About us
Daily Reflections
Special Issues

Mailing list
Bookmark this site

Daily Reflections Earth Healing

Daily Reflections
by Al Fritsch, S.J.

A series of written meditations and reflections

Read current month's Daily Reflections
Table of Contents: Daily Reflections

May, 2016

Copyright © 2016 by Al Fritsch

Help to keep Earth Healing Daily Reflections online

Bookmark and Share

Spring Kentucky 2013

May Reflections, 2016

       May brings flowers, from May Day and the garlands and floral May poles to the decorated cemeteries on Memorial Day.  The month includes the Run for the Roses on Derby Day, the bouquets sent on Mother's Day, and the crowning of festival and prom queens amid floral arrangements.  May speaks to our souls of freshness and beauty, before the heat of summer will melt away the tender green of springtime's delight.  In May, the sun rises earlier and sets later.  The extra daylight is welcoming for we have much to do.

                              Bridal Wreath Spirea

                       A natural arch of blooms
                         preparing for great events

                         with fitting posture and grace.

                      Some flowers are single budded

                         but ours are a full-flung wreath

                        celebrating nature's pride.

Follow our latest works and events!
Connect with Al Fritsch &
Earth Healing at:









Mourning dove, Zenaida macroura.
(*photo by Sally Ramsdell)

May 1, 2016      Renewing Is Establishing Peace

      Declare this with cries of joy and proclaim it,
        and send it out to the ends of the Earth. (Isaiah 48:20)       

     No one of us is condemned to remain in the rut that we helped to create for ourselves.  "Renewal" is a word that emerges as an act of hope to improve and to abandon those ruts of the past.  However, our past misdeeds are forgiven, but these remain experiences that can bring about our improvement, and so we respect our history.  But to renew is to enter into a metamorphosis, or change to a new form like a tadpole to a frog.  On the other hand,  transformations in nature are often less dramatic, such as when seed grows to seedling and then to mature plant.  As we observe natural growth, we become aware that we undergo change physically and mature spiritually as we come closer to our destiny.

     As we read in St. John's Gospel today, peace is God's gift to us.  This means that we receive a gift of loving peace even though we may fail to see it as transformative.  In this Easter season when we celebrate new life, we recommit ourselves to peace, a peace that cannot remain dormant, but rather is the hidden treasure that allows our faith life to mature.  Yes, the gift of peace can be  spiritually transformative; we can become a new person in the Lord, and we see that this can empower us to speak in public, to go out beyond where we ventured before, and to help to save our endangered planet.

     One aspect of renewal is to see all other people as part of our own family.  This elevates our local community relations and brings us in touch with the joys and sorrows of neighbors and those in our parish.  So often, we allow others to define the narrow limits of our concerns and then turn either within ourselves or in close circles of friends.  Renewal may mean just what the call of Isaiah is saying -- declare it, proclaim it, send it out.  And what is this "it" except the Good News that we are set free?  We realize that this divine gift of peace is truly something new and dynamic enough to allow our sensitivity to social justice to strengthen.

     We are recharged to change a world of threats and conflicts.  Hurt touches us all and compassion calls to us.  What makes someone else cry and suffer begins to make us all cry and suffer.  And what brings us individually the joy of God's peace is the consolation of sharing within the total human family.  The process of renewal is not just a metamorphosis that stops at the individual subject.  As part of the human family MY renewal is OUR renewal, a contagious internal action that does not stop within, but touches those near and then others and others in a ripple effect.  Today, the call is to renew our lives in this high springtime of 2016; we are one human family including immigrants, the imprisoned, and the ill.  In today's needy world this peace goes out to all the Earth.

     Prayer: Lord, preserve our peace of soul as we strive to help others to find peace as well.'










Iris buds in May.
(*photo credit)

May 2, 2016       Celebrating the Flowers of May                         

     Gardens and flowers seem to blend together in this month, when the landscape is ablaze in color.  There's blooming comfrey and peas, radishes and Chinese cabbage going to seed, and green punctuated with purple hairy vetch cover crops.   The month of May reaffirms the beauty of the garden that also has its plenty of spinach, Swiss chard, lettuce, radishes, red-stemmed beet greens, spreading cabbages, broccoli, kohlrabi and blooming chives.  It is the season of unique tastes -- of uncontaminated, sun-ripened strawberries and of rhubarb pie.  May includes the ox-eyed daisies in the fields, iris, blooming blackberry, peonies, poppies, rocket larkspur, and a host of other colorful and well scented flowers.  May is the time of sweet scented blooming black locust, and Kentucky Coffee trees with flowers clinging like snow or dew.  

     Consider celebrating flowers by interspersing them among the veggies and herbs.  This year 2016 is a special flower year as we concentrate on the backyard garden.  I am committed to having a highly productive garden interspersed and accentuated by the beauty of cosmos and begonias and marigolds.  Note that flowers selected for domestic gardens need not be entirely of a native variety, only naturalized or traditional flowers that will not be a menace if allowed to escape.  Some species, such as daffodils or tiger lilies, will continue flowering in a homestead area long after the buildings have disappeared.  However, these will spread very slowly and not be a major invasive threat.  They bloom in their own good season and die back, allowing pastureland to yield normal vegetation.  Other flowers attract necessary pollinators that also are able to collect nectar from vegetables and herbs.

     Adding flowers to gardens is more than aesthetic.  Some flowers or parts can be eaten in salads (nasturtium or certain lilies).  Others are natural pest-retardant agents (marigold), and still others are harmful insect attractants (evening primrose attracts the Japanese beetle).  Many colorful flowers attract hummingbirds or butterflies that also add integrity to the plot.  Some use the summer garden as a place for storing and invigorating indoor houseplants, and return them indoors when frost arrives.

     Inserting flowers includes care in selection, sowing and planting, weeding, and in collecting seed or transplanting bulbs.  A small additional space is needed and they fit easily intermingled among the peppers and beans.  Their beauty and scent stand out.  In rare cases, such as with daffodils, the very toxic bulb may be mistaken for members of the onion family, so omit from gardens.

     If wildscape and floral/vegetable gardens exist side-by-side, it is hard to answer requests for cutting wildflowers.  Bouquets distract from landscape beauty.  Cut cultivated flowers for decoration, but only harvest flowers when naturalized or invasive species (e.g., ox-eyed daisies, Queen Anne's lace or wild chicory). 

     Prayerful action: In May, let's decorate Marian shrines.









Taking a break along well-worn bike path.
(*photo credit)

May 3, 2016       The Many Benefits of Biking

    In highly congested regions and on narrow Appalachian roads with truck traffic, biking can be dangerous.  However, apart from needed safety precautions, one can cite the advantages of increased bicycle use in commuting to schools and places of work.  High schools today have very large parking lots filled with cars driven by the juniors and seniors, now clutching licenses even while living not far from their schools.  Peers call for autos.  The same holds true for those workers who live only a few miles from their place of work.  Consider how many of these workers and students would be so much better off if they biked, not just on occasion, but as a routine?  These who can would receive benefits in return:

     * Physical exercise -- At the top of the list, biking is good exercise, something that many workers and students lack due to the culture in which we find ourselves.  Modern students are often driven right up to the door of the school or gym.  Biking gives us fresh air and full spectrum sunlight as well as tone to muscles and control on our weight.

     * Energy conservation -- Biking takes muscle energy of which we normally have an excess, and saves on automotive fuel, which contributes to climate change.  Let's not forget that each of us use surprising amounts of fossil fuel and every little bit of fossil fuel reduction and energy conservation helps.

     * Good ecological practice --  Biking to work is a green means of transportation.  Why not stop air pollution when we have an opportunity?  So often the auto trip to work could be avoided in favor of non-polluting walking or biking.  Each of us must make this decision, which is in part determined by the location of our residence, travel route, congestion and our personal health.  And biking means better health to the biker and others as well.

     * Sound economics -- Biking is economical, for a bike mile costs very little except the amortization on the equipment, which costs only a fraction of what an average automobile costs.  Tires cost less, maintenance is virtually non existent, and, all around, a bike proves beyond a doubt to be the cheapest way to travel more quickly than walking. 

     * Improved outlook -- Those who go outdoors at virtually any time of day have a fresher approach to the work in which they are engaged.  The break relieves stress, improves the entire personal psychology, and ultimately allows for better social relations.  Biking, as a daily exercise routine allows for the "break" that truly refreshes our spirits. 

     * Less congestion -- I once observed rush hour in Amsterdam and saw the massive number of bikers going to work.  It was nearly silent and moving at a rather rapid rate.  What a revelation!

     Prayer: Lord, give us a desire to move about in proper ways.

   On the passing on April 30th of of Fr. Dan Berrigan, Jesuit anti-war activist and poet, I recall the time he spent at Berea College in the early 1980s; we were able to spend some precious time discussing the problems of our region and world. We will miss him for his testimony is sorely needed today. -Al Fritsch, SJ







Pond along Rock Bridge Rd. Red River Gorge, KY.
(*photo credit)

May 4, 2016         Wildfires, Wilderness and Forest Life

     At the beginning of May we celebrate "Be Kind to Animals Week."  One way to show this kindness is to preserve the habitat of the wild flora and fauna with which we are blessed.  Without a healthy habitat these plants and animals cannot survive.  An earlier reflection, "Protect against Forest Fires" (August 5, 2014), mentioned vulnerable human residences in forested areas and the impacts by arsonists and careless visitors.  Threats exist.  However, somewhat overlooked was the impact on individual wildlife that inhabit these threatened areas.  Yet, without occasional mild fires that suppress accumulated thatch, forest plants cannot survive and flourish, as naturalists are quick to remind us.

