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Posts Tagged ‘prayers’

Pilgrimage Statistics 

Consecutive Days Riding:  96                                         Days Blogged: 92 

New Mileage: 10                                                         Total Trip Mileage: 751

Before I climbed on the bike this afternoon I checked on the current situation in Haiti. The level of suffering continues unabated, although there is reason for hope.  The response of the people and governments around the world grows daily and help is on the way.  This event has called forth the best qualities of people of all faiths, including their compassion for those suffering and in desperate need of physical assistance.  However, this response has been tainted by talk show hosts and politicians who speak of this unfortunate event in political terms with angry, devisive voices.

Anger holds us back and pins us down!

Every Monday night I watch as my youngest son raises his right hand in a scout sign and takes the Boy Scout oath:”On my honor , I will do my best,  to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law. To help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”  Recently my oldest son raised his right hand and took an oath to: “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same… so help me God.”

On my honor, I will do my best!

 How can we ask our sons and daughters to swear to be honest and obedient, to put others before themselves even to the point of sacrificing their lives, when at the same time we have individuals who get in front of a microphone and a faceless audience and then spew forth anger, hatred and words of division.

 I spoke recently of Pat Robertson and Brett Hume and their words of devisivensss.  Now Rush Limbaugh has joined in by accusing president Obama of using the current crisis as a way to boost his credibility with the African-American community.  In addition, talk show host Glen Beck stated that he believes President Obama is “dividing the nation” because he has “reacted so rapidly on Haiti” but “couldn’t do the same on Afghanistan.”  Beck notes that this “doesn’t make sense to him.”  I have to shake my head in disbelief at his reasoning and logic.  Does a war that has been underway for seven years demand the same quick decision process that a crisis costing possibly thousands of lives an HOUR demands?  Doesn’t  a war that was underfunded and understaffed for so many years deserve a methodical venting of options and opinions?

He has rights, but do we have to tolerate his smoke?

Several of my of blog viewers made comments about Pat Robertson’s right to share his beliefs that Haiti’s difficulties were in part due to a “pact with the devil.”  One of my viewers noted that he was simply expressing beliefs that fit closely to some Christians’ worldview.  I defend the right of any of these individuals to express their beliefs.  However, I take exception to the timing and the ultimate  consequences associated with these comments.  We have a right to speak our minds, but we also have responsibilities that go with those rights.  I believe it is unfortunate that these individuals, who sit in front of microphones find it necessary to say bombastic and troubling things, for the purpose of creating controversity with no apparent thought of the consequences such comments may produce.  In fact, Rush Limbaugh in a recent discussion with the caller noted that he prides himself on the negative reactions he generates and that he purposely produces a “media tweak of the day.” He professed that he “enjoyed “ the outrage he created and that: “when people start squealing like pigs is when I know I’ve hit a home, I love upsetting them!”

Several years ago I sat in a meeting of a group who was angered by the actions of the local school board.  The woman leading the group got up and proclaimed: “ Look at how angry the other side is with our statements and protest, we must be right if they’re that angry!”  I thought then, as I think now listening to Rush Limbaugh, don’t they realize the  absurdity of their reasoning?  I’m sure I could make some bombastic statement about things they value (e.g. religious beliefs, political ideology, the performance of former presidents) that would have them “ up in arms.”  Does that mean what I said was necessarily true… No!

Words can sooth or create wounds!

Bombastic inflammatory remarks certainly get attention and they can arouse emotions but they also “poison the well” of public discourse and drive wedges into our communities.  All of the great religious teachers say that what we speak is important. We are told to not bear false witness, and not express negative thoughts and emotions. We are told that our actions matter, and that the ends DO NOT justify the means.

Let our words calm, not inflame!

How can we ask our youth to embrace the oaths they recite, even to the point of giving their own lives for the causes of our nation, if we can’t display those same virtues towards each other?  We ALL, whether labeling ourselves conservative or liberal, must find a way to express our opinions without purposely creating anger and divisiveness.  I pray for the people of Haiti and for the brave rescuers.  I pray for the demagogues who wrap themselves in their self-righteousness, collect their big paychecks and turned a blind eye to the suffering they create. May the Divine open their eyes to see a path toward love and compassion. 

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Pilgrimage Statistics 

Consecutive Days Riding:  85                              Consecutive Days Blogging: 86 

Today’s Mileage: 6                                              Total Trip Mileage: 701

Candle Offering!

