Hello! I'm back from vacation! I'll do a vacation post one day soon and fill you in. But onward to today...
Today's mindfulness practice from Donna Pierce is the quote: "We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same." - Carlos Castaneda
I guess when it comes to "making ourselves" this is true. But there is a heck of a lot of stuff that is beyond our control, beyond our ability to make. Even our personality formation, whether genetic or learned over time, informs our responsiveness.
I have a friend who tells the story of her family. It includes no major tragedies. No unexpected happenings. People are born, live, and die in old age of predictable things. In some ways, it is a charmed life. She knows this. I know a young adult who literally has every possible challenge thrown at her from her early years as a child to alcoholic parents, then runaway, then incarcerated juvenile, and onward. And even now, she is caught in cycles of homelessness and unemployment as an adult. There really is no way to compare these two lives. Honestly, it is the kind of comparison that makes me want to yell at G*d.
As far as miserableness or strongness, they are both strong women. Super strong. One is strong enough to see her privilege and to have a compassionate heart for those who do suffer. The other is strong enough to keep on putting one foot in front of the other.
But the truth is, for the young woman, sometimes she feels miserable within her strength. So perhaps it isn't a mutually exclusive scenario. You can be strong and miserable. When life gives you rotten fruit, you're going to have a stomach ache. Yeah?
In Washington, where I live (the state), we have the third highest population of homeless people in the nation when comparing cities. King County (my county) had over 10,000 homeless people in 2015 with 30% of that being families with children. The January 2016 one-night count reported a 19% increase over 2015. Which is why it was even more appalling that the Mayor of Seattle wanted the state to pay $1 million to evict and clean-up a single homeless encampment.
Washington is ranked 33rd in charitable giving. Washington has no income tax but their high sales tax places them fifth highest sales taxes in the nation according to the Tax Foundation. For property taxes, Washington is right in the middle at #23. There is a relationship between high degrees of homelessness and a high sales tax rate.
With state income dependent on selling things, the very poor carry a disproportionate burden of the tax rate. The very poor pay nearly 17% of their income towards taxes while the very rich pay 2.4%. And for those who think the churches can pick up the slack for the poor, maybe they can. But they for sure aren't doing that with a ranking of 33rd.
As much as I love Washington, and I do, we are a selfish people. And our very wealthy has sold a bill of goods to our lower income workers that a tax on income would be detrimental to lower income people's tax rates. I don't see anyway around it. When people ask me what is the issue with prisons, education, or any presenting symptom, I tell them the problem is our tax structure.
And we have more homeless people. And more miserable people. And more opportunities to become strong people.
The lie is that our resources are constricted. Washington ranks #11 in the nation for per household income. The market-share constriction of resources is an bad and old idea. We have an abundance and could solve the homelessness and misery problem if we so chose. But we don't. Moving into a mind-share abundance is too frightening for some, too generous for others, and not imaginable for others. I feel that we are on a cusp of a revolution and are seeing the violent death pangs on our national stage with the presidential election.
And the only person we can change is our self.
This week's practice brings music from composer Dobrinka Tabakova, a blessing from John O'Donohue, wisdom from Frances Hodgson Burnett, and a photo from Per at flickr. Along with readings from the Jewish and Christian lectionaries, the Qur'an, and the Buddhist tradition. And as always, we have our BIBOLOVE practice from Soyinka Rahim. (BIBO = Breathe In, Breathe Out). Our prayers for this week focus on Aotearoa/New Zealand and Australia.
Reminder: the Synchroblog event, 100 Thousand Poets for Change, will be occurring on September 24 at The Bardo Group Beguines. Along with live events and a Peacemakers for Change event in Tukwila, WA. Put it on your calendars! The coordination & communication hub is on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/100TPCHub/.
Let my heart rise up to meet mercy, my voice to meet compassion, my hands to meet action.
BIBOLOVE: Breath In, Breath Out--ahhhh
Dawn by Dobrinka Tabakova
FOR BELONGING, John O'Donohue
May you listen to your longing to be free.
May the frames of your belonging be generous enough for your dreams.
May you arise each day with a voice of blessing whispering in your heart.
May you find a harmony between your soul and your life.
May the sanctuary of your soul never become haunted.
May you know the eternal longing that lives at the heart of time.
May there be kindness in your gaze when you look within.
May you never place walls between the light and yourself.
May you allow the wild beauty of the invisible world to gather you, mind you, and embrace you in belonging.
O'Donohue, John. To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings (pp. 44-45). Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony. Kindle Edition.
Jewish Daily Reading: Daily Study from Chabad
Christian Daily Reading: Revised Common Lectionary Daily Reading
Muslim Daily Reading: Daily Verse from The Only Quran
Buddhist Daily Reading: Daily Zen
Please bring your own sacred readings to the daily pattern. If there is something else you'd like to see, let me know!
“The truth is that when one is still a child-or even if one is grown up- and has been well fed, and has slept long and softly and warm; when one has gone to sleep in the midst of a fairy story, and has wakened to find it real, one cannot be unhappy or even look as if one were; and one could not, if one tried, keep a glow of joy out of one's eyes.”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, A Little Princess
Weekly prayer focus comes from the World Council of Churches prayer cycle. We know the world needs to be surrounded with prayer and positive thought. This allows us to work through the world country by country. We focus on one set of countries per week with the same prayer, lifting them up.
Focus countries: Aotearoa/New Zealand and Australia
Let us pray.
We know that we fail to live up to being makers of peace. Let us bring in rather than push out, be invitational rather than confrontational--seeing signs of life while decrying the desecration of hope.
For signs of hope and peace, we pray for
- The wondrous diversity of creation and those who seek to be good stewards.
- Aboriginal and Maori cultures and those who try to preserve the best of them.
- Gum trees and kangaroos, wallabies and kiwi fruit, Aoraki/Mt Cook and Uluru/Ayers Rock.
- Coral reefs and the wonders of life they contain.
- Societies becoming multicultural and learning to be more open to those who are different.
- Lively debate and political wit.
For the oppressed and weary, we pray for
- The rights and lives of Aboriginal peoples, who have lived in Australia for thousands of years.
- The rights of Maori people, who were the original inhabitants of Aotearoa/New Zealand.
- An end to discrimination against refugees and migrants seeking a better, safer life.
- Those who oppose violence and war.
For those who suffer, are homeless, or are sick
For those we love, those we hate and those we are indifferent to
For the transformation from ME to WE
Let peace prevail on earth.
So may it be.
Translation by Neil Douglas Klotz, Sufi
O Birther! Creator of the Cosmos,
Focus your light within us— make it useful:
Create your reign of unity now-
Your one desire then acts with ours,
as in all light, so in all forms.
Grant what we need each day in bread and insight.
Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,
as we release the strands we hold of others’ guilt.
Don’t let surface things delude us,
But free us from what holds us back.
From you is born all ruling will,
the power and the life to do,
the song that beautifies all,
from age to age it renews.
Truly— power to these statements—
may they be the ground from which all
my actions grow: Amen.