     What must we do beyond preventing forest devastation?  For one thing, we should strive to experience the woodlands through hiking, provided we do so in a non-polluting manner.  We could "walk the woods" through a written travelogue or through photos or a motion picture or the Internet -- a virtual tour.  What we come to appreciate should take us one step closer to a growing concern about our wildlife.  Let's take the second step of learning about the major threats to woodlands.  When we came to realize in our area that off-road vehicles can smash some very rare wild orchids, we were moved to take steps to stop them.  The same holds true for misplaced timber harvesting and other forms of so-called development and human operations that impact wilderness.

     In recent years it is evident, especially in the American West with heavy thatch buildup, that wildfires can cause immense damage to woodlands.  These fires come quickly (either by human cause or by lightning), and burn too fast for some animals to find means of escape by burrowing in, flying away or escaping on hoof.  From what I have experienced in Appalachia, forest fires are terrifying, unpredictable and, once started, make us feel quite powerless.  They destroy far more than the trees themselves.  The biotic life is highly disturbed and, with the exception of a few plants and animals that have adapted to frequent fires, some species are threatened in fire-damaged areas.

     The serious danger of wildfires during this growing season makes us seek measures to reduce their impact: minimize campfires in the woods and never leave them unattended; promote adequate police protection of forestlands; report infringements of existing regulations; cease outdoor burning when that is forbidden; stand up for the expansion of protected wilderness areas and support the limiting of human activities in designated areas; halt wildflower, ginseng, and wildlife poaching in both public and private woodlands; encourage the reintroduction of species in burnt-over territory; plant trees in burnt over and heavily deforested regions; and join the American Arbor Foundation.  Certainly no one of us can do all of these things, but at least we can plant trees as an initial gesture of concern.  Let's be kind to wildlife.

     Prayer: Lord, inspire us so we see wildlife beauty and glory.







Brilliant pink of garden rhododendron.
(*photo credit)

May 5, 2016    Ways to Counter Gross Economic Inequality

     Some and hopefully still more of us are deeply concerned about the way globalization favors those with large amounts of money.  They can move their assets with impunity from one tax haven to another and avoid their civic responsibilities at a time when accessible resources are so desperately needed to build infrastructure and provide food and lodging safety for a billion of the world's poor people.  What can we do about this situation?

     1. Make the facts known.  Many citizens are becoming increasingly disturbed.  Certainly early life is a time of hierarchical dictates from parents, teachers and others; still many young people know that the race for working positions will soon come, when so few minds are taken up with finding meaningful jobs.    
* Some 400 Americans control half the wealth of this land and their proportion of that wealth is increasing. 
* The U.S. is the lowest with respect to inequality (21st out of 21) among the affluent nations; and
* Top U.S. marginal tax rates was 91% in 1950 and 35% today.

     2. Broadcast and discuss the ill effects of inequality:

     * Results in severe damage to democratic process (wealthy purchase congressional elections);             
     * Establishes a form of plutocracy and false nobility;
     * Leads to deep disturbance and unhappiness by dehumanizing the poor;
     * Robs those who are poor from opportunities to advance to better quality of life;
     * Produces an erosion of EMPATHY or compassion for those who lack resources;
     * Causes insecurity and supposed need to protect wealth through military means;
     * Leads to terrorism and massive disturbance on part of under- or unemployed; and
     * Ties up resources needed for necessary work projects.

     Additional costs: deteriorating community life and social relations; added mental health problems and drug use; lower physical health and life expectancy; increased obesity due to poor choices of food; reduced educational performance; teenage births; greater violence and lack of respect; increased incarceration rates; and higher social immobility and unequal opportunities. Ref. The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, R. Wilkinson & K. Pickett (Bloomsbury Press, 2009).

     3. Become politically active: question political candidates and vote for those aware of this problem; discover non-violent ways to shame the rich; help repeal "Citizen's United" ruling by a constitutional Amendment; and press for a maximum income tax rate of 91%, for conditions are as severe now as during World War II.

     Prayer: Lord, arouse our anger about the economic conditions.










Rustic fence as perch for spring butterfly.
(*photo credit)

May 6, 2016         Construct a Retreat Cabin

     Many readers would like to get away, but have no particular place to go.  Often they have property or know someone who would allow them to build a simple cabin for their getaway.  Many of the following ideas are taken from personal experience and from observing a number of retreat cabins and hermitages in the course of performing environmental resource assessments in various places:

     Determining -- Start simply so as to minimize economic and maintenance costs.  A cabin should at first be a basic shelter.

     Siting -- If there are choices of sites, choose one that is in a relatively isolated place with some vista at least nearby, and that is not too difficult to access.  Even if materials need to be packed in for the last several hundred feet, consider not allowing immediate automobile access.  This more or less guarantees seclusion and privacy, and discourages trespassing when empty.

     Planning afar and ahead --  Construction costs escalate if building from scratch.  One solution is to equip the site chosen with a temporary lodging in the form of a platform on which one puts a tent for a year or so.  If the site turns out to be unsuitable for some reason, one can relocate it. 

     Planning for construction -- When the final site proves satisfactory and a more permanent structure is chosen, consider a variety of structures that use native materials that are near at hand.  You may prefer a cordwood building, yurt, dome, or other structure.  Some of these can be built rather quickly and others take more time.  Part of planning ahead consists of making a basic structure and then completing the furnishing a little later.

     Determining utilities --  Consider solar energy for passive heating and hot water heating (showerbags may be sufficient), some sort of water catchment system, nearby planting and tree care for shade and wind protection, pathway siting and lighting, and installing a compost toilet in a separate or attached building (which could serve as a mini-greenhouse also). 

     Designing --  When the location and the type of structure are determined, consider economizing interior space and thus reducing the size of the structure to the least possible while still giving basic comfort.  A sleeping loft overhead is a great space saver.  Amazingly, a one hundred square-foot structure can be spacious when properly furnished mainly with essentials.

     Furnishing --  Generally, the best economy of space is a walk-in prayer/living space with easy chair, table, small sink and closet; upstairs loft, accessed by ladder with mattress and space to hang clothes.  Simple decorations allow this to be hospitable.  (Ref. Healing Appalachia: Sustainable Living through AT)   

     Prayer: Lord, give us energy to find a place to pray.




     Fifty years ago the publication of Unsafe at Any Speed sparked a serious awakening in our society that launched initiatives and organizations that have dramatically improved our personal health and safety, in the home, workplace, marketplace and the environment.. To celebrate this milestone, and to reflect and renew our civic spirit and resolve we are convening an unprecedented gathering of public interest organizers, advocates, experts, and concerned citizens for four days at historic Constitution Hall in Washington DC. Speakers include Albert J Fritsch SJ. For more info, see:









Beautiful eye of the horse.
(*photo credit)

May 7, 2016       Affirming Our Horse Culture

     Every year on the first Saturday of May a Kentuckian's fancy turns to horses.  The equine culture is a genuine part of the "Bluegrass State" heritage and pride.  I grew up on a farm with horses, but they were the plodding work-type except for "ole Babe," who was a retiree allowed to be ridden by us youngsters.  Babe was my grandmother's gift to my dad, and I will never forget his grieving when the horse passed at a ripe old age of thirty. 

     The Babe story could be replicated frequently in our Commonwealth.  I recall numerous others: sleek brown riding horses of our more aristocratic neighbors, work-horse teams that took loads of wheat to the threshing machine, plow horses and mules used to "break sod" in spring, horses taking wagon loads of tobacco to sales warehouses, retired race horses coming to white plank fences to greet visitors who would park, pet and feed apples.  On Maysville's Main Street are found black painted hitching posts, many years after horses were replaced by Model Ts and later brands.  We heard tales of a trusted horse taking the intoxicated owner back home while he napped.  Horses became family members of sorts.  Horse culture, from the smell of their manure to the coarse feel of their tails as they hit you when swatting flies is deep, very deep in our collective memory.  The rapid transfer from horse to auto culture has come at a price -- a profound change in one lifetime.

     I guess all these remembrances of our horse culture hit us harder on Derby Day.  In order to exercise a fidelity to that culture we learn the names of Derby runners, place bets, watch the three-minute act on television, and talk to friends about whether we chose the winner.  A number of folks will actually observe the event in person, an annual event that gives us pause.  And the city of Lexington was especially proud to host the 2010 World Equestrian Games at the vast "Kentucky Horse Park," a Commonwealth pride.

     My family friends, the Brodts, bequeathed the senior Mr. Brodt's blacksmithing equipment to that horse park -- and so a little bit of my neighborhood is present there.  When I see buggies and horse drawn farm equipment in museums today, I know that I am a senior citizen -- especially since we used some like these museum articles in my early farm days (e.g., corn shellers and seed jobbers).  For some, these pieces being displayed seem ancient, but they were integral parts of a fading work horse culture. 

     Some of my friends such as Wendell Berry still use work horses, though I was not fond of working with horses, or even to become an accomplished horse rider.  But still Derby Day allows us to recall a fading age and recall when in a busy hot sweaty day we paused to let the hoses get a rest; it was a slower time and one that is missed by the modern get-up-and-go culture.  Horses gave quality to our life, and on this day I put that "gave" into the present and future tense.  May traces of that culture continue.

     Prayer: Lord, may we preserve the good to pass on to others.







Black locust, Robinia pseudoacacia, in full bloom.
(*photo credit)

May 8, 2016       Ascension Calls for Action

     Why are you standing there looking at the Sky? (Acts 1)

     The disciples went out to the Mount of Olives and there Jesus took his departure -- but they were left looking up to heaven, apparently leaderless and left to become mature and seasoned apostles.  Are we willing to take on the tasks assigned to us?  Jesus is off to prepare a place for us.  We are asked to take on the task of saving and refurbishing this troubled Earth.

