Friday, May 29, 2015
When I first came into work this morning, I check my email and took time to read the daily reflection I received from Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM. The reflections are always based on Franciscan spirituality and for the last few days have been focused on the fact that St. Francis called everything in creation his brother and sister. In talking about this "oneness" of all creation and about prayer, Fr. Rohr said, "I must know that I am, at least in part, the very thing I am seeking. In fact, that is what makes me seek it. But most do not know this good news yet. God cannot be found 'out there' until God is first found 'in here,' within ourselves."
This, in turn, reminded me of one of my favorite poems, Francis Thompson's "The Kingdom of God." I've always loved the way he explains that nature knows how to find what is important to it, what it is to do. We, on the other hand, are not always aware that the God we seek is already with us! So...I went hunting for Thompson's poem to share with you.
The Kingdom of God
O WORLD invisible, we view thee,
O world intangible, we touch thee,
O world unknowable, we know thee,
Inapprehensible, we clutch thee!
Does the fish soar to find the ocean,
The eagle plunge to find the air--
That we ask of the stars in motion
If they have rumor of thee there?
Not where the wheeling systems darken,
And our benumbed conceiving soars!--
The drift of pinions, would we hearken,
Beats at our own clay-shuttered doors.
The angels keep their ancient places--
Turn but a stone and start a wing!
'Tis ye, 'tis your estrangèd faces,
That miss the many-splendored thing.
But (when so sad thou canst not sadder)
Cry--and upon thy so sore loss
Shall shine the traffic of Jacob's ladder
Pitched betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross.
Yea, in the night, my Soul, my daughter,
Cry--clinging to Heaven by the hems;
And lo, Christ walking on the water,
Not of Genesareth, but Thames!
And the final piece of this morning of synchronicity? I usually like to share a movie video from YouTube when I do a reflection. I had never heard this hymn before but when I found it, it pretty much took my breath away! The lyrics are not printed on the video and I wasn't able to find one that had them. However, they are very simple and I think fairly understandable. Enjoy it and be at peace!
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
We arrived at the hotel about 3:30 Friday afternoon. The others had meetings scheduled so I simply took the time to settle into our room and to look over the rather extensive program booklet. Had I used my head, I would have checked out the orientation session that was being held--both on reviewing the schedule, the theme of mass incarceration, and a bit of background on what to expect on Capitol Hill. However, hindsight always provides ideas for "next time"!
When the others returned from their meetings, we took time to grab a sandwich and headed off to the Opening Celebration: Breaking the Chains. Music played a part in the entire weekend and this opening session was no exception. As happened throughout the weekend, all of us were frequently invited to participate in song. We were welcomed by Jim Winkler, president and general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.; Sr. Patricia Chapel, SNDdeN, executive director of Pax Christi USA; and Douglas G. Grace, director of Ecumenical Advocacy Days. The main speaker for the evening was Rev. Traci Blackmon, pastor of Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, Missouri. Her powerful presentation, based on the Acts of the Apostles, set the tone for the remainder of the weekend and addressed the issues that would become the focus of our lobbying efforts. You can capture a bit of her presentation at http://advocacydays.org/2015-breaking-the-chains/speakers/opening-celebration/.
- allow judges the discretion to fully consider the circumstances of individual cases to arrive at the most appropriate sentencing decision.
- strike or reduce mandatory minimum sentences.
- shrink the size of the federal prison system, particularly among people convicted of nonviolent and low-level offenses.
- eliminate racial disparity and racial bias in sentencing.
- prioritize alternatives to incarceration for individuals who pose little threat to public safety and ensure accountability without the use of excessive punishment.
- vote in favor of the Deutch-Foster amendment
- contact other offices to gain support for the elimination of the quota
- express your opposition to the bed quota in public statements.
- introduce the group and explain our general purpose
- speakers to address each of the two components of the "Ask"
- speakers to tell personal stories related to each component of the "Ask"
- a time keeper
- a note taker
- someone to write a formal thank you after we return home
- Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director, Drug Policy Alliance
- Rev. Edwin C. Sanders, II, senior servant, Metropolitan Interdenominational Church, Nashvile, Tennessee
- Jasmine Tyler, senior policy analyst for Global Health and Drug Policy, Open Society Foundations
- Emira Woods: Global Client Principal for Social Impact Programs at Thought Works--South Africa
- Fr. Shay Cullen: Founder of People Recovery Empowerment and Development Assistance Foundation -- Philippines
- Joanne Blaney: Maryknoll lay missioner and Fr. Valdir Joao Silveira, Ntional Coordinator of the Prison Ministry Pastoral -- Brazil
- Raed Jarrar: Policy Impact Coordinator for American Friends Service Committee -- Middle East
Friday, April 24, 2015
You'll find all of this at http://www.osfphila.org/franciscanvolunteers.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Monday, April 13, 2015
Sr. Esther is second from the left, Sr. Marguerite third from the right, and the Irish Ambassador (wearing the light green dress) is in the center.
Friday, April 10, 2015
One day when I was walking to St. Rose School, I spotted a surprising and precious sight— one brown and three black baby pigs running across the path. I had seen their mom many times before but since pigs tend to be fat anyway, I wasn’t sure she was pregnant. Besides the fact that they were so cute, I was also very happy to see them because they are a source of hope for the farmers here. Up until 1978 Haiti had a huge pig population. The pig was extremely important to the economy of the poor in Haiti. They relied on pigs, especially in emergency situations, for sustenance. However, in 1978 pigs in Haiti were diagnosed as having Asian flu and a decision was made to destroy all of them. The United States had a very strong influence on this decision. Since pigs were so important to the economy of the Haitian poor, the loss caused the people great suffering. Farmers were told that a repopulation program would be put into effect but the effort wasn’t too successful. Few farmers in our area have pigs now. Many people won’t eat them because they’re still afraid of getting sick. Ever since this tragic event, there has been a lot of discussion and criticism about whether it was really necessary and worth all the hardship it brought on the Haitian peasants. So you can better understand why seeing those baby pigs brought a moment of joy and hope to me and, I imagine, to the farmers here.
Local farmers bring their cattle to receive vaccinations.
Later in March