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Daily Reflections Earth Healing

Daily Reflections
by Al Fritsch, S.J.


A series of written meditations and reflections



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Table of Contents: Daily Reflections

August 2008

Copyright © 2008 by Al Fritsch

Daily Reflections Earth Healing print reflection

Eastern black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)
Nelson County, KY

  August is back-to school time; it is high summer when vacations end for many and thus we see the first foreshadowing of rapidly approaching autumn. The lazy days of July give way to mists rising in the morning and evenings, which are getting noticeably shorter. Nature is offering us clues that nothing, not even summer, remains forever: birds start to flock; cobwebs appear in greater number; the morning mists envelop the countryside; goldenrod appears in rocky places and roadside banks; and bush phlox stand out in the forest understory. The landscape is verdant, and fields yield bountiful supplies of watermelons, peaches, apricots, cantaloupes, grapes, fresh green corn, cascades of ripe tomatoes, butterbeans, and a river of green, yellow and tan squash. It's the time for homemakers to pickle the smaller cucumbers, make tomato juice, preserve the peaches, fill up the deep freeze, solar dry the first pickings of apples, and prepare tasty cobblers from the spare blueberries, peaches and grapes. It's the time of the mayapple fruit, teasel, spotted joe-pye weed and red clover blooms, of ripe clusters of pokeweed and tasty papaws. August is when we harvest and plant at the same time, harvesting the spring plantings and planting the autumn vegetables.



A mural featuring the Kentucky Pride program, Livingston, KY
*photo credit)

August 1, 2008     The Poor and Environmental Solutions

    Reality speaks forthrightly, and becomes the atmosphere for testing our maturing spirituality.  When the reality of life is hidden through denial, excuse, or escape, spirituality lacks an authenticity, and keeps us withdrawn from the blessings of the needy and often forsaken; we have fewer opportunities to offer thanks for the blessings of the poor that are all around us. 

     We crave models to pattern our lives.  How about looking to the poor?  The poor generally have their feet on the ground when it comes to essential needs, far more than do affluent people.  Because the poor generally live closer to ravaged areas of environmental degradation, they have experienced the effects in the form of precarious health and lower quality of life.  Insofar as they endure unhealthy conditions, they do not always complain about maladies and discomforts.  Others coming from states of greater comfort may voluntarily take on poverty, become sensitive to needs, and articulate the chasms between the haves and have-nots.  All who enter or continue in the poverty condition of our world experience the vulnerability that comes with living among and with the poor. 

     The affluent and the poor have fundamentally different ways of perceiving the same situation.  That is especially true where the problem areas call for immediate and fundamental conversion and change.  The affluent are blessed with a greater mobility, more influential connections, and more access to material and informational resources.  However, all of these privileges do not guarantee eco-success.  In part, this is due to lack of sensitivity (the sin of affluence) to the needs of others, and an unwillingness to work together as equals in problem-solving. 

     In recent years we have seen the rise of "junk" science, which contains "findings" paid for by special interest groups.  These hack scientists are hired to say that Earth is not undergoing global warming, or that some so-called environmental problem is overblown.  Such conclusions generally work to the benefit of resource-exploiting industries, which do not want further regulations or critical attention.  These organizations and their wealth work together with affluent colleagues to muster resources to deny an impending catastrophe; they escape to less threatening locations; they excuse themselves by saying that the question should be handled by experts at some future time usually beyond our lifetime.  

     Environmental problems call for cooperative action at all economic levels.  Although the poor are handicapped by lack of resources, they have certain advantages:  they know the harm first hand;  they see current situations as life and death struggles; they need to make a living and thus are quite practical about solutions;  they are confident that God is with them;  they are the grassroots;  and, finally, they know history is on their side.  

     Prayer: Lord, lift up the lowly.  




Witnessing sunset at the end of a beautiful day.

*photo credit)

August 2, 2008              Water Fountains

     People long for a harmony of water and land, especially in times of drought -- for bubbly springs, for showers in the fields, and for clear water flowing past verdant tree-lined shores.  Some are blessed with observing from their home a lake or river or even the ocean;  others settle for a small farm pond or nearby creek;  and still many more have no naturally occurring moving water, but settle for the artificial; they substitute water circulating in fish tanks or ponds, interior waterfalls, or water fountains.  The gurgling water fountain gives the appearance of bubbling springs, or the life force coming from the Earth itself to refresh us.  In parts of Europe, where water flows by gravity down from nearby mountains, residents treasure centuries-old fountains that furnish water via springs or aqueducts.  The town fountain becomes a gathering place as well as the essential source for potable water. 

     Only rarely today is it possible to have an on-going flow of water from a mountain source.  Interior or exterior fountains with recirculating water are designed to fulfill the same aesthetic purpose (water sound and sight), but these are not water sources as such.  This modern fountain is generally located in a protected and enclosed patio where the sound reverberates from the surrounding walls; the environment stays cool by means of surrounding vegetation, the shade of which prevents water evaporation.  The soothing sound along with the sight of water amid potted or in-ground plants produces the atmosphere of a cool (even tropical) forest.  A well-designed fountain has a magic touch that draws people to congregate, rest, and relax in its vicinity.  It is moving water; it springs as though from the Earth, giving a sense of abundance, fertility, and release of forces that has been caught for centuries by poets and artists.   

     Running a water fountain need not be wasteful, for the water can be recirculated with a small expenditure of energy for a solar water pump.  Much depends on the fountain's evaporation potential -- and that can be lessened by planting vegetation so that increased humidity and protection from a direct breeze will reduce evaporation immensely.  Lower quality water can be used, provided it has no unpleasant odor.  The jets for the fountain can be adjusted so that the stream flow is reduced or ultimately turned off during drought.  Allowing the water to flow over rocks or other surfaces may increase evaporation, especially if in a sunny location.  As mentioned, the operation of the small circulating water pump and accompanying night ornamental lighting can be achieved using solar energy.  The small water pump does not need much storage capacity, since circulation after dark can be suspended.   Daylight is perfect with fountains though some like the atmosphere of longer night lighting which they achieve through storing excess solar energy through additional batteries. 

     Prayer:  Lord, You are the fountain of life, our treasure.  Help us to be springs of life to others so that your goodness may be better know by them.


A trio of hummingbirds, gracing the summer sky.
*photo by Walt Para,
Sunrise Ridge, Stanton Kentucky)

August 3, 2008         Feeding People

     The one who comes to me will not go away hungry. (John 6:35)

     People need to be fed spiritually and materially.  One cannot expect to do one without the other, for we need a balance of the spiritual and material.  We could hardly expect a hungry person to give much attention to a spiritual lecture;  nor do we expect the overly sated to beg God for daily bread.  Spirituality means we are concerned about the poor.  Thus sharing of resources is a moral demand, without which there is no spiritual life.  We can hardly receive Communion worthily if we allow many at our doorstep to go hungry -- and the world is at our doorstep.

     Part of this spiritual mandate consists in helping to solve pressing human problems.  One of these is the loss of food producing land.  We know that urban sprawl and industrialization are a worldwide phenomena, and prime agricultural land is in short supply -- and growing shorter as vast nations like China and India move more to the automobile-based economy with highways and parking lots.  To lose an intensive rice paddy in Japan or Korea means that valuable productive agricultural land is being converted with no replacement.  On a worldwide perspective we ask:  Can we continue to feed growing populations on essentially less and less farm land? 

     Relatively affluent Pacific Rim lands are experiencing a shocking loss of productive land to the pressure of new consumer activities and industrialization projects.  Upward economic mobility encourages farmers to use land formerly in crop production for new types of food (e.g., eggs and meat and specialty items) that require more land than does pure grain or edible oil-bearing plants.  Today 70% of farmland is used for livestock and one third of all grain is used as animal feed.  Less grainlands for staples and rising demands for resource intensive foods in newly affluent lands put essential foods beyond the reach of the poor.  Recall the book:  Who will Feed China?  by Lester Brown, Worldwatch Institute, 1998, Washington, DC.  Add to this situation the turning of corn and sugar fields into production of biofuels and we have a perfect food crisis that has surfaced in 2008. 

     Conservationists seek land use restrictions because industry and housing are sprawling over once productive farmlands.  The patterns are similar throughout the world:  farmland is ripe for development;  its economic value escalates to the point that the farmer is encouraged to sell and retire.  Governments at different levels must make meaningful land use restrictions.  Conservation easement programs that pay landholders for leaving land undeveloped are now in place in more conservation-minded areas.  Furthermore, returning land to food production and subsidizing small farmers with loans and equipment are part of a comprehensive food production program of which we all must consider as part of our spiritual mission.

     Prayer:  Lord, inspire us to feed the hungry.


A mobile home in rural Kentucky
The glow of sunset on a  mobile home in rural Kentucky
*photo credit)

August 4, 2008          Mobile Homes   

     Earlier this year the spotlight focused on the thousands of FEMA trailers used for Katrina victims and others, because their interiors contained worrisome amounts of outgassed toxic formaldehyde.  About forty percent of lower income urban and rural Americans live in mobile or manufactured homes.  These people find these mobile or manufactured structures more affordable and consider them "instant" homes, which can be hauled from one place to another and installed in a short time.  However, these housing units have disadvantages that include:

      * Purchase of manufactured homes sends out of the community money that would have gone to local builders.  Bringing in a mobile home causes problems for local drivers, but that is minor compared to the fact the local construction company loses another job, and the community has less local spending money, for much of the money goes for construction at a distant factory.

