them has lifted the spirits of someone. (Myself included!) I like to think of it as Instant Love!

Even during all the natural disasters in the United States and other countries in recent months, it was heartwarming to see the love in action as people from all over the world as well as our own area rallied to offer assistance in every way imaginable. It seems to neutralize the pain and horror of such events if we concentrate on the rescue and relief efforts.
Love is truly  powerful. Below is a beautiful bit of prose written by one of my favorite metaphysical teachers. I'm sure I've posted this on one of my blogs before, but I think it needs to be read again and again:

"There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer;
no disease that enough love will not heal;
no door that enough love will not open;
no gulf that enough love will not throw down;
no sin that enough love will not redeem...
It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble;
how hopeless the outlook;
how muddled the mistake.
A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all.
If only you could love enough you would be the happiest and most powerful being 
in the world.".. Emmet Fox

Yesterday I noticed I was getting increasingly impatient with the long line at the drive through window at the drugstore. I was penned in for 20 minutes, making me late for helping out at the Community Kitchen. I was very cross with the young man when I finally dropped off my prescription, telling him in no uncertain terms how I felt! As I drove off, I was ashamed of myself for my outburst. A few hours later when I returned to pick up my prescription, the same young man waited on me. (This time it took only 10 minutes!) He was very apologetic and made some comment about how it just didn't seem to be my day. I apologized to him, and even told him how I was learning a lesson about being in such a hurry. Patience, Marilyn, is a loving virtue!

Let me know your favorite way of spreading the love. We can't all be Mother Teresa, but in a myriad of small ways we can express love and overcome all the negativity that surrounds us daily. 

Peace to you all,

I love you!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A sad commentary on this "Nation Under God"

The Georgia Board of Parole and Pardons' failure to grant clemency to convicted killer Troy Davis is just one more example of the ills of our country. The fact that we put to death many innocent people in this country because of the hard line of a few is shameful. The state of Texas leads the thirty-six states who have the death penalty with the number of executions carried out. More have been carried out under our present Governor Rick Perry than under any other of our governors. It was shocking to hear Perry's recent statement that he never loses sleep over any of them! Even if one of them might be innocent. And this is the man who shamelessly prayed in front of our whole nation, displaying his so-called Christian beliefs for no other reason than to gain votes from the Christian Right. To me, this is typical of the hypocrisy shown by so many professed Christians running for office today.

As Sister Prejean (author of Dead Man Walking) says above, Jesus was a threat to the Romans and the religious hierarchy of His day because of His all-encompassing love, and insistence on equality for all. Forgiveness was a key word of His Gospel. And each and every one of us is deserving. Can you imagine that, if Jesus were here today, before healing someone He asked to see a green card, proof of citizenship, or Social Security card? Or asked who one was sleeping with. To refuse food or drink to a beggar in rags because to help him might make him dependent and not seek work?

It makes no sense to me to make a stand against abortion rights, then refuse to allow adequate sex education (not just abstinence) in our schools or planned parenthood clinics to assist the poor.  Yet this happens in every election since Roe v Wade. (Texas, by the way, leads the nation in teen pregnancies.) It makes about as much sense as clinics to "cure" homosexuality. Both of these issues are in the forefront of so many religious political contenders today. And they attract a lot of voters who never bother to seek out or to understand the rest of their platforms. Which today seems to be to maintain the status quo.. or maintain or institute legislation that only helps the few.

And that's what these candidates count on.

Tonight Troy Davis will join the ranks of Dead Men Walking.. guilty or innocent. May God bless his soul.

Peace and love to all,

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I do not know how many of you watched the ceremonies this morning at Ground Zero, but one of the most moving parts to me was hearing this version of "The Sound of Silence" by Paul Simon. The moments of silence at the exact time the planes hit each one of the towers, the Pentagon, and the plane that went down in Pennsylvania, then the ringing of the bell, moved me to tears. 

Other moving musical tributes were performed by Yo-Yo Ma, James Taylor, and a beautiful rendition of "Amazing Grace" by a flautist whose name I did not get. 