     We have responsibilities as citizens of our world to provide for dependents, make a living, assist our neighbor, and exercise the right to vote and improve our government.  At times, we will be expected to join in respectful silence, but then there are a number of times when we must take responsibility for what we do ourselves.

     It is always easy to talk about what others need to do as though our talking excuses us.  Collaborating and doing things ourselves are quite different operations, as anyone knows who plans a family, house, garden, or project of any kind.  What looked so black and white in the planning stage, turns out to have much gray in it, demanding new opportunities for decision-making.

     Jesus departs from us at the Ascension but is never far from us in the Holy Eucharist.  In some ways he is up ahead of us in time, and we are invited to follow his example.  What we are called to do is prepare for his coming in creative and collaborative ways.  We must become practical in the fullest sense of the word, for housekeeping is a practical art, but we help each other acquire the proper skills.  Our Earth is the "ecos," in which we practice the art of building anew together.  We do more than passively await the promised "New Heaven and a New Earth."  We follow the instruction of St. Peter in his Second Letter and hasten the day of the Lord's coming.  The Holy Spirit inspires us here and now to work together.

     Jesus promises that we will have a power to achieve all the things that need to be done.  Today, we see environmental degradation and the emerging climactic changes along with terrorist threats to our very civilization.  We see the rise of billionaires and the suppression of our democratic ways of controlling them and redistributing their riches; we see immense wealth and grinding poverty side by side.  The challenges seem overwhelming but we must unite in order to achieve results. 

     In one instance we stand gazing to heaven like the disciples, hoping the coming Messiah will crush the world's evils.  But the good spirit tells us to move on with the tasks ahead of us.  Our Christian spirituality is to be practical and collaborative.  Saintliness does not mean going off to ponder the happenings of the world alone and from a distance.  Rather, we are to immerse ourselves together in the here and now.  We are empowered to act.

     Prayer: Lord, on this feast of the Ascension give us the energy, courage and willingness to act in the public interest.







Dwarf larkspur, Delphinium tricorne.
(*photo credit)

May 9, 2016              Current Ideas about Time                       

     Time for me here and now is the ever-moving present moment that fades quickly into the next instant -- and on and on.  Through this view, the current moment is the convergence of a respected past with all its imperfections and an anticipated future with all its hopes and dreams.  To slight either is to warp the straight arrow of time and cause us to be diverted from our goal. 

     Respect for the past comes through a study of history, a knowledge of culture, and acceptance of what occurred even when misdirected -- knowing it can and has been forgiven.  It includes a down to Earth spirituality being unashamed of what went wrong in past times.   Gratitude for talents and gifts is lubricant that can move from the past and turn our journey into a proper future direction.  Those who reject or forget the past are doomed to repeat it.  Accept ours and others' imperfect pasts as models of acceptance or small scale rejection.  Accept ourselves as forgiven.

     Hopes for the future include an enthusiasm for what is to come and a confidence that the best can be achieved through trust in God's directing hand.  However, this view of history does not mean that future is determined and set in stone.  In fact, Scripture has numerous examples of where YHWH changes mind and thus a new route to the future is accepted.  By being invited into God's company WE are able to help create the future with the Lord.  Thus, the space ahead is open to possibility -- and that holds from the smallest sub-particle to the wisest of human beings.  The wheel does not have to be reinvented; one mines the past for the resources to create an indeterminate future and does so without shame, for it is part of our heritage that is highly prized.   

     The present moment includes knowing the conditions of life all around us and so is a state of alertness.   We will not stand still, for times marches on.  The immediacy of knowing my feelings is necessary in order to preserve the enthusiasm needed for the future.  Curtains close on the past with aging and fading memory; veils remain over the future and trigger our impatience on what is coming.  Taken together and lived fully at this moment WE possess the energetics for both magnitude (increasing the acceleration or hastening the coming) and direction (the shortest distance to the goal).  Both past and future stands in testimony to the present moment and must be always respected and mindful.

     I regard this as a testimony to time that it is not actors in a play whose actions are determined and a complacent audience willing to take what comes.  We help make the future in what we contribute in serving others.  Depending on our willingness to share, we improve the quality of that future.  Our faith and trust makes all this possible.

     Prayer: Lord, you own my time and I do not ask more than what you have generously given me.  May I love you through serving others with a willing heart.








Trusty hound, Catahoula cattle dog, of the Ramsdell family.
(*photo credit)

May 10, 2016              Trusty Hound Dogs

     I only had one hound dog in my life and will testify to his immense value as companion.  Upon further reflection I must add that hound dogs (beagles, bloodhounds, foxhounds, etc.) are not the most beautiful animals and yet they come in handy so often that "our best friend" is more than just a pet.  Let's list qualities of all dogs with the olfactory senses of that canine, the hound dog.

     * Hunting -- The dog was truly essential in an age when hunting was more than a sport and was needed to help provide meat for people surviving in harsh climates.  The hound dog could sniff out a mammal and allow the hunter much needed game for "burgoo" (a stew composed of a variety of varmints and whatever vegetables were at hand -- the original pioneer dish of life).  

     * Tracking -- The hound dog was sent out after escapees so often in the past and even in the present; no scientific or technical device has ever been found to equal these dogs' ability to catch a scent and lead the posse to the culprit.

     * Searching -- So often people are lost in the wilderness and the only rapid way to find their trail and follow it is by using a good dog.  Here hounds come in very handy.  The personal articles of the lost person give the basic scent, and the dog keeps this in mind (nose) while hunting.  This ability has resulted in some dramatic rescues, including one in North Carolina a little while back of a young missing boy scout. 

    * Alerting --  Most dogs will raise enough alarm that one knows when a visitor is present.  The better dog is naturally friendly and is aware of the distinction between an honest visitor and a prowler.  That was the talent of the "dogs of war" during the days of trench warfare in the Great War (World War I), and that is what any isolated homestead family wants from their watchdogs.

    * Defending -- Most people prefer a watch dog that is not naturally vicious and yet, when the particular time arrives, will defend its keepers and their property.  Just the courage not to bark and run but to stand its ground will do much to cause an approaching hungry mammal or human thief to pause.  A welcome characteristic is a faithful dog who will defend to death.

   *  Being a Companion -- Sometimes when the weather is bad and news always seem worse, a dog knows just when to come up for petting and to show that all is not lost -- trust and love still exist in this troubled world -- and that's an appreciated moment.

    * Being a Beauty --  No old hound dog ever won a beauty contest, but beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.  Many mountain people would confer "beauty" on a hound dog and accept it as such.

     Prayer: Lord, you gave us the friendship and loyalty of dogs to show us how we are to be faithful and loyal to you.







Blackberry flower in Kentucky May.
(*photo credit)

May 11, 2016    It's Time to Sow Hemp Again

     This year a thousand acres of experimental hemp will be sowed in Kentucky as the commonwealth gradually returns to a 19th century major crop, hemp.  Consider that at one time over a century ago Kentucky was the hemp-growing center of the country, and the plant's natural fiber and seeds were often quoted as having 25,000 uses (suits, sportswear, flags, curtains, rugs, canvas shoes, ropes, cattle feed, etc.).  Hemp is currently being grown in many others nations; Canadian and British farmers now see hemp as a way to make paper, save trees and halt forest resource wastes.

     I remember hemp-growing in the Second World War.  Our country promoted it (after its abolition in the 1930s) when the Philippine source was lost to the Japanese in 1942.  Hemp was grown next door on the Archibald Church farm; stalks were cut by hand near the ground (without mechanization at that time) and "shocked" like corn stalks until dried.  For years after this growing spree, wild hemp still covered roadsides -- a cheap substitute smoke for its cousin, marijuana.  The relationship was given as reason it was "illegal," for hemp is difficult to distinguish from marijuana from a distance.  Actually, it was first forbidden in the early part of the 20th century, not because of drug concerns, but because it was competing with new synthetic fibers, including DuPont's Nylon.  The illegality of cultivating this proven source of natural fiber and protein and other beneficial products stands on weak grounds.

     The ban on growing hemp because it is confused with marijuana is not a major problem.  Any hemp-grower, as opposed to "pot" growers, would be quite public, and enforcement agents could check the cultivating and harvesting activities of growers with ease -- until pot is legalized as well.  Another very important consideration, no respectable pot grower would want hemp-growing near their precious easily contaminated products.  The past history of hemp growing "slave labor" prior to the Civil War was so called because of the lack of mechanization and the associated hard farm labor involved in hand cutting and shocking.  Modern massive mechanization of cutting and drying machinery will remove that onus.  It is also possible that the machinery could be custom work (rented) for owners instead of purchases by each individual grower, and thus save on initial investment. 

     The weak objections against hemp growing are a thing of the past and new movement to commercial production has widespread bipartisan support.  The immediate future is bright; we will again have access to an excellent natural fiber (along with protein for human and animal consumption from processed seeds) with proven  excellent commercial prospects.  The market exists; farmers need added income; hemp is ecologically friendly; little is required in commercial pesticides and fertilizers; and the history of an "early start" does favor a return to hemp-growing in Kentucky -- and elsewhere.  Yes, the time for hemp has returned not any too soon.

     Prayer: Lord, inspire us to improve our people's livelihood.








Close-up image of oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) bark.
(*Photo by Sally Ramsdell)

May 12, 2016     Planting Trees as a Mark of Respect

     Trees have been marked for centuries in order to convey a message.  In come cases, the Native Americans marked trees much like road signs in order to alert travelers to upcoming dangers or tell them in which direction to turn.  Others identified boundaries when those of European ancestry surveyed tracts of land for record of ownership.  Observations and photographs show so-called "bench" trees that have lived for a number of centuries and tell somewhat hidden stories of their notation.  Were these trees marked for 19th century court records on legal deeds that referred to oaks or other old trees as signals for boundaries or turns in the border?