        * Environmental building associations make a list of certain preferred materials to be used in housing, and certain materials that are less desirable (plastics and aluminum) because of resource expenditure, distance from place of construction, instability under certain climate conditions, or flammability.   Some materials require enormous amounts of energy to obtain, process, manufacture, ship and store, whereas others, especially local native materials like clay, stone, and wood have less resource cost. 

      * The air in new manufactured homes is perhaps somewhat better now than it was a few years past when the pronounced smell of the formaldehyde (a volatile chemical found in many fabric and plastic interior decorations) would escape from the materials to the surrounding air.  The formaldehyde has made the boxed-in effect and lack of air exchange of insulated mobile homes all the more problematic.  These units ought to be aired out thoroughly, especially when new fabric and plastic furnishing have been added.

      * The inherent design of mobile homes leads to their being destroyed by heavy winds far more frequently than stationary homes.  Insurance companies know this, and so do those who buy and sell homes.  Generally, the type of construction, the deterioration of materials, and the inability to maintain them properly, lead to rapid depreciation.  Low-income rural counties experience deteriorating tax bases due to widespread depreciation of cheap mobile housing.  To counter this, one solution is to convert the mobile home to a stationary one through additional foundation, siding and new roofing.  I directed the covering of a mobile home's outer walls with cordwood and have since received praise for the improved looks and for the building's stability.  Naturally the value stops sliding towards total depreciation, and the structure is less susceptible to wind damage.

      Prayer:  Lord, help us champion affordable housing for all, and especially for a billion people living in poor conditions.


A quiet resting place for a hot summer day
*photo credit)

August 5, 2008             Family Reunions

   August is an ideal time for family reunions, for it is vacation time and a new school term has not yet begun.  Those of us from large families know that these reunions can be difficult to organize and facilitate.  I went to the one-hundredth anniversary of my mother's great grandparents' coming to America from Germany, and at that occasion we found the family tree had grown to about a thousand descendants and spouses.  I later went to the one hundred and fiftieth of the same group and the tree was still further expanded to perhaps two thousand people.  With such expanding affairs planners must consider the following points for a successful reunion:

      1. Have the reunion infrequently.  People find fuel prices too high for frequent trips.  Maybe the bigger, the more infrequent.  When it is only two or three generations the gathering is more manageable.  When it goes back to five or more, many of the descendants simply don't know each other.     

      2. Select a good organizer who will accept the work required to plan and call families together for a reunion.  Phone calls, letters, e-mails and persuasive conversation, the determination of a gathering place, and arrangement of the schedule are necessary.  Much of the work can be reduced by assigning specific duties and having everyone bring his or her own potluck dish or particular lunch and sharing with others. 

     3. Find an adequate meeting place.  Often people want to return to the small house or farm where it all began.  Nice, but the place is not equipped for massive parking or with toilet facilities.  A better suggestion is to go to a nearby public facility capable of handling the crowd.  Visit the simple house as part of the program.  Some guests need air conditioning or ramps for accessibility.  Have adequate drinking water as well.

     4. Prepare the agenda well.  Some people will not like specific events: raffles, formal games, or worship services.  Give enough space for variety.  Included music and dancing require special attention as well.  Sometimes the informal may prove the most entertaining and space ought to be allotted for it.  However, some people are not natural mixers and find so many unrecognized guests intimidating.  Name tags are needed even though some people know most people;  many have a difficulty with immediate name recall.  Consider prizes for the most distant traveler.

     5. Document the event.  Photography is important, as is audio or video history.  The charting of the growing family tree requires a dedicated manager who works for accuracy and maintenance of current records.  Consider a follow-up letter and a sharing of a web site or e-mail addresses.  

      Prayer:  Help us Lord to hold our families together even in times of great mobility and family troubles.




A gardener's daylily
*photo credit)

August 6, 2008          Transfiguration

   This is the second time this year we read the Transfiguration narrative.  Is this because the event has many facets: we need to focus once on the glory of the Lord in high summer; and we need to experience the consolation in approaching Calvary during Lent. 

      The Transfiguration is recorded in the three synoptic gospels and in the Letter we have from St. Peter as well.  Jesus takes the three disciples up the mountain apart from the rest;  this harkens back to Moses going up Mt. Sinai and receiving the Law.  Jesus talks with Moses and Elijah and is in the center stage, thus showing he is more than the greatest of the lawgivers and the greatest of the prophets.  In the Transfiguration Jesus' face is radiant and shines like the sun.  The event becomes a consoling moment for Jesus before his impending death, just as the beauty of the consoling verdant Earth comes at the middle of the growing season in August's glory.  We are consoled both through glory all around and in personal suffering with others.

      Peter's reaction is to say -- "It is wonderful for us to be here."  In our everyday language he could have said -- let's take a picture or make a videotape.  Remember, he does ask to put up a memorial of stone to remember the great event. "Let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." The tents allude to giving the law at the feast of Tabernacles.  True to Peter's words, today memorials adorn the site of this event.

      The voice from heaven tells us that the Father approves of this sacred event, a sanction by God of what is about to occur.  Jesus is God's chosen one, the suffering servant.  Recall Psalm 7 and Isaiah 42.  We too need God's approval.  The divine nearness paralyzes the disciples who are not yet strengthened through the grace given at Pentecost.  "Do not be afraid" is said a number of times in the Scriptures, and is meant for all of us as well.  We see in our troubled world a need to be fearless in the challenges that face us.  We too need God's approving word and we, in turn, must give these words to others who are fearful as well.

      The Transfiguration event is told with awe and wonder -- a magnificent vision of what is to come.  However, as fellow Jesuit, Walt Bado, points out in his poem, this is also Hiroshima Day, a time of infamy when a single atomic bomb of blinding light caused over a hundred thousand casualties.  The bombing of Hiroshima and of Nagasaki were intended to (and perhaps did) shorten World War II.  However, the reasoning has been questioned.  The bomb-making project was called "Trinity" and the delivery plane "Little Babe." What irony -- or blasphemy.  We need all the more to participate in an extended cosmic Transfiguration.

      Prayer:  Lord, You revealed the true radiance of Christ in the glory of the transfiguration.  Change us into his image that we may radiate his glory in bring peace to our troubled world.




Abraham Lincoln: Old State Capitol in Springfield, IL.
*photo by Mark Spencer)


August 7, 2008     Nuclear Power Versus Wind Power

    Nuclear power was to be the panacea of the future, back in the guilt-laden days after World War Two and the August Hiroshima and Nagasaki episodes.  With great fanfare the 1960s heralded the rise of nuclear power in this country -- and from there the power fad spread throughout the world with nations such as France receiving major portions of their energy from that source.  Nuclear power experienced a hiatus after rising environmental concerns in the 1970s and the Three Mile Island (1979) and Chernobyl (1986) episodes, along with problems related to economics, waste disposal and health and safety issues.  Now with all the talk about carbon footprints and global warming, nuclear power is being resurrected like the chained Prometheus being allowed to come to life.

     It is urgent that proponents of clean energy look closely at renewable energy sources and compare them with the temptation for new billion plus dollar nuclear facilities.  On May 20, 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy released the 2007 edition of its "Annual Report on U.S. Wind Power Installation, Cost, and Performance Trends."  This report states that the U.S. leads the world in wind power growth (third straight year) with capacity increasing by 46% in 2007, with $9 billion invested.  This renewable source is on the way to becoming a significant contributor to the U.S. power mix.  Now this wind source accounts for 35% of the new 2007 U.S. electric generating capacity.  Production facilities capable of generating a total of over 200 GW of U.S. wind power are being developed.

     Nuclear power is not carbon-free since massive amounts of coal have been used in the past to generate the electric power needed to operate nuclear enrichment facilities.  Disposal of nuclear wastes is not solved.  Decommissioning of nuclear reactors is costly and may require governmental subsidies.  What about the health risk and toll on uranium mine workers and nearby residents?  Are the tempting soft terrorist targets of stored spent rods near nuclear powerplants given adequate consideration by energy policy makers? 

     In the 1940s nuclear proponents predicted that nuclear power would to be "too cheap to meter."  The persistent difficulty with nuclear energy is that one mishap could be so massive that it could endanger large populations and areas of the world.  Estimates of a major nuclear reactor accident are as high as 102,000 first-year deaths, 610,000 injuries and 40,000 long-term cancer death and $314 billion in damages (1982 estimates made by Sandia National Labs for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission).  A previous, less-thorough study in 1975 called WASH-1400 estimated 3,300 early fatalities, 45,000 injuries, 45,000 latent cancer deaths and property damage of $14 billion.  See our Critical Hour: Three Mile Island, The Nuclear Legacy, and National Security on this website.  With all these persistent difficulties, why the nuclear option?  It is time to wind down nuclear and wind up wind.

     Prayer:  Lord, teach us to discern prudently and to satisfy our energy needs by using environmentally benign energy sources.




Clifty Wilderness Area, Red River Gorge, KY
*photo by Harry J. Gensler, S.J.)

August 8, 2008       Solar Hot Water Systems

     Today is the beginning of the Olympic Games and our attention  is turned to Beijing.  Observing on television the sweating athletes makes us think about the summer's solar rays.  We hear that even the Chinese hosts are beginning to "think solar" with a multitude of solar applications, not the least of which is the tried-and-true solar water heater.  Photos of America's 1904 San Francisco earthquake show damaged house roofs equipped with solar hot water systems, applications we need to rediscover today. 