Among the speakers, Governor Christie of New Jersey read a short poem by Mary Lee Hall, urging people  to Turn Again to Life
"If I should die and leave you here awhile
Be not like others sore undone
Who keeps long vigil by the silent dust.
For my sake turn again to life and smile
Nerving the heart and trembling hand
To do something to comfort other hearts than thine.
Complete these dear unfinished tasks of mine
And I perchance may therein comfort you."

So many families of survivors were inspirational in telling their stories of how they have done just that -- turned again to life. And honored loved ones lost too soon.

Former NY Governor George Pataki read the last verse of the poem, "The Names", written by Billy Collins, United States Poet Laureate, in 2002 as a tribute to the fallen that fateful day of September 11, 2001:

"..Names written in the pale sky.
Names rising in the updraft amid buildings.
Names silent in stone
Or cried out behind a door.
Names blown over the earth and out to sea.
In the evening -- weakening light, the last swallows.
A boy on a lake lifts his oars.
A woman by a window puts a match to a candle,
And the names are outlined on the rose clouds --
Vanacore and Wallace,
(let X stand, if it can, for the ones unfound)
Then Young and Ziminsky, the final jolt of Z.
Names etched on the head of a pin.
One name spanning a bridge, another undergoing a tunnel.
A blue name needled into the skin.
Names of citizens, workers, mothers and fathers,
The bright-eyed daughter, the quick son.
Alphabet of names in a green field.
Names in the small tracks of birds.
Names lifted from a hat
Or balanced on the tip of the tongue.
Names wheeled into the dim warehouse of memory.
So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart."

As President Obama read from the Book of Psalms, there was no doubt in my mind that, although no prayers were to be said at these ceremonies, many were offering up their private prayers to God.. and God was there.
No, we will never forget the dark day of 9/11/01. So many American lives were lost needlessly. We will always honor and revere their memory. However, there is nothing more we can do about those losses. Nearly 3,000 gone forever from this earth. And as we turn again to life, may we "do something to comfort other hearts". Nearly 100,000 lives are lost daily to the famine in Somalia. Surely there is something we can do about that. We have thousands of victims of the wildfires right here in Texas right now needing our help and comfort. We can do something about that.
And as a reminder that there is always good happening somewhere on any given day, I thought I would include the following little chart of "good stuff happening" on this day in history:
  • First World Parliament of Religions conference held, marking the first formal gathering of representatives of Eastern and Western spiritual traditions (1893)
  • Mahatma Gandhi coined the term "Satyagraha" (Truth-Force) to characterize Non-Violent movements (1906)
  • The Boston Red Sox won the World Series; wouldn't repeat for 86 years (1918)
  • The World Wildlife Fund was formed (1961)
  • The Beatles recorded their first single, "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You," at EMI studios in London (1962)
  • U.S. President Jimmy Carter, President Sadat of Egypt, and Prime Minister Begin of Israel agreed at Camp David on a framework for peace in the Middle East (1978)
  • Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds recorded his 4,192nd hit, breaking Ty Cobb's career record (1985)
  • Scots voted to create their own Parliament after 290 year union with England (1997)
And on this day in 2005, Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip after 38 years. Israeli soldiers lowered the flag at a ceremony marking the end of military rule there. It had already removed its settlers from Gaza, bulldozed their homes and demolished its military bases.

As the lovely poem says "turn again to life and smile"... There are unfinished tasks to complete.

In reverence, peace, and love,

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Gotta get a wiggle on...

I must clarify something about myself in regards to the previous post containing the  Holstee Manifesto. I do not "Travel Often". Nor do I like to travel any more. However, I have been "lost" a few times! Not in a physical sense, but lost nonetheless. And yes, getting lost does help one find oneself. And that often prompts me to say, "I've gotta get a wiggle on"! For those of you who aren't familiar with that phrase, it's one I grew up hearing from my Mother. "Marilyn, get a wiggle on! You're going to be late!" Saying it to myself gets me back on my path before time runs out.