     We know that a number of the early hunters and trappers took a cue from the Native Americans and produced their graffiti by marking trees with their names or some other specific signs.  This is true of Daniel Boone and others, and their tree markings are still highly prized.  Even as kids, we thought it nice to leave our marks on rocks, concrete and even trees that could possibly endure for others to see.  What moves kids and other graffiti artists?  A deeper question is whether people get some pleasure in making a mark in public.  What about this essay?  A mark after we are gone?

     Leaving one's mark on the world is an ambition, but somewhat full of pride when we as a community should strive to leave a collective marking.  Perhaps it's part of being human.  It is much like the pre-historic art found in caves.  The need to communicate runs deep, very deep.  To take an idea that we know or desire to tell and transfer this to something that is more permanent than a spoken word is part of being human and social.  We try to make a mark even as art that others can follow and gain some knowledge.  When the design of the sign is as recognizable as possible, adding color and flourish increases the feeling that the sign conveys. 

     Biographers note that Isaac Jogues, the Jesuit martyred by the Mohawks in the 17th century, and his French companions marked trees with crosses.  The cross is an instrument of torture and a popular sign of Christian faith, just as the fish was a sign in the early century catacombs for Jogues' ancestors in the faith.  The cross is still a powerful symbol today for all who profess to be Christians, and a tree so marked is considered sacred.

     Today, we may not have to make signs by marking trees, but we can plant trees so as to mark the need to reforest a damaged landscape.  The modern markings are the planted trees themselves.  We have other ways to communicate that are just as intelligible, and may last as long or longer than tree markings of old.  Planting trees (and refraining from marking them) improves the health of trees that are under considerable stress.  We don't have to disturb their bark.  Our love of nature includes a certain respect for their integrity.  Maybe we should mark (post) the woodland areas so others will not come and damage the trees that are present. 

     Prayer: Lord, inspire us plant trees as a mark of respect.








Hanging vines of the purple wisteria plant.
(*photo credit)

May 13, 2016      Stop Smoking by Going "Cold Turkey"

     We have major drug problems in America; in Kentucky we have more smokers per population than any other state.  Other forms of drug treatment may help but for tobacco smokers "going cold turkey" (gct) refers to changing one's practices without using medicines or medical services.  With tobacco addiction, "gct" refers to refraining from using nicotine patches or gums or certain medicines in order to break with the addictive habit of smoking.  Some tobacco people say, "If you want to quit smoking, consider chewing." They hold that certain smokeless tobacco products are less harmful than others and that these contain far fewer milligrams of cancer-causing nitrosamines.  But chewing or snuff taking or vaping e-cigarettes are temptations that do not address basic tobacco addictiveness.  Research finds that "gct" is more likely to result in remaining abstinent than is taking nicotine-products, which is not addressing addictive behavior.

     Actually, more people experience "cold turkeyhood" than is at first imagined.  When people are hospitalized or imprisoned, they no longer have access to abusive substances.  In federal prisons today the inmates are not permitted to smoke and so they have gone cold turkey, whether they wanted to or not.  Sometimes the process involves the suffering associated with withdrawal, but that is not life-threatening (as is the practice of smoking), only quite  painful.  In an age when many have little tolerance for pain, this "gct" process becomes a dreaded experience.  But in the entire order of things, the pain of "gct" is little compared with the suffering of a smoker undergoing cancer treatment.

     Coupling the process of "gct" with unfamiliar or pleasant alternative events can be one practical way to effect success.  I broke with smoking by taking a trip out west with non-smokers in 1983, and the unfamiliar landscape and mountains helped alleviate the pain and reenforce the new tobacco-free habit.  My suggestion as one who endured this thirty-three years ago is to break clean and to do so in the company of others who do not smoke.  This is meant as advice both for smokers who are trying to quit and for those setting up conditions for encouraging their smoking friends to break the habit once and for all.  Proposing a gradualist approach of using patches or gums or chewing tobacco or using e-cigarettes is a non-verbal communication to the addicted person that loved ones are not convinced the tobacco smoker will stop.

     Amazingly, we know smokers suffering in terminal stages will not quit smoking.  They say that it is too late, or that terminating their practice will not help.  "Why stop now?"  Besides, they find smoking is a valuable crutch, as it has been for some time while their health has been eroding.  A combination of denial, justification, and pure addiction stares them in the face.  Focus on smokers who are still in good health as prime candidates for going cold turkey.  Yes, one can prod and it may help.

     Prayer: Lord, inspire us to help smokers give up the habit.


     Fifty years ago the publication of Unsafe at Any Speed sparked a serious awakening in our society that launched initiatives and organizations that have dramatically improved our personal health and safety, in the home, workplace, marketplace and the environment.. To celebrate this milestone, and to reflect and renew our civic spirit and resolve we are convening an unprecedented gathering of public interest organizers, advocates, experts, and concerned citizens for four days at historic Constitution Hall in Washington DC. Speakers include Albert J Fritsch SJ. For more info, see:











Organic herbs and vegetables in Kentucky garden.
(*photo credit)

May 14, 2016  Reasons to Celebrate National Herb Week    

     National Herb Week is a good opportunity to attend once more to the garden, for herbs are garden plants and deserve promotion:

     * Herbs grow well without any extra effort and can be raised organically with no fuss.  I have over a dozen each year: garlic, three types of mint, oregano, poke, horse radish, camomile and sage are perennial and dill, parsley and basil are my yearly choices in plants and seed.  Some of these need to be controlled and not coaxed to grow.

     *  Outdoor herbs can enliven the flower beds and garden in general with many of them dissuading insects of various types and serving as a natural pest retardant.

     * Many healthy herbs can be taken indoors when frost comes in the autumn, and the potted plants can give a good scent and furnish sprigs for embellishment of dishes throughout the winter period.  They enliven indoors as much as they do the summer garden.

     * Herbs come in great variety; they stimulate us to try new things every year without taking much extra space.  Some herbs like sun and some shade, and so a little prior knowledge of where to plant is important.  Give each its proper place in order to thrive. 

     * Herbs can be dried easily and used throughout the year for new low-cost cuisine flavorings.  And when researching old recipes, we find the names of herbs that we know little about, leading up to expansion of our garden varieties. 

     * Herbs are a popular topic in neighbor conversation and gift giving.  We have a multi-county herb club that meets in our parish hall once a month -- a source of togetherness.

     * Once sprouted, herbs seldom disappoint us.  They prove quite dependable and can withstand drought, heat and rainfall.  They are often able to endure when many veggies have hard times.

     *  Many herbs have age-old medicinal benefits but, except for parsley and poke, I hesitate to recommend them.  These herbs have a long medical history that can prove interesting, but we realize that some can be overdosed just as can commercial medicines.  And without a knowledgeable account of these various herbal cures, we could be on a slippery slope to causing readers to over-consume.

     * Herbs are gentle plants and prove good companions to other plants, both flowers and vegetables.  Basil and parsley grow well next to tomatoes.  There are exceptions, for fennel does not like other plants, and from personal experience I learned that others do not thrive near fennel.  It takes time to learn these things.

     Prayer: Lord, you created all things and the many marvels still await our knowledge and appreciation.










Rose vervain, Verbena canadensis. Cedars of Lebanon, TN.
(*photo credit)

May 15, 2016   Pentecost: A Time to Act; A Time for Silence

     There is a time for everything under heaven, even on the feast of Pentecost, when the disciples full of energy sprang from a locked room and preached to the crowds outside.  They were moved to speak the Good News.  Each in the audience heard the message in his own language and thus a gift of tongues was manifest to the crowds and to the whole world.  If such is the wind and fury of Pentecost, why talk today about moments for speaking -- and times for silence?  Isn't Pentecost a season of proclaiming Good News for and to all?

     There's a time to speak.  Yes, we must act when silence confuses the issue.  Speak we must!  Should the Church remain silent when those who act in unchristian ways expect our respectful silence?   As a Jesuit and pastor I am one of only a few dozen who have taken a vow to act when the Pope tells us to -- or expects us to.  Pope Francis has shown us how Christians should respond to immigrants and refugees.  As a Catholic priest I cannot remain silent while Donald Trump proposes mass deportation that would break up millions of families.  The Pope has mentioned that this entire proposed border policy in question is "unchristian."  I will affirm what he says, but even omitting the costly wall-building, since it is so impractical, especially who the payer might be.  Congress will say "no" to costs, but presidents can deport people.

     Jesus knew the time to speak.  Jesus taught his disciples at length, along with crowds who came to hear him.  He called Herod a fox; when Jesus was brought to Herod at the time of trial before the Calvary event, he remained silent; it was not a time to say things in one's own defense, and Jesus' entire teaching mission involved speaking the timely truth.  Jesus did not waste words when the other party only wanted to ridicule him.  Let us discern now.

     Silence can be political partisanship.  Pentecost impels us to spread the Good News -- that means ALL migrants are brothers and sisters.  At times in history failing to speak brought ruin.  In 1938, the dying Pope Pius XI wanted to excommunicate Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini; that could have perhaps slowed these dictators in their tracks.  His efforts were waylaid by others who wanted silence and scuttled his message.  "What if" is a pointless exercise.  Today we must defend migrants and those present without full legal status in our country.  Silence when we ought to speak is shirking citizen responsibility; it's no place for those receiving the Holy Spirit's gifts and called to be courageous. 

