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Daily Reflections Earth Healing

Daily Reflections
by Al Fritsch, S.J.


A series of written meditations and reflections



Help to keep Earth Healing Daily Reflections online

August 2009

Copyright © 2009 by Al Fritsch

Swamp milkweed, Asclepias incarnata


The year is maturing at mid-summer and August is upon us. Only so much more can be achieved as the daylight begins to shorten. Mists arise each morning, like the graying of middle age. We experience our annual mid-year crisis. Good times pass on and are mere memories, even if we want them to linger. Green flora have reached their zenith and are preparing to turn golden. Vacation time gives way to rigid academic schedules, baseball to football, and camp sites are thinning. August foretells the season's change in the subdued colors of bush phlox, sunflower and goldenrod. The month still has its unique delights: peaches, plums, apricots, watermelons, cantaloupes, "roasting ears," squash, beans, okra, new potatoes, elderberries, and cascades of tomatoes in their prime. Different sights, smells and sounds intertwine with the first falling leaves. After an August rain, the land smells fresh, foliage glistens, and birds start to act differently. Spiders start weaving their late summer webs; all wildlife quickens the pace in preparation for autumn. Even the night noises are different, for now the crickets and frogs seem more persistent and, if we stop and listen, we can hear the corn grow.









A final ripe mulberry, picked from a productive mulberry
*photo credit)

August 1, 2009   Harvesting and Thankfulness

     Let's turn the harvest month of August into one of thanksgiving for gifts given, namely the first fruits -- grain, fruit and vegetables.  The English church has a Lammas Day or "loaf plus Mass" from old English.  Like other feasts (Christmas, Easter, All Saints, etc.), the day most likely substituted for a pagan feast.  On August first, the Roman pagan feast became the day to commemorate "St. Peter's Chains," that is, the miraculous deliverance of St. Peter from prison.  This feast originated as the dedication day of the church of the apostle Peter (S. Pietro in Vincoli), erected on the Esquiline Hill in Rome in the fourth century to venerate the chains that bound Peter before his death in 64 A.D. 

      Thanksgiving, for the bounty that is exploding all around us in fields, yards, gardens and woods, is our particular theme for the month.  Grain combines are now operating from Texas through the Great Plains to Canada, harvesting the wheat that is bread for a hungry world.  For many in Europe, this is vacation month, a time to relax and see nature's bounty.  For others on this planet, this is the time for added work in harvesting the fruits of their sowing.  We often postpone our thanksgiving to after the gathering, namely to Thanksgiving Day in late November.  However, August makes us aware that gratitude knows no limits, for God's gifts are numerous and embrace all times and places.

     We look about and see green fields of soybeans and corn that will not be harvested until immediately before or after frost.  However, August is when many American farmers fill their silos for the cattle during winter.  Furthermore, the garden harvest is also peaking for a variety of vegetables, and especially such bulk crops as tomatoes, beans, and sweet corn.  Farmers' markets are brimming with cucumbers, melons, summer squash, cantaloupes, okra, and, don't forget, zucchini.  The bounty of peaches, plums, quinces, early pears, apricots, and summer apples is worth savoring and preserving.    While blackberries are generally past season, except in higher altitudes and northern climates, still this is the time of elderberries and blueberries.  Many of the garden herbs are gathered and dried.  Every effort is being made to preserve the flavors of August from the surplus produce.

     Variety and plenty go hand-in-hand in August.  Yet in drought stricken lands of Africa this is not the case.  The heat overcomes the people and livestock in parts of the Horn of Africa and beyond. Our gratitude includes responsibility to share our gifts with others.  The human family is not equally blessed in immediate food supply, and we who know plenty are called to share.  Thankfulness and generosity are twins, and August is the time to express this in special ways.

     Prayer:  We thank You, Lord, for the good land that produces the food we need to sustain life; we thank You for the produce coming from that fertile land.  Move us to share with others.







 Image taken at Takuma refugee camp, Kenya
               (* photo by Zorian, Creative Commons A-N 2.0 licence)

August 2, 2009          Hunger in the World

     The Lord gave them bread from heaven.  (Psalm 78)

     Hunger, of both a physical and a spiritual variety, exists in this world.  These types of hunger afflict the very poor in the first case and a cross section of population in the second.  In actual fact, God is the provider of physical and spiritual bread, and God expects us to be the normal deliverers of this largesse.

Certainly bread-providing miracles have occurred in history but human channels are the normal practice.  Even the manna in the Sinai is a natural phenomenon that can be found today in the same desert areas in which the wandering Jewish people were directed to it at the time of the great Exodus from Egypt. 

     Today, with great urgency, we are called once more to deliver provisions to the needy.  We become God's hands and feet at work to feed unfortunate people who will die without immediate assistance.  Hunger cannot be put off and delayed.  People need today's bread.  God has given plentiful gifts to an entire world, and we must take immediate steps to give charity at times of drought, floods or other calamities.  We must share resources that can produce either adequate food for all or resource-intensive foods (animal products and prepared foods) for a privileged few.  Furthermore, we must ensure that cornland is used for food and not for renewable fuels for wasteful vehicles.  And finally international policies should support small farmers to enable them to feed their own needy populations. 

     Our concern about global physical hunger should not diminish an equal concern about the spiritually deprived: the people sated with allurements of every sort and overcome by despair and helplessness.  The spiritually hungry are all about, and it takes effort to discover them and their condition.  Some people are more experienced in ministering to them, but all of us bearers of Good News can help identify those in substance abuse situations or overcome by the trials of life.  We certainly should do more than tell the caregivers about them;  we can encourage them to change and pray for their recovery.  Quite often a gentle invitation can make the difference for the spiritually hungry.

     Those steeped in the Eucharist are meant to be bearers of provisions (physical food and spiritual assistance) for the struggle against hunger in all its manifestations.  Our gratitude moves us to action, and this gratitude is based on the Eucharist food that we receive.  Through this sacramental grace we become all the more aware that some around us are hungry and our own worthiness in receiving the Eucharist rests in part on how willing we are to share with those who are hungry.  God gives us gifts; we acknowledge that they are gifts and thus share with others.

     Prayer:  God, our Father, gifts without measure flow from your goodness to bring us your peace.  Our life is your gift.  Guide our life's journey, for only your love makes us givers as well.







A backyard retreat, Washington Co., KY
*photo credit)

August 3, 2009        Stay Nearer Home This Year

     Sometimes we are drawn to distant places and peoples;  at other times we simply want to travel less, enjoy more and stay at home and rest.  During this economic downturn it may prove more meaningful to curb the luxuries that include unnecessary travel.  Such a change may prove more memorable in the long run.  More rest and less stress go hand-in-hand. 

     Change the pace.  Varying routine may prove more important than acquiring long distance destinations.  For those who travel some distance to and from work or other activities, the one change needed is less travel by staying closer to home.  For some, this "vacation" may best be achieved by simply having an unplanned week and let come what may -- for we live too often by rigid schedules.  Resolve to break routine in diet, sleep habits, and exercise. Put down the phone and relax from being overly connected.  Ask these normally connected ones to honor that resolve. 

     Enjoy the uniqueness of our home place.  This downturn can become our opportunity to know the locality.  When visiting the local place, discover how much local treasure is worth valuing and promoting to others who think that distant travel is the ultimate pleasure.  An added benefit is that doing so supports the local economy.  But even better, help redefine local vacationing in a non-commercial manner.

     Plan to be easy on yourself, especially if reaching certain destinations and travel conditions are stressful.  Avoid congestion by traveling before or after the crowd has started or finished, or choose a less popular day or even time for vacation.  It is not difficult for most of us to anticipate the more congested times and places when reaching the local destinations.  However, even local conditions are full of surprises -- such as accidents or unexpected popular events.

     Take more time to reflect.  Vacation could be incorporated into a retreat setting and situation.  This can prove to be a change of routine and an opportunity to communicate with the Lord rather than always with certain friends, colleagues or partners.  Vacation periods may be times to reset our direction for the better.  Taking a pen and pad could come in handy for new thoughts and ideas that are worth recording.

     Become locally present.  Few of us savor the good things in creation that are all about.  These become our teachers and guides if we only allow them.  Our appreciation of the flora and fauna is our way to spread Good News to all creation.  In some ways all creatures know when we enjoy them, and they become present to us. 

     Prayer:  Lord, give me a chance to rest when and where rest is due, and to be able to achieve this without traveling great distances. 







An old, abandoned barn in Anderson Co., KY
*photo credit)

August 4, 2009    Consider Nut Tree Plantings

     We often are moved to reduce our carbon imprint by planting trees -- and that is good.  We know that Americans during the last two hundred years have contributed twenty-seven percent of the total carbon dioxide that is now in the global atmosphere.  Planting trees is a way of rectifying some of the carbon burden we have imposed as a people.   Why not plant productive trees that are large enough to make a difference (too many of the fruit trees are dwarfs or semi-dwarfs)?  The larger nut trees give some shade, often grow to sizeable heights and take up that extra carbon dioxide while providing valuable food for wildlife and us as well.  An added benefit is that high grade black walnut (Juglans nigra) logs can bring high prices as well with maturity -- for they are a sound economic investment.

     Besides the walnut there are other shade trees that are beautiful in shape and appearance.  The American chestnut is on the road back to its illustrious place among the great shade trees of our land.  Beech, pecan, and hickory in many varieties are prized trees, which offer plentiful supplies of nuts at least every other year.  Chestnut wood is found in ancient barns still in good condition;  hickory wood is good for smoking foods; the walnut's grain and dark color are prized for everything from gunstocks to furniture.