A brief posting on this third day of the New Year.  I got up in church today and offered a prayer candle during the “Joys and Concerns” portion of the service.  It was embedded among a chorus of offerings: joy and celebration at health renewed, kittens who have found a home, a visit by grandparents; sadness at a sudden death and the presence of a growing illness. I returned to my seat greeted by the caring gaze and smiles of friends and wrote the following poem:

 

Remembrance and Protection

I lit one candle

     It carried two prayers

One of Remembrance

     For someone I never knew

     A voice offered up in song

          Ten years ago today

          He drew his last breath

    I know him by those he touched

    By the seed of a future he planted

         In a wife and a daughter

One for Protection

     For an eldest son

     Soon to wear a warrior’s mantle

          Eighteen years ago

          He drew his first breath

     I’ve known his touch and smile

     He carries my seed

         And one half of my future

 

Perhaps an explanation is in order.  I know that none of us achieve immortality.  I do not know what happens after we die.  Do we somehow continue or just cease to be?  I feel certain that we live on into the future through the seeds we plant , the memories created and the wisdom passed on to those who follow us, especially our children.  My eldest son therefore carries one half of my future, my youngest son the other half.  I hope that they have the opportunity to pass mine and their seeds onto their sons and daughters. Till the memories fade and the seeds of my wisdom are all that remain.

Our most precious gift to those who follow!

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 52                             Consecutive Days Blogging: 53

Today’s Mileage:  12                                        Total Trip Mileage: 462

I ride the bike today with a sense of sadness concerning the four police officers who were gunned down on Sunday.  I study the photos of their dedicated faces and read of the families left behind. I wish there was something I could do to take away their loss and pain. But as I know from experience, having sat with grieving friends and clients, there is little we can do.  We cannot bring back their loved one, we cannot grant them one more smile, hug or kiss from the departed.  We can not make everything “right again,” we cannot turn back time.

Honoring four fallen heros.

Riding for the fallen.

I will leave a prayer for the officers and their families under my prayer flag and be reminded how fortunate  I am for every breath I take, every beautiful scene and smiling face I see as I continue on my journey. I pray that the families have neighbors, friends, loved ones and spiritual communities to comfort them in this time of need. I hope their spiritual beliefs  carry them through this difficult time and give them a purpose to continue. I hope there comes a day when they can let go of the biting pain and find a way to carry memories of their loved one with a smile and thankfulness for the time they shared. But that is down the road.  We must give them time to grieve this tragic loss.  Please hold them in your prayers.

Roadside reminders.

None of us know when our death will come and how it will happen. I hope to take my last breath surrounded by family and friends at the end of a long, joyful life.  Each day I spend hours commuting, speeding past road side memorials that act as testimonials to daily dangers. I know too many people, younger then myself who are no longer with us, taken by cancer or heart attacks.  I have a son who will enter the Army in the new year. Then I must live with the possibility of a knock on the door by a pair of officers with news no parent should have to hear.

We don’t have a choice of when or how we will die.  We only have a choice of how we will live!  We can not bring back the dead, but we can choose how we will carry on with their memory.  I have a friend whose life reads like a tragic novel.  Her mother died when she was very young, her step-mother brutalized her and her father turned a blind eye.  In youth she turned to church leaders for guidance, they offered her only sexual advances.  At 18 she ran away with a “kind man” who turned out to be an abuser, but he gave her a loving son.  She broke free of the abusive relationship, stood on her own two feet, fended off sexual advances from clergy and employers and moved to find a new life.

A child's guardian

One night her loving compassionate teenage son was gunned down on his bike while riding home from the store.  Two teenagers with a handgun, just taking pot shots at shadows, took her son away from her.  It’s been 15 years since she buried him.  She lives in constant pain and sadness, alcohol deadens her loss.  She is dying from grief and liver disease. She pleads for answers, sometimes asking God for strength, at other times she rails against him with insistent “Whys?”

She made a choice to place her suffering at the center of her life, instead of choosing to find meaning in the joyful memories of her son and finding ways to share them with the world.  Life dealt her one too many blows and she has never recovered.  I share her story with you  in hope that you, as I have, will find a lesson in it so that some good may come out of her suffering.

Keep hope alive!

If I were with the families of the police officers,  I would not offer them advice to lessen the  loss.  I would simply be a comforting, physical presence and offer a hug and a shoulder  to lean on.

