Author Archives: Paul Moore

About Paul Moore

I like to watch the spaces between the things that other people see, the overflowing gaps and the chock-full emptiness.

Where two or three are gathered…

I almost never repost, but this blog is worth it. It reminds me of Jesus’ words cited in the title.

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Over the Labor Day weekend my wife and I took our maiden voyage with a camper trailer. The trailer was not maiden, it is a borrowed “Casita,” but camper camping was new to us. We had the weekend to figure out how to work pumps and dumps, levels and levers. We had a blast.

We camped in the wilderness, out on the back side of the Burros mountains south and west of Silver City. At 5200 feet the vegetation is low chaparral and prairie, and we could see to the Chiricahuas in Arizona. The sunsets were spectacular—the inspiration behind so many New Mexico paintings of layers of mountains of faded shades of grey outlined in orange. And we were entirely alone.

But that word, used in that way, has a very narrow meaning. We never felt lonely. We had the mountains behind us, the bear-grass and chaparral, the quail and doves and other birds, our dogs, and the company of billions of stars each night. What we did not have were other people.

Perhaps loneliness is the unmet need for the company of other people; solitude is the satisfaction of a much broader sense of company.

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Hands Tied

Obama is claiming underfunding as justification for more presidential power in the immigration issue. It’s not clear to me how he will use that power, but I find the back-and-forth on Capitol Hill interesting and distressing. While ICE runs amok with our neighbors to the south who are fleeing for their lives, our decision-makers banter back and forth about homeland security and humanitarianism, tea party-style heavy-handedness and infinite bureaucracy. They puff up and strut like so many banty roosters all crowing from their corner of the chicken yard, while the guinea hens, fleeing from the fox in the neighbor’s hen-house, sneak in around the corners hoping not to be noticed while they snatch a bite or two.

I would think that the farmer is looking on with amusement and dismay while he collects guinea eggs.

I think they’ve tied their own hands.

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I visited recently with the president and VP for Student Affairs of Western New Mexico University. We were discussing ways that the United Campus Ministry could be involved in the lives of students of the University to their benefit, especially spiritual. The president indicated that there were some clergy in town with whom he would rather not work. His interest is in developing and strengthening the spirituality of the students as a vital part of who they are as people, and he did not think some of the clergy in town did this. Theirs, he said, was a religious agenda, not a spiritual one.

He is a perceptive man. How many people have told you that they were spiritual and not religious? The religious community has created the question, having forgotten for too long the difference between spirituality and religion. We can all perform religious actions without spiritual depth behind them, and the hypocrisy of it taints the name of religion and sends these people to find spirituality elsewhere.

Spirituality is essential to being human. It is part of our make-up. Religion is one way that spirituality is expressed. To the degree that a religion does not express spirituality in a healthy, life-giving way it betrays its purpose and violates its people. To the degree that a religious tradition enhances, enriches and enlarges a person’s spirituality it grounds human living in the divine ground of our being and transforms the world for good.

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Here I Stand

These are the famous words attributed to Martin Luther while he was on trial for his beliefs in the 16th century. He had come to the conclusion of the arguments, down to the bedrock of his convictions, and he would take whatever the Papacy dealt out on the matter. As a people whose history pivots on a “Declaration of Independence,” it resonates deeply with the American soul.

U. S. Rep Scott Perry (R-PA) told small business owners that the Republicans had demanded that Congress delay its August recess to push through a law that would appropriate $694M on border security in the face of the immigration situation. “This is what we stand for,” he told them.

I respect that Mr. Perry has taken a stand, but that’s not where I stand. I stand for worldwide peace, not just for the American people. I stand for compassion for people fleeing for their lives from gang and drug violence in which we have played a part to create. I stand for a United States that is truly a mosaic of the millions that have come to this continent from other lands to seek their fortunes, now as well as in the past, and have contributed enormously to the life and well-being of our society (it never was a melting pot.)

And I am not alone. “Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants…” –Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1938, speaking before the Daughters of the American Revolution.

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Next month a variety of organizations will all converge on the Gila River and the town of Silver City for the Gila River Festival. The Gila Wilderness was the first so designated in the United States, and celebrates its 90th birthday this year. The River Festival celebrates the last free-flowing wilderness river in New Mexico, and seeks to keep it that way.

This year the powers that be are adding an additional element. On Saturday, September 20th, a Water Medicine Wheel will be constructed just downstream of the Mogollon Campground. This is a cornmeal and stone mandala celebrating the power of water in the lifecycle of the planet and in our lives. I was there today with the man who will build it. He is psyched…

So what does water mean to us? In the Southwest it is life. It can also be death. We can save it, waste it, muddy it and clean it, like time. Water makes up the vast majority of our bodies, and covers the vast majority of the surface of our planet. Without water we die.

Water is a symbol of birth, of death, of cleansing, of renewal, of growth and of purging. Everything from the Red Sea to Baptism to water burial in the Himalayas is incorporated into this arctypal substance. All this is commemorated in a Water Medicine Wheel.

So next time you pour yourself a drink of water from the tap, stop, lift the glass and give thanks for water.

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Governor Martinez said in today’s Sun City News that 71 more people from the detention center in Artesia have been repatriated. She said that the people had been given “full due process.”

The article goes on to say that these comments stand in contrast to some “volunteer attorneys who said federal officials weren’t allowing immigrants to have access to proper legal representation.” That is the truth. I heard it last night from three of them who are eye witnesses. These refugees from homes they loved arrive with almost no command of English. They are recorded, and they are put before a computer screen to talk to a judge in Maryland, who hands down a decision. Volunteer attorneys are working with these people from 7 in the morning until 1 in the morning, and then repeating it the next day, and the next day, and the next day, to try to get them some defense before the law that is more than a sham. In a holding cell in Las Cruces described as “una hielera,” an icebox, the woman interviewed went without food for 24 hours. When she asked for food the INS officer in charge told her, “If you want food you’re going to have to lick my boots.” This is hardly “full due process.”

Unless Martinez can show that the 71 people shipped back to their impossible situations were exceptions to the above, she’s lying. It is still a contradiction of cosmic proportions to send these people back to communities where they live under siege—the good people of Iraq were no worse off when we invaded to ostensibly liberate them from oppression. Yet we shunt these people back into their dangerous misery and feel proud. The “fast track” deportation system is a circumvention of the law and a dismissal of the equality and human rights for which we as a nation stand.

Ok, yes, I’m angry.

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