     Federal and state agencies sponsor nut and especially black walnut plantings both individually and in plantations and often offer seedlings at nominal fees.  Young trees will bear nuts as early as six years after planting.  Usually pistillate (female) flowers produce nuts after being pollinated by staminate (male) flowers of the same tree.  In a very early or very late spring, the pistillate flowers may not be ready when the pollen is shed.  Different varieties of walnuts have overlapping pollen-receptivity periods and can pollinate each other.  Thus groves have advantages.            

      Walnut trees develop deep taproots and should be planted in very deep well-drained soil generally in the fall (with husks on) or early spring (with husks removed).  The trees need plenty of room to grow and should be planted 10 feet apart for timber and 60 feet apart for nuts.  The soil for walnut trees should be slightly acid with a pH of about 6.0.  Foresters advise that soils be tested before planting.  Nitrogen and potassium are especially needed by walnut trees for nut production.  The new trees also benefit from the addition of manures and organic matter to the soil.  Weeds should be kept away from the base of the trees to reduce competition for moisture and nutrients.  Avoid planting them near garden areas (especially near tomatoes and potatoes) or most berry patches (except raspberries). Walnut tree roots exude juglone, a substance toxic to some plants -- and hickory has similar problems.  Ask your county agent to suggest the best nut varieties for you.

     Prayer:  Lord, help us to correct the misdeeds of our past by planting productive trees in our vacant landscape.   







Lush understory of Kentucky forest
*photo credit)

August 5, 2009    Gratitude for Mid-Summer's Green

     We take a walk and enjoy the intense mid-summer greenness.  This August phenomenon is especially true in the Bluegrass State and at this time of year when we are blessed with normal summer rainfall.  The peaking of greenness announces the changing landscape that is here but a short while.  We are powerlessness to restart or halt the change for we can't stop the flow of time. We can accept this flow and enjoy it while it lasts;  that is much to be thankful for. 

     The countryside is verdant: fields in the full bounty of pasture and cropland, gardens, lawns, roadside greenspace, and all the trees, with the exception of the black locust, which has turned brown already.  Some varieties of trees seem to sprout fresh summer additions, which add pale hues to the sea of dark greenery.  Even the farm ponds take on a mid-summer green algae growth, unless an effort is made to keep it off.  Amid this intensity of color appear hints of change in the air.  In a few weeks the blades of the full-grown corn stalk will turn yellow; the gardens and fruit trees will yield their fruit and the soybeans will turn yellow and the pods mature.  This green landscape is now highlighted by patches of goldenrod, the purple ironweed in the pasturelands, and the subdued pink and purple of the joe-pye weed.

     For farmers this is silo-filling time.  Various types of foliage can be used, but we were blessed in past operation (a half century ago) to be able to use sorghum cane and green corn.  We would take corn knives and cut the first two rows by hand so that the binder could come through and bind the corn/sorghum into bundles.  These bundles were hauled to a stationary chopper set up next to the silo.  The bundles were fed into the chopper, and the resulting green pieces were blown into the silo by air generated in the chopping device.  Our task as kids was to distribute the silage chopped pieces.  We maneuvered the delivery pipes so that the silage would be evenly distributed throughout the silo area, and we tried to tramp the loose silage into place.  We would relax and climb higher up the silo and jump down into the loose silage as a youthful way of packing it.  As the silage piled up higher, its increased weight had its own settling effect.  Upon filling the silo we would haul up buckets of dirt to seal the silage in place;  this would cause further settling and reduce spoilage.

     August was a wistful time for we knew that vacation was coming to an end, another school year would soon start, and the freedom of summer would fade.  Even when young, we knew the greenery would not last forever, and the summer crops would soon be ready for bringing to the barns and storage areas.  We Kentuckians, swimming in a sea of greenery, experience the nostalgia of fleeting beauty.  Still we are thankful to be able to seize the passing moment.

     Prayer:   Lord, give us a sense of gratitude for beauty that is here and yet is passing; this speaks so much of life's journey.







Butterfly milkweed, Asclepias tuberosa
*photo credit)

August 6, 2009        Rid the World of Nukes

     Never again!  Imprinted on my mind is that defining moment  when I sat listening to the radio on August 6, 1945, and heard the news about the terrible bombing of Hiroshima in Japan.  The startling announcement that our country had dropped a special type of bomb that destroyed an entire city in one explosion wiped out whatever romantic notions of war still remained in me.  The bomb contained an unheard-of power of devastation and caused thousands upon thousands of deaths and injuries -- and most of these victims had never put on a military uniform. 

     The unanswered questions surfaced.  Why non-combatants?  Why total war?  Was it end seeking to justify means?  We trusted our government and its decisions, but couldn't that powerful bomb have been dropped off the coast just to show what power could be brought to bear in these final months of war?  Why so many deaths of the innocent in a war that had already cost so many untold millions of lives?  The imaginary glamour of winning a war faded into stark reality.  In the previous years warfare had turned more ghastly after the Hamburg and Dresden bombings by saturation incendiary devices and their fire storms and civilian deaths.  Were we becoming a calloused people?  Hiroshima was an entire city destroyed by one bomb!  America, the land of the free, was ushering in an atomic age -- and delivered this weapon of mass destruction.

     The bombings of Hiroshima and later Nagasaki must never happen again.  Thus the onus of containing and eliminating these weapons of mass destruction is upon us as people who seek to be peaceful.  The contagion of nuclear weaponry has now spread to other so-called military powers: Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea and Iran, the most recent aspirant. Proliferation is even more frightening when the weapons get into the hands of a rogue state or terrorists.  The United States and Russia are by far the major holders of such weapons -- and so must initiate their elimination. 

     The atomic age began on the mid-summer feast of the Transfiguration when the Lord fulfills a new order of justice and peace, all manifested in the drama of Jesus between Moses and Elijah.  On Mount Tabor we rest with the disciples in the security of Christ conquering evil and preparing for a reign soon to come.  But we cannot merely stand passively by.  As democratic people we must press forward for nuclear disarmament in every way possible.  Hiroshima and Nagasaki in anguish cried out, Never again!  The nuclear race began soon after 1945 and has not yet ended.  August 6 is sobering, for the light of transfiguration and of nuclear explosions has ushered in a battle of good and evil, in which we are participants, and the immediate consequences are uncertain.

     Prayer:  Lord give our nation the courage to lead the way to the elimination of all nuclear weapons on this Earth.  Teach us that we cannot tinker around with nuclear energy and expect the specter of nuclear weaponry to be removed.  Help us go cold turkey.







Phlox divaricata, blue phlox, surviving on the
outskirt of Cromer Ridge

*photo credit)


August 7, 2009          Cromer Ridge

      The first off‑road vehicle site in Kentucky;

         very convenient for the riders from other states,

         just off I‑75 at Exit 49.

     It's also ever so nice for green eco‑people,

         who show it to the media and other voyeurs,

         like a paraded freak, without involving local people.


     The odd part is that most all ORVers disobey the law

         driving more than a quarter mile on public road,

         using private land with no written permission.

     Who dares denounce tourism ‑‑ budding business number one,

         except that leakage here ‑‑ tourist money going outside

         is at one of the highest rates in the world.


     Residents know there's something mighty wrong,

         and we're reaching the limits of tolerance.

     One deceased ASPI board member said he kept the

         watermelon patch free of ORVers by using piano wire.

     We vacillate;  my days of a trusty shotgun are gone;

         these holes of ass now are allowed to trespass.


     Just what won't work:

         Posturing about closing off the area by decree;

         Elites feeling sorry for the land and people;

         Talking to the ORV association as though they have power;

         Asking manufacturers to stop the ads

            that show vehicles on fragile lands.


     I hate resorting to booby traps

         with a host of shysters in the wings

         to sue and take our property in a wink.

     "Somebody might get killed," you say!  As though the

         five or more ORV riders killed each year

         are not really dead ‑‑ just pretending. 


     Let's get some things straight;

         those in the public interest aren't runnin' for office

         and we don't care a whole lot about feelings.

     We'd like your support in whatever fashion given,

         but so‑called hillbillies, the last such slur,

         crave something more, respect for land and people. 


      P.S.  This vintage poem was created on July 25, 2001; unfortunately, much of it is still pertinent in the summer of 2009.










Heavy-laden berry viens provide weeks of organic enjoyment
*photo credit)

August 8, 2009     Degrees of Environmental Greenness

     We can be "green" in many ways:  with envy, with foliage, with environmental practice and beautification.  With reference to being ecologically green, the first level involves people wanting to save a river or endangered species.  Specific laws, regulations and restrictions are imposed by a level of government to see that this takes place.  People try to stop air or water pollution, or deforestation, or to save the gray wolf or bald eagle.  Actions on this level include climate change battles now being waged.

     A second level of greenness looks beyond distant or unrelated polluting culprits to ourselves.  We are humbled to discover that we all are partly to blame, in our use of resources for a host of consumer products that we find convenient.  It is our consumption of goods that takes resources and accounts for almost two-thirds of the American economy.  Such immense consumption patterns result in heavy non-renewable energy consumption for our electricity and mobility and take resources to replace the many items created, produced and promoted through a subtle process of planned obsolescence, i.e., rapid changes in what is fashionable.  Under these circumstances, greenness goes beyond recognized dirty air and water; it includes consumer choices that have so much to do with the current economy.  Being green may be turning off unused lights or equipment, installing fluorescent bulbs, driving more energy efficient vehicles and growing part of your own food, and a host of current simpler living techniques and consumer practices.