That is what they need right now as they start this long, treacherous journey of recovery.  I pray the families and friends of the four police officers will find a way over time to rise above their grief and loss. I hope  they lift up the memories of their loved ones high,like a bright light for all to see.

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 35                               Consecutive Days Blogging: 36

Today’s Mileage:  7                                            Total Trip Mileage: 311

 stage6

     There are times in life when we are faced with an event that we cannot avoid and for which we have made all of the prescribed preparations.  It might be surgery, a big test, the return of a loved one, or a phone call about a job, to name just a few.  We may have said our prayers and activated our support system of family and friends but then what do we do?  Ruminating, worrying, and making last minute changes to our planned response can be problematic.  Some people will continue with prayer while others might try some distracting activity.  In such situations I often simply “take a walk.” 

     Not only is the movement calming but my attention shifts to my immediate surroundings, to the beauty, the complexity, the activity literally “under my feet” and at the edge of the pathway.  Such walks are not only distracting, but they  act as a reminder of our connection with the larger and smaller worlds around us.  Such walks help us to put things into perspective and to be joyful for what we have… the opportunity to take another step down the path and receive the gifts of the divine!

Mindful Footfalls

bee

Bee with flower

   Cosmic spotlight stretched

    By the lakes reflective surface

      Streams through

        The sparse spring foliage

Lift… Stretch… Drop… One

  Sounds of a distant struggle

    Between a squirrel

chipmonk

Stuffed chipmonk

      And a blackbird

        Rages on unseen

Lift… Stretch… Drop… Two

  Tap-tap-tap

    Of a woodpecker

      Scarring the face of a cedar home

        In search of carpenter bees

 
 
 

flowers

Daylilies

Lift… Stretch… Drop… Three

 

  Who-who-who

    An inquisitor questions

     Is it an owl or a loon?

      Who inquires of my identity?

Lift… Stretch… Drop… Four

  The air is still

    The only breeze

butterfly

Butterfly on Bark

      Barely noticeable

        Is the product of my passage.

Lift… Stretch… Drop… Five

  Winged insects

    Large and small

      Hover and dart about

        In the bright sunlight.

Lift… Stretch… Drop… Six

 Spiders

  Hanging from oak branches

     Dangle motionless

dragonfly

Dragonfly

        On near invisible threads.

Lift… Stretch… Drop… Seven

  Nature’s perfume counter

    The sweet smell

      Of honeysuckle and jasmine

        Fill the air.

Lift… Stretch… Drop… Eight

flowers2

Pink Passion

  A pair of daddy-long-legs

    Climb to the highest vantage point

      Of a young oak shoot

        To view my passage.

Lift… Stretch… Drop… Nine

  All this and

    I haven’t even walked

flowersbee

Not the same bee

      A dozen steps

        On my morning journey.

Lift… Stretch… Drop… Ten

  All this and

    I haven’t even

      Made it to the lake

        And it’s sandy shoreline.

Lift… Stretch… Drop… Eleven

bluebirdthumb by rodney cammauf nps  What sensual feasts

    Lie ahead?

Lift… Stretch… Drop…

     I hope you have enjoyed the poem and the images.  Remember to hold your family, friends and our world community in your prayers and then, instead of waiting for the day to unfold, I suggest you “take a walk!” Tomorrow I will blog on the topic of mysticism as a prelude to our Pilgrimage Site visit on Sunday of the most mystical of all the world faiths.

Special thanks to my student Caroline Carvile for the use of her nature walk photos!

 

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding:  33                              Consecutive Days Blogging: 34

Today’s Mileage: 7                                           Total Trip Mileage: 299

stage6

Holidays and Holy Days on November 11:

Veterans Day (USA) 

_______________________________________

     As I ride today my thoughts go out to the family and friends of the Fort Hood soldiers who were honored yesterday for their sacrifice. As a Vietnam Era veteran it gives me a sense of pride to see our President at the memorial service for these fallen warriors, just as it did to see him honoring the fallen from Afghanistan with an early morning salute at Dover Air Force base.

  091029-obama-hlrg-4a_hlarge   No matter what you feel and think about the President or about the two wars we are currently fighting, I hope you will honor the soldiers who are putting their lives on the line.