     About one-tenth of an average household's energy budget is for heating water for showers and kitchen uses.  The cheapest way to heat domestic water is by the most cost-effective solar application, outside of growing produce using the sun's rays or drying clothes outdoors.  Some solar water heating systems are "active" varieties (heating with the sun an enclosed liquid which transfers heat to adjacent water pipes); these are generally more expensive, but efficiency is improving with time.  Homemade "passive" systems (which heat the water directly in black glass lined metal tanks enclosed in insulated boxes) are also recommended.  The latter have no pumps or extra gadgets except a pressure release valve.   

     Solar heaters need to be of a size adequate for your water needs.  Much depends on the amount of water used, but energy conservation should always accompany solar energy use.  The length and volume of showers are critical.  With this in mind, a new applicant should install water-conserving showerheads and take shorter showers.  The heater design should be visibly pleasing and in harmony with your building.  A site and device should be near where the water is to be used, and yet accessible to those who wish to inspect the unit close at hand.  In areas of severe winters the ideal is to have a non-solar back-up system that is also energy-efficient and of low environmental impact.  Instant electric back-up systems work fine, if the domestic water demand is low and the water pressure sufficient to allow the flow to move smoothly.

      Many prefer to save money and make their own solar water heater.  A homemade solar water heater is straight-forward and can be built by enclosing a used water tank hooked to a gravity-fed water system.  Water is collected in a solar-absorbing black-painted water tank; the enclosure resembles a glass-covered open-sided snug-fitting insulated coffin (made with weather-protected wood).  Six-inch fiberglass insulation batts are covered with aluminum flashing to keep solar-heated water warm through the night.  This solar heater is mounted at the selected location and angled toward the sun.  Some designers install an insulated door over the glassed opening to be closed after the sun goes down. If properly insulated in an average temperate climate, passive solar heaters will furnish 100 degree F water for about eight months while active systems go all year.

     Prayer: Lord, help us to benefit from your solar gift.



A grandmother's "plum-granny" plant. Cucumis melo var. dudaim
*photo credit)

August 9, 2008      Intergenerational Gardening

     Over and over people mention that those who lived through the Great Depression are better experienced to help introduce younger people to the possibly permanent food crisis now besetting our planet.  One way to improve our lot is to grow "freedom gardens" (see July 15 and 16).  How about elders teaming up with younger (youth or middle-aged) folks to launch their own gardening enterprise?  The work, while not overly burdensome, does involve some exertion, which will demand use of muscles and exposure to the summer sun's rays unless undertaken in the early morning or evening.  We have entire generations that lack some basic skills including cooking and gardening -- and while older folks have experience, they may lack physical energy to complete the tasks.  Here teamwork is essential.

     The art of gardening seems fairly manageable even to those with slight infirmities.  However, turning over the soil along with actual planting may take extra effort, and with proper instruction novice gardeners can excel.  The waning physical stamina of elders is an open invitation to seek cooperative work from more energetic and younger budding gardeners, though someone else may have to be the networking person for such intergenerational programs.  Seniors have a store of knowledge and pleasant experiences that deserve to be passed to the inexperienced.  All can benefit. 

     Besides, gardening does not have to be a summer activity alone; some of the summer herbs and vegetables can be potted for indoor storage and use by either party in winter.  Potted plants can be cared for even by those with unsure knees, arthritic hands, and aching backs and they have other benefits: the potted plant gives a sense of color, purifies the air, often furnishes a good scent, can be edible when an herb, and affords the opportunity to have something to do in winter. 

     Older folks can garden in or out of a greenhouse with an adjustable growing table or with permanent super-raised beds or trellises.  Some crops can be easily tended by people with disabilities or those who are more confined, e.g., a variety of greens, strawberries, certain vines and root crops.  On the other hand, corn, squash, watermelons, pumpkins, okra or pole beans may be impossible for the physically impaired to reach and harvest because of the plants' height or extensive space considerations.  Again, the experienced and the able-bodied work together.  Successful gardening is a sophisticated process and requires planning and proper seed variety selection.  The gardener/artist knows that design is necessary to execute a mind's eye vision onto stone or canvas or a longer blooming landscape.  The garden becomes our canvas and, through pictures taken at a definite location for each growing month, gardeners show their artistic progress to others along with their gardening experience.

     Prayer:  Lord teach us to work together, to transfer the wisdom of the senior to the younger, and do so as a blessing.




Plants of a central Kentucky old field.
*photo credit)

August 10, 2004    Spiritual Versus Material Security

     Lord, tell me to come to you across the water. (Matthew 14:28)

     We know the consequences of a Perfect Storm, one where all the conditions combine to make a massive natural disaster.  At the shoreline at Gloucester, Massachusetts is a monument to all the fishermen who lost their lives at sea.  Much like the apostles the Gloucester folks know something about storms at sea.

     We Americans can be tempted to seek extraordinary security at the expense of other demands in life.  One would expect that the materially endowed would find this less a problem, but the paradox is that often the greater the material possessions, the less the security -- for their things can be more easily stolen and need more protective maintenance.  Young people in affluent homes have difficulty sharing, and so do the old and the middle aged now involved in rat races to seize prestige or positions.  Senior citizens are not immune, for they can grip tightly to that with which they know unconsciously they will soon have to part company.

     Insecurity accompanies affluence and is a warning sign that something is lacking in life.  To possess much means to hold on to much and to hold on tightly; this creates an insensitivity to everything that is not being gripped.  Of course, the less well off are not free of insecurities but often know how to cope with them better.  However, some clutching to hard earned possessions and overlooking the need to share with the less fortunate through a creeping insensitivity can infiltrate all ranks of people, economic groups, cultural bodies and even churches.  What may be taken away demands an absolute protection plan.  Is the insurance sufficient?

     Insecurity goes beyond the individual.  Homes are often racked by dissention and back-biting and need the healing calm of Christ's presence to bring peace.  Communities must pull together and support those who need special care and attention.  The Church must reform and pray.  Our nation requires the security that does not come with greater military buildup, but with radical sharing of resources with those who are destitute.  Does one billion dollars in weapons give the security that could be obtained by assisting the global poor?  Should we rethink our domestic policy of national security?  An earthquake can occur or a meteor strike us -- though highly unlikely; in some cases ultimate security cannot be obtained and ultimately it is in God we trust.  We can only prepare so much for natural disasters, possible accidents or terrorist attacks.  However we know that over-dwelling on possibilities is not healthy.  Through sharing we are fortified for whatever comes our way, and maybe that will make us more sensitive to the needs of others.

     Prayer:  Lord draw our attention to our national motto "In God we trust."  Help us pause a moment and make a deeper reflection both individually and collectively, for in God and only God do we find our true security.









Thorns on honey locust tree (Gleditsia triacanthos)
*photo credit)

 August 11, 2008          Plan an Autumn Garden

     Why choose early August for a fall garden when autumn is over a month away?  There are several reasons:  autumn success depends on early planning and work; much more depends on the hot and often drier weather of late summer and fall; and the types of selections are based both on experience and on the normal climate.  When I first considered this theme two decades ago, I listed lettuce for autumn, but over time too many hot and dry late Kentucky summers persuaded me to leave this spring delicacy off the list.  However, even here, where shade reduces late summer temperatures, endive is a good replacement as it seems to be in Alsace and other places. 

     Another difficulty in planning for fall crops is that autumn vegetables compete for space with winter cover crops.  One answer is to be attentive to what is grown.  I used to follow a practice learned in my early days on the farm of broadcasting (scattering seed) turnips, kale and mustard over a given area.  The crops turned out well in many growing seasons.  However, in dry times autumn row cropping takes far less water to irrigate, especially if one is constrained by little space and less water.

     Autumns will turn to winter sooner than we think, but we prepare for this inevitability by extending the growing season using proper protection.  Cold frames are coverings of cotton, Reemay or other plastic gauze, which can be stretched loosely to allow air flow and rain penetration and yet reduce the loss of heat from the sun during cooler nights.  Most fall crops thrive by simply being covered on frosty nights or embedded with leaves or straw to protect them.  Through these simple covers such crops as spring-planted garlic, beets, carrots and onions can last through much of the winter.  Some autumn crops, such as Swiss chard, collards, and broccoli (if started early or has survived the summer heat and bugs), do not need protection from early frosts.  The chard can be transplanted to the greenhouse together with younger tommy toes, parsley, and celery.  Many other summer grown crops do not thrive in greenhouses because of transfer shock.

     Besides all the vegetables just mentioned except tomatoes (which have set blooms at or below 40 Fahrenheit), other candidates for fall crops include:  turnips, daikon radishes, spinach, Chinese cabbage, endive, kale, mustard, pak choi, and several other types of greens.  You can border autumn crops with extra straw or other mulch materials.  With careful planting, the space between rows can be sowed with hairy vetch or allowed to remain in clover as a winter mulch and source of nitrogen.  Leave winter yielding crops such a horseradish, salsify, parsnips, and Jerusalem artichokes undisturbed for winter harvesting.  Vacant hot weather crop areas can be sowed with vetch along with other cover crops such as Austrian winterpeas or some types of winter grains.

     Prayer:  Lord, let us see the autumn of the year or of life as an added opportunity to do good for others. 




The Chaplin River, Washington Co., KY
*photo credit)


August 12, 2008      Global and Local Villages

    When I think of an ideal village I think of Dumbach in Alsace, France, where my paternal grandparents were born -- a quaint village with little to speak about and yet a real part of the "old world." A gun emplacement of the old Maginot Line sits ten feet from the Fritsch ancestral grave.  However, a village is home if ever so humble.  Let us go beyond our local home of familiar scenes and consider that a village may be considered in broader terms and even global ones.  The former involves the self-sustainability of the primitive culture with its gardens and pens, its artisan and craft shops and its meeting places and churches.  The global one requires much more imagination.