     At a still deeper level we need a certain solidarity with our fragile Earth, a treatment of this beautiful planet as a sister or mother or other close relative -- for thus it is.  Green folks are able to express this relationship in song, poetry, prayer, dance or other artistic and spiritual ways.  This deeper level may not be primarily a natural consequence of the first two levels, but rather a major ingredient in the relationship of primitive and nature-loving people to their Earth, eco-spirituality expressed in different ways.  Today people adapt the spirituality of others, but this spirituality may not fit their particular environment.

    We are not islands to ourselves but must live with others in a fragile world.  To shut ourselves off in ever-shrinking natural wilderness areas is not being green;  to forget this in our "consumer" culture is a matter for urgent review.  China, India and other developing nations are increasing their appetite for the very resources, the extraction and processing of which have damaged the planet during the last century.  Today, the Earth, threatened by climate changes with serious ramifications for the world's poor, cries out for help.  True solidarity hears the cry of the poor -- yes, poor people and poor Earth.   At this deepest level of environmental involvement, the emphasis is on social justice.   Our resources belong to all of us, not just to the privileged few. 

     Prayer:  Lord make us green with the deepest hue and help us spread the message of environmental awareness to others as well.







A great-grandmother's cultivated rose,
passed through several generations

*photo credit)

August 9, 2009            Real Presence

     Our tasks demand our complete presence, not just being physically at this place, but being really here in spirit and in heart.  We have spoken earlier (August 3) about being present to the flora and fauna.  Here we look at our presence with God and other human beings.  We must be open to what moves us to join or connect with others, to the spiritual dimension in our lives and mission.  If we act bored or inattentive we will do the task poorly and thus be doomed to fail.  "He simply is not here" may mean that he is physically present but not fully participating in the activity that is expected.  This is not good and we know it.   

     At times, our degree of presence to others is a critical matter.  We may be physically in the room when it is necessary to visit sick people and give them consolation.  It is not that we have to involve ourselves in physical healing, for that is impossible when the person is dying.  However, we are asked to simply be present in mind and heart.  Others know very soon just how present we are to them through response, eye contact, facial and bodily gestures and in many ways.  We speak to a person on the phone and we soon know that they are multi-tasking.  In astonishment we ask, "Are you driving?"  The answer is often a sheepish, "Yes."

     We can also speak of God's presence to us:  in the world around us; in the gathering of two or more at prayer; in the attention we give to the Lord right here; in the Eucharist.  God's love extends out to all the world and without that presence we would cease to be.  Thus there is a divine presence that only the mystics probe to some degree.  But presence really take two from our standpoint.  While God is always present, never absent, still it is our awareness or lack of it that involves our total presence before God.  God is present to us but is not overbearing.  We must respond for God, whose invitation is gentle and loving and expects our openness as a response.

     When we reflect on the Eucharist, we know that God is present in a special way.  We ask about how open we are in response to this special presence.  Do we respond with head and heart?  Do we  acknowledge the Real Presence of the Lord in a number of external gestures:  through respect, by bowing and/or genuflection depending on culture and physical condition of the person?  The Presence of the Lord is shown by a burning sanctuary light and by our open affirmation that God is present with the people.  God does not need this sacramental presence, but we do.  We need the physical/ spiritual reality before us, in order to achieve the tasks before us.  Furthermore, we need to make God present to others by bringing out their openness to the spiritual dimension of their own lives and work before their Creator. 

     Prayer:  Lord, make us all the more aware of your Real Presence in our midst.  Teach us to respect this presence and to bring it to those who are in need of You.








A lazy friend on a hot summer day
*photo credit)

August 10, 2009       Animals as Friends

      This year I have reflected often on the Gospel of Mark (16:16) that tells us to go out and extend the Good News to all creation.   A few years ago, a small girl in Ethiopia was being forcefully taken by a group of men who wanted her to enter into a forced marriage.  Three lions chased off the seven men and sat beside the frightened child for half of a day until help from her village arrived -- and then the lions departed.  The people called it a miracle, but it also showed that animals have a sense of human beings in trouble, and they strive to help.  Animals, even wildlife, are our friends as part of the family of all creation.  That friendship was shown by such saints of old as Francis of Assisi, Blaise and others.  Maybe some of the tales are fictional and maybe not.  If we extend to animals such friendship as wildlife sanctuary caregivers manifest, then there is a mutual response.  It is this mutuality that is so called for today in an age where heartlessness is accepted as the norm -- and fear of wildlife becomes quite pervasive.   We recognize this friendship and the continuity of life with the family of all being.

     A colleague once commented that God created dogs because we humans need companions who ask no questions.  A loving dog knows when we suffer and need an uplifting.  The seeing eye dog and the security guards of our homes and businesses are our companions.  Some dogs sense when a diabetic needs a treatment even before that person does -- and so sound the alarm before the person can blank out.  Companions, whether domesticated or wild, make life better for us;  their presence improves the quality of our lives.  Often the young and the elderly crave companionship, and animals often fill the void.  Over five hundred senior citizen facilities with aviaries and fish tanks attest to trying to fulfill companionship needs.  Pet stores show this as well. 

     We seek to observe wildlife, especially birds; we go to wildlife refuges and zoological gardens; we are fascinated by animal pictures and movies.  Our attraction to animals and plants in a broader living community is part of being human.  When we extend love and respect to them, we go beyond being merely human and take on the character of God's own ongoing creative act.  We know that hardened criminals who are allowed to be dog trainers for the challenged take on a new lease on life -- and are humanized in the process of being trainers.  We delight in feeding squirrels and birds and in simply observing wildlife.  Our total community life is improved by the presence of wildlife and diminished by the loss of endangered species.  Even though not next to us, wildlife is part of a community that adds spice to the total human family's journey.  Furthermore, animal life that is nearer to us requires protection, for these animals answer our quest for companionship here and now.

     Prayer:  Lord, teach us to love all animals and regard them as friends and companions on our journey through life.       







Carduus nuttans, a beautiful exotic plant
*photo credit)

August 11, 2009        American Ethnic Change

      American ethnicity is my long-time hobby; see  Ethnic Atlas of the United States, <earthhealing.info/EA/into.html>, in draft form.  The hope is to have a complete publication after the 2010 census is recorded.  Then ethnic changes starting in 1980 can be more definitely shown for each of the 3,000 counties of our country.  The data for the current atlas totals 25,000 entries for the fifty states, mainly from the 2000 U.S. Census.  The cut-off per county is generally 1,000 people, and smaller concentrations are thus omitted as they fall below the "ethnic radar screen."  Having computerized ethnic maps in composing this atlas, we will now find it easier to record 2010 changes in the next two years.

     Ethnicity has an environmental component.  We respect our forbearers, those who nurtured us and gave us our good habits, and we learn from them to respect our planet Earth.  In recent decades, a trend among the upcoming generation is to forget the past and to glorify new gadgets and fashions.  Respect erodes through historical illiteracy, lack of civility, and a desire for a melting pot that blurs the rich ethnicity that makes us who we are.  In an age when languages are dying out worldwide at a rate of one every two weeks (by UN estimates), we find interest in our ethnicity threatened.  Many forget that ethnic differences add richness and toleration to our American mosaic.  Certainly, however, some individuals are concerned about ethnic identity loss and strive to reestablish their roots through genealogical research, return to lands of origin, and recording the thoughts of older relatives.

     Often, people cling to ethnic groups on arrival to America.  With time and cultural integration, they lose contact with the Old Country, elders die, ethnic social societies erode, and youth find more exciting things to do than to dress up in native costumes, learn ethnic dances, speak quaint languages to grandparents, and attend specific ethnic events.  Ethnic churches and parishes that were so prevalent before the First World War tend to be merged or closed as succeeding generations move to the suburbs.  Growing numbers of people continue to enter our country especially from Latin America, Asia and the Middle East; they desire to retain their ethnic identity amid the pressures for assimilation.  In fact, Spanish is rapidly becoming the second language of our country, thus slowing the normal pattern of assimilation through a rapidly growing transplanted Hispanic culture. 

     In contrast, many people, especially the English or Scotch-Irish, declare themselves to be "American" or non-designated.  However, they are static or declining in numbers while minorities (Hispanic, Afro-American, Native American, Asian American and Pacific Islanders) are increasing faster than the majority white population.  Non-designated folks are numerous in Appalachia, the Ozarks and the Southeast.  And many are intermarrying and losing their close identity to ethnic enclaves.  We await 2010.

     Prayer:  Help us Lord to know and respect our forbearers.







A cool, shady cove provides a relief from
summer sun

*photo credit)

August 12, 2009      Ten Ways to Beat the Heat

     This is the month when temperatures ordinarily soar to the nineties Fahrenheit and we learn to live as best we can.  The papers tell of people, even young athletes, dying from heat stroke or elders suffering in uncooled apartments.  We all need ways to beat the heat and to help others, especially the elderly poor, to do the same.

     *  Rest, if possible, during the hottest part of the day.

     * Drink plenty of water.  We sometimes think that alcoholic beverages are good substitutes, but they generally take more moisture than they replenish, and cause lightheadedness and rapid intoxication as well.  Soft drinks and other beverages are okay, but good water is the best.

     * Eat more lightly.  Keep to cold soups and dishes.

     * Coffee may not help for some.  For them, more frequent restroom trips indicate the dehydrating effect of too much coffee.

