Author Archives: watchingthespaces

About watchingthespaces

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

Heart

Someone told me yesterday that a smuggler of people had been apprehended and his “cargo” released.  Among those in his care was a 12 year old Honduran girl who was being held against her will.  Two explanations come to mind:  The smuggler is holding her for ransom, or the smuggler has “buyers” for young girls for the sex industry.

Yesterday the Senate passed a bill broadening legal powers to find and release people held in the sex industry against their will, and to castigate those who hold them.  A fund of millions of dollars is being set up to pay for medical and psychological help for those released.  And the vote was highly unusual for our Government.  It was unanimous.

That gives me hope that at least there are some corners of our world where unanimity for justice and compassion rises to the surface.  Maybe, just maybe, that kind of heart can now extend to those who are fleeing mortal violence their home countries against their will can get a just and compassionate response when they arrive on our shores.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Earth Day

Red the earth of Adam’s making

Stains the ground from which our loving

Feels the bounds of human knowing

Of the lifeblood ever giving.

Green the tendrils ever spreading

O’er the orb of Adam’s keeping

Feeding hungry mouths desiring

God’s communion ever living

Now the earth my hands are taking

Flesh of flesh myself I’m seeing

Rocky bones of mountains climbing

Heavenward now inward shining

Love, the ground of my creating

Love, the green of tendrils creeping

Love, the rocky mountains rising

Love of God creation making

Eyes too small to see forgiving

Hands too weak to hold the flowering

Who am I but one more giving

Of the lifeblood for my singing

One who holds the worlds enduring

Gives of life and love forgiving

And our hearts of bone are breaking

For communion life sustaining

Love, the soil of my own making

Greens the desert of my speaking

Life of God is now fulfilling

Earth of Adam’s red creating.

Love, the ground of my creating

Love, the green of tendrils creeping,

Love the rocky mountains rising

God of all creation loving.

 prm Earth Day, 2015

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Slavery

Yesterday’s paper reported a migrant smuggler’s ship overturned off the coast of Libya.  Bangladeshi migrants were on board, many of them locked in holds.  28 survivors and 24 bodies had been pulled from the water, but estimates by survivors put the total number of people on board at between 500 and 950.   The sea bed off Libya can be 3 miles deep, far too deep for divers, so the death toll will probably never be known.  So far this year 35,000 people immigrated to Europe and 900 documented people died trying.  Those are the ones we know about.

300 years ago slave ships from Africa headed to all parts of the world also crammed unknown numbers of human beings into holds.  Many died of illness, exhaustion, starvation and thirst.  I’m sure a few sank beneath the waves when ships didn’t make it.

The difference between now and 300 years ago is that now people are seeking ways of moving whereas slavers in the 18th century hunted their prey down and forced them onboard.  The similarities, however, outweigh the differences.  The whole endeavor is still driven by the economy.  In both cases the immigrants often end up being the victims.  If they survive the journey work is often hard to find, low paying and demeaning.  Unscrupulous people take advantage of their ignorance and take what little resources and dignity they have preserved.  Governments wage war against them.  Prejudice and hatred marginalize them from the societies in which they hoped to have an opportunity for a better life.

If we’re really going to do something about poverty in the world maybe the first thing we can open is our hearts.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Memory

Sherriff Joe Arpaio, called the “toughest sheriff in the nation,” has just had his wings trimmed again.  He tried to get a court order that permanently bars his officers from detaining people solely on the basis of race narrowed and his petition was denied.  He is known as one of the most blatant officers of the law to utilize racial profiling as the only basis for detaining people, and he has targeted Hispanics.

Hmm…from the little bit of research I did he is an Italian immigrant from Naples.  Italians suffered heavy racial discrimination earlier last century, especially in the east.  Has he forgotten or is he trying to get even by picking on someone he sees as weaker?

How short our memories of the actual facts, are, how long our memories of our feelings are!

Maybe wisdom is being able to know the difference.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Just War

On the website of Bishop Oscar Cantú of the Roman Catholic diocese of Las Cruces the diocesan seal is on one side of the header and Our Lady of Guadalupe is on the other.  In  the story of Guadalupe a conquered Indian man ends up telling the Bishop what to do.  Part of the meaning of that story is a statement about war.  The Spaniards had conquered the Aztec empire through greater technology, ingenuity and a lot of deception motivated by greed for gold–hardly a just war.

Bishop Cantú recently participated in a dialog at the United Nations on Nuclear Warfare and the Moral Compass.  He reiterated his church’s position that nuclear war produces only victims, not winners.  For a war to be justified the waging of it must be able to discriminate between combatants and non-combatants, something for which nuclear weapons are notorious failures.  It raises the whole question of just war.