I said that to a friend of mine one time, and she looked at me and asked "How do you do that, Marilyn?" "Do what?" I replied. "Get a wiggle on. I want to see you do it." We both had a big laugh. She's from "up north", and had never heard the expression.

Living in New York City when I was in my 20s, the people there always asked me where I was from. Taxi drivers prided themselves on being able to determine locale by anyone's accent. They never guessed I was from Texas. Usually, they guessed Boston or Florida. Then late one afternoon I dropped into a little shop in Greenwich Village close to my apartment. As the door bell tinkled, I stuck my head in and asked the gentleman behind the counter, "Are you fixin' to close?" He grinned really big and said, "You've got to be from Texas!" I was dismayed that I had been found out! Seems he had been stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio years before. "You never hear 'fixin' to' anywhere but Texas." he told me. You know, since that day I am always "getting ready to" do something -- but never am I "fixin' to"!
Matthew Delivering Donations @ Bastrop
Most of you have heard about the horrendous wildfires going on not only in the Austin area, but all over Texas. I spent a tense three days as the news filled with stories of the fire in Steiner Ranch where my son Matthew and his family live. They evacuated, taking their pet Corgi Jasmine, and spent two nights in friends' homes, not knowing whether or not they would have a home to go home to. Matthew was very philosophical about the whole thing, and remained calm -- which helped me. He told me that he got the most important things out -- his family. He said the rest is "just stuff, Mom", and can be replaced. He has good insurance, though, as many people do not.

Back home, after a hot shower (they have a gas water heater, but there was no electricity at first), and counting their blessings, Matthew began working on getting donations together to help fire victims who were not so lucky. He was "paying it forward". He's shown above in Bastrop, where over 1,300 homes were completely burned to the ground. Last night I heard the Bastrop wildfire is still only 40% contained.

Matthew is my youngest child, born when I was a little more mature -- nearly thirty years old. Knowing he probably would be my last baby, I remember holding him in the wee hours of the morning, long after he had finished nursing and had fallen asleep, rocking him gently and feeling that there was something very special about this happy little baby. As he has grown, Matthew has had more trials than most young people. At the age of twenty he began a series of terrible losses of people he loved. Instead of becoming bitter and cynical, or self-pitying, Matt has grown into a big-hearted, generous man who is "always there" for anyone in need. Family, friends, or strangers. He's an optimist who sees the glass as half-full instead of half-empty. He might scoff if he hears me say that he is more Christian than a lot of folks who are in church every time the doors open.  He may not profess to be Christian, but he is spiritual, and embodies all the good qualities one would expect in a Christian.

Now don't think I think he's perfect! As the card he gave me on Mother's Day said, "You mean I can't fly?" No, Matthew, you still can't fly! However, this is one kid that I never had to warn "Get a wiggle on! You're going to  be late!" Oh, I don't think he ever gets "lost" either. He has a GPS. (And Mom's prayers.)

And he's always "getting ready" to do something that makes me a proud Mom.

Peace and love,

Sunday, September 4, 2011


My manifesto, too, that is...
The Holstee Manifesto
I copied this from another blog recently. I understand it has been making the rounds on the Internet. I loved it so that I wanted to share it with my own readers. The small company who introduced this manifesto has some interesting, environmentally friendly products. Items made from recycled goods are among them. Best of all, 10% of their profits go to helping poverty stricken entrepreneurs. Check out their website at How about a tee-shirt with the manifesto on it? How cool is that? I think I would add to the line "If you don't have enough time, stop watching TV or get off your iPhone!"
Thank goodness, we here in Central Texas are looking at a weather forecast that predicts cooler temperatures this next week. The highs are predicted to be in the low 90s and even 80s, with some nights in the 50s and 60s! Unbelievable. After nearly 80 days of 100+ temperatures this summer, and absolutely no rain to speak of, everything, including the people, is cooked. Most yards look like straw. Few flowers are alive and blooming. And the poor tree branches are drooping, and their leaves are falling like winter is upon us. Water use is restricted, and wildfires are a constant threat. We find ourselves longing for some of the tropical storms brewing to send rain into our state -- but not too much now!
I remember complaining about the severe cold we had last winter (it was a record breaking winter here). Now I'm looking forward to those cold temperatures -- but not too cold. I found myself thinking I am a lot like Goldilocks in the Three Bears story. I want everything around me -- especially the weather -- to be "just right"! Is that too much to ask? Of course it is. When so many in our country, and the world, are suffering so much worse than we have been! It makes me a little ashamed. I say a little prayer of thanksgiving that I am not being forced out of my home due to horrendous earthquakes or flooding. And thanks that I am close enough to the fire department that I do not have to fear wildfires like they are having in some parts of Texas.