     * Encourage others to drink liquids.  When in desert areas, guides always tell hikers that they may be unaware of severe dehydration until it is too late. 

     * Wear the right clothing.  Many prefer broad-rimmed straw hats.  All ought to wear loose fitting light-colored clothing and concentrate on such fabrics as cotton.

     * Move more slowly.   The amount of liquid needed varies according to a number of factors -- how much liquid loss has occurred over the past day, the size of the person, the amount of perspiring, and the rate of emission of body fluids.

     * Limit mid-day activity.  If you must engage in outdoor activity whether jogging or walking, do this in the cooler parts of the day.  Minimize such activities during mid-day and carry a water container with you.

     * Weight-watchers beware.  Lowering weight can be easily achieved by reducing body moisture content.  When doing exercise one can eliminate four pounds (two liters) of fluids in a single exercise.  Liquids need to be replenished.  Achieve weight lost in less rigorous and safer ways.

     * Keep indoors or in the shade.  The shade is at least twenty degrees cooler -- and even more in the deeper wooded areas.  My house is cool with no air conditioning thanks to the large nearby elm tree that gives enormous shade benefits.

      Prayer:  Lord, teach us to know how to withstand the heat and assist others in doing the same during the hot periods of summer.







Spotted St. Johns Wort, Hypericum punctatum
*photo credit)


August 13, 2009      The Gift of the Volunteer

 (Homily at a Christian Appalachian Project volunteer anniversary)

     Sharing is a two way-street: the services given by a generous volunteer and the reception given by hospitable people who can use assistance.  The prophet Elisha receives hospitality in a very simple and sensitive manner from a couple who are really of modest means.  He is invited to come and stay at their house -- just as many volunteers come into a welcoming community and are thus encouraged to give of themselves.  The "prophet's reward," spoken of in Matthew's Gospel, is what this hospitable couple receives -- the promise of a child to come within a year.  Generosity given and promised reward received.

    Jesus teaches his disciples how to be persons on a mission -- how to best spread the Good News to others in the world.  He requires a dedication that goes beyond family devotion.  He also says he expects the hearers of the Word to return generosity as well.  The generosity given by the disciple is the same generosity that is returned in hospitality.  Both are needed so that the Word can grow and increase in the world.  The paradigm shift after Vatican II is that the giving of the Word is not the totality, but the giver must grow from the faith already present in the hearers, so that Good News can be a sharing.  The missionary tells of the gift of Scripture and Sacraments;  the other expresses a receptivity coming from human and cultural values already present.  Thus two gifts are communicated through the agency of the Church -- the Word of God and presence of God in the world and culture.  Thus the missionary is a bridge between the new members and the already existing community.    

     As volunteers you have shown that you have dared to give to others;  upon reflection you find that you have received as much as you have given if not more.  All areas of poverty have great needs and yet in fulfilling these needs we find a great wealth amid the poverty.  I find this;  you find this.  As volunteers you became the messengers who bring the Good News and suddenly find out that you receive the Good News.  For too long, Appalachians have suffered from a stereotype of being poor mountain people.  You have been able to dispel those misinformed impressions.  What you found in coming here is that the supposed dull and poor people were quite bright and possessed a spiritual wealth to share with others who need to grow in faith.  These people have a smartness to survive in poverty and skills to get by on far less than others could realize. 

     Again, Appalachia remains open to all volunteers.  What you came to give is what you found as a gift -- people willing to share of their own spiritual depth.  As residents and volunteer receivers, we again welcome you and remind you that you are always welcome back.  As people growing in experience, the volunteer becomes a sensitive person willing to go out from whatever circumstances and share with others in need.







A Bluegrass stone fence, Mercer Co., KY
*photo credit)

August 14, 2009   Domestic Tornado Shelters and Food Storage

     We have had some rather difficult weather in Kentucky in the first half of 2009 -- unusual storm damage from ice and wind in winter and tornados in spring.  In one storm two persons lost their lives and a dozen homes were destroyed in the adjacent county.  I endured that severe storm in my parked car which was not damaged.  However, many wisely chose to spend time during these storms in shelters in or near their homes.  Some of these shelters are built solely for storms; others serve as storage space as well.

     We suggest that root cellars used for food preservation can also serve as tornado shelters.  For centuries people realized that root cellars were ideal for storing surplus crops for winter in a non-processed manner.  A wide variety of home produce can be stored successfully in root cellars: potatoes, beets, apples, cabbage, cauliflower, endive, celery, turnips, squash, endive, and peppers.  Some people store certain vegetables in boxes of moist sand to preserve them from drying out.  My mother would also store the canned preserves in our cellar on shelves built above a 3-by-12-foot by 2-foot-deep potato bin.  Once built, there is no energy cost as with deep freezers -- unless we count an electric bulb.

      An ideal root cellar should be accessible from the kitchen.  Every foot away from the kitchen counts, so plan it with convenience in mind.  The space will naturally be dark and cool, since the earth serves as an insulating and temperature modifying agent.  As very young children, we would retreat to the coolness of our cellar during hot summer days to play card games.  A moderate humidity is expected in an underground structure and is needed to keep produce from drying too much.  However, moisture must not be allowed to accumulate, and so the cellar must be equipped with a drain.  Within this space or at dryer locations elsewhere (attics or upper floors) one can store onions, beans and peas.  Higher shelves should be used for pumpkins, squash and canned food.  Herbs are better preserved for flavor in dryer places.  

     The type of root cellar may vary from larger exotic types of separate underground buildings to metal drums stored in a hillside.  Easy access is important.  Some prefer cellars with concrete floors, but gravel or even dirt floors are generally satisfactory.  Ideally the space should have good ventilation and be made rodent-proof.  A roof of a separate underground building that is heated by the sun may yield too high a temperature for an ideal root cellar.  One may add a sod roof that would reduce the temperature to a suitable range, though added weight requires well- reinforced roof structures.  A basement addition or compartment under the house may prove to be the most easily built and maintained root cellar.  Popular magazines and the Internet provide numerous tips on design, construction and maintenance of these structures.  And they are ideal places to sit out a tornado or severe storm.

     Prayer:  Lord protect us as we strive to protect loved ones in stormy weather.







A fresh nest of the Carolina wren, Thryothorus ludovicianus
*photo credit)

August 15, 2009         Mary and Choice

     It was a choice in a single moment.  Would she say yes and be with a child who is the Messiah, or would she be like others who might say, "I have to have some time to think this over"?  Mary had already decided to be totally open to the Lord, and thus in this spirit of openness the new choice came easily.  "Fiat!"  Let it be done, for this is God's will.  Thus Mary made the greatest choice ever undertaken.

     Having made the definitive choice, Mary experienced happiness that knew no bounds but in time this would be intermingled with sorrow and suffering.  Thus we celebrate with her in  her choice.  We honor Mary with many feast days, about a thousand opportunities in an average lifetime (at least one a month).  These feast days, like today's feast of the Assumption, invite us to imagine a young maiden who, upon choosing, immediately undertakes a difficult fifty mile trip to stay with her cousin Elizabeth who needs her.  She does not kneel in rapture as some medieval paintings portray, but rather she takes a donkey on a dusty road, alone with the God-within, not in the soft light from stained-glass windows.  She is first among those who give heart-felt sharing with the needy.

      Blessed are you among women.  Our choice is to turn to Mary who is blessed and who sincerely acknowledges her God-given  gifts. In giving her honor, we discover that we are also blessed people, and understand not our nothingness but our somethingness, most blessed of Earth's creatures;  we come to realize that this human life is a gift from the Creator, not of our own making.  In our gratitude we discover our place in the grand plan of salvation.  We find Mary and want her at our side both in life's struggles and at death's portal to new life.  Mary, mother of the Church, is caring, nurturing, guiding, and healing, actions that we need to imitate.

     Mary projects transparency allowing us to peer into her pure soul.  She acknowledges that she is the most blessed of women, not by what she does but by what God does for and through her.  Hers is a mark of sincere humility.  She directs us to Christ as any mother does.  She is a prism through which shines the Light of the World.  To imagine Mary standing above us on some pedestal obscures the fullness of her very down-to-earth gifts.  Rather, Mary goes ahead of us in the Assumption, for we too expect to pass into heaven after death even though our reunion with our bodies will occur after the final Judgment.

     Mary's motherhood is God's way of teaching us the values of womanhood as well as motherhood.  Mary stands for the unique contributions of all women to an understanding of how we must nurture precious things, and how human beings must heal and be truly compassionate.  Empirically, I note that women intuitively grasp the need for healing our wounded Earth, and they respond with a sense of compassion in an inherently womanly way.

     Prayer:  Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.












A fencerow in rural Laurel Co., KY
*photo credit)

August 16, 2009   Nourishing Belief in the Future

     I am the living bread come down from heaven. (John 6:51)

     The challenge today is one of preserving sustainability for the planet on which we live.  Thus the problem is one of immense importance for it involves us all.  We are called to take part in addressing this challenge, and so our mission is urgent.  Our efforts must be meaningful.  Therefore we need nourishment to sustain us during the mission we have to perform -- for such efforts require our entire being.  Those of us who are mindful of the work ahead must have a clear vision that results are not short-lived.  The importance of the work makes the ultimate goal that of eternal destiny. 

     The temptation is to retreat from this massive challenge and conclude that the task is too big for us.  Instead of deliberate engagement, we may fall victim to individual piety and devotion and the tendency to focus on our precious selves -- "and the world be damned."  Such people are enveloped with a despair as to effecting change and, instead of having faith in the future, they believe that if we just endure the present condition cheerfully all will be fine in the long run.  Thus they conclude that it is satisfactory to "make work" and "spin wheels."  A sterile fidelity overwhelms these believers, and for them success is expected through a later miracle.  They have little faith in helping to create a future. 