     At times silence is golden.  We may have an impulse to spout out words, but allowing others to speak is part of being community, "church," and fosters broadening participation.  At times let one speak for the rest and we all in accord say "Amen."  On this issue, the Pope has spoken, and we affirm in a way recorded in the Acts of the Apostles; we say "Amen," and that adds us to the embattled group calling for justice for the undocumented to prevail.  If a corrective is called for, as in the migrant issue, let's speak with kindness and good will.  Then we really celebrate Pentecost.

     Prayer: Lord, inspire us on this feast to know when to speak and when to allow others -- or be silent due to circumstances.










Parasitic plant Indian pipe, Monotropa uniflora, lacking chlorophyll.
(*photo credit)

May 16, 2016           Support Noise Action Week 

     We need to take measures to become more quiet in our own home, our personal life and our communities.  Noise affects the peace of mind of people who need rest to recuperate or to heal from stressful conditions.  Furthermore, many of these consider noise as inevitable and unable to be reduced.  But as citizens we can do more than take individual actions, for much of the noise around us threatens our spatial commons, and infringing noise-makers have taken something away without our consent.  The idea of a time to consider noise action is not new, but it is of increasing importance.  Several suggestions for further awareness include: 

     * Support the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse (NPC), that is raising awareness of noise pollution and helping communities take back the commons from "noise bullies."  The NPC has many resources concerning noise pollution.  See <www.nonoise.org>.

     * Organize locally.  Though national and larger groups need our support, better noise abatement at the local level can have telling effects in an age when so many other global environmental problems compete for the federal government's attention.  Starting small at the grassroots has a good track record, for dampening noise is often a local problem.   Letters-to-the-editor tell readers that many have problems with noise and there is a community of support behind action.  Pressure should be exerted on noise-makers, especially to enforce existing regulations.  Challenge bull-horn politicians or commercial organizations to modify their advertising, for it is often counterproductive to their goals.

     * Seek co-sponsorship of community events.  A major health group is in favor of publicizing the effects of noise pollution, namely, those who are selling hearing aids and are into audio-health and noise prevention.  Furthermore, hearing-impaired people may be willing to assist in some community projects.

     * Initiate school projects to audit the neighborhood as a way of making youth aware of loud noise and in order to expose the sources of local noise problems.  Grade schoolers can be encouraged to do recordings with noise meters as local science projects.  Quietness is like motherhood and apple pie.  Who will challenge it?  Noise is an environmental issue subject to compromise between some who make a little during a short span and others who want customary silent space and time.  Youth may feel self-conscious because they make noise at times, but should be called to abide in silent times.      

       * Publicity.  Internet coverage of noise concerns could have a salutary effect within a community.  Radio public service announcements are the best low-cost method of spreading word about forms of pollution.  Petitions to install or enforce regulations are popular and deserve sponsorship.

     Prayer: Lord, help us quiet down communities to make them more liveable and prayerful -- and allow times for joyful expression.








Sounds of a gentle Appalachian stream.
(*photo credit)

May 17, 2016        Harmonize Sounds and Silence

     Harmony comes from the Greek word Harmos, meaning a fitting. Neither continuous pure sound nor pure silence is a good environmental quality, for some of each is the appropriate or fitting atmosphere.  However, the advent of mechanical noise makers of extremely loud sound that can continue for long periods of time has occurred in modern society.  We are losing our precious silence and some urban folks seem terrified when sound is absent.  Rather than appreciating the harmony of sound and silence, each with its proper place, many in our midst demand continued sound and more sound -- which in its assault can trigger deafness.  A goal of noise action week is to tone down the volume, change to more concordant sound, and reestablish moments of silence in our lives. 

     Why tone sound down?  Some like modern music, and who are we to infringe on their freedom to like this or that fashion?  Perhaps the best reason is that sound carries to others who do not like it, and sensitivity requires that sound sources be controlled.  Recall that smoking was considered the individual's problem until it was proven that environmental smoke affected others near to the smoker.  The same applies to noise.  Medical experts agree that excessively loud sound harms eardrums and leads to emotional problems that will affect the audiences for the rest of their lives.  And that extends beyond the one making the noise, for second-hand sound carries.

     Millions of people, especially those of us over 55, suffer from ringing in the ears or tinnitus.  This is characterized by whistling, buzzing, chirping, hissing, humming, roaring or even worse.  My condition allows me to hear crickets all year round and though bothersome, it is only a minor annoyance compared to deafness.  My condition is thanks to crushing corn for animal feed with a mill that made extreme noise as corn hit the hopper.

     Toning down and becoming sensitive to noise is one very important step towards a return harmony in our world.  Another and far more difficult exercise for those addicted to loud sound is to break away and accept and construct periods of silent space.  In many cultures people speak, and then remain silent for periods of time -- just being present to one another in silence.  The measured words are important, but so are the pauses between the words.  In an opposite vein are those who are nervously chattering always. 

     In this modern age cell phone users become addicted to chatter -- they need to be in constant communication and regard the absence of speech as uncomfortable.  This void makes them feel uneasy and even frightened.  How many are there who do not handle silence well and are impelled to keep busy talking?   Still, all with the gift of hearing are invited to make and keep quiet time.  They ought to cultivate a sensitivity to others who need more than they desire, and help provide the quiet space for loved ones.   

     Prayer: Lord, give us an awareness of our own needs and that of our neighbor for the quiet time it takes to pray well.








Succulent Sedum ternatum, growing on rocky Bluegrass slope.
(*photo credit)

May 18, 2016       Awareness and Coping with Noise

     No one likes noise, at least some forms of it.  The classical music lover may flee from the hard rock band.  But so will the hard rock lover flee from an argumentative household with its abusive language and loud voices.  What is evident is that all people attempt to flee when possible and corrective measures are impossible, because they find certain noise sources intolerable.
Often elders say they miss the noises of school recess periods when the kids are on vacation.  Perhaps some like certain noises and consider them part of life -- and even welcome.

     Loud unwelcome noises.  In an age of traffic noise and sirens, leaf blowers and jack hammers, motorcycles and jet skis, airplanes overhead, and blaring radios and televisions, we are often unable to flee too far, for the air waves are filled with sounds from so many amplified sources.  Modern technology seems to trumpet the success of filling in and defeating silence with so-called gratifying noise.  Some of this we must endure because it is part of our work; some we highly dislike.  The clanging and roar of industrial machines may be music to the ears of a worker, for it is saying a paycheck will soon be due.  Though here too the noise levels have subsided due to modern noise pollution standards.

     Background noise.  Discounting the terrible toll that loud noises do to our ears, especially those noises of higher decibel levels and at close proximity, what do unwanted noises at a greater distance do over time?  We may boast that we can endure the urban sounds around us and pride ourselves on not being startled and frightened like others who are unfamiliar with these particular sounds.  But the impact of incessant noise is to fray our nerves, increase the stress on our hearts, and impair our learning abilities.  Studies show that students of similar age groups do better in quieter surroundings.  Noise hurts most of us and reduces our attention span.  Noise leads to family disturbances and social unrest, and lowers our quality of life.

     Lack of silence.  Major noises startle us and harm our auditory senses, and insistent background noises reduce the quality of our lives.  What about our own self-generated noises from coughs to restless movement of furnishings or arms and legs, from body functions to chatter generated to overcome the traffic noises?  Persistent sounds still seem to fill the waking -- and sometimes sleeping -- periods of life.  For some, especially those who are immersed in continual background noise, moments of silence are at times frightening.  People become so accustomed to noise that they say they are uncomfortable with silence.  To be alone is equated with silence and that enters into the lurking concept of death, an eternal silence for some.  Few value moments of silence, the time to find God, the opportunity for inner reflection, the chance to come to know oneself and to act against noise pollution.

     Prayer: Lord, teach us to know what portion of our noisy world we can flee from, cope with, or work to quiet in our neighborhoods.








Newly-hatched American robin, Turdus migratorius, easily disturbed by noise pollution.
(*photo credit)

May 19, 2016     Cultivating Noise Sensitivity

     Noise Action Week is a perfect time to develop a sensitivity to noise and to control our sound space with times of silence.  This twofold aspect to noise sensitivity is like appreciation of good music -- for that is part of the harmony found in the life of activity and rest.  This goes beyond my individual concern; let's consider expanding noise sensitivity to our loved ones as well.  Consider getting involved in both reducing noise (tomorrow's reflection) and creating silent space (Saturday's reflection).

     Granted, some people are more sensitive to noise than others.  That could be due to any number of reasons: very delicate auditory senses that are affected by discordant sounds; the lack of proper rest and denial that activity must be coupled with silent time and space; pressure to produce results and an inability to concentrate due to noise; an awareness of having suffered or knowing someone who has suffered hearing loss resulting from excessive noise; a sentimental longing for a quieter period of life; or a distaste for certain forms of loud noise or modern music and their aftereffects. 

     This sensitivity is a natural protective mechanism for all of us, and people will normally seek harmony in life even when some feel powerless to bring about the needed situation.  One recourse is to flee from the noise source and thus regain the precious time and space needed to harmonize one's life.  Another is to say nothing about noise, hoping that one can learn to adjust and cope with the assaults present.  There is often an intimidation by those who make the noise, as though that is part of their freedom of speech, and those who question noise are simply out of touch.        

     With maturation, people often acquire a deeper sensitivity and are able to judge when noises are too loud.  This could include operating a standard noise meter or coming to an estimation of the degree of the noise impact.  People gain good judgment as to where noises originate and who is the source.  At this stage the sensitive person can withdraw and hide or run, or remain silent through lack of boldness.  On the other hand, a mounting sensitivity could make one an activist who seeks to address the causes, who takes time to reduce noise that is under his or her control, and who will use forms of creativity to expand the areas and times of silence in one's life and that of the community. 