      With globalization comes a sense of our neighborhood extended and enveloping many people of different races, languages and cultures, some affluent and some in destitution.  Communications through cell phones, television and Internet make us one;  transportation by auto or plane makes distance seem compressed;  we are becoming interdependent in many ways and through increased responsibility are becoming our brothers' and sisters' keepers.  Unfortunately a global village also gives opportunities to the financial and manufacturing interests, and these take advantage of the reduction of barriers that had separated us in the past.

    Other advantages arise for imitation.  Residents in about two thousand localities around the world have found that they can trade in interest-free Local Autonomous Money Systems or LAMS.  These communities accumulate what they need to live, work, retire, and thrive in a local credit system.  This approach works successfully at select sites in the world -- each with its own money system.  For instance, it is used in Guernsey, an autonomous British protectorate in the Channel Islands.  By using vouchers, residents boast zero debt, inflation, and unemployment, and lower prices and taxes with a higher standard of living than in England.  Granted, it may work with certain local exchanges or small tasks, but what about necessary monetary outlays for non-locally produced materials or services, e.g., auto purchases or specialized hospitalization?

     Many unanswered questions arise when discussing globalization. Is the move to globalization inevitable, or is the small community or homestead approach to satisfying basic needs (food, fuel, water and building materials) a more sustainable economy?  Should we permit cheap labor markets and lax environmental laws to produce specialty products at lower prices?  Can globalized, locally sustainable and non-monetary systems co-exist and thrive to a certain degree?  Do local systems that produce basic food, fuel, water and other bulk goods thrive while we promote globalized regulation of our commons of air, water, space and wildlife?

     Prayer:  Lord teach us to work out some of the answers to basic questions related to globalization so that all on this planet might benefit in being both interdependent and self-sustaining.



Study materials for wildflower photography
*photo credit)

August 13, 2008       Become Self-Taught

     Some people are so conditioned by the glamour of formal education that they think one can only learn when in a classroom before a lecturer and taking notes -- a Middle Age academic practice resulting from a shortage of books and learning materials.  Those who have not had or cannot afford certain advanced formal education feel deprived.  They say to me, "You can talk, with your formal education spanning from World War II to the Vietnam War."  True, but the environmental aspects of my ministry were self-taught, since such programs are of more recent origin.  Formal education has a rightful purpose of teaching critical thinking and discipline.  However, much can be self-taught if accompanied by proper motivation, quality time and social interaction.

     Degrees from certain places are overemphasized.  We should not forget about the existing amount of readily available superior educational aids at relatively low prices.  Would the world be better off to invest in work experience and learning on one's free time?  Are they not better than attendance at special schools for lengths of time?  Doesn't learning take natural intelligence, hard work, enthusiasm, a critical and questioning outlook on what is heard and seen, and a willingness to experiment on one's own?  Doesn't becoming self-taught save money?

    Are academic critics correct in saying that considerable education is glorified baby sitting, and that degree-collectors are people too slow to take hold of the world and work?  Perhaps there is more to education, even the expensive variety, than these critics admit.  But there are also inexpensive alternatives such as "colleges without walls," internships with public interest groups, elderhostels, Internet courses, or  "The Great Courses" of The Teaching Company.  Yes, a do-it-yourselfer can learn much and often in a less stress-ridden manner.  Ambitious people including famous lawyers such as Robert H. Jackson, presidents like Abraham Lincoln, and businessmen such as Bill Gates, were partly or completely self-taught.  Generally, the liberal arts are easier to master on one's own than courses requiring laboratory exercises.

    The self-taught person acquires an internal self-worth and often projects this when in public.  Today private college tuition often exceeds $40,000 per year, plus the loss of work experience during that time.  People with ordinary jobs could still spend twenty hours a week studying and acquire the equivalent of a degree in one decade and meanwhile have saved or earned $300,000.  This self-taught person is not saddled with college debt, and if diligent, can still achieve a livelihood.  Granted current economics undoubtedly favors the formally educated person who starts high, overcomes indebtedness and reaches a higher salary.  However, the self-taught may enjoy life, experience less stress and even save for a comfortable old age.  Which is better?.

    Prayer:  Lord, teach us to always be open to learn and to do so with the resources at hand at a given time and place.





Bluegrass "rock fence". Shakertown (Mercer Co.), KY
*photo credit)

August 14, 2008        Ark of the Covenant

     This day before Mary's Assumption, the liturgy of which contains rich symbolism pertaining to Mary's title of "Ark of the Covenant."  In English, we use "ark" for two Hebrew words: first, Teba or Noah's ark (box, chest), and second, Aron, a coffin which measures 45 by 27 by 27 inches, made of acacia wood and later inlaid with gold, and containing the ten commandments, Aaron's rod and a golden urn of manna.  The Israelite community knows that God is truly present with the people here.  The ark moves with them in the desert, it stands in the middle when the Jordan River parts, it goes into battle, it is placed by David in a tent or Tabernacle-- and later in Solomon's Temple in the Holy of Holies, and it is lost when the nation goes into exile 587-586.  Some say Jeremiah rescues the covenant and hides it on Mount Nebo.

     Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant -- a connection with the coming of the Messiah who dwells within it.  In Mary's womb is Jesus, the Messiah.  The Gospel says, it is not the body parts that are important but rather the one who hears the word of God and keeps it.  This is St. Luke's Gospel, the Gospel of Mary, who says all generations call her blessed.  She is humble because God, not she herself or other human beings, has done great things for her. 

    Fiat, "let it be done to me," is powerful.  Mary is the prime person of affirmation, one who hears the word of God and keeps it.  It is a personal decision, a moment that counters the denials of previous generations starting with our first parents.   Hearing and keeping God's words are the opposite of the words of Eve, who wanted to be like God through an act of disobedience, and who declared a sort of independence from God's will.  Mary counters in trust and union with the Divine Eve's distrust and separation.

     We must not put Mary on a pedestal as a distant object of our devotion.  Rather let us look upon her in the atmosphere of trust, confidence, faith and celebration that the Israelite community places in the Lord through and in the symbol of the ark;  their joy and celebration are of immense dimensions.  No one but those of a particular sacred office are even to touch the ark.  Her holy presence is awesome and shows us the need for reverence -- in the presence of Jesus and during the solemn celebration of Divine Liturgy.  We need a return to reverence, which is so lacking in our modern world -- for without it we could fail to see what God is doing for us and through us.  We couple traditional reverence with the joy of tomorrow's celebration.  We revere Mary's gifts and role, her assent, her life and model, and we see her as going ahead of us in a happy death, which has no sting for the faithful.  Her Son has overcome death in the victory of the resurrection.  She enters into his victory in a very special way and is the first among the blessed.

     Prayer:  Lord may this woman clothed with the sun bring Jesus to a waiting world.




Mary in the wild garden
*photo credit)

August 15, 2008         Mary: Gentle Woman

    Some challenge stereotypical notions about male/female strength and weakness.  Mary does this better than most.  She is strong in affirmation -- a "yes" heard down through the centuries.  When the male disciples fled for the most part, Mary stood beneath the cross;  she is the sinless one;  she is ahead of us on the eternal journey;  she is the first of the fallen asleep who is to share in the fruits of the resurrection of her son; she offers us many opportunities to celebrate on her feast days.  We discover a young maiden who hears the magnificent words of the annunciation and wants them to sink into her heart; however, she simultaneously learns that her cousin is with child, and she does not hesitate to journey to be with her;  she does not remain in a rapture in the soft light of stained glass windows as some painters portray;  rather she is riding a donkey on a dusty road, alone with the God-within.  She is first a caregiver who is also contemplating.

     Truly Mary is blessed, and her humility is in knowing that God has given her great privileges.  We too are blessed people, and must recognize, not our nothingness, but our somethingness, and that we are truly blessed with gifts we did not earn by our own efforts.  Mary helps us on this road for she gives the first glimmer that salvation is very near, and so she becomes a gentle herald of this event, being present at Christmas, Calvary, Resurrection and Pentecost.  Mary is here on major occasions.  Mary is at our side even in our passing event -- the hour of death.

    Mary's gifts have a transparency that adds to accessibility, familiarity, and encouragement to us all.  She is a prism through which her gifts radiate out to all.  Her joy is contagious;  her pain of being one with Christ strikes her in the heart;  a great mystery unfolds in which she has a central role by God's special favor.  While all is special, it is not exclusive;  the blessings to Mary are those she desires to share with us. We too can be humbled in knowing God gives us favors as well;  we can be enthusiastic in our mission, for God is with us as well.  We too can be God bearers to others by bringing Christ, the ultimate gift, to others.  Mary does not stand apart from us but goes ahead of us in the Assumption, first in the fruits of the Resurrection.

     Mary gives a woman's touch to the story of redemption, a compassion and a gentleness that we need in any healing operation.  As mother of us all, she gives us a deeper understanding of the healing needed all around us.  She encourages women to make unique contributions in healing our wounded Earth.  Empirically we know that women have a unique role in healing, an intuitive grasp that incorporates compassion and personal concern.  Is there something inherently womanly, without which the final task of saving our Earth cannot be achieved?  The key may be found in gentle Mary. 

     Prayer:  Mary,  please go on ahead of us but not too far ahead, for we need your gentle touch in our lives.  So stay close, for through your intercession we can heal our wounded Earth.