     The call for those seeking eternal life in Christ is that the will of God is that all be saved.  Furthermore, it is God's will that we enter into the salvation process in some way, to repair the damage done by human misdeeds, and to bring creation back to an ordering that is needed for the longer-term.  Thus the love of God extends to all people and all creatures.  The love includes our companionship and responsibility in extending divine love through saving deeds.  Creation and redemption involve us -- only in so far as we are part of the Body of Christ.

     This bring us to one conclusion:  the nourishment required for the profound activities that we are to undertake can only come if we are fully members of the Body of Christ; we must be part of God's family for only God's nourishment can sustain us.  Since that sustenance is of love, then only Love can be our food, and God is love.  Thus the food we must receive to undertake the urgent tasks before us is God self.  Some people fail to see the need for constant nourishment and try to struggle on their own as though they need no divine assistance. 

     Prayer:  Lord, inspire us to participate in the banquet by grinding wheat, crushing grapes, baking bread, fermenting wine -- "the work of human hands."  Help us to process the food of eternal life and to consecrate our efforts through the solemn liturgical process.  Give us the insight to see the nobility of our work in a cosmic transformation that becomes the glorious ray of the heavenly Jerusalem, the eternal city. 







Hematite Lake (Land Between the Lakes)
*photo credit)

August 17, 2009      Growing Disparity of Rich and Poor

      Our current economic downturn makes us aware that wealth is certainly not evenly distributed within or among nations. The Economic Policy Institute states that the top 0.1% of wage earners were paid 20 times what the bottom 90% received between 1947 and 1979;  this disparity grew to 77 times by 2006.  Also in 1979 some 34.2% of capital gains were paid to the top 1%;  this figure grew to 65.3% in 2005.  According to the Census Bureau during the period while this phenomenon was occurring, the income of the average American male worker actually stagnated and people made ends meet by the rise in women workers in the labor force. 

     Some of this growing disparity was due to the removal of high tax rates resulting in part from the decline of unionism and the union influence on political groups.  Furthermore, some argue that  globalization put a downward pressure on unskilled wages and rewarded those at the upper end of the salary scale.  Financial incentives and risks by hedge funds became a route to great wealth.

      The information just discussed points to how the disparity of wealth has been occurring in the United Staters.  The United Kingdom has experienced a similar pattern.  Unfortunately, that growing disparity is even higher among poorer nations where some live in utter affluence and many others in destitution.  An awakening is occurring, especially since so many nations are falling into hopelessly high levels of indebtedness.  In 2000, the Year of Jubilee, we recalled the biblical passages to forgive debts during that period.  And this mandate was partly addressed.  However, the continued national indebtedness and the existence of vast wealth among the affluent makes us deeply uneasy.

     Discontent with free market capitalism continues to mount.  Social mobility, that last-century U.S. dream, has slowed down and in fact is less apparent in America than in such egalitarian societies as Norway or Denmark.  A janitor's son has little hope of rising to be a company executive.  Ethnic minorities have even less chance.  According to the Economist, "More or less Equal?" (Special Report, April 2, 2009) a black American born into the bottom fifth of income groups has a 42% chance of remaining there in contrast to 17% chance for a white person. 

    Why do we allow this disparity to continue?  A host of factors are involved including media favoritism for the wealthy, control of legislators by the wealthy, and unrealistic expectations by the rank and file who think they can swim against the current and some day become rich.  If we are one Earth, then we must be one people, and oneness means a sound, equitable and shared economic system.  Disparity and lack of economic mobility amount to outdated enslavement.  Intolerable debts on poorer nations and excessive wealth ought to be the content of nightmares, not our reality.

     Prayer:  Lord, inspire us to a holy discontent;  help us cleanse the modern temples of such perversity as excessive wealth.







Indian Pipe, Monotropa uniflora
*photo credit)

August 18, 2009  Appropriate Technology and the Economic Downturn

     Hard times demand changes in the way we live.  Past extravagance is no longer viable, and so we look at sustainable ways practiced by our forbearers.  What we term "Appropriate Technology" (AT) borrows generously from the wisdom and experience of the past, and yet adapts these practices to what is suitable and proportionate to similar modern circumstances.

     AT is defined as environmentally benign, affordable, community enhancing, and people-friendly technologies such as solar energy applications, organic gardening, and low-cost housing made from local materials.  When people need to cut back on affluent practices based on convenience and fashion, a number of opportunities afford themselves -- and considerable literature is available to assist, e.g., 99 Ways to a Simple Lifestyle; Healing Appalachia: Sustainable Living through Appropriate Technology

     I try to practice what I preach.  My residence's main lighting fixtures are compact fluorescents; the Honda I drive gets  over forty miles to the gallon;  I have introduced edible landscaping to over a third of the parish grounds and that involves both fruit trees and an organic, raised-bed garden intermixed with flowers and vegetables.  Since the house is blessed with a giant elm as well as with a nearby sycamore, maple and wild cherry I do not use air conditioning.  I have a clothes line; water is conserved in a number of ways as is the electricity for appliances and equipment; virtually all waste materials are recycled locally (plastics, paper and metal)or converted into mulch in the compost bin.

     By accepting AT we offer opportunities for others to see what we do first hand and thus gently encourage changes in their own lives.   Thus AT practices become Good News; these ways are not only workable and economical, but also can offer the chance to exercise and touch the soil, to be in tune spiritually with our Earth, and to do all this through affordable means.  AT activities produce results here and now that can be easily seen and understood by others.  AT is a promise for the future that we help create.

     AT provides the tools needed for simpler living and for downsizing our lives, a pattern necessary in this age of economic turndown.  Rather than being a negative return to the past, AT brings the higher quality of time-tested past practices to full fruition, thus honoring those who went before us.  AT appeals to all ages and backgrounds.  Folks can gain a simple expertise that is valuable for their own lives and the lives of neighbors.  AT is not static;  it grows with the age, requiring research and sharing of experiences in a wider world of practice;  AT proponents smooth rough edges and find ways to make the applications easier.

     Prayer:  Lord, teach us the gift of healing through the use of appropriate technology.  Help us to be satisfied by down-scaling our own lives and assist us to give a good example so that others will do the same.








An assortment of home-use chemicals
*photo credit)

August 19, 2009    Toxic Chemicals in Your Home

      I will never forget a conversation with an intern about thirty years ago.  She had gone back to Vermont for a home visit in the middle of her internship and told her mom she was working on household aerosol sprays.  Her mother dismissed the so-called problem by saying there were no aerosol sprays in her house.  The intern performed a thorough survey and found four dozen.  Over time, I have irritated a number of school kids' moms, when the youth have gone back from school and performed a preliminary search in their homes to their parent's dismay.  No one remembers everything; no one is perfect; kids can be good auditors.

     Know what constitutes toxic chemicals:  paints and solvents, petroleum products (oil gasoline, etc.) and auto materials such as anti-freeze and brake fluids, building materials,  hobby materials of various types, medicines, pesticides and fertilizers, strong household cleaners and desalting materials.   Medicine cabinets are expected to have their drugs with exotic names and formulations, many of these still toxic if misused even well after their expiration date.  The space beneath the kitchen sink generally houses the second highest store of chemicals and especially aerosol sprays.  Are they all being used or have some been abandoned?  

     Resolve to be toxic free to the degree possible.  My  experience as a chemist makes me wary of the dangers that lurk in the use or misuse of commercial chemicals.   Avoid exterminators, if possible.  I personally prefer crickets to exterminators, for these friends are cheaper, environmentally safe, won't harm residents, and will eat virtually all unwanted critters.

     Look in forgotten places.  Toxic chemicals are usually known as toxic and thus are stored away in remote places -- and can be forgotten there.  It may be the cellar, the remote storage area or even the attic.  Most likely, surprises will greet you.  How about the garage and the outbuildings that are really somewhat removed from the house;  these places are near enough to take leftovers and yet far enough to evade occasional observation and clean-ups.

     Get rid of these forgotten items.  Most local governments work with state and federal agencies in collecting and disposing of toxic chemicals.  Contact them.  Don't flush chemicals down the toilet or drain.  Some suggest pouring waste oil along the exterior basement wall, but it is better to deliver this to waste oil collecting centers.  Freeing your homes from toxic materials is a good practice before the autumn heating season begins.  Recall that many average American homes have more chemicals than an 1850 scientific laboratory.  Homemakers know little about the chemical toxicity and potency of all under their care; they are not experienced in handling the whole array of household chemicals properly.  Resident or visiting toddlers may unearth toxic stuff. 

    Prayer:  Lord, teach us to respect all of God's creation and to be doubly cautious about human-created products.







Three hummingbirds, one feeder
           (*photo by Walter Para, Stanton, KY)

August 20, 2009       Dealing with Terrorists

     We all think we can deal with people of various sorts, even those who challenge us on occasion.  Some even think they can successfully confront those who frighten us as creators of terror through their evil intent.  Can we really deal with a crazy person who is bent on destruction at an individual or community level?  What about a perfectly sane person who feels impelled to correct a perceived social injustice through his or her own action?  In fact, the uncontrollable nature of their threat makes them instruments of power and drawers of attention in the wider public arena. 

