Thursday, August 3, 2006

Black-headed Grosbeak

He is sitting there on top of the suet feeder - I am not much of a photographer; this guy deserves the best - he has a lovely voice and always sings a few notes when he arrives (to let me know he's here I think). His song reminds me of a poem, " a golden bell hung in my heart." It doesn't hurt that he is also a magnificent beauty. His mate has a lovely warble also, which I understand is common among the finches. She is not quite so brilliantly colored, her breast being more of a pastel shade of his bright tequila sunrise. His back is black with very bold white stripes and hers is more brown, sparrow colored, but she does have a very strong white stripe on her head. They are both about the size of a robin.

When I first saw this bird, I thought someone's parrot had escaped. Both he and his mate are somewhat elusive. While the nuthatches, chickadees, and woodpeckers don't seem to mind me being around, this bird prefers that I either stay very still or not come outside at all. They do not like sudden movements or noise. Still, I considered myself lucky to inch the screen door open and get this picture before he flew off. I lived here nearly two years before the Grosbeaks got bold enough to visit the bird feeders. Now I see them nearly every day. They are often the first birds in the very early morning and the last in the evening, with an occasional fly-by during the day to pluck a tasty morsel.

Why would anyone ever put a bird in a cage? It seems insanely cruel.


"Ethics, too, are nothing but reverence for life. That is what gives me the fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, promoting, and enhancing life, and that destroying, injuring, and limiting life are evil." - Albert Schweitzer

"The true rule, in determining to embrace, or reject any thing, is not whether it have any evil in it; but whether it have more of evil, than of good. There are few things wholly evil, or wholly good. Almost every thing, especially of governmental policy, is an inseparable compound of the two; so that our best judgment of the preponderance between them is continually demanded." - Abraham Lincoln

Everyone has been accused of something they didn't do. Usually it happens when you're a kid, but it has happened to all of us once or more than once. It feels bad. Mostly because the louder you yell, the more it seems like maybe you DID do it. Remaining silent, refusing to dignify a false accusation is more honorable - at least it feels that way, but doesn't always exonerate.

I wonder though, might it be a bigger sin, a greater failing to NOT be accused of something you DID do?

Wednesday, August 2, 2006


Click on the link above. Listen, watch, think. What is this craziness and why does it go on? What kind of a world has been happening while we were taking care of *other* things? What is depicted in the link is the result of our country's greed and utter disregard, not only for the world, but for the desire, and right, of each of us for peace, health, education, and life.

Who are we really if we keep turning our backs on those who have no voice (read "money, power, position") and must suffer with what we have wrought?

Start making calls to your representatives. Write letters to your newspapers and your politicians. Make a difference in someone else's life. Start now, today. Go to your grave (hopefully in the far, far distant future) knowing that you have made a difference, that you cared, that you tried.

It may be the most important thing you do in your life and you may never see the result. That is the true meaning and blessing of giving and sharing, not the 35 cents you occasionally drop in a jar on a counter or the $250 you give to Mercy Corp - though please don't stop doing those things.

What we do for others, though it is difficult and may cost us in time, effort, and money, is more important than any kind of material or personal success we are lucky enough to find in our lifetimes.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

The Land of Beginning Again

"I wish that there were some wonderful place

Called the Land of Beginning Again

Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches

And all of our selfish grief

Could be dropped like a shabby old coat by the door

And never be put on again." - Louise Fletcher Tarkington

Those words are excerpts from a poem I discovered in high school. Whatever was going through my head about those words then is a mystery to me now. Something entirely different than what I am thinking these days.

There have been so many people to forgive, including myself. In so many ways that has been the hardest part of all. It is an ongoing process - a few steps forward, a few steps back. A constant battle of judgment, redemption, accusation, bewilderment, and precious moments of peace.

The ability to forgive is, in my estimation, the most important lesson we can ever learn. It has the power to bring health and healing to hearts, minds, and bodies. It has the power to bring us back "to the land of beginning again." It is, however, oh so difficult to master. The words, "forgive me, I forgive you, I forgive myself" are so very easy to say, but they are only just words. They bear repeating over and over. They need reevaluation, reassertion, and the touch of a hand. They need to be repeated out loud, and silently to no one who is there.

When an offense insinuates itself into your awareness, those words need to be used to beat it back to nothingness, for the offense is now gone in fact. It was provoked out of selfishness, confusion, ignorance, maybe even fear. There can be no explanation, there needs be no explanation other than life is what it is.

Forgiveness heals the giver and often, only the giver. It is all that is necessary, though it is a monumental task and may require a lifetime. The idea of forgiveness should always be close by. It is necessary for a peaceful death. It is necessary for a graceful old age. It is required of us before we can pass to generations the knowledge we have stored up for them. Practice it.