     In this last level of sensitivity to noise we need to first pinpoint carefully the sources of noise, quiet down our immediate surroundings, and then move out to the wider community which needs to address noise and silent zones.  Sensitivity includes knowing regulations already passed but not enforced.  Insensitivity is an unawareness of second-hand noise-making; sensitivity is the fruit of concern for others as well as the courage it takes to confront noisemakers and to do so firmly, but with a desire to compromise.

     Prayer: Lord, teach us awareness of needs for quiet space both for ourselves and for our neighbors.







Cream violet, Viola striata.
(*photo credit)

May 20, 2016        Nine Ways to Reduce Noise

     Each of us can contribute to reducing the amount of noise in the world around us.  Perhaps you are looking for ways to communicate your concern to noisy people around you, provided you are not aggressively assaulted in your noble attempts.  Here are some sample actions:

     1. Turn down the volume.  We are all becoming a little more deaf and so we turn up the volume to hear better, but that can create an environmental noise problem.  We are not just to become sensitive to noise ourselves, but to what affects others and whether our own practices interfere.  Switch to softer music.

     2. Consider using head phones.  When wanting to listen to music or conversation that others would find irritating, personal head phones may prove to be a welcome answer.

     3. Get rid of snow blowers and leaf blowers.  There are few things so noisy and so easily replaced by muscle and good exercise.

     4. Do the same for noisy hair dryers and the like.

     5. Can the grass mowing be done with a muscle-powered mower? Most often it is the people who need the exercise who go out on weekday evenings or Saturdays to mow the lawn while riding about seated on a power mower.  Really these often overweight specimens are fooling themselves if they think they are getting more than some fresh air and sunlight.  Even if someone objects to the exertion, the push mower gives exercise and saves fuel all at the same time.  Many modern hand mowers are quite easy to maneuver, but the secret is not to let the grass get too long. 

     6. Turn lawn into wildscape and thus avoid mowing.  Remember, swampy or steep hard-to-mow areas should not be trimmed with mechanical devices that may harm the operator or the land.

     7. Strive to limit cell phone use.  This advice can be expected from someone such as myself who sees little use for such devices, except in a 911 emergency situation.  If the person beside you is incessantly talking on the cell phone, either muster the courage to convey your annoyance or, if possible, move elsewhere.  Often cell phone users speak loudly; if they are driving and calling, encourage them to pull over and avoid dangerous driving.

     8. Reduce the volume of doorbells, home phones, timers for the microwave, safety and fire alarms, clock alarms, and the radio.  Turn off the tv when not watched.  And what else can be turned off?

     9. Support community efforts at noise regulations such as curfews, limits to motorcycles and ATVs, times for lawn mowing and leaf blowing, and limits on the use of motor boats and jet skis.

     Prayer: Lord, give me the energy to take sound control steps.






     Fifty years ago the publication of Unsafe at Any Speed sparked a serious awakening in our society that launched initiatives and organizations that have dramatically improved our personal health and safety, in the home, workplace, marketplace and the environment.. To celebrate this milestone, and to reflect and renew our civic spirit and resolve we are convening an unprecedented gathering of public interest organizers, advocates, experts, and concerned citizens for four days at historic Constitution Hall in Washington DC. Speakers include Albert J Fritsch SJ. For more info, see:







Beloved pet helps create silent space.
(*Photo by Sally Ramsdell)

May 21, 2016       Nine Ways to Create Silent Space

     At the time we focus attention on reducing discordant and loud noises, we should be thinking up ways to create silent space within ourselves, within a household, in our times of day, week, month, year or longer, and within the local community. 

     1. Create silent space within yourself through self-awareness of peace of soul and finding God within.

     2. Allot silence space within the home, especially when residents have different tastes and habits.  Fix a quiet room with its own acoustical materials for those who wish to listen to something while others prefer to remain in silence.  Even egg cartons tastefully dyed and arranged can be low-cost materials for quieting the special room or nook.

     3. Take rest breaks during the work day to gain strength and energy to keep on top of the assignments at hand.

     4. The Sabbath rest is quite important in our lives.  Take off on the day of rest and truly do something that is restful. Yes, it can be a day of special prayer.

     5. An annual retreat is a time to ask questions about the way your life is going.  It is important that this be made in a quiet setting where you can focus on your life in a meaningful manner.

     6. A vacation is time for relaxation and quiet time.  Trips that involve busy airports, noisy cities, crowds of tourists, and much highway travel are hardly silent space needed to recoup and regain and strengthen one's interior harmony and well being. 

     7. Create some sacred space in your life, a place where with minimal noise the different senses can harmonize with the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings of nature.  Visit this space when need arises.  Sleep should be in a silent place where one is undisturbed.  Consider hanging fabrics on walls and windows.

     8. Where noise is a major neighborhood problem, some forms of sound barrier are possible, either for the individual property or for a larger residential community.  These vary in type of material (vegetative, stone, wood), degree of maintenance, height, and construction design. 

     9. Make sure neighborhood hospitals and other institutions are designated as quiet zones and that noise regulations are enforced.  When development plans call for zoning changes, ensure that noise pollution is considered as one of the essential considerations.  Too often noise becomes a secondary issue and that is far harder to control than if introduced up front in planning.

     Prayer: Lord, inspire us with the grace to create silent space in our lives both for ourselves and our loved ones.








Golden ragwort, Packera aurea.
(*photo credit)

May 22, 2016         The Trinity in Our Lives

     From everlasting I was firmly set, from the beginning, before Earth came into being.   (Proverbs 8:23)

     The social addiction of our world calls for having recourse to a Higher Power.  For the Christian this is our Triune God who has extended the characteristics of divine love and mercy to all portions of Creation and the interactions of people.  In a book now being written I am trying to show that the harmony of the Holy Trinity shows itself in a resonance that becomes an echo throughout the universe and deeply within our human society as well.  

     Francis S. Collins, the American scientist who was the team leader of the Human Genome Project, stands at the cutting edge of modern scientific discovery with his DNA work.  During the course of his life, Francis Collins has moved from a world of agnosticism to one of Christian belief; he gives testimony to this in his very clear and well developed book: The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Faith (New York: Free Press, 2006).  This book is a must for all who seek to dialog with a materialistic world that is becoming more vocal in its agnosticism and antagonism to religious belief.  The wisdom of God lies for him behind the marvelous display of evolution and emergence of all living things. 

     On the other hand, many encounter resonance in music and art (especially literature), in psychological and social relations with others including communications and education, in an understanding of elementary particles and chemical reactivity, and in the healing arts.  Resonance is a major issue in architecture and acoustical problems.  For believers in the Trinity, this comes as no surprise, for all aspects of creation, especially intelligent life with its freedom, are endowed with vestiges of the divinity.  This becomes the foundation of the book.  Looked at from the standpoint of faith, we discover that each encounter in our journey of faith deepens our presence in the divine life.

    The image of God who is spiritual is best conceived in the presence of Jesus in the Gospel, and his companionship among us as a loving and merciful divine and human person.  Christ, the wisdom of God, is a person who becomes really present to us in the Sacred Liturgy each time we receive Communion.  Here we encounter the Trinity who enters our lives in a most personal manner.

    Through the fullness of Baptism we are other christs and we delight the mind of God in our being born, living, and passing from this mortal life -- and yet we too are always in the mind of the Creator.  One immense and cosmic difference is that we are born and not begotten; another is that we do not give perfect delight because we are imperfect and sometimes fail to make the mark.  We become more godly through Baptism and the work we perform.

     Prayer: Lord, make us more like you so godliness will shine.







Aquatic alpine wildflowers, Medicine Bow National Park, WY.
(*photo credit)

May 23, 2016          The Glory or Fate of Coral Reefs

     Yesterday was Biodiversity and Maritime Day.  From all the news reports our colorful and needed coral reefs are in trouble, mainly because of increased acidity and elevated ocean temperature. Steve Jones' book, Coral: A Pessimist in Paradise, tells a story of woe with regard to coral reefs; with their destruction will go a sizeable portion of our maritime biodiversity. 

     Like the great majority of the world's people I have experienced water sites (even snorkeled) but never experienced coral reefs first hand -- and am unsure whether the tourist world should be allowed that pleasure due to their often inadvertent impact.  I am a virtual coral fan through the photos of National Geographic and other sources and have seen samples at certain aquarium web sites.  The coral formations are living and blaze with glory and color and should be left untouched.  The Great Barrier Reef off the eastern coast of Australia is the only living biological structure that can be seen from space. 

Jones defuses the vision of sugar plum corals to talk about how these areas of maritime life have been subject to the vicissitudes of other disasters and catastrophes.  And his pessimism spills over into other related subjects as well.  Coral has always been part of the history of our planet and the scientists tell us through core drilling that the buildup is like the rings of a tree, each dating various events in the coral's extended growth.  Many coral reefs are now in serious trouble, and the massive flowering of the beauty of these living structures is now meeting death through pollution and the consequences of climate change.  Is this the final growth layer for many of these reefs?  Some students of coral life would say so.  Is the minute addition of each living depositor that contributed to building the coral structure over long periods of time now in vain?  Are we to await the inevitable death of coral in many parts of the world?

     Is there any good news when it comes to coral?  Unfortunately, it is very hard to find, though more and more areas are coming under national protection.  Jones says that "human ingenuity revealed the intricate workings of coral reefs, but it has also spelled their ruin."  My hope is that it is not too late.  Recording the beauty of corals should encourage all to redouble our efforts to halt climate change ASAP.   