WWI1

World War 1 Memorial

 Today is Veterans Day. Instead of visiting scenes and sites along the pilgrimage route, we will do a virtual tour of a number of the Veteran Memorials in Washington DC.  I have decided to not include any memorial sites pertaining to the Civil War or Revolutionary War.  Both wars have a number of prominent battlefield Remembrance sites but we will stop at these along Pilgrimage routes at some future time. 

marine mem

WW2 Marine Memorial

      It seems to me  the most poignant sites are those commemorating conflicts in which veterans who fought and sacrificed are still alive. Very soon our collective memories of WW1 will be just that, memories, as no one will be alive to personalize it for us.  They will become just another series of photos in the history books, or scenes in our video archives.

KWar

Korean War Memorial

A quick study of history shows that wars are fought for many different reasons. But the “boots” on the front line, or in the aircraft, or on the ships do the fighting and make the sacrifices.  It is only fitting that we, as a people and nation, honor their efforts.  I ponder with great sadness the potential works of art, the scientific discoveries, and great leaders we lost with the death of so many young people.  We live on, laugh, love and enjoy the fruits of our efforts because of their sacrifices.

Vietnamsoldiers2

Vietnam War Memorial

     Even for those who returned home alive there were sacrifices such as the loss of limbs, loss of innocence, and emotional scars which are carried for the remainder of their lives. I worked with vets in the VA Hospital who were haunted by their service on the shores of Normandy, the frozen hillsides of Korea, and the jungles of Vietnam.   Joining in now with memories and scars are new brothers and sisters in arms from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Hold all of them in your thoughts and prayers.

tomb2

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

   Besides community and national sites of remembrance many of us also have family memories of service.  My grandfather was a WW1 Army vet, two uncles were WW2 Army vets, my father was a Korean War Navy vet, a cousin was a Vietnam War vet, and I am a Vietnam era Navy vet.  We were lucky that all returned home alive and unharmed.  Far too many families had to place “gold star flags” in their windows, indicating that a family member was not returning home alive. Today we honor all veterans, living and dead for their service and sacrifice.  Thank you… carry on soldier!

 

2004-5MemorialNightPillars2

Night View of World War 2 Memorial

 

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 28                               Consecutive Days Blogging: 29

Today’s Mileage: 10                                             Total Trip Mileage: 265

stage6

       I ride the bike today with a heavy heart!  I often tell my students that one should strive to be certain but humble. Certain in what you believe, but humble in the fact that your beliefs do not fit for everyone else. 

      There is an additional reason to be humble, the fact that none of us knows what the future holds. A phone call, or news story can sometimes knock us back on our heels putting our successes and failures/losses into a wider perspective.

     Someone who I love dearly, someone I helped to bring into this world and guided for the first years of his life, continues to venture farther onto thin ice!  He is either ignorant of or thrilled by the danger signs, the sounds of cracking and the ever-expanding  jagged fingers radiating out with every foot step.  I hold him in my thoughts and carry him in my prayers.  There is nothing else I can do.  My words hold no meaning for him, my love is apparently experienced as a burden.

 

thin-ice-crust

Danger Thin Ice!

 

 His choices are saddening, but I have chosen to not let them be maddening!  I am on a journey, joined by family, friends, students and strangers. I hope and pray that someday my son will walk with me on a somewhat parallel path, but that is his choice alone.  Perhaps he follows a different drummer, perhaps he needs to fall through the ice ! Please hold him in your thoughts and prayers.

helmet and boots

     I also carry a profound sense of sadness for the families and friends of the soldiers killed at Ft. Hood yesterday.  As a veteran myself I know how soldiers and their loved ones must prepare for the possibility of death at the hands of an enemy or a tragic accident.  But when the death is delivered from within their own ranks, from within their brotherhood it is particularly troubling.

      We will hear lots of talk about the motives for this act. Did the Army fail to hear the attacker’s pleas for help with his personal struggles? Was he religiously motivated?  Are his actions indicative of larger problems within our society?  This will become fodder for the Ego inflated talking heads on the radio and TV, whether they are for or against the current wars.  This will be used by the religiously intolerant and ignorant, who will cast it as an “us versus them”, Christian versus Muslim issue. 

     All of that aside, let us not forget the loss and profound sadness of the family, friends, and community during this troubling event. These were our country’s brave sons and daughters, the shooter was American born and raised, he too was one of us!  We will make what sense we can of this, we will visit our churches, mosques and temples, light our candles and incense, say our prayers, shed our tears and “carry on” like good soldiers and citizens. It will be more difficult for those close to the victims and the shooter. Hold them all in your prayers and remember to forgive!

goose

Loner!