Wild grapes, excellent food plant for wildlife
*photo credit)


August 16, 2008      Global Population: Explosion? 

    The twentieth century witnessed a vast increase in human population on this planet, from about one to over six billion people.  This gigantic increase has been due both to plummeting death rates (in great measure from reductions in infant mortality) and to continued high birth rates.  Over the century birth rates and, more so death rates, have declined.  That pattern has been somewhat altered by the AIDS epidemic when over thirty million deaths changed the situation in a number of African and other nations; more recently declines in birth rates in much of Europe and Japan are also affecting the growth rate equation.  Our own country has moderate to low birth rates but high immigration rates.

     Many environmentalists have expressed fears that this recent population increase would continue unabated and result in "no standing room" on the planet.  The Deep Ecology platform says that a (qualitative) flourishing of human population is compatible with a substantial (quantitative) decrease in the human population.  For these people, the Earth's carrying capacity is nearing its limit.  Their pessimism is based on selective indicators of continued decline in death rates and slower declines in birth rates, especially in the so-called developing world.

      Population declines are projected in 45 nations from 2007 to 2050 (2007 PRB World Population Data Sheet).  The highest decline will be in Bulgaria with a 35% decline.  Some 28 European nations are to decline, as a combination of aging population and lower births is occurring.  Russia is to decline by 23% and currently has 14 deaths and 8 births per thousand people.  One population indicator shows that death rates in parts of Africa and elsewhere are rising rapidly due to the AIDS epidemic, which has resulted in HIV infection of almost 60 million people and a heavy toll in sub-Saharan Africa due to lack of proper treatment; victims are dying at a rate of about ten thousand persons per day.  Botswana, where high birth rates a few years ago led to predictions of doubling of the population in about two or three decades, now with 36%  adult HIV infection rate, and is expecting population declines in the next two or so decades.  Zimbabwe, which was projected to double in population in 69 years, is now expecting a decline of people from 11.343 million in mid-2000 to 9.481 million in 2025; South Africa will decline from 43.421 million to 35.109 million.   

     Will there be other dramatic population trends in the coming years?  China's one-child policy has certainly decreased population.  Many so-called developing countries are in slow decline in birth rates as social and economic stability improves -- the surest way to meet reasonable population growth.  Maybe we hear less because over-population prophets seek to de-emphasize increasing consumption rates by richer people (a real environmental degradation indicator).

     Prayer:  Lord teach us to be reasonable and ethical in all things, even our population growth and stabilization.


Fresh pie, made from locally-gathered wild berries
*photo credit)

August 17, 2008          Humility and Faith

     Woman, you have great faith!  Your wish will come to pass.

                                           (Matthew 15:27)

     We have all experienced moments when we thought all was going well and we would win the great prize -- and then it slipped out of our hands to someone who was completely ignored and overlooked.  Where did that fellow come from?   The same applies when triumph seems so near at hand for our community, school or nation, and then a setback suddenly occurs and puts us down, deep down in spirit.  Why?  Could the good Lord be affording us an opportunity by gently teaching us through this defeat or humiliation?  Maybe this is a teaching moment like the one that Jesus affords the Canaanite woman calling for pity.  We recall that we are from and to dust, for humility is derived from humus or soil.  God gives us, even our time to achieve -- and our efforts follow from this gift.  Our time is from God and for the Lord.  Teach us to count how few days we have and so gain wisdom of heart (Psalm 90: 12). 

     As we perceive the shortness of our time we find that our own dreams and great expectations somehow miss the mark.  We are not able to be or to do what we thought was so easy to be or to do in the time we have.  We are unable to fulfill glorious dreams, whether a good job or a lofty position or heaven knows what.  The dreams are so much easier than reality itself.  The more and broader the unrealistic dreams, the greater the plummet when they fail to mature.  On the other hand, accepting who we are is humbling.    "We've done the best; what more can be done?"

     Humble people have a power beyond themselves, for they tell a story in just being who they are.  Humble people are approachable;  they seem satisfied and thankful for what they have;  they hesitate to ask for more for that would be an unearned gift.  For instance, a humble attempt to have a productive garden will give the fruit of the labor for all to see in good times and in drought and storm.  Garden work is hot, tedious, demanding, and yet rewarding and truly a form of recreation.  While stressful at times, still in knowing we have done our best, it is a work of human hands and a beauty in its own right.  When we realize our own domestic or professional life's work is the product of honest means we can say we tried.  We are like an old dog, always faithful, always caring.

     Humility has a way of providing the foundation for a spirituality that allows us to know ourselves for who we are -- and that gives a certain energy to others to do the same.  Through humility there arises an emerging integrity permitting us to accept our current condition in life and to speak, through satisfied living, to the goodness of the Provider of all gifts.  Humility strengthens our psychological health and peace of soul; we thank God for helping us take comfort in knowing who we are. 

     Prayer:  God, our protector, keep us in mind; always give strength to your people.  For if we can be with you even one day, it is better than a thousand without you.







Reflections on a blue late-summer sky
*photo credit)

August 18, 2008   Conflict Resolution and Ecological Concerns

     As I get older, I do not relish conflicts as I did in my more pugnacious youth.  In fact, I wish that every conflict with oppressive polluters would cease on this Earth -- but that wish does not make them go away.  Resolving conflicts is always a good thing, especially when all conflicting parties are present and willing to cooperate as equal or near-equal partners (brothers, wife and husband, employer and employee).  In discussing environmental threats, some emphasize the primacy of removing conflict through compromise, but is this really the proper procedure?  An effort to tone down or silence debate over ecological threats does not involve the partners (Earth and inhabitants) but rather the threat and a spokesperson for the one threatened, namely, Earth.  Not all actual parties are represented and maybe not properly.

     Unfortunately, such fabricated non-struggle among so-called opposing parties may be a license for business-as-usual and a way to reduce the effectiveness of environmental advocacy.  Advocates may say they represent the Earth, but forget that no one can be a perfect Earth spokesperson.  In fact, the victim is the voiceless peaceful planet, which does not shout or scream with each tear in its fabric.  The Earth is a sufferer and may react, but its reaction time is generally so slow that the exploiter has time to do damage and get away without paying, long before the actual damage is verified.  At times a spirited argument is most necessary to emphasize the seriousness of the damage done to the Earth.  When advocates choose to be or remain silent, there is actually no conflict resolution, only a false tranquility while injustice continues.  Advocacy is compromised in the name of being nice and chummy to various parties.  This works to the advantage of the exploiting party and to the detriment of effective advocacy.

     Another and radically different method exists, which emphasizes that conflict already exists between those who assault the environment and the victim, and it is necessary to expose the actual conflict before resolving so-called differences.  Lessening the heat of the discussion does not actually remove the problem, but only diverts attention from the activities of the culprit.  The prophet must convince outside onlookers that advocacy does not mean that the prophet is truly a spokesperson for silent Earth, only an imperfect supporter or champion.  This person has no authority to speak for the Earth, though he or she speaks openly, forcefully, and in a spirited manner.

     The offending parties may strike agreements to cease and desist in practices that affect the Earth, and to make restitution for damages done.  Advocates for the Earth may regard the agreement as resolutions of conflicts.  Really?  Or do all think they have gained some victory?  What if it is not the best resolution but only short-term solutions -- and Earth continues to suffer?

     Prayer: Lord, help us to confront the conflicts we face.


"Keep Out" sign on old treehouse
*photo credit)

August 19, 2008   Common Lands and Private Property Rights

     Our American tradition of land ownership has a long and varied history.  Much of our English law tradition is based on perceiving land as something we have an absolute right to, once we possess the legal title.  Other cultures and even much of the Native American understanding differ somewhat.  For them, more is held in common and less is held in an individual possessive manner.   Some experts like Eugene Hargrove trace the American land attitudes to our Saxon heritage and further back to the ancient Teutonic origins of land use. Unfortunately we cling tightly to such concepts of land ownership that omit the commons possessed by all.

     Most traditions hold that some parts of the environment are held as commons, e.g., air, oceans, space, fragile zones, air waves, and Antarctica.  Other traditions are still more expansive and accept common grazing land, mountains, forests, lakes, seashores and on and on.  This common heritage of humankind can easily be coopted by those who discover that through some legal mechanism, a proprietary "right" to the property or a license to perform certain acts of ownership may be allowed with a physical force to back up the "theft."  Since our government was influenced by money interests from very early times, an individualized definition of "property" found an opportunity to lay claim to more of the commons.  This approach had an historic precedent in the seventeenth century when common grazing lands in England were enclosed and taken over by influential persons and groups.  In recent years the movement to codify a "Law of the Seas" ran into major American opposition because some saw this as an appeal to a higher authority than a government that allows some to exploit sea resources.

     It is a small step from absolute property attitudes, to enclosure of the commons, and then to use of land for polluting activities.  If we own it, we need not get permission from anyone;  we make the decisions on how the land is to be used, and what constitutes "development."  With this progression, one can see where the "right" to exploit and even damage one's owned or leased property arises.  Should not the commons be expanded not contracted at the whim of the privileged few?  Shouldn't it include forests, surface mining resources, greenspace, wetlands and shorelines?

     An ultra-conservative group seeks to superimpose property rights over the rights of government to regulate land use in some fragile environmental areas.  This group argues that they as "owners" ought to be repaid for lost opportunities to profit from the development of their environmentally fragile land.  For instance, a requirement not to build on fragile seacoast in the south Atlantic states means that potential resort area property values are depressed.  Takings (lost economic value) due to governmental environmental restrictions could become financial opportunities if developers win law suits for losses.

