Author Archives: Blogmaster

Pick a Mantra

by Jill Schroder

Instead of making New Year’s resolutions and then not keeping them, what if we decided to pick a mantra? The current issue of Future Crunch, my favorite good news publication and source of much valuable and encouraging information, suggests just that: Pick a Mantra.

They suggest choosing one word that resonates for you, and making it your focus for the year – a guide, a touchstone, something to return to.  For a number of reasons the editors chose Optimism.  Not blind, or pollyanna optimism, but realistic, compassionate, courageous optimism. When I thought about picking a mantra what came to mind for me and for the year ahead was Simplify.

I love the ring of it, the flavour, the effect on my body when I feel into what that could mean for me and how it could manifest in my life.  And this is especially nice, even startling, because not that long ago Simplify meant ‘give up’, ‘stop doing’, ‘slow down…’  it felt like a lot of “shoulds” being laid on me — with all the fun taken away!  That’s a bit of an exaggeration but if I had been asked to pick a mantra five years ago, it would definitely not have been this one.

Why Simplify?  What does it mean, where does it reside, how does it resonate? First of all, I’d like to cull.…in many areas of my life.  I love passing on, getting rid of, consolidating, organizing.  It’s always easy.  For example, take the things I really like but never use.  Simplify would be a helpful, gentle guide when I get down to it: clothes, files, family pictures, stuff in general.

Then there’s my schedule, activities, use of time. Simplify would help me assess, with compassion and kindness, what really matters… day to day, and on through the year – activism, food, exercise, contribution, mind-body-spirit balance…

Plastic Pollution is the new focus of the Green Team in my building.  We are trying raise awareness, and encourage people to face this huge problem – reducing the amount of plastic that we use, especially single use. Have a look at A Plastic Voyage, a depressing yet inspiring documentary made by the daughter of a resident in our building. Simplify would help me, help us all, take a closer look at our consumer choices.  Little things done often by us all add up to a significant difference.

And then this biggie arrived today, Salient Facts and Actions regarding climate change.  In a nutshell it comes down to Fly less, Drive less, Eat less meat (especially beef). We could add, Buy Less (new stuff in particular).

Pick a Mantra.  Mine is Simplify.  I feel light (a little heavy too, if I’m wholly honest, but mostly light) and heartened.  Like starting a new adventure.  I feel my shoulders relax, my breathing slow, space opening up, right now, in the moment.

What might be a helpful mantra for you in 2018?

 

 

Stewardship: Being Involved

by Josef Kuhn

As human-beings we interact on an ongoing basis with other beings. Some of these beings are living, some are not. Alive or not, all beings come from the creative flow of the universe, the Supreme Being, God, the Creator, or other cultural designation of highest spiritual recognition and respect. We human-beings are especially gifted, and challenged, to play a meaningful role in creation. Being involved in stewardship empowers us, individually and collectively, in assessing opportunities and problems and making choices for the protection and enhancement of life, especially human life.

Stewardship of the wonders of creation, also referred to as conservation and environmental protection, is an ethical choice for each of us. Maintaining our truly awesome life-support systems, our ecosystems, through stewardship is being involved in a responsible way. It requires respect, appreciation and working with others making choices and taking action that can contribute to the well-being of our children and grandchildren, and bring joy to our lives.

Being involved requires being in the present. Stories of the past and visions of the future exist in our individual and collective minds. This is an aspect of our unique human nature, but it is not being present, as Eckhart Tolle explains so well in his book A New Earth. This awareness, consciousness at a deeper level, is becoming much stronger around the world as more and more people recognize the rapidly developing life crises we all face, or ignore, each day.

Being is about the creative flow of energy. Quantum physics, one of our newer learning tools, is showing us that energy not only moves and changes things in the universe, it forms strings that develop into matter and ultimately into beings, including ecosystems and us human-beings. Ecologists are concerned about entropy, the loss of energy and biodiversity, when ecosystems break down. The time has come for people who are not ecologists to share this concern and become more involved in protecting ecosystems, in stewardship.

When the Sun radiates energy to the Earth, life is created in countless forms that share this energy. I think of this life as a collective being, as Mother Nature, the daughter of Mother Earth and the Sun. Human-beings need to recognize, respect and care for this life. We are part of it. We can practice stewardship and protect life, or we can do great harm. Human-beings had limited impact on ecosystems in the initial 200,000 or so years of our existence. However, in the last couple of hundred years we have ‘developed’ and now take an approach to life that is vague about homeland, consumes and pollutes at very high levels, and mostly ignores stewardship.

It is important for us to recognize the relationship between development and stewardship. Development is touted as a process to improve the well-being of people. Good development is possible, but only if people who really care about stewardship become involved in the regulatory framework that determines the use and the protection of our lands, waters and natural resources. Without stewardship this protection will not happen.

Legislation requiring bio-physical and socio-economic environmental impact assessment was supposed to insure this protection, but these laws are being diluted or ignored today. This happens by reporting only short-term benefits and costs of proposed development, and not relating these impacts to ecosystems. Information on long term impacts to life-support systems is missing. The biological and economic well-being of future generations is being ignored.

As our growing consumption contributes to climate change, including the warming and acidification of our oceans, we create tremendous energy disruptions, infrastructure and personal property damage. As we pollute our air and water and ignore the decline of fish and wildlife populations, we are causing ecosystems to lose the structure and beauty Nature provided. Sustainability of healthy, productive lives is compromised. This is not stewardship.

Each of us human-beings need to be aware of our stewardship responsibilities each day. Better interpretation of our laws and making necessary improvements is one aspect. This requires our being involved as citizens and communities in government decision-making processes and court rooms. In the private sector, how we use energy and spend and invest our money determines our positive and negative environmental impacts. What we teach our youth by example and in schools is also very important. Their future well-being depends on our stewardship today.