     Yes, since 9-11, the London and Madrid bombings, and the more recent attacks by the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, we take terrorist acts and threats seriously.  We support caution on an individual level and the ongoing activities of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as well as state and local governmental agencies.  The current trends make massive gatherings more dangerous and the everyday public gatherings for commerce and celebration more challenging.  Will these trends reduce us to mere tv spectators who only venture out to occasional gatherings? 

     What drives certain people to be terrorists?  We may attempt to put ourselves into the shoes of a sane suicide bomber who is a member of an insurgency movement bent on overthrowing an unjust government or political or economic group.  Terrorists in another age were often called partisans or freedom fighters.  By designating a certain person as a "terrorist," we place his or her cause outside our world view.  Terrorists may think of themselves as potential martyrs, and even heroes and heroines.  Instead of feeling shame, their peers and families may have a high regard for their efforts.  They may be motivated to become a weapon of mass destruction.  We disagree with their reasoning, motives, and limited outlook, but we must acquaint ourselves with the situations of hopelessness that cause such acts.

    We cannot possibly condone the modern terrorist act, but can we be sympathetic to the underlying difficulties that these people endure?  Many are driven to desperate activities for a number of causes:  unemployment, poverty, lack of future betterment, and undemocratic and repressive regimes.  We can exert compassion for the person while not condoning the motivation or the act.  Terrorists see black or white in a gray world, but don't we do the same at times?  Putting ourselves in their shoes, would we not discover that they live in constant terror, for in the eyes of the desperate the wealthy are terrorists.  A person who is unable to feed his or her family is terrorized.  If people are unemployed and with no hope, is not a governmental terrorist act being performed against them -- and are these so-called terrorists simply people pressed into a corner?  Should we reexamine what constitutes terrorism in all its many aspects? 

     Prayer:  Lord, instruct us when we pretend and when we extend self-righteous language against those who need our compassion.







Meadow fritilaries (Boloria bellona) on Itea virginica shrub
         (*photo by Sally Ramsdell)

August 21, 2009     Rethinking Our Rest Time

      As I age I notice that leisure time evolves in meaning, variety and duration.  What constitutes leisure is different from the strenuous activities of yesteryear; it is less active and more restful.  We don't have the energy to enjoy the same leisure activities as infants, youth and even the middle aged.  Time is running out for us and so we must run, but we take more rest stops on the way.  It is becoming clearer that rest is part of the rhythm of life; it needs to be in balance with our activities even when they slow down.  I used to think we all need eight hours of sleep, and maybe that is true of the stressed and overworked -- and some who simply need more sleep.  But to place too rigid a requirement is unwise.  Rest can be leisure and this becomes an activity.

      Our life is not a seesaw between the lazy one's rest and the hyperactive one's activity.  With time we need fewer alarm clocks and schedules.  While tending in the past to be overactive, I never ever burned midnight oil for any reason.  Nor have I ever taken a sleeping pill of any sort.  Needed rest is taken on a regular basis and extra rest is taken on rare occasions.

     People should be divided into night people and morning people and maybe a certain segregation should be made accordingly.  Too often the night people keep the morning ones awake when they want to sleep, and the morning folks stir the night ones when they want to continue sleeping.  Being a morning person means we rise well before the sun, when the energy to start acting gets the better of us.  But then we wane long before the night folk at eventide.  The intolerance of our country for morning people is deeply felt, but night people may say the same thing -- for all I know. 

     When sitting in an airport or at a stop light, I see the next person is busy dialing and talking with someone about virtually nothing.  Can't they just sit and do what the old southern lady said, "Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits"?

Resting has a particular place in the overly active person's life, for that is the time to let ideas germinate, and to pray for the light to move towards the major decisions in life.  We need rest and yet far too many folks get far too little of it.

     We are not God, but finite ones.  If God rested on the sabbath, we should rest as well.  We learn in life that our activities are best performed when the rest component has been honored.  We can tell when others need rest by their facial features and shadows under the eyes.  Some of the sleep-deprived regard their condition as a matter of status;  it may be poor planning.  Let's value rest more.  In rest we crave eternal bliss;  rest assures us that we are living well;  rest is what the restless can deprive others of in order to have companions.

     Prayer:  Lord, teach us that rest is golden, energy-building, blissful, and, most of all, necessary.  Teach us that rest for us active folks is preparation for eternity.







Acrobatic young gray squirrel with onlooking indigo bunting
          (*photo by Sally Ramsdell)

August 22, 2009    Don't Pet or Make Pets of Wildlife

     I now accept the need for many to have pets, either to assist them as "seeing eye" or watch dogs or simply to act as companions within or around the house.  But pets are animals under one's control to some degree.  Wildlife was never meant to be such, though some can endear themselves to pet crows or raccoons or monkeys.  Even the more domesticated pets are bothersome enough to keep maintained and safe from dangers -- but wildlife?  Exotic pets such as tigers or snakes can escape and harm or frighten neighbors.  Plants can escape as well.  In fact, over 40% of all imperiled U.S. native plants and animals are at risk because of invasive species, which are not native.  Most states have regulations that restrict ownership of many of these exotic species and many of us wish that these regulations would be extended to pit bulls, etc.

     The March, 2005, National Geographic has an article, "Attack of the Alien Invaders," treating a series of plants and animals some of which have been intentionally released or have escaped, resulting in the uncontrolled proliferation of these ex-pets.  This occurs, as in the case of the Burmese python in southern Florida, in areas where no natural predator restricts their rapid increase.  And animals can be invasive species (red fox, comb jellyfish, fire ant, starling, nutria, etc.).  America is awash with exotic pets, mainly because people think it is a cute idea to capture one or other variety that should have been left in its native wild.  In most cases, the animal will not find a mate and will simply linger for a period of time and pass through life -- but it may do damage or harm in many ways.  Pet lovers forget what escapes may entail.  The invasive red-eared slider (turtle) eats native frogs, mollusks, and birds and competes with native turtles.

     We can enjoy wildlife from a distance either in pictures or through binoculars.  Wildlife, and especially exotic species, can be uncontrollable under conditions of attempted control. The media all too often have stories about how children and adults are mauled by animals that seem cute and cuddly to the pet owner who may say, "Don't worry, it won't hurt you."  Pet owners have been jailed for manslaughter.  We read of a tiger that turned unexpectedly on its trainer before thousands of people and left him gravely wounded. 

       The National Geographic article has one telling picture of a young boy pleading with his dad to let him buy something in a pet store.  Who is really at fault?  The youth likes what he sees; the pet store offers a species that the wildlife conservationists say  should be left in the wild; the father caves in.  The blame goes further, that is, to a society that permits the dangerous exotic to be placed in homes for keeping and stores for sale.  Stories of escape and lack of control abound in our permissive society, which is now beginning to forbid possession or to restrict use.

     Prayer: Show us how to love other creatures without attempting to possess them.  Help us to let them be in the wild and thank You for allowing them to be there in peace.







The rising moon through misty clouds
*photo credit)

August 23,  2009        Trust in the Lord

     "Lord, who shall we go to?  You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that you are the holy one of God."     (John 6:68-69)

     The Eucharistic mystery requires faith on the part of the believer, and this is folly for the unbeliever.  In many ways this faith grows along with trust. 

     Earlier this year I was captivated by a story of a young family who was seeking to find a permanent farm in Upper Michigan, after spending a good part of the winter in a temporary-housing camper.  After much travail and prayer they found an ideal farm in the perfect location.  The Michael Larner Family concludes their narrative of their odyssey from February 2008 through August 2009 with the words, "Jesus, I trust in You!" (Lambs' Quarterly, Spring,  2009, pp. 12-15). 

     We often lack a sense of simple trust.  Jesus promises that whatever we ask will be given, if we firmly believe that it will be done.  Do we pray with that simple trust for what is needed to save our wounded Earth?  During the past five Sundays we have focused on the mystery of the Eucharist.  The conclusion in Chapter Six of St. John's Gospel has a note of sadness:  many walked away in unbelief.  This ending makes us aware that our faith response is essential  for the power of the Eucharist to be felt by others.  The trust is not an automatic or compelled response; it demands our freedom and our participation.

     This brings us back to the crusade called for in healing our wounded Earth.  This healing is not inevitable.  We can save our planet through a real effort, but this takes work.  We have the nutrition to give us the energy to do our part.  As we find that Christ is with us, we grow in the urgency of the mission, for he lives within us and guides us.  But we must trust that the power of God works within us in special ways.  Without the divine nourishment we can not continue.

      Never before has the mission been so urgent -- and this mission is open to failure.  Never before has there been such a threat to human existence (and that of other flora and fauna) on this planet.  The demand is for meaningful urgent action, which has the cooperation and participation of all people of good will.  To continue to call for this participative action requires people who have a faith in the future, a faith that is nurtured by real spiritual food -- not by symbols, not by play acting.  The saving work in which we are engaged must be undertaken by God and the food is nothing less than God self.     

     Prayer:  Lord teach us to trust in you and to trust that we can succeed in the mission entrusted to us of healing our wounded Earth.