     Prayer:  Lord, teach us to share in common what You give us.


A young praying mantis, a gardener's helper
*photo credit)

August 20, 2008      Domestic Indoor Environment  

    The home is America's most unregulated place, the space where many especially the very young and the elderly spend the most time, and sometimes with masked harmful atmospheres and with levels of toxic substances and smoke exceeding those allowed in a public work place.  The free flow of air in drafty older homes is not the case in more modern ones with insulated space to reduce loss of heated or cooled air.  Addressing the indoor domestic environment becomes one of the emerging challenges for advocates of clean environment.  In addition to the contamination of modern closed indoor space, one must include the population's growing chemical sensitivity.

     Our home is our castle, a sacrosanct space that others may enter and regulate only with permission or warrant.  We do not want to be subject to the invasion of this space by energy monitors, as has happened in certain European countries with "energy police" entering to check thermostats.  But is domestic space beyond the pale of inspection, if all our citizens need to be properly protected?  Should regulatory agencies (e.g., Consumer Product Safety Commission) determine what is permissible or intolerable for domestic environments?  Today we have more domestic chemicals than an average 1850s laboratory.  Consider the following obvious and more hidden causes of indoor air pollution: arts and hobbies using paint solvents or firing unvented pottery kilns;  cleaners of a large number of types and varieties, and all with pungent scents to mask the chemical odors; kerosene heaters in winter or grills with fumes entering the house; oven cleaners; radioactive materials in soils that infiltrate homes;  pesticides and automotive products left in store rooms the fumes filtering into the house;  building materials -- glues, caulks, and solvents and asbestos in older homes; and laundry soaps and cleaners with their scents.

     Of all the domestic problems, the most preventable and controllable ought to be smoking -- but that is not always the case.  One-fifth of American adults still smoke and many do so at home.  Many spouses and children suffer from secondary smoking affects and may have asthma or other breathing problems.  The smoking adult often denies that his or her habit is harmful to others.  And it is more than tobacco smoke.  Wood smoke-related problems arise in developing countries that use wood fires for cooking in poorly vented kitchens, a common practice that could be eliminated by the use of solar cookers and ovens.

     The home occasionally needs a housecleaning, but few realize that part of the cleaning process is making the home free of air pollutants.  Merely scenting the place with deodorizers exacerbates the problems, for it only anesthetizes the nose and keeps us from knowing what is really going on.  Let's discover the offending materials and remove them;  then let's resolve and work to always keep the air uncontaminated.

     Prayer:  Lord, protect our home and make us aware that we must do the same for our own sakes and those of others who live here.





Passionflower, Passiflora incarnata
Passionflower, Passiflora incarnata
*photo credit)


August 21, 2008  Toxic Chemicals:  A Social Justice Advocacy Issue

     Toxic chemicals have been known since the advent of poisons, though many like hemlock are natural products; some are inaccessible to most people; and some require sophisticated extractive procedures.  Dupont's slogan stated, "Better things for better living through chemistry."  However, the industrial chemical record is not perfect, for toxic substances can be used well, overused or misused, and the results can be vast improvements in health, or deterioration over a long period of slow poisoning.  Modern chemical production sites can offer promises  of jobs and perils of pollution.  Take Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, which hosts fifty-three chemical plants, some of which emit into the water and air the toxic dioxin (a by-product in chemical production).

     We see the value of petrochemical production, and resulting life-saving substances.  However, workers, local inhabitants and consumers can bear yet undiscovered costs.  Consumer "demand" means consumer preferences that require certain raw and processed materials, and that includes many toxic chemicals in high volume.  Workers see jobs first and never regard toxic substance dangers until it's too late.  Occupational hazards have existed from the advent of the chemical industry and many cases of lung and liver cancer and other maladies have either been identified or are part of the anecdotal picture, which awaits the difficult verification through scientific investigation.  The very poor and especially minorities have been forced to live near chemical plants such as in the Mississippi Delta and other heavily industrialized parts.  The same applies in so-called developing lands to which runaway industries have fled to escape lands with tighter chemical pollution rules.  Remember Bhopal in India!

     Social justice considers all aspects of a balanced life.  A consumer inadvertently buys a product, which does a good job in killing a pest or cleaning a sink, but it may harm the user if precautions are not taken.  However, many do not take the precautions on labels.  Thus consumers and laborers become guinea pigs, and injuries and deaths result.  As increasing numbers of chemicals assault our lives, the general population is becoming more chemically sensitive in ways never before imagined.  Do we believe sufferers, especially the very young, when they complain, while others in the same household show no ill effects?  Certainly "right-to-know" legislation has helped residents and workers to discover the toxic effects of chemicals from a nearby chemical plant or dump.  All environmental protection and occupational health agencies have reduced the blatant abuses of an earlier industrial era.  Like smoking chimneys, which were sure signs of employment, an operating chemical plant is welcome to otherwise unemployed workers.  Health costs and shortened lives are not immediate considerations.  But they ought to be!

     Prayer:  Lord, help us to understand the potent materials we use and to learn to treat them with great respect that includes keeping them out of the general environment.


 Flexible solar cells to power lighting for home workshop
*photo credit)

August 22, 2008        Photovoltaic Solutions

    Photovoltaic "solar cells" have been known for decades to generate electricity directly when exposed to sunlight.   These solar systems can light homes, roads and paths, power appliances, charge solar electric cars, operate traffic signals (especially in remote places), pump water, and run ventilation fans.  The first generation of solar units was a single-crystal silicon variety.

We observe those beautiful arrays of shiny multi-colored (in sunlight) silicon cells on roofs of homes and commercial buildings. These allow a solar electricity source without the need for coal-fueled powerplants and all the accompanying pollution and land disturbance.  The energy can be generated where it is immediately used, or the surplus transferred to an existing electric grid, or it can be stored in batteries for night time.

     A second generation of photovoltaics uses chemical coatings, which cost less and are more versatile.  Researchers have developed coatings on roofing materials, which can be applied directly on new construction or retrofitted on existing buildings, and which require no additional frames like those used for holding solar arrays.  The research is being conducted right now and results are just beginning to reach the commercial stages where wonders are being realized.  However, solar energy systems have suffered from lack of consistent tax incentives and clear governmental policies even with such salutary efforts as the US Department of Energy's Million Solar Roof Program.  That program recognized a mix of solar sources not just power companies.

     When the summer sun shines down the air conditioners work overtime.  This often means that the fossil-fueled powerplants are working at peak capacity, and at this precise time solar energy will be most able to make its maximum contribution to the utility mix of fuel sources.  On the hottest days, solar-powered photovoltaics will generating extra energy to feed back into the system, and thus will reduce the need for electricity generated by powerplants.  This is the reasoning behind integrated utility systems with "net metering" that use decentralized solar systems.  Your solar home system will not only have enough energy for local demands, but will run your meter in reverse when producing a surplus.  Utilities prefer to buy electricity at wholesale rather than retail rates in order to meet grid maintenance costs.

     While solar energy is ready, it is not complete in itself.  Cloudy days make auxiliary energy sources necessary.  Solar devices do not work well in a wasteful society for they demand energy conservation measures.  It takes resources to bring solar energy on line, and it takes care to maintain the solar systems.  As Ken Bossong, the founder of "Sun Day," says:  "A transition to a solar society will not be much of an achievement, if it is not guided by a clearly articulated set of principles and values."  We agree.

     Prayer:  Lord, help us to value the sunlight all around us and to use it to the benefit of all.


A lovely summer daylily
*photo credit)

August 23, 2008     The Decentralist Dilemma

    Think and act locally so that we can think and act globally.

    My mother's maiden name was Schumacher but that is a common German name;  whether we are distantly related to E.F. Schumacher the author of Small is Beautiful (also from the Rhineland) is still undetermined.  However, EFS's philosophy resonates with me and enters into many of my works.  For me, the world would be better if we de-emphasized some of the high-technology fixes and concentrated more on simple techniques, which are decentralized, lower cost, easier to maintain and conducive to community formation.  No one, in our way of conceiving the world, should overlook the importance of simple, grassroots methods and the simple way of doing things.  However, to think only small is not enough in our complex world. 

     A radical decentralist would argue that all environmental problems can be solved at the local level.  Some question author Kirkridge Sales for seemingly defending such an approach, but he refutes the accusation.  Any radical decentralist position needs further clarification.  I prefer to take a more middling position between those who champion the utter superiority of the local, and those who think all good things come from on top and filter down to the lowly peons through regulations.  Maybe we need various levels of operation that work in harmony with each other.   

     Numerous groups take a wider view of environmental problems, for the globe's oceans can easily be exploited and polluted, the fragile commons (especially Antarctica) is being overrun, and outer space is being polluted with junk.  How do we regulate the distant places, the unoccupied zones, the areas beyond the attention of even a hard-pressed national state?  Decentralists may not have answers for these questions because they become so distracted by their local problems that they fail to see the broader picture.  Thank heavens for global groups, for social justice and human rights folks, for popes and world religious leaders, for opponents of land mines and nuclear proliferation, for Greenpeace and Children's Relief and Doctors without Borders, and for the United Nations.  Yes, it is good that those who think and act globally or locally can work together for a better world.