When one reads the stories of the first books of the Bible, anytime anyone went to war they claimed the moral high ground or divine mandate as their motive.  One can deduce other motives:  Abraham whups four kings in order to retrieve his nephew Lot from captivity.  The bunch of Hebrews cross the Red Sea and land in the midst of hostile people unwilling to share land with a motley band of runaway slaves.  They would soon have been overrun and resold to Egypt where they would probably have been summarily executed had they not waged wars of self-protection.  If indeed the Exodus displays the power of God on behalf of the downtrodden and oppressed, such an ending would negate any claims by Yahweh to be the defender of the defenseless.  Similarly, if King David had not beaten up on the Philistines, whose control of iron was so strategic in his day, the nation of Israel and all they stood for about a God of history and not just agricultural cycles would have been lost.

But these are arguments from the winning side.  Winners are always easy to justify.  When one lives in the moment of hostility such hindsight is unavailable.  So how about now?

The problem with the argument of combatants vs. non-combatants is that it is dependent on a European tradition of war-making.  Such cultural structures do not hold in other parts of the world.  When warring clans of Waorani waged revenge spearing raids on neighboring settlements, if a woman was threatened and a spear was handy she would just as quickly thrust it into the belly of her attacker as her husband.  To generalize further, are all the women who worked as Rosie the Riveter combatants in WWII or not?  They certainly made a significant contribution to the effort.  The demarcation of combatants vs. non-combatants is notoriously blurry.

What did Jesus mean by “turn the other cheek?”  What does it symbolize when he did not resist arrest?  What does he mean in the Gospel of John when it seems clear that this is the path HE chooses?  In the early church martyrdom was seen as the greatest testimony to the saving grace of Jesus than anything else.  A church father of no mean standing, Tertulian, wrote a great work at the end of the second century defending Christianity and demanding that it be recognized as a legitimate religious tradition within the Roman Empire.  In Chapter 50 one reads the famous quote, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

Could a war be waged like Jesus waged it against sin by stretching his arms out on the cross?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Righteous War

We look with bafflement at the belligerencies in the Middle East, at Sunni and Shia Muslims beating bloodily on one another. We shake our heads and wonder why they don’t get it, that the human conscience is essentially free, unbent even under the threat of death, and surprisingly immune to coercion.  Truly, it saddens me when people of faith go to war for their beliefs.  They have made of their theology an idol, have worshipped the creature rather than the Creator, and worse, the creature is a work of their own hands.

But let us not forget three things:  First, these are not self-evident truths that are glaringly obvious to anyone with a brain in their heads.  They are lessons it took the Christian world 100 years to learn in some of the bloodiest battles Europe has ever known.  We suffered divisions that have not been healed and self-induced trauma that haunts us to this day.  Let us look on our fellow human beings locked in these struggles with understanding.

Second, we aren’t done beating on one another in the name of Christ.  Our culture and our laws do not permit the warfare we see elsewhere, but they do not inhibit what I have called our Christian Al-Qaeda, who browbeat, belittle, and berate those who do not agree with us, to the extent of death threats, economic isolation, and hazing (yes, these things happen in our “Christian” society as well).  Let us look on our fellow human beings with humility.

Finally, the U. S. military is involved in air strikes against an Islamic group.  We may not frame the conflict in religious terms, but they do.  Through their eyes we are the agents of Shaitan, the Evil One, embodied in western culture, who fight to the death with the Righteous Few.  Whether we like it or not, we are embroiled in a religious war.  We are complicit.  Let us look on our fellow human beings with compassion.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Here and There

There is an article in today’s paper about the power company having hearings concerning closing a couple of power plants in Farmington.  Now, Silver City, where I live, is in the middle of the southwest quadrant of New Mexico, and Farmington is about as close to the Four Corners as you can get and still be in a town.  What in the world is PNM doing holding a hearing here about what they want to do there?  It’s because PNM is a big power company that supplies power all over the state.  The closing of two power plants in Farmington affects the electric rates in Silver City. In today’s world you have to think on a global level.

On the other hand there is a nice front-page picture feature about girl scouts who visited the High Desert Humane Society and volunteered washing dogs and feeding and cleaning kennels.  This little visit is a great example of local people getting involved on the local level to help the quality of life of the local community.  We need to act locally, buy locally, eat locally, sponsor local businesses, invest locally.  When we know the people who grow our food the food tastes differently to the soul.  Distant food grown by faceless people is devoid of a certain dimension of reality.

Thinking globally and acting locally takes education and a commitment to spend a little more.  But I think it also helps to think about things differently.  When we put our relationships in an eternal perspective we have a harder time being violent.  When we locate the world spiritually we have a harder time raping the earth.  The ultimate global thinker is the one who sees creation (and one’s self) through the eyes of our Source, and the love that motivates Creation.  Then the whole world is important, and what appears right in front of me is the available way of influencing the whole.  In other words, I love the person in front of me in order to make the world more loving.  I buy locally in order to fill the world with more soul.  I listen to what is happening in Farmington in order to make the world more just.

One tiny candle still has the power to dispel the darkness from a whole room.  Every act of goodness is global.  Every act of truth is universal.  Every act of beauty is eternal.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized