I recently discovered this song by Willie Mason, titled "Oxygen".

I wanna be better than oxygen
So you can breath when you're drowning and weak in the knees
I wanna speak louder than Ritalin for all the children who think they've got a disease
I wanna be cooler than TV for all the kids that are wondering what they're going to be
We can be stronger than bombs if you're singing along and you know that you really believe
We can be richer than industry as long as we know there's things we don't really need
We can speak louder than ignorance coz we speak in silence every time our eyes meet

On and on and on it goes
The world it just keeps spinning
Until I'm dizzy Time to breathe
So close my eyes and start again anew

Click here to watch the music video of "Oxygen"

Memorial Day Weekend

I searched for a prayer that I could hold in my heart and mind throughout this Memorial Day Weekend and I came across the following:

Memorial Day Prayer - Barbara Pescan

Spirit of Life whom we have called by many names in thanksgiving and in anguish—
Bless the poets and those who mourn
Send peace for the soldiers who did not make the wars but whose lives were consumed by them
Let strong trees grow above graves far from home
Breathe through the arms of their branches
The earth will swallow your tears while the dead sing “No more, never again, remember me.”
For the wounded ones, and those who received them back, let there be someone ready when the memories come
when the scars pull and the buried metal moves and forgiveness for those of us who were not there for our ignorance.
And in us, veterans in a forest of a thousand fallen promises, let new leaves of protest grow on our stumps.
Give us courage to answer the cry of humanity’s pain
And with our bare hands, out of full hearts, with all our intelligence
let us create the peace.

Vermont Road Trip

This past weekend was one of my "bonus" weekends off this year granted to me by the church council in recognition of twenty year's service to the congregation. This is the second one I've taken so far and they have been a great gift to the family and I. We had forgotten what it was like to experience a leisurely weekend. On Saturday we used the time to work in the yard, between rainshowers, and do chores around the house. On Sunday we made a quick road trip to Vergennes, Vermont where we met son, Joshua and his wife, Elizabeth, and grandson, Noah, for Sunday dinner. This was our first opportunity to see them since February when they were here for a visit. We had a delightful lunch at "The Hungry Bear" on Main Street in the quaint city of Vergennes. Afterwards we walked about the town, visited a local antique mall, and had ice cream for dessert. I took the Northway and rt.9n going north and Vermont rt.22a, New York rt. 4, and the Northway coming back. Both routes were very scenic. We especially enjoyed rt.22a. These family times are a reminder to us of how fortunate we are to be blessed with children and grandchildren and to not take them or the time we have together for granted. I thought this prayer by e.e. cummings really reflects how I feel.
Thank You for This Amazing Day

i thank You God for most this amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes(i who have died am alive again today,and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birthday of life and love and wings: and of the gay great happening illimitably earth) how should tasting touching hearing seeing breathing any-lifted from the no of all nothing-human merely being doubt unimaginably You?(now the ears of my ears awake and now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
e. e. cummings

Duma

Another rainy evening and a good excuse to pop some popcorn and watch a movie on pay per view. We watched, Duma, a film that is part "buddy movie", part "coming of age", and part "a boy and his dog" (except this time the dog is a cheetah). Filmed on location in Africa, it is a beautiful film to experience visually. The film gives you a real sense for the vastness of the African plain and the diversity and beauty of the wildlife. "Duma" is effectively directed by Carroll Ballard who also directed "The Black Stallion" and "Fly away Home". This is a director fascinated by the special bond that can take place between a human and an animal. The realtionship between the boy, Xan, and ,Duma, the cheetah, is portrayed as one of committment and mutual respect as they trek across the African landscape. This is a fine "family film" that is not maudlin or "sweet' but filled with adventure and strong characters. Click here to see trailer http://www.apple.com/trailers/wb/duma.html