     Coral reefs stand as testimony of the utter beauty of God's creation.  Without touching them, taking specimens or physically seeing them does not hinder our advocacy.  To accept coral's doom is to accept the deterioration of our planet -- and we must not acquiesce to this.  Coral stimulates within us the impulse to take charge of the fate of our Earth and change it for the better.  Don't let pessimists have the last word. 

     Prayer: Lord, make us advocates of beauty without directly experiencing it -- for tourist visits could destroy what is loved.


     Fifty years ago the publication of Unsafe at Any Speed sparked a serious awakening in our society that launched initiatives and organizations that have dramatically improved our personal health and safety, in the home, workplace, marketplace and the environment.. To celebrate this milestone, and to reflect and renew our civic spirit and resolve we are convening an unprecedented gathering of public interest organizers, advocates, experts, and concerned citizens for four days at historic Constitution Hall in Washington DC. Speakers include Albert J Fritsch SJ. For more info, see:








A carefully-cultivated rose across many generations.
(*photo credit)

May 24, 2016       Floral Gardens as an Art Form

      Embellishing with flowers may not be totally practical.  It is simply art for its own sake.  Yes, gardening is an art and it can have fine touches as well.  Flowers can be added because their color, shape and smell improve the quality of the garden and our own life.  We like purple hairy vetch, for this plant acts as a winter cover, gives nitrogen back to the soil, and acts as summer living mulch.  But it is also a beautiful spring blooming plant worth having around just for adornment.  Gardens can go beyond the utilitarian purpose of yielding food, for gardens can give pleasure to the eyes of the beholder.  The flowers' colors, scents and shapes add to the ambiance of the garden, making it all the more inviting for those tending and neighbors looking in. 

     Floral gardens invite.  These plots beckon us to designate this as a sacred place, and encourage us to perfect it over time.  Flowers also dispose those unacquainted with outdoor exercise to appreciate gardening.  They mellow the practical and the scientific to the art of flower design and growth.  There's nothing wrong with having plants for beauty's sake.  We strongly advocate for edible landscapes that include ornamentals like holly that can be used for bird nesting and feeding areas.  Much of the mono-cultural lawn that covers suburban and urban America is not necessarily pretty, consumes resources to manicure, and requires immense amount of maintenance time.  Consider floral/vegetable gardens instead, for they can change year by year and costs less to maintain.

      An Example.  Besides their homestead flower plots, my peasant Uncle Peter and Aunt Alberta always added a row of gladiolus to their otherwise quite productive and practical vegetable garden.  They were simple farmers in the Kentucky hills using horses to operate farm machinery.  However, they deliberately added beauty down the middle of their half-acre garden, giving a sense of color and life to what looked like another farm field.  As a youngster I couldn't understand their flowers, and the added attention these two gardeners gave to them.  Now I do.  A floral/vegetable garden has now entered into my own gardening experience.  

      Garden as Art Form.  Art is found in galleries and museums where through visitors' imaginations paintings and sculptures come alive.  Similarly, a garden with interspersed flowers is a living art piece, demanding designer skills, gardener and artist all in one.  Landscape is canvas on which paint involves seeding or plantings to yield timely color.  An ever-changing garden becomes a stained glass window with sun playing off it at different hours.  Plant selection, arrangement and vegetative growth are oils and art media.  The resulting garden art attracts birds, butterflies and humans through variation in expression accentuated by color and fragrances.  Fruit, berries, vegetables, and herbs are aromatic and tasteful and pleasant to behold.

     Prayer: Lord, help us create a garden that stimulates the various senses and turns our minds and hearts to you.







Solar panels at the Mary E. Fritsch Nature Center, ASPI.
Click here for website and details!
(*photo credit)

May 25, 2016    What's Wrong with Billionaires?

     The answer to the title's question is not about individuals, but with their financial condition.  I know one billionaire and he is an outstanding, hardworking and passionate individual who wants to do right.  The financial condition is a different matter.

     Having billions of dollars is a goal to which many with millions and smaller sums aspire.  They realize that this choice field of the privileged exerts much power in our society; with the upcoming elections they support candidates who are "in their vest pocket."  These candidates are willing to kowtow to their every wish, whether continuing the fossil fuel status quo or giving preferences to high priced prescription drugs.  Yes, some but not all billionaires are super-givers; this becomes a reason that institutions that should be promoting social justice issues are so strangely silent when it comes to a disparity of wealth, both in this country and world.  Billionaires demand and obtain silence as their price for support, and their finances demand staying clear of revolutionary change in distribution of wealth.  Someone who dares question the potential largesse is not going to receive any funds. 

     What about the argument that these "paragons" of virtue made their billions in "legally acceptable ways," and it is not for us to cast judgment on their money-making skills.  However, many of us still hear the words of Jesus about the chances of the wealthy getting to heaven as less than that of a camel passing through the eye of a needle.  And Jesus did not live in an age of billionaires, but we must help save their souls.  One way is to tax their excess.  Retention, not acquisition is the point of focus.  Is it not we the citizens of our nation and our world who have allowed the commons to be taken over by these new nobility and have allowed them to acquire, retain, and dispense this immense wealth to their own satisfaction?  Power has been granted to the privileged through ignorance, indifference or false understanding of what is the "commons."  As Pope Benedict XVI said, resources belong to all the people and not just to the privileged few.  We have not contested the power of the moneyed, mainly by not taxing their billions.

     Our democracy is at stake if power is passed to the wealthy that belongs to the people.  Some of us, like many early Americans, opposed the divine right of kings.  But are we also against the divine right of billionaires?  We allow them to continue in their condition (whether of happiness or misery) without us doing anything about it.  As far as acquiring wealth goes, it may be laudatory if more people work through prospering businesses.  We are challenging their political/social/economic power to retain and exercise that wealth to their own choosing.  This is wrong in every sense of the word.  Benjamin Franklin attempted to insert a restriction on excessive wealth in the Pennsylvania constitution, but failed; he wanted it in the American Constitution but was opposed by rich gentlemen present. It's about time to act today.

     Prayer: Lord, give us a sense of justice and courage.







Clubmoss in the Daniel Boone National Forest. Laurel Co., KY.
(*photo credit)

May 26, 2016      Road Rage and Memorial Day Weekend

     Memorial Day approaches and many get caught in traffic jams and congestion.  It's a time when some lack courtesy when exhausted and some perceived mistakes can trigger a frown, call, horn blowing, middle finger or "road rage."  Did 19th century buggy drivers or teamsters direct this to other people on the road or only to horses?  Unfortunately, road rage is all too frequent today, and we read and hear of curses, hostile looks, fights, mistreatment of vehicles and pets, and even murders on the congested highways today.  Road rage is common, and the conditions that precipitate it even more so. 

     I try to avoid congested places now but had enough impatience in earlier times to suddenly become angry -- though I was often never completely sure the incident was not my own fault. Drivers too often set a limited time to get from one place to destination.  Added  to this desire to travel quickly is a sudden traffic jam due to accident or unexpected event drawing large numbers.  The conditions for the rage were never foreseen and the reaction of the individual driver almost a surprise to him (more often than her).  Sirens and horns may aggravate the circumstances; the constant drum beat of hard rock music that vibrates from other vehicles as we sit at a stop light, or the mere sound of constant traffic could put people in the mood to be impatient and angry -- and thus willing to focus on a driver who fails to give the proper signal. 

     One frustrating sight today is seeing folks talking on cell phones or sending a text message while driving (more and more against the law).  Instances can accumulate and blur into one when the next roadway peccadillo is encountered.  Drivers' patience becomes shorter and then comes the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back.  The traffic stalls and comes to a complete stop, or inches along at starts and stops.  Nerves fray.  The next guy says something that is taken as an insult, and so you do unto him a non-Golden Rule, and exchange escalates rapidly.  He stops his inching vehicle, gets out and comes over with his fists clenched.  You have several alternatives: show the nearby car drivers that you are not afraid and accept the confrontation; roll up the windows, lock the doors and call 911; exit by the other door and abandon the vehicle; beckon for the passenger to take over and confront the aggressor; speak in a mild manner and ask the approaching person to pray with you; offer a toast; or consider the entire scene as a nightmare.

     What is evident is that road rage simmers over time, breaks into the open under certain conditions quite suddenly, can take quite dramatic turns in an instant, and involves a pure stranger. But let's be prepared, for we could be the ones who precipitate difficulties.  Avoid congestion, but when it occurs say a prayer; turn to soft music that beat slower than your heart beats; and smile, for it reduces rage most often -- though not always.

     Prayer: Lord, be our guide in times of sudden confrontation; help us keep our patience and pray the next fellow does the same.








Interfaith garden, Cane Run Meeting House. Paris, KY.
(*photo credit)

May 27, 2016     Globish: A Universal Language

     English is an international language and accepted as such by many in commerce, diplomacy and communications.  Great, but while simple in structure it has a massive vocabulary and a propensity by those using it to show facility by using a number of words for nearly identical meanings in a specific writing.  In some way this makes our language more difficult for second language students and users.  Robert McCrum (The Guardian Weekly, 12/22/06), states that the term "Globish-English-lite" is becoming a universal language of the business world.  This is not "pidgin" or broken English used by natives in non-English parts of the world, but rather the language that non-Anglophone business-persons speak among themselves. 

     Globish was a modified language conceived by Jean-Paul Nerriere as a "world dialect of the third millennium;" it is simplified and unidiomatic.  Globish is certainly an English-lite 1,500-word vocabulary resembling what I.A. Richards did with 850-word "Basic English" for use in China in the 1920s.  Another attempt was "Anglic," but this lacked the use of English words in their common spelling, looks terribly unfamiliar to many, and is a chore for English speakers to spell.  