     Air and water are more mobile and thus deserving of broader-ranging areas of regulation and regulatory agencies.  The European Union is worried about forest death due to air pollutants; many nations are concerned about acid rain and global warming caused by the heavy energy consuming nations.  The world's potable water is now becoming scarce and polluted.  Do rigid decentralist solutions address global pollution problems?  Don't we need global agencies to regulate the purity and equitable distribution of water?  See Reclaiming the Commons:  What Believers Can Do on this website.

     Prayers:  Lord, teach us to discern the needs of all and be willing to work both at the local and the global levels for their solution.


Home workshop, lighting powered by flexible solar panels
*photo credit)

August 24, 2008    Keys to the Kingdom and Responsibility

     Peter is the rock but what does this mean?  Like a promontory this rock is visible and seen from a distance; it stands through the storms;  it is precious in that it gives orientation and direction to the traveler; it is of service to the wandering soul.  Peter stands in this stormy world and are not some and all of us like Peter in various ways?  In the light of this passage in Matthew's Gospel we struggle to understand the way to be of service to all others.  Today's rock must be approachable, familiar, awesome but respectful, and open to what the Spirit directs.  Who the rock is today depends on one's viewpoint:

    1. Visibility to the People of God -- To the broader world, the rock has a certain building-stone quality as part of the conscience of our community of nations.  Our Pope speaks for some but in a broad way he speaks for all people in our basic unity as human brothers and sisters.  When one person is in dire need of the essentials of life, we must call out for helping hands, no matter what the religious belief of the destitute person is. 

    2. Tranquility to the People of the Book -- Here the Pope must speak in a more particular manner, for God is God to all, and Abraham is our joint father in the faith.  To bring together warring factions so that all can live at peace in the Holy Land and enjoy the fruits of pilgrimage to holy sites is a common yearning in our hearts -- whether we wear different clothes or speak in Hebrew, Arabic or a latin tongue. 

    3. Integrity to the People of the Word -- All Christians need to have a common voice in speaking for the voiceless in prisons or under persecution in various lands.  With a platform on the world stage, our Pope speaks for those who are hindered or whose voices are muffled -- for all Christians share a common bond of Baptism in the Lord and need to speak with one voice.

    4. Clarity to the People of the Creed -- Many Christians profess the common creed from the time of the Apostles and the Council of Nicea in 325.  What we envision of a spokesperson is one of service like Christ in the Trinitarian image of spreading the creating, redeeming and inspiring news to an anxious world.  Here the unity of ecumenism becomes paramount and every effort must be made to bring about this deepening unity in Faith, and the Pope has a special role to play by leading the effort.

     5. Joy to the People of the Liturgy -- Faith involves believing that Jesus is truly present with us in our celebration, and that some effort must be made in order that all who celebrate will be of one accord.  Bringing  about this accord is the work of the Pope within the Catholic communion.  And he is bishop to the people of Rome with all that this entails.

     Prayer:  Lord teach us to recognize that you gave keys and not a single key.  Give us the means to grow in faith together.






Northern Mockingbird or Mimus polyglottos
*photo by Trisha Shears - Creative Commons)

August 25, 2008           The Mockingbird

     Our wildlife feature of the month, the mockingbird, gives me pure elation upon hearing it.  The Northern Mockingbird or Mimus polyglottos is quite plentiful in our Appalachian region.  However, these are the last weeks before this energetic and vocal bird takes a well-earned vacation for a number of weeks in late summer.  What a joy this year to go outside, especially early in the morning, and hear and then observe it perched in the higher reaches of the nearby sycamore tree, the maple on the other side of the house,  or on the utility pole up near the transformer box.  The mockingbird serenades the country side with enthusiasm and fills us early risers with utter joy.  

     In former years, I would finish my jogging early at about  sunrise, get my breath, and then to the best of my ability attempt to insert a bob white call into the mockingbird's repertoire of bird sounds.  Occasionally after numerous other calls the mockingbird would mock me, and that always "made my day."  This bird is the best mocker in North America, knows it, and even takes an encore after a performance by turning what looks like a somersault -- and then going back to mocking.  The mocking calls are really not systematically repetitive but more at will.  Birders tell us that male birds may have repertoires of one hundred or more calls -- good luck in the counting process!  So much for this bird's agility and creativity, though it is known to imitate certain birds better than others.   

    Though called "northern," our mockingbird is only northern in relation to the Latin American lands of this hemisphere.  In fact, we in the United States regard this as a southern bird.  It is found most often in the U.S. Southeast and the border regions of Mexico, but the summer range extends up the Mid-Atlantic coast and even reaches to the coast of southern Maine.  We are truly blessed by this not so colorful but brightly sounding specimen of wildlife. 

     I observe the way our local mockingbird goes along the lawn into my garden area with the wings somewhat outstretched and showing the white of its underbelly -- either to put the insect prey off guard or to mark territory.  It is aggressive for I have seen it attack pets -- and it is known to battle human beings too close to its nest.  Nothing like that has occurred to this birdwatcher, and I am glad or else I would lose a dear friend.

     The amazing thing is that the mockingbird is my call to prayer for when I feel very disgruntled and distracted, this bird has a way of recalling me to the more important things in life -- God's blessings to us all.  The bird seems to say, "Just stop, rest, open your ears and hear the collective sounds of all creation as a way of realizing that the face of God shines up through all creation." 

     Prayer:  Thank you Lord for blessing us with mockingbirds. May they always be with us.


Field education
*photo credit)

August 26, 2008       Hands-On Work Experience

    Many people do not have the experience of working with their hands, or seeing the product of their labors reach fruition.  This is the reason why trail-building, Habitat for Humanity work or reforestation projects are such valuable experiences for youth.  Youthful volunteers have an opportunity to work with their own hands, see the fruit of their labor, know the fruit will endure, so they can return later in life and observe the work they performed.

     Gardening, as a form of outdoor work, can be performed by a variety of people looking for work experience.  Near Amsterdam in the Netherlands I observed an entire school class engaged in planting seedlings in a school plot -- and they were quite enthusiastic about what they were doing as they touched the soil with their own hands.  Some learn cooperative outdoor projects through Eagle Scouts or through summer outdoor work.  The skills gained may differ, but all have the opportunity to contribute -- and that gives a sense of self-esteem and worth.  Ideally, all learners have their own individual work assignments and are held accountable for that part.

     Accountability for seeing the project through to completion is a major lesson taught through work experience.  Gardening is always difficult for youth, who like the planting operation but become impatient, for plants grow slowly.  They must be reminded that good results come slowly and often after a painstaking process.  Some see things through to completion better than others do.  If we are measuring something, it has to be checked and rechecked to make sure we make no mistakes;  we have to focus and give attention to what we are doing.  We are judged, for better or worse, on what we do with our time.  Not everyone has the patience to learn easily or to teach slow learners.  Many gardeners are insensitive to the way people learn, how one must start with basic tools and learn how they are used, the need for a little experimentation where damage can be limited, and then the progression to more complex tasks. 

     Experienced farm kids are quite insensitive to what city folks know and can do.  The same holds for urban kids who can maneuver through urban traffic, or for those who cook meals or care for a lawn.  People who seldom teach find it difficult to remember what it was like to learn.  A Chicago youth minister called, wanting to come to our nature center and to bring youngsters to teach Appalachians how to garden.  Think about the bias!  I asked whether the kids had gardening experience and the organizer said they didn't, but could learn quickly.  I assured him that so could most Appalachians, and we could not afford to teach more than those in our region right now.  Work experience is highly undervalued.  How many regard this as proper for a resume or a college application?  They ought to.

     Prayer:  Lord teach us to see the nobility of working with our hands not only in skilled crafts and art, but in the everyday things of life, and to regard this as experience worth treasuring.


A deer crossing sign along a rural road
*photo credit)

August 27, 2008         Animal "Rights"

     Animals have a right to be treated with respect.  A celebrated case of road rage a few years back occurred in San Jose, California.  This involved an angry driver berating a woman in a fender bender incident; the irate aggrieved party reached into the woman's car, grabbed her pet dog and tossed it out into the ongoing traffic.  The woman was horrified, for she said she loved the animal like a family member.  At the subsequent trial, the dog-tossing angry driver got three years in prison during which he had ample time to gain respect for animals. 

    People cannot go out and shoot stray animals, an exercise we thought merciful for the starving pups dropped at our homestead three decades ago.  Today agencies exist to handle such strays and, if necessary, to "put these away" in supposedly humane manners.  Part of the changing climate is due to seeing animals as beings deserving respect, which need not be shown weeds or invasive plant species.  We do not subject animals to meaningless cruelty; we respect their basic right to exist and flourish; we resolve to protect their traditional habitat.  When proliferating to a high degree, these animals need to be controlled in humane ways.

    The traditional understanding is that rights come along with responsibilities, and that in a strict sense non-rational creatures can't have rights because they are not "responsible" for their individual actions.  Perhaps such rights language is too restricted, but it does have its rightful place in legal history and our civilization.  We do speak of the "right to" free speech, worship, and to basics of life.  But that last area is shared with other creatures on this planet.  The species' "right" to respect, a decent living, and fair treatment may extend to an individual creature, at least with more complex species.  The right of a pest to exist is harder to justify and this needs some distinctions. 

     More difficult questions arise:  how are we to treat animals that find incarceration quite difficult?  I am distressed seeing caged orangutans facing the wall because they apparently find the zoo spectators more than they can handle;  equally disturbing is seeing a badger pacing back and forth almost crazed by confinement.  Should we capture and confine wild animals, use them for pets or consign them to scientific research projects?  Are animal parks less stressful alternatives, and can they help preserve certain endangered species?  Should animals be killed for meat or raised for other animal products?   Are the hog, cattle and chicken corporate farms and ultimate butchering processes forms of tolerated animal abuse?  Does this give birth to a doctrinaire vegetarianism?  What about those who deliberately cause endangered plants or animals to become extinct in order to avoid endangered species regulations?  Should activists liberate captive mink, monkeys or mice?  Should they point to bent drumsticks at fried chicken places, the mark of confinement of non-free ranging fowl? 