Arlo, Peter, and being a Grandparent


Grandma and I (who the grandchildren refer to as PopPop) endeavor to find effective ways to share our values with our four grandchildren. It's pretty easy with the two toddlers. Jacob, 2, and Noah, almost 2. With them it is about being warm, loving, and fun. Simply being with them and being consistent is enough. But the two oldest, Kaylyn, 13, and Brendan,11, are beginning to ask the right questions and make critical choices about who and what they believe. Being available and loving and accepting of them is critical; yet something more is necessary. We look for opportunities to share experiences and activities that reflect those values that we feel are important.
We had such an opportunity this past weekend when two folk music icons were performing in the area. You can imagine the kids confusion and reluctance when we said that we were taking them to see Arlo Guthrie and Peter Yarrow. Who? They asked. And what kind of music? But they trust us and besides they don't drive yet and besides that, I was paying. So on Friday evening we headed off to Proctor's Theatre for Arlo Guthrie's 40th Anniversary of Alice's Restaurant Massacree Tour. The theatre was packed with baby boomers and aging hippies with a few retro younger people thrown in. I watched the grandchildren as they searched in vain for other people their age and I watched in delight as Arlo's humor, music, and message captivated their spirits. Guthrie talked about raising funds for Hurricane Katrina victims and he sang a beautiful rendition of "St. James Infirmary". Of course he told the story of "Alice's Restaurant" and the "27 black and white photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one". The song was adopted 40 years ago as an anti-war song and the message is just as relevant today. I loved how the evening bounced back and forth between the silly and the profound. One minute we were singing along to the "Motorcycle Song", "I don't want a pickle, I just want to ride my motorcycle", and then we were a choir singing Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land". The most moving part of the evening came at the end when Arlo taught the audience a song titled "My Peace". He explained that his father had written over 3,000 songs on scraps of paper that were left all over the country. His sister has been collecting these lyrics and inviting different musicians to put music to them. In this way there are "new" Woody Guthrie songs popping up all over. "My Peace" was written in the '50s and Arlo had recently put music to it. One reviewer wrote the following, "The song is an instant classic and Guthrie should record it as quick as he can and give it to the world". It was as beautiful a benediction and blessing as I had ever experienced. The grandchildren left with smiles on their faces and singing the songs we had just heard. On Sunday, granddaughter Kaylyn, sang the "Peace Song" for the congregation and did so beautifully.
Sunday evening our church hosted Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul, and Mary fame) and his daughter Bethany in a benefit concert for the EPES ministry our congregation supports in Chile.
Once again the children heard songs that lifted up messages of peace and justice. Songs that encouraged them to speak out against injustice and to live up to their potential. Peter gave a moving and sensitive reading of his song, "Don't Laugh at Me". His daughter Bethany "took us to church" with her souful and soaring melodies and once again we found ourselves singing along to the anthem, "This Land Is Your Land", and in that sanctuary it sounded like a prayer of gratitude. Peter invited all the children on stage, there were others this time, and they sang "Puff the Magic Dragon" together. Both Kaylyn and son, John had brief solo parts as Bethany shared the microphone. Peter emphasized that the "Magic Dragon" was the love and potential and future that each child held in his or her heart. A reception followed the concert and Peter took time to pose for photos and speak to everyone. I watched as he held Kaylyn's face in his hand and told her how beautiful she was and encouraged her to live out her dreams and make a difference. As we tiredly headed for home, both grandchildren thanked us for the weekend. John, Peter Yarrow, and I
At one point in the Sunday night concert, Peter reflected on how many call him "crazy" and he asked how many "crazy" people were there that night with him and we all raised our hands. On Friday evening Arlo referred to us in the crowd as "freaky, weird people". The implication in both cases was that to be a person who was interested in an event that focused on peace and justice issues was to be crazy, freaky, and weird. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to share those values with our grandchildren.

Hog Wild

Move over! No, you move over! I'm the one they're taking a picture of.. No, it's me they want to see me. Stop pushing!!!

Doubts and Questions!

A friend reminded me this morning that Frederick Buechner writes that everyone who comes to worship on a Sunday morning has one question in the back of their mind and that question is; "Is it true?" They come hungry for truth in a world that fabricates, exaggerates, reshapes, and spins "facts" to defend and promote. I believe that the Divine One welcomes honest questions and doubts. As Buechner writes, "Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith, they keep it alive and moving." I invited 30 Junior High teenagers to write down some of their questions tonight. Here are some examples.
Is God male or female?
Why did God all of a sudden decide to make the world?
Can all people get to heaven, even those from other religions?
Why was the Bible written?
Is a sin worst if done by a pastor, or a pastor is the target?
How does it feel to be a pastor?
Is God a Gangsta?
I am grateful that there are a lot of "ants in the pants" of these children of God. If you would like to find out more about the writings of Frederick Buechner check out this article. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/109/51.0.html

Canticle for a Busy Wednesday

As I prepare for a busy and challenging day tommorrow I prayed the following:

Canticle
Christ, as a light illumine and guide me. Christ, as a shield over shadow me.
Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right.
This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me.
This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.
Check out the following site for meaningful prayers like this one for each day. http://www.northumbriacommunity.org/PraytheOffice/morningprayer.html