     Walking along the shoreline of Lake Hartwell several years ago I wrote the following poem.   Somehow it seems appropriate for today.

Why did he?

A single goose

  moves frantically

    across the water

      crying out

        in a pleading voice

Is he lost

  is he sick

    is he just a late sleeper

      or was he purposely left behind

        by the others

For a cadre

  of his brothers and sisters

    passed this way

      in an orderly fashion

        and leisurely pace

          over a quarter hour ago

****

geese

Gone Before!

 

 I am steering towards the coastline, we will enter Miami from the beach and visit another pilgrimage site this weekend.  Thank you for joining me today!

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 19                              Consecutive Days Blogging: 20

Today’s Mileage: 11                                            Total Trip Mileage: 192

     I mount my bike today with mixed feelings.  I am approaching the milestone of three weeks riding, feeling physically stronger but mentally adrift.  I believe I’ve let the focus of this journey wander over the past week.  Due to computer problems I was unable to get my map posted, causing me to ride but without any sense of where I was heading.  Identifying new pilgrimage sites has proven to be more of a challenge then I had anticipated. Even with the internet it is difficult to separate serious and worthy sites from simple roadside attractions and tourist traps. In addition, I am trying to be open and pluralistic about what constitutes a sacred site. At the same time I do not want the definition to be too broad. When I’m faced with such confusion I often respond by doing the physical thing and just ride.  

     One of my favorite sayings is “Be certain, but humble!”  I often tell my students that it is important to understand and explore your belief system so that you can be certain what it is you believe and what principles guide your behavior. I believe this same process of exploration should lead us to be humble as we realize that we are not that different from other people, with respect to desires and struggles, and that our personal belief system may not fit for anyone but ourselves. I realize this represents my pluralistic belief: There are many paths to the peak (goal) and all have truth (get you there).  The critical question is not which one has the exclusive truth, but which one fits for you.

     Of this I am certain, I am meant to be on this journey, on the stationary bike, seeking out pilgrimage sites and sharing it with others.  I am humbled by the fact that I have wandered aimlessly for a short time perhaps leaving my readers wondering where I was taking them. I feel this wandering represents a danger of any pilgrimage, you get distracted, by external beauty and/or internal doubts, and you leave the path without recognizing the fact.  It’s humbling that no matter how much education, knowledge or experience one has, no matter how much certainty you start a trip with, at some point anyone can suddenly realize they have exited the road they intended to stay on.  It’s clear to me that it is time to shift out of mountain dirt bike mode and return to the highway.

     Here’s what will happen in the next several days.  I’ll return to posting a daily map and will include more thumbnail photos of what we would see on the ride.  I want us to have at least a passing perception of the places we would be traveling through as if we were actually on the road.  Rather than being selective about the Pilgrimage Sites at this point we will just visit places along the way and decide on specific criterion for future sites as we go.  As I am procuring a number of books that maybe helpful, I hope there will come a time when people from the locale we are visiting will provide some assistance with site identification.

     On a more personal note I have been preoccupied with the suffering and struggles of a number of family, friends and strangers.  As often happens, even when you are a trained therapist, you come to realize that there is little you can do to help them.  At times like these all you can do is offer a prayer for their safety and guidance and hold them in your daily thoughts.  For this reason I will be adding an additional page to the Blog.  It will be called the Pilgrim’s Prayer flag and will be a page where anyone can go and leave a prayer request for themselves, for others, and/or a prayer of praise and thanks.  I will post a Blog on the topic of prayer and explain the Prayer flag concept later this week.  This feature should help me stay focused on the journey while at the same time acknowledging those people in my life and world who I am concerned for and carry in my thoughts.  I hope visitors to the site will take advantage of this feature to share their concerns and needs and “lighten their loads!”

     Remains a mystery

     What in the world!

     A strange creature

     Dashed in front of

     The metal monster

     I propelled down the road.

     Was it a skinny rabbit?

     Or a tailless squirrel?

     It ducked into the bushes

     Before I could tell.

**** 

   Hope you enjoy the poem I wrote this morning as I pulled onto campus. Thank you for visiting the site today and I hope you will “stick with me” as our Pilgrimage journey unfolds!

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