     Prayer: Lord teach us to extend respect to the animal kingdom.


Tulip poplar flower and leaf, Liriodendron tulipifera
Tulip poplar flower and leaf, Liriodendron tulipifera
*photo credit)

August 28, 2008    A Case for Bilingualism

     The number of Hispanic Americans in the United States has doubled since 1980 and is now over 35 million.  Every part of the nation now has Spanish speaking residents.  New York has one million Puerto Ricans along with others;  Florida has a heavy concentration of Cubans;  Mexicans and Central Americans are well represented in the border states of California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico and extending beyond to Oregon, Nevada, Colorado and eastward to Chicago and even Georgia and North Carolina.  Some note that the heavy concentration of undocumented workers is Hispanic and that these are most often dedicated construction, service, agricultural and factory workers.  Hispanics and other minorities are becoming the majority in many urban areas (San Antonio, San Diego, Houston, and Los Angeles).  Does this cause alarm or hope? 

     De facto, Spanish is becoming the lingua franca of a large portion of the area bordering Mexico.  Why not make Spanish a "second" language, rather than frown upon its presence or discourage its use outright?  Hispanic radio and television stations abound; signs are now found in all commercial quarters; Spanish is spoken openly on the streets.  What will the language of ascendancy at the end of this century be?  Spanish-speaking American people see their future as equal partners; maybe we will come to regard bilingualism as a blessing.

     Anglos may feel threatened but we must realize that this is another immigrant wave -- a process that has made our nation great.  We certainly need new immigration legislation, and hopefully this will be completed satisfactorily by the end of 2009.  Many Hispanics have been in the United States a long time and more and more want to stay.  A far more positive approach than deportation of the undocumented is greeting newcomers with a welcome as good as our non-English speaking ancestors received.  There is more.  We need to welcome second languages, because so many Americans have never had the experience of speaking a new tongue. 

     A second official language would raise Americans from our cultural isolation and allow us to converse more easily with Latin Americans.  How do we expect others to learn English, when we English-speakers never learn another tongue?  Requiring all public and private grade schoolers to learn Spanish would have many advantages:  it would open people to new cultures;  it would help us to see Hispanics as neighbors with a different culture; it would tie the continents more closely together; it would expand the speaking skills of youth at a time when learning a second language comes easily; and it would allow a growing appreciation of the wealth of the Hispanic culture.  

     Prayer:  Lord, allow us to see what is happening in our national life, to welcome change and to see immigrants as enriching our national and individual lives.



American water-willow, Justicia americana
*photo credit)

August 29, 2008     Speaking the Truth:  A Prophetic Stance

      John the Baptist was a man of truth;  he saw things clearly and he told it exactly how it was at whatever the cost.  And that cost was great for it included his own head at the end.  But for him his entire life was a preparation for the Messiah, and that meant that the people must honestly make themselves ready for his coming.  John realized that he himself must decrease in importance in order that the one prepared for would be better known.  John's humility was part of a prophetic stance that seems so appealing until we try to put it into action.  It makes us wonder whether we should take prophetic stances on current issues on an individual or group level and whether these might cause us to lose readership -- heavens forbid.  Here are a few stances we ought to promote:

      * The world's wealth and resources do not belong to the select few;  they also belong to the poor. 

      * Nuclear power facilities must be phased out.

      * If we are to have Middle East peace Israel must stop building houses in occupied land.

      * Every person on this planet has a right to the resources needed for the essentials of life.

     * We must not settle Iranian difficulties by military action.

     * Let us learn to live simply so others can simply live.

     * If the current struggle in Iraq continues, it will bankrupt us financially and morally.

     * Letting a hungry person die without food in Africa and being insensitive to the circumstances will condemn our people.

     * To convert corn that could have fed hungry people to biofuels is an abomination.

     * Commerce in tobacco products used by those with an addiction is immoral.

     * No one  who could safely do public service work within a community should be imprisoned.

     * Giving charity to those who ought to work is not charity.

     * Everyone should have health insurance.

     *  Our Earth needs to be treated as our mother.

     Prayer: Lord, teach us that awesome truth to pray always -- and especially that we pray for the courage to speak the truth.


Second Life avatars attending a live taping of NPR's "Science Friday" radio show.
Click here to see an article and listen to the NPR story about the use of Second Life in education.

*photo credit)

August 30, 2008     The Internet and Global Communications

    All cultures and communities thrive on communication, and that applies as well to our emerging global community.  In the past long distance communication was quite difficult even though some cultures had smoke signals and the Romans a network of post roads.  Not long ago a letter travelled slowly but was highly treasured for it revealed the health, lives and deaths of relatives and friends.  Today e-mails give us instant news, cell phones tell a spouse when one is coming home, and television gives news from the other side of the globe in a matter of hours from its happening.  Today some regard being "unwired" like being naked.  For better or worse, instant connectedness over such long distances is a new phenomenon.

     Such connectedness of modern communications should make the protection of planet Earth far easier; one learns threats far more quickly;  one discovers culprits while red-handed; one can get help from the police -- well maybe.  Today, most organizations have web sites to plan strategy, develop tactics, and monitor operations.  Individual staff members have e-mail addresses or can google sites for like-minded individuals or groups.  "Instant" is the key word for the wired person in today's world.  Together with readily available information, modern communication allows all of us to recognize our commons and to realize that air, water, marine life, wildlife, space and forests are all to be shared by all.  Mishaps and threats need not go unnoticed. 

     Information overload occurs when we receive too many emails, calls and periodicals.  It is like the indigestion in information experienced while jogging through a world's fair.  We are left with the dilemma of what to read briefly or thoroughly.  Is that overload on this <earthhealing.info> site as well?  Do all parties have the right to know what is being manufactured, processed, sprayed, scattered or stored in their vicinity especially at this time of year?  If yes, then when is a company permitted to retain a trade or operating secret?   Maybe never.  Since most substances can be detected and identified through costly analytical means, should not all citizens have access to analytical data?  However, we must also ask whether information makes us better doers or paralyzed with fright.

     Tradeoffs abound.  Is the current pressure to have the government regulate the Internet the result of groups trying to exert control over communications?  Billions of advertising dollars are at stake, as we know when Yahoo! or Google talk of expanding or merging.  Are those who are seeking to control the content and manner of Internet delivery interested in the audience's protection?  If you are concerned, contact the National Conference on Media Reform or Josh Silver at <list@freepress.net>.  Are air waves and communication means part of our commons?  Are the highways of communication regulated with caution?  Sure, stop the irresponsible ones, but restrict the traffic cops also.

     Prayer:  Lord, teach us to communicate with You and others.


A newly-fallen leaf - a sign of autumn's coming
*photo credit)

August 31, 2008      Self-Denial and Vitality

     We are to know the seasons of our lives though some deny that seasons are passing.  The signs of aging include an added ache in the back, overly-frequent birthdays, obits in which half the people are younger than the reader, museums featuring the tools we used when farming in our youth, shortness of breath and memory, and increased time to check if we have all our clothes on.  Some say it is salutary to think about our mortality on occasion --but such occasions come frequently with each passing death of a friend or loved one.  What about thinking occasionally about vitality or how we can live better with each passing day?  In other words how do we improve the quality of our remaining life?  We certainly cannot extend the quantity of our days in any meaningful manner, but we can improve what we have left.

    Don't count the days, but rather make the days count no matter at what age.  When we past middle years, we think about how best to conserve our waning energy levels.  For seventy is, as Scripture says, the ordinary length of life, and eighty for those who are strong.  Really, with time survivors get stronger?  We can never fully calculate the seasons of our life until they are over or nearly so, but for the majority of human beings the seventies are the December of life and the advent of eternal life. I suspect half the world's people at a given time believe that they will not taste death.  That's as unhealthy as always tasting it.  "Cowards die many times before their death."  However, ought those who think of quality of life also to find ways to improve it?  What about taking on a new activity, giving more time to those in need, finding a way to make another person happy, involving oneself in civic activities and public interest work.  If we prefer "passing" to dying, how about preferring passing from our old selves to new creatures of activity and prayer life? 

     Vitality is part of being realists, for being more alive means giving life to others as well.  As quantity of remaining time always shortens, we must compensate by improving the quality of each day so we can get the most out of it.  We start to realize that quality has no limits to growth and our improving life is the best preparation for eternal life.  Hospice workers encourage the terminally ill to make every day and moment count as special events, for life is to be lived to the full -- and that should improve as we near the end.  All life is terminal but not all life has quality to it.  Get the most out of beautiful sunrises, chirping birds, and verdant meadows, the waxing and waning of the moon, the starry skies and occasional showers.  All good things become more meaningful for us, a mellowing like good cider.  Most of all, improving our own lives improves those of others also.

    Prayer:  Lord, teach us to know who we are and how we can live the gift of life better through denying ourselves for the sake of others.  Don't let our "cross" be personal aches and pains, but the offerings we make for others.  Help us to love in giving to others, self-denial with a particular quality to it.


Copyright © 2008 Earth Healing, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Albert J. Fritsch, Director
Janet Powell, Developer
Mary Davis, Editor

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