 

 

New Year rising

by Stan Hirst

Misty sun breaks through rising seafog. Chilly breeze stirs from the Salish Sea, whispering messages from distant island forests. Gulls rise; eagles search; scaups bob and scuttle, crows lay low and caw.

Take the Seawalk. Sun behind us. No oil slicks. They’ll come one day. Plod plod plod plod plod. Early morning spandexed nymphs and lyraced gods surge past and on to glory. Used to do that once, I think.

Ships at anchor in English Bay. Seventeen in total. Just keep coming and going. Yokohama, Shanghai, Kaohsiung, Port Klang, Tianjin, Qingdao, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Nanjing and Frisco Bay. Timber, wood pulp, canola, wheat and phosphate goes; nine-month jeans and plastic dreck comes. Can it endure? Marathassa was a warning. No dilbit yet. Sae let the Lord (and the gate watchers) be thankit.

Snow on Seymour, shining bright, Lions gleaming way up yonder. Look back at Koma Kulshan radiant under the rising sun. What would the lieutenant think today?

Bridge rises high out of the morning swirl. Pearl necklaces of cars twinkle behind the girders, fifty per minute. Corollas, Mercs and Beemers rule, F100’s too. Priuses, Leafs and Teslas lurk. Seaplanes clatter overhead: Comox, Sechelt and Maple Bay. Used to do that too, I think. The seaplanes, not the Teslas.

Coffee time. Time-honoured West Coast tradition rules. Hunch up and elbow through. Stay close behind me Dear: damn’d yuppies got no respect for their Elders. Laptops rule. Tickety tick. Spreadsheets abound. Yak yak yak. Expensive smiles. Condo deals. Colombian dark. Hah!

Back to Seawalk. Sunshine now. Plod plod plod plod plod. See the seal diving just inshore? Searching for a coho. Get past these old people, they’re so damn’d slow. What’s that lingo they’re speaking?

The seawalk’s wet here? It didn’t rain. Waves overtopped the wall. Will happen more and more methinks. Sea levels rising. Climate change? Indeed. How come it rains more in rainy places, snows more in snowy places, but just drought and death in Darfur? No fairness there.

Reached the pier, time for a breather. Three shiny otters lounge on the pontoon deck. There’s no plastic on the water, no plastic on the beach, coffee dregs in my personal mug.

Happy New Year!

‘Twas a week before Christmas

by Lillian Ireland and Rob Dramer

 

‘Twas a week before Christmas and all through the town,

Shoppers were busy up one street and down.

Hunched in the driver’s seat, patience grew thin,

As people were hustling, out doors and in.

The snow started falling and it didn’t cease,

And it gave us a lovely, yet false sense of peace.

The roads were quite slippery, so we were quite prayerful,

We knew in our hearts, we had to be careful.

It had been a strange year; the climate had changed.

The drought in the summer kept us longing for rain.

So, when in September, rains finally came down,

We opened our doors and rejoiced in the sound.

And when it was finished, the leaves were fresh green,

The smoke-covered landscape was finally clean!

So, in spite of the changes, the seasons do follow,

And we’ll have to adapt for each new tomorrow.

We’ll do what we can, there’s really no choice,

So let’s stand together and all raise our voice.

We’ll speak to our leaders, and pray ’til we’re blue,

and trust in the end that we all will get through.

So, no matter our age and no matter our stature,

We’ll hold on to our dreams and our hearts for what matters.

We’ll stand with the young, growing up in these days.

We’ll guide them and show them sustainable ways.

We’ll stand for our earth and her precious soil

and continue our exit from reliance on oil.

We’ll stand for the water which we need to sustain us

In small ways and big ways: accountable choices.

We’ll clean up the air as we all move ahead;

We’ll do what we can with this word we must spread.

So rest in this thought while we all work together,

Merry Christmas to all; may God grant us good weather!

December 2017

 

 

Reflection Leads to Connection

by Jill Schroder

Most years I have relished Advent. After all, Adventus, the Latin root for our word, means “coming.” On reflection, I can feel into the expectant waiting, the pleasures, the promises of the coming weeks.

This year there seems to be so much craziness in the world, the political weirdness added unto the commercial excesses that overshadow the season, that I find myself needing to take deep breaths to remember the promises of this special season: the rich, dark days, the inherently quiet time, the opportunity for reflection.

I was drawn to reflection as a title for this post, in part, because of the image of the “supermoon” we experienced recently. These magical moments are all around, if I create space and tune in. Then I remember how much I love the seasonal music, festive gatherings togetherness with friends, and I celebrate making my Advent Wreathe with its four candles, savouring tea and meditation with the appropriate number of candles lit, which is one of my real joys of these weeks.

Celebration, of wreathes, friends, music, brings me to connection, actually a “reflection on interconnection.” At yoga this week our gracious teacher read this quote from Einstein, and as I lay there quietly, I let it sink in and spread in my body like a healing wave. (Forgive and see past Einstein’s masculine pronouns… and fill in gender-inclusive terms.)

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of … consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

We can help ourselves and each other to remember the countless and deeply encouraging signs of interconnection, compassion, sanity, balance – innumerable shifts toward more sustainable ways of being and making our way forward – not always on the surface, definitely not in the news, but to be found everywhere we look. We are all of the one, interconnected, as in Indra’s web, or the exquisite spider’s creation shown above. Reflection and connection, indeed!

It is my hope and inspiration that these signs and actions will swell to a tidal wave of change for the benefit of all beings, a veritable coming of the light. Let us all be part of this unfolding in any and all ways we can. Even in the dark times of the year and of life.

 

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