Travis and I were looking out the window at what appeared to be rain clouds in the distance. We had been talking about the desperate need for rain, and all of the effects of the drought on our country -- wildfires, the loss of food crops, hungry cattle, wildlife abandoning their young for lack of food -- as well as our own personal needs. As the clouds darkened, I muttered, "Let it rain, let it rain, please let it rain". Travis looked at me with a puzzled expression. I quickly explained I was talking to God. (I do this a lot, but usually not out loud!) He told me that the weather reports he had been looking at online said it is not going to rain! I replied, "It might. We have to think positive. But, then again, it might not rain. Do you know why?" He shook his head. I said, "Because, even though God hears our every prayer, sometimes the answer to our prayers is 'No'. Do you know why that is?" Travis thought about that for a moment or two then answered, "Because God knows best?" This made my heart swell and my eyes mist over. A profound thought for a barely 9-year-old boy.

I thought to myself, how can all of this loss and devastation fall under the heading "Best"? What good can come of it? I've pondered upon that question for a few weeks now.  The only good result I see is that the less rain we have, and the more the water levels in our lakes and rivers drop to dangerous levels, the more the necessity for conserving water has become apparent. That and conserving the energy used to keep us cool during this long, hot, dry summer. One look at utility bills and the resulting increases over the previous year makes even the most privileged among us cringe. Think how much we could have saved if we only had a good supply of alternative energy for our electrical needs. Solar energy would be a boon with this much sunshine and cloud-free skies!

We as a country must wake up to the damages we have done to the environment, and implement necessary changes before it is too late. The United States has always been a world leader, however, our depletion of the planet's resources, and the industrialization causing pollution not only of the earth's surfaces but also of the atmosphere are accelerating, and soon it will be too late. The available technology that put men on the moon as well as space stations and satellites in orbit can surely be used for cleaning up our messes. The plunder of the earth has made many men, corporations, and countries wealthy. What good will that wealth be if the world dies?

I think it is pretty obvious that I am a believer in the theory of global warming. The melting ice caps and the warmer ocean temperatures are a result of the tear in the ozone layer, according to that theory. And the hole in the ozone is a result of the pollution being pumped into the atmosphere. A pretty simple explanation to me. I do know that the warmer ocean temperatures are the cause of the increase in number and severity of the hurricanes we've seen in recent years. What about the horrendous droughts now being experienced in different parts of the world, resulting in the terrible famine in South Africa? If it keeps up in this part of the United States, we can see a similar loss to our food crops and cattle. Could it ever get as bad as Africa's?

Some like to blame God -- or just the natural evolution of the planet earth. I say the blame lies with mankind, and its greed. What are we going to do about it? What can we do about it?

For the time being, I will observe the water restrictions, carefully ministering to the few little shrubs and plants I can keep alive. I will keep putting out food and water for the birds that visit my backyard in increasing numbers. And I will hope that the deer who have recently crossed the highway near my home and jumped the fence into my yard seeking food will stay safe and not be hit by cars. Sadly, they are not finding much more to eat in our neighborhood than in the hills beyond.

I will continue to pray for rain.. and as the Manifesto says, I will "share my passion". My passion is this earth and everything on it.

Peace and love,