Yellow wingstem, Verbesina alternifolia
*photo credit)

August 24, 2009    Earthhealing and Environmental Consciousness

     Earth is God's marvelous creation in which we are privileged to dwell and gather the fruits of the Almighty's handiwork.  This planet is fragile and can be damaged by human misdeeds.  We show our gratitude by taking on the responsibility to heal what has been damaged by human ignorance, greed and thoughtlessness.  The healing task requires our concerted efforts, though we never thought in such terms before the rise of environmental consciousness within the last four decades. Three principal elements of this awareness are worth our deeper and prayerful reflection:

      * All creation is good and marvelous to behold.  This planet was first seen from a distance through space exploration and appeared as a beautiful blue-green globe.  The photograph engendered a sense of wonder and gratitude for being part of God's handiwork.  We praise the Creator who initiated the Big Bang and transformation of elements to the present chemical structure in those first micro-seconds of creation and then through a 14-billion-year history.  We become aware of the macrocosmic vastness and microcosmic complexity, the birth and death of galaxies, and the expanse of unknown wonders such as dark energy and matter not yet understood.  The Creation is a sign of God's love.

     * The Earth is harmed by human neglect.  Misdeeds occur, and salvation demands a redeeming act.  We recognize these misdeeds done by us as individual humans and as part of the social body having the freedom to choose good or evil.  The choice of good is the choice for life.  In the process of industrialization we began to observe misdeeds involving air and water pollution caused by over- and misuse of resources.  These include deforestation and species extinction.  We now are aware of climate change resulting from overuse of fossil fuels.  Recognizing our misdeeds is a necessary part of the process, for we humans are to blame  and we must restore the disorder created by us.  Christians believe in the saving power of Jesus Christ and he is our model and guide.

      * Earthhealing involves saving our Earth through a belief in the future.  We must all work together to save our Earth;  we must all have a sense that the work will bear fruit and that we can shape this future.  We need inspiration lest the enormity of the work ahead overwhelm us.  If we have harmed the Earth in the past, a firm resolve to heal does not of itself protect against continuing or future harm.  Thus what is appropriate must be sought and this extends beyond technology to include profound changes in the economic and social systems of the past.  We must include all those working in sciences, crafts and arts; we must be in communication and recognize the uniqueness of all human gifts.  The time to act is now, lest continuing tolerance of destructive practices irreversibly harm our planet. 

     Prayer:  Lord, grant us the praise and thankfulness to appreciate the gift of creation, the contriteness to see our misdeeds and the inspiration to use our gifts to heal our Earth.







Eastern black swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes
*photo credit)

August 25, 2009       Migrants and America     

     You must not molest or oppress the stranger, for you were once foreigners yourselves in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 22:20)

     Jose was a migrant, a family man, a hard worker and a member of our parish.  One Saturday he went to the store to replenish supplies using a friend's truck with which he was unfamiliar.  On leaving the parking lot, he stopped at the exit sign and extended the truck too far in the face of ongoing traffic.  In backing up he apparently tapped a car just behind him.  Not even hearing this, he drove on to the next store.  The woman driver in the tapped car was irate that a person of his nationality should "hit and run."  She hailed the police and confronted Jose.  Jose was bewildered and the next thing he knew he was hauled into court.  I begged the woman to drop the charges against Jose but for a long period she refused while making nasty remarks about immigrants.  The case was ultimately dismissed with Jose paying the very minor damage -- and losing nearly a thousand dollars in lost wages and fees.

     America is peopled by immigrants and has welcomed them when times required willing workers.  In tough times, the tune may be different and so it is today.  For the greater part, we are all strangers and guests; even indigenous folks were immigrants at one time.   People come here legally or not so, because they see America as a land of opportunity; they will use virtually any means to do so.  This allows them to be prey to the dishonest and to be lured to this country with no provision for sponsorship.  Many undocumented workers are at the mercy of employers.  Migrants often seek to remain hidden and this takes a toll on their loved ones.

     Although we do not have to have a totally open door policy, the treatment of immigrants must be fair and just.  Legislation is now being crafted by Congress, and we hope this will allow for the rights of all people even poor migrants.  Certainly it can be argued that it takes fewer resources to furnish employment for the migrant in the land of origin than in the land of destination -- but that takes social and political will on the part of two countries. In hard times like these, the return migration is strong and is a partial corrective measure to the utter disappointment of those seeking to come and stay in our land.

     Should there not be a reasonable flow of human traffic from lands of origin that includes guest worker cards and reasonable opportunities while here?  Should our country spend less on physical barriers and more on attention to regulation of employers who encourage illegal entry?  It is impossible to say "no" to large numbers of the penniless, and still keep our name as the land of opportunity.  However, we need neither a totally open door nor a totally closed door policy.  Immigrants are valuable resources and the welcome sign should be open to them.

     Prayer:  Lord, allow us to recall that we are all strangers and guests, and not people of special privileges.






White snakeroot, Ageratina rugosum
*photo credit)

August 26, 2009     Compact Fluorescents for All

     As we seek to reduce our carbon footprint in many ways, we find that the best place to start is right at home and in local businesses, and that indoor and outdoor electric light conservation could make a big difference.  Since safety factors drive increased outdoor lighting (though some devices are less energy consuming there as well), we focus on the indoors and our replacement of incandescent bulbs by compact fluorescent lighting (CFL).  Great advances have occurred in the past two decades, and CFLs are now smaller, lighter and with better color tone than in the past.  The type that screw right into the incandescent bulb socket are now available in home supply stores and even supermarkets and economy stores.  We can initiate energy conservation in the time it takes to screw in a light bulb.

      CFLs, qualified by the ENERGY STAR program of the United States Environmental Protection Program, use up to 75% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs, which lose much of their energy in the form of heat.   Test the difference, but be careful not to burn yourself.  We are now finding that electric power companies are assisting in promoting this change in both home and office. 

Modern CFLs last longer than incandescent bulbs, sometimes up to ten times as long.  Thus ultimate savings for this more expensive bulb come in both energy saved and longer life.  In our financial troubled times, many look for quick-fix economies, and find that CFLs save money without the major change of lifestyle practice necessitated by many other conservation measures.  If every family replaced its five most used light fixtures with Energy Star qualified lighting, a saving of $60 per year would accrue to the average household.  Why not more than merely five?

     CFLs will help combat the climate change problems that loom over the horizon.  If every family in America would take the above step, the amount of reduction in greenhouse gases would be one trillion pounds per year (U.S. government calculations).

CFLs can reduce energy needs so much that the simple step of removing the five most frequently used bulbs as mentioned would cut the projected need for new powerplants in half for the foreseeable future.  A combination of this and simple solar energy techniques could solve America's impending energy crisis without building a single new powerplant whether coal-burning or wind-powered.     Make 2009 the year for converting to CFLs in the greater part of the domestic scene.  The practice of turning on and off lighting requires a slight adjustment:  if a CFL bulb will be used again within a three-hour period, leave it burning rather than to turn it on and off, since it is the turning on that takes the most energy.  Don't extend this new practice to older incandescent bulbs.  Having said this, Philips Lighting is now marketing "Halogena Energy Savers," which meet the upcoming 2012 Federal efficiency standards.

     Prayer:  Lord, give us a sense of saving resources in the way we arrange our homes and the lighting that these entail.  Allow us to be light to others so that our carbon footprint will be reduced.





Hearty, pesticide-free tomatoes, protected by
basil and marigold plants

*photo credit)

August 27, 2009     Tomatoes and Avoiding Cancer

     August is the time for tomatoes right off the vine, iced and sliced, stewed, crushed, juiced, fried, canned whole, in catsup, paste, soup and sauce, and mixed with chilies, even in my mother's special tomato preserves and green tomato mock mincemeat.  An August delight!  Tomatoes play such a major role in the diet that we forget they came late in European cuisine.  Before the New World was known, Italians had no tomatoes for pastas.  When Europeans came to the Americas they hesitated before eating nightshade fruit on plants with poisonous roots, vine and leaves.  Not only is the tomato not poisonous, it is quite healthy with its vitamin C and antioxidant properties, all good for the war against cancer.  Tomato connoisseurs only reduce tomato consumption when their sweat becomes so acid that it irritates their skin.

     Tomatoes are a mainstay in my garden:  early ones for late June and July, dark red larger beef steaks in August, cherry tomatoes for all seasons, yellow less-acidic ones for September, Italian varieties during dry times, and pear tomatoes for autumn.  Cherry tomatoes can hang in the greenhouse to ripen long after frost;  some wrap tomatoes singly and store them for Thanksgiving and beyond.  By other ingenious ways one can start tomatoes early and extend the season for a half year or more.  We are careful for the unprotected blooms will not bear after enduring low temperatures.  Staking ought to be for some of these, especially if space is limited.  In wet times unstaked tomatoes tend to rot.

     Other foods also can be added to the diet to protect against cancer, along with avoiding tobacco use and engaging in regular physical exercise.  As far back as 1982, the National Research Council released a report that stated that proper diet may some day reduce the incidence of cancer by one-third.  Not all cancers are diet-related, but a better diet will make us more able to battle the common diseases that afflict our modern population.  For instance, we are cautioned that the proportion in the diet of calories  produced by fats should be reduced from 40 to 30%.  A large portion of the public who are suffering from obesity problems should consider low-fat products.  Fast-food customers should be especially aware: reduce saturated fat and cholesterol-rich foods.

     Besides tomatoes, the daily diet should favor high fiber whole-grain cereals, fruits and vegetables, especially those rich in Vitamin C and Vitamin A.  The heavy use of fiber helps us avoid colon cancer.  Emphasis is given to citrus fruits, dark-green and deep yellow vegetables and those of the cabbage or brassica family (kale, broccoli, collards, cauliflower, kohlrabi, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, etc.).  Vitamins and minerals such as trace amounts of selenium are found in the cruciferous vegetables (brassicas together with radish, horseradish, turnip, etc. that have cross-shaped flowers, pointed pods, and strong cabbage-like odors); these trace materials inhibit the formation of cancer-causing chemicals.