     Basic English has intrigued me for decades.  Why not have "polite English" spoken by first users when present with non-Anglophones so as not to burden them with meanings they do not understand instantly?  Wouldn't it be more polite to limit our spoken language so that others who are not native English speakers could communicate more easily?  And of course we ought to slow down when speaking.  Why must all the burden of speaking in our nuanced and complex language rest with foreigners?  Let's keep words basic and simple for maximum understanding.

     I have worked as a hobby on a version of basic English for years, though not for the last decade.  My most recent listing of 1,500 basic-Globish words is drawn from various listings and includes all words that have been added to and omitted from the original Globish listing.  A secondary listing of some added American words would be of interest when people are visiting our country (foods, governmental terms, etc.).  A regional listing includes sayings, culinary delights, trees, flowers and wildlife.

     The hope to use "basic Globish" in these reflections did not materialize because automatic translations can deal with a wide number of words.  Some may call it deliberate "straight-jacketing" of addressed subjects.  Certainly, it would take time to select and replace phrases and words.  The "Daily Reflection" normal vocabulary is about ten thousand words with numerous exceptions when discussing one or another technical subject.  One approach is to use more than basic words, but to define additional words by use of basic ones.  That is a goal not yet materialized in 2016.

     Prayer: Lord, help us do our part in sharing English by simplifying it for those using it as a second language.








Fort McPherson National Cemetery. Maxwell, NE.
(*photo credit)

May 28, 2016        Memorial Day and Respectful Memories    

         On this Memorial Day weekend we should give special remembrance to the many who have done so much in our own lives and have now passed on to the Lord.  We often consider Memorial Day as a holiday and forget its serious side.  Or we remember some people and forget the litany of those worth recalling.  Memory fades.

     Military remembrances --  It is generally a day to remember the fighting men and women who have defended our country.  And there are good reasons for being respectful.  Not all wars of our past are remembered with devotion and patriotic sentiments, but the valor of those who were willing to give their lives for our freedoms make these often-young warriors worthy of respect.

     Family remembrances --  Our feeble memories should not forget our own families, and that is why we often couple Decoration Day with Memorial Day -- a time to remember relatives who have gone before us and whose names and important dates are found on tomb stones in the family cemetery.  We pray for their souls and recall important events in their lives.  So often, we know little about our ancestors beyond two or so generations.  With all the tools now available (Internet information, national census data, etc,) we discover a little more about the past and share it with our family.

     Friend remembrances --  As we advance in age, more and more of the friends that we knew in youth, or at various times in life, pass on.  We remain, separated from the company that included these noble souls.  On this week these departed friends should be remembered in prayers and a toast.  Perhaps we could resolve to send an email of remembrance to their spouse or other loved ones.

     Neighbor remembrances -- Expanding our remembrances to the neighborhood will incorporate the acquaintances who were sometimes special friends who have died this past year.  We realize that their next-of-kin are finding today to be a bittersweet holiday, and our special remembrances in the form of a greeting or phone call would be deeply appreciated by those who grieve.

     Historic remembrances -- Some who pioneered our residential areas or who sacrificed for our land are also worth respectful consideration today -- for respect extends to their contributions.
Theirs was not military actions, but they gave of themselves for values that this nation cherishes through sacrifices.

     Educator remembrances -- Others who do not fit into any of the previous categories go back in time many years and include those who sacrificed for our education.  Today is graduation and commencement time; we remember educators who gave us time and energy to make us who we are. 

     Prayer: Lord, our master accountant, you know our memories are getting rusty; we trust that you extend the blessings we have missed on this memorial day, and thanks for those we do recall.







Cinnamon fern, Red River Gorge, KY.
(*photo credit)

May 29, 2016      Corpus Christi and Public Devotion  

     Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death. (I Cor. 11:26)

     In parts of the Catholic world this day involves processions and outward festivities.  These public demonstrations of faith have been historically motivated by the desire to profess the truths contained in the Corpus Christi (the presence of Christ in the Eucharist).  This tradition has never been prominent in America except in certain rural and urban Catholic ethnic areas.  Religiously committed believers are reluctant to confront material secularism through public acts of piety and devotion.  But a public display of faith has deeper meaning.  By participating in a Corpus Christi procession the faithful are more than bystanders.  They testify to their faith to their parish and to neighbors who might observe.  For them, religion is truly worthy of public witnessing. 

     How can we publicly manifest the death and resurrection of Jesus in an increasingly secular world?  Some opt to pray privately in their homes or at liturgical services among fellow believers -- and thus gathering together is a public action.  But should we do more through public proclamation than attend worship on a regular or irregular basis?  We see believers in the Middle East who are called to suffer because of their beliefs at the hands of ISIS, or professed Christians who are restricted in China.  To stand for one's faith really occurs when the Pope visited America or when there is a World Youth Day as in Poland this summer. 

     Public display of devotion to the death and resurrection of the Lord is shown also in the public display of our crucifix -- Christ's suffering on Calvary that continues in space and time.  In some countries, the crucifix is the symbol of others joining with Jesus in his eternal act that transcends space and time.  Those who generously accept God's will in their own lives, enter into the obedience of Jesus' redemptive act through strength and courage.  We can publicly show compassion in this Year of Mercy by participating in public pilgrimage to designated places.

Another form of devotion is to reverently sign ourselves with the cross (finger tips touching head, left and right shoulders and heart).  This public display shows others that we regard food as God's gift.  When former Russian President Yeltsin was lying at state at the Moscow Cathedral he helped rebuild, many who came to pay respects crossed themselves in public as a sign of their prayerfulness (vestiges of Holy Russia).  The world was impressed.

     A third display of piety that is so needed today is the defense of our beliefs that come under attack from quite often unexpected sources, such as those who hold different views about right to life.  The social values debate includes those traveling to pro-life marches and those seeking to abolish the death penalty.

     Prayer: Lord, give us courage to publicly defend our faith.







Bellwort, in full bloom. Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.
(*photo credit)

May 30, 2016   The Gifts of the Holy Spirit

  ...And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)

On the feast of Joan of Arc, a very gifted young French maiden, we could start our early Pentecost season set of reflections on the gifts of the Holy Spirit in our own lives.   
A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse,
   a scion thrusts from his roots:
   on him the spirit of YHWH rests,
   a spirit of wisdom and insight,
   a spirit of counsel and power,
   a spirit of knowledge and fear of YHWH.
   (The fear of YHWH is his breath.)      (Isaiah 11:1-2)

Ordinarily we consider the gifts of the Holy Spirit as personal gifts meant for our individual sanctification; they make us open to be disposed and inspired by the Spirit in our journey of faith.  The community of believers also recognized another area of gifts, that of the "charismata," the extraordinary favors, granted for the help of another (I Cor. 12: 6-11; I Cor. 12: 28-31; Rom. 12: 6-8), such as the speaking in tongues.  However these two sets of gifts are closely associated.

     Sanctification is more than a purely private relationship between God and me; it involves a communal dimension, wherein the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are shared in some way with our neighbor through example and encouragement for their benefit and spiritual growth.  Thus sanctification is a communal and even a global enterprise, for it must be truly "catholic" in outreach -- building up the Kingdom of God of which we are catalytic agents.

Roman Rite Prayer at Confirmation
 All powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
     by water and the Holy Spirit
     you freed your sons and daughters from sin
     and gave them new life.
     Send your Holy Spirit upon them
     to be their helper and guide.
     Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
     the spirit of right judgment and courage,
     the spirit of knowledge and reverence.
     Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.
     We ask this through Christ our Lord.

     The gifts of the Holy Spirit may be applied in a very real sense to our ongoing relationships with others within our community of faith.  The long six-month season of Pentecost that ends the last Sunday of November is the time when we seek to improve our practice of these gifts.  This is an ideal time to reflect on the seven gifts and make them part of our everyday life. 

     Prayer: Lord, help us see our gifts of the Spirit and show our appreciation by allowing them to work within us.










Grandma in the Appalachian garden.
(*photo credit)

May 31, 2016       A Gardener's Ode to Joy

      A well-tended garden is a sign of love, work and care.  Its improvement tells the world about our own personal endeavors to stay healthy and to beautify the landscape.  The garden is our word to the rest of the world.  We are reinvigorated through gardening, and through our ongoing improvements our gardens begin to produce.  The garden invites us in many ways: to get physical exercise through land improvement practices; to take our time and pace ourselves; and to become filled with the privilege to do joyful work --the attractive force of the domestic garden.  From the original Eden trudged our forebears loaded with guilt into a world of stressful toil.  Let's accept the garden's invitation to become reinvigorated and use healthy garden produce to nourish us and improve our health.  

     Prayer: O Creating One, fill our eyes and hearts with the beauty that flowers give when intertwined with growing produce.  Let the sheer delight of edible and flowering plants uplift us above the everyday world, scarred by human-made ugliness and uniformity.  While we cannot escape that world, nor should we try, we still need to rest in beauty for brief moments.  These times give us the courage and the vision to see how the entire scarred world can become healed once more.  Let our delight at this present beauty be praise to You, and inspire us to raise hearts and minds to You in an ever-swelling chorus of praise.  Touch and cultivate the gardens of our hearts, filling them with beauty and grandeur, precious moments to rest in glory's contemplation.  Let these moments be the foreshadowing of eternal delight.  Joyfully, joyfully, we exult You.  Amen.

Copyright © 2016 Earth Healing, Inc. All rights reserved.

Earth Healing team:
Albert J. Fritsch, Director
Charlie Fritsch
Janet Powell
Mark Spencer

Excerpts from the JERUSALEM BIBLE, copyright © 1966 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd. and Doubleday & Company, Inc.  Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

[Privacy statement] | [Accessibility Pledge]

Use FreeTranslation.com to translate this page into