     Prayer:  Lord, make us aware of the good foods of August.






Virginia knotweed, Polygonum virginianum, native Kentucky plant
*photo credit)

August 28, 2009  Down-to-Earth Spirituality versus Pretending

     In order to heal our wounded Earth we must be involved and this takes spiritual energy.  We cannot pretend others will see the problems and handle them for us.  For better or worse we are all connected and have a role to play: by acknowledging the problem

(no denial of problem); by accepting our mission (no excuse for blame); and by becoming involved in the outcome (no escape from healing operation).  Acknowledgment, acceptance of responsibility and participation in healing are the triad of duties that require a deep spirit base -- one rooted in the Earth. 

     The enemy of a down-to-earth spirituality is material affluence;  this condition elevates people to pretend to be the privileged who see no problem, bear no blame and know how to solve any difficulty in their own way and apart from the message of the poor.  This results in being spiritually ethereal, hesitant to look at human causes, and unwilling to get our hands and feet dirty.  In plain language, affluence leads to ultimate ruin of our soul and of the planet as well.  Our challenge is to espouse an authentic spirituality that keeps us genuinely rooted and yet with eyes on a distant horizon.  Is this possible? 

      First we are immersed in God's creation and thus praise the Almighty for the opportunity of being here at this time.  Being aware of our local environment allows us to appreciate those who influence our place and time:  the HERE and the NOW and the WE.  Thus our spirituality is conditioned by where we are, the time in which we live, and those with whom we associate.  Due to my time, place, and association, my spirituality is unique to me.

     However, we know that things are wrong, though we prefer to transfer the blame to some individual or group distant from ourselves.  To do this takes some "make-believing."  As participants in our American culture, we realize that much is based on pretending.  The suburb with its manicured lawn is fake "natural" landscape; the gas guzzler, the spacious home, the recycling of unnecessary consumer products, and the affirmation of short-term solutions to problems are all pretenses.  Pretending is culturally acceptable and yet it erodes our integrity.

     Coming to reality is getting our feet muddy.  Yes, we learn the season of the year, the direction of the wind, when the berries and fruit ripen, how much daylight is available, when the summer is now half spent.  Being down-to-Earth means we know what is happening, are willing to make practical judgments and are determined to live sustainably.   We discover that our family includes all on this planet and many of our brothers and sisters are without the means of livelihood and resources.

     Prayer:  Lord, show us that our lives are short and Earth's needs are urgent.  Make us truly down-to-earth and willing to accept the task before us.  Teach us to welcome the work of healing our wounded Earth and to serve those denied the essentials of life.








Wildflowers of August
*photo credit)

  August 29, 2009           Leaving Home

     If you have ever watched a robin enticing its young to leave the nest, you have seen nature at work.  The parent knows how to be a good teacher by offering the youngster a morsel, and the hungry nestling reaches out and out, leaving the nest in the process.  The young bird is being taught to fend for itself;  it flits from twig to twig and flutters down to the ground.  The life of hard knocks is now starting, and must occur so the young can mature.

     Leaving the nest simply has to transpire -- and that is what is occurring in many homes as well, about this time of year; young people are off to school for the first time.  Parents put on a confident face, prep the youngsters with advice, and even shed a tear as they depart.  It is hard to let go, and especially if the loved one has some challenges up ahead.  This essay could apply not just to those going to kindergarten, grade school, or college, but also to the passing of a loved one into eternal life. 

     If I focus only on the home dweller with a school-bound resident, this situation is beyond my experience.  But if the hurt is two ways, then the experience is more universal.  I did leave home even though I was as reluctant as most to admit a downside to the leave-taking.  Granted, through the cell phone and e-mail, today's nest escapees and the empty-nest-holding folks feel far more connected than they did a half century ago.  And that softens the hurt to some degree.  Maybe the one leaving is not as hurt as the one left.  That parent or caregiver worries about little and big things, how the leave-taker will adjust, and whether there are dangers or risks lurking around the corner.  Or maybe it is missing the presence of the loved one throughout the day that requires an adjustment.

     Whatever the cause of the empty feeling, a void comes with the emptying of the house, a void that can be overcome by other activities.  In rare cases the parent does not want to let the youngster go, and thus through a series of activities, home schooling and occupational tasks, keeps the person tied down.  Yes, the day is postponed awhile but must come.  Softening the departure for the one left behind may include:

     *  Keeping in touch.  Making connections is a routine matter in this age of continued chatting on cell phones;

     *  Giving more attention to local and regional matters, sometimes with neighborhood civic groups, church or school;

     *  Saying a prayer, for this is a difficult time for those who are cut loose and must find their own way; 

     *  Encouraging the leave-taker through email or letters to become immersed in the school work and extra activities; and

     *  Preparing for the next home visit with something special that is worth looking forward to.  

     Prayer:  Lord teach us that our life is one of letting go and that leaving home is one phase in this ongoing and eternal act.







Purple rose of Sharon
*photo credit)

August 30, 2009       Acting Justly in Hard Times

     The one whose way of life is blameless, who always does what is right.  (Psalm 15:2)

     The Gospel (Mark 7) gives an example of those who were concerned about right action, but their concern involved petty things that were of little importance.  We sometimes wonder if the world around us is more concerned about small things, while the big ones are being totally overlooked.  In fact, we wonder whether we are so concerned with cultural correctness (sprinkling vessels or maybe pesticide-laced produce), that we are ruining the world for a future generation.  In a nation that has had wasteful resource consumption practices we ought to ask some meaningful questions. These will make us more honest about the ways we act:    

     * Do we acknowledge our misdeeds?

     * Do we spend too much on items we do not need?

     * Are the foods we like best always healthy and nutritious?

     * Are the cleaning agents we purchase really cleaning?

     * Do we really save fuel or only drive about needlessly with an economy style vehicle?

     * How do we spend our free time -- as if some time is free?

     Having asked these rather negative questions let us ask some positive ones, for this exercise is not meant to stop with our admission of shortcomings alone.  In today's gospel passage  (Mark 7) the apostles are accused of overlooking the regulations that mean so much to the scribes and pharisees.  Better questions are:

     * Are we committed to doing what is right in hard times?

     * What innovative ways do we use to bring about good environmental practice? 

     * How do we give encouragement to others who are deeply depressed due to financial difficulties and lack of employment?

     *  Do we invite the unchurched and despairing to come and share in worship?

     * How much do we thank God for the good things given to us?

     * Are our hearts with the Lord and with those who suffer? 

     The first series of questions refers to purifying our own hearts for the hard times we all experience.  If we are too utterly selfish, then we continue business as usual when others suffer.  When we see challenges, we see these as opportunities to become more compassionate towards those who suffer.  We look beyond ourselves and extend a hand to those who are less fortunate.  Saint James' Letter (Chapter one) mentions orphans and widows -- and we add to this arena of concern all the world's needy.  We seek a merciful heart, willing to forgive quickly, and solicitous to easing the burdens of those who find these times to be rough.

     Prayer:   Lord, give us the ability to ask the right questions at the right time and place, and to be open to the real needs of those around us.







A scenic creek along Kentucky's Bourbon County
*photo credit)

August 31, 2009   Support International Relief Groups

     These are hard times for many of the world's poor.  All of us who are concerned hope that all the more fortunate continue their charitable giving.  The times are even tougher for those poor caught in natural or human-caused catastrophes such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, droughts and wars.  Are there really more of these, or does the global connection through instant communication systems allow us to be more aware of them?  This is in contrast with situations of two hundred years ago, when it took weeks to hear news from the other side of the planet.  Our increased awareness should be balanced by quick response and assistance, something that takes more than what individuals can do on their own.  Relief organizations are crucial, and thus our support of them should be commensurate to relief demands.

     Back in December 2004 rapid reporting of a major tsunami allowed agencies to mobilize relief efforts for victims in Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and other nations bordering the Indian Ocean.  Over two hundred thousand people died in the tragic event; the worldwide response was rapid, but the assistance was later reported to have been maldistributed in some regions.  It became evident in reviewing the entire episode that the global alert system could have been better developed, and this would have allowed many more people to retreat from the path of the tsunami.

However, such warnings are not always possible in times of earthquakes and other disasters. 

     Relief agencies as well as alert systems could be better developed, and the supplies stored in or near vulnerable regions such as at the drought-prone Horn of Africa.  A wide assortment of agencies assist on a more routine basis in relief for refugees, orphans, and victims of past disasters.  These longer-term relief efforts are often overlooked as less newsworthy than tragic events.

     Though I admire a variety of groups that are non- sectarian or specific in their charity such as Oxfam, the UN Childrens' Relief Fund, and Catholic Relief Service, still I have a favorite, which is more concerned about long-term relief and development, the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA).  This organization assists all Christian groups in the Middle East, from Ethiopia to as far away as India in longer term relief and development projects.  What I like about this agency is that it quietly gives assistance to clergy training and parish development programs among those who are non-Catholic Christian (Coptic and Armenian Oriental, Syrian and other Orthodox, Church of the East, etc.) as well as to oriental Catholic groups.  CNEWA assists in educational projects, irrigation work, and small-scale business start-ups among poor people with no other opportunities for help.  The CNEWA periodical, "One," keeps donors abreast of some of these projects.  Please visit their site: <www.cnewa.org>.

     Prayer:  Lord, make us global in our compassion, and help us assist others whether in immediate or longer-term need.




Copyright © 2009 Earth Healing, Inc.  All rights reserved.

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

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