The Space Within

Space the “final frontier”
   so, they say.
But what is space?
A star laden sky?
The space between
   atoms?
The 6 foot
   social distance?

We are mostly space.
We may look solid, but
   we are not.
We unsolid Beings are
   born of stars dust.
Star Dust longing
   for something more.

So, we search for . . .
   what?
We search for knowledge,
    for meaning, something to
    hang our star dust on.
We search for soul,
    and spirit.
We search, by any name,
   for Gd.

The ancients looked to
   the heavens.
The religious told us
   Gd lived there.
They were all,
   sort of,
      wrong.

You can travel an infinite
   distance into space, and
      still only find
         space.

Yet if you travel within
   each of our, or any, atom, we
      find a space we cannot go with technology,
         a space so small
            it appears empty.

Is it empty?

Or is that space within what
   we’ve been looking for
       since we crawled out of the sea?
Could that “empty” space,
   the still small, so very small space be
      the place we find Gd.

That very small space,
   larger than a mountain,
      longer than the longest river,
         wider than the sea,
            could
                that be where we find Gd?

Might we discover within
   each of us, a piece of Gd
      has always been?

Might we discover a thread
   finer than silk,
      stronger than steel,
         connects us to each other
      through space
   called Gd?

That still, small, space
   we cannot go,
      just might,
         be the answer
            we have been searching for.

Maybe? 

Go within and
   look.

Ruth Jewell, ©November 25, 2021

September 11, 2001 — September 11, 2021

Twenty years, has it been so long?

I remember that morning
all too well.

It was early here in our Pacific Northwest town
We were just rising
Getting ready for the day —
Turning on the news
Then …

My Husband called out
“Come out here, you have to see this”
As I reached the living room
And turned to the television
The second airplane
flew into the second tower
My … heart … stopped
For just a minute

Was this real
What was happening
I found I was crying
We watched the towers collapse

We heard a low flying aircraft
And ran outside to see
A fighter jet from Whidbey Air base passed over
I didn’t know whether to feel safe,
Or frighted.

Twenty years, long years
seems like yesterday
Twenty years, a lifetime for some

Twenty years of fighting in foreign countries
To many lives lost  
US lives, Iraqi, Afghani lives lost
Twenty years of death
Of young men and woman
Lives gone,
Ruined,
Changed forever

Was it worth it?

Why must we always
Respond with weapons,
Hate, anger, torture,
imprisonment, and lies
… by those who said they would lead us?

Was it worth it?

Why did Guantanamo Bay have to happen?
Why did Abu Ghraib have to happen
Why the loss of limb and mind have to happen?

Was it worth it?

Can we not see that war only brings
More hate, more war, more torture,
More lives lost?

Can we not see that our
Young men and Young Women, of all nations
are worth more than cannon fodder?

Can we not see that war only teaches war?

Was it worth it?

Could we have responded differently?

Could we not have honored the dead of 9/11
by finding a different path?

Could we not have found a path that healed
rather than kept the wounds
open and festering?

In hindsight can we not see there
Was a different way forward?

Twenty Years since September 11, 2001
Yet, we haven’t learned anything from that day.

Was it all worth it?

Ruth Jewell, ©September 11, 2021

Where 2 or More Are Gathered

Communion, Lord’s Supper, Eucharist

At the table with friends and family
Holding hands, bumping shoulders
Kisses, breathing each other’s breath

Communion, Lord’s Supper, Eucharist

Feeling the presence of
All who came before me
All who are here now
All who will come after me

Communion, Lord’s Supper, Eucharist

Knowing Jesus, Carpenter, Rabbi, Rebel
is here in the room with me
Encouraging me to be His body
As I eat the bread, drink the wine

Communion, Lord’s Supper, Eucharist

Doesn’t matter where I share my bread or wine
Church altar, Home, city street
Meadow, or a battle field

Communion, Lord’s, Supper, Eucharist

Doesn’t matter what time of day or year
Before dawn, Noon, After Dark
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall

Communion, Lord’s Supper, Eucharist

Doesn’t matter what bread is served
Crackers, Oreos, gluten free bread
Or Hot Dog Buns

Communion, Lord’s Supper, Eucharist

Doesn’t matter what is poured out
Wine, grape juice, Kool-Aid
Water, or Mountain Dew

Communion, Lord’s Supper, Eucharist

Doesn’t matter who is at your Table
Christian, Jew, Muslim
Poor, rich, healthy, disabled
(Remember the Table doesn’t belong to you)

Communion, Lord’s Supper, Eucharist

All that matters is whether
2 or more are gathered, together
In love, compassion, and mercy

Communion, Lord’s Supper, Eucharist

Ruth Jewell, © September 5, 2021

John and I have missed in person communion, it is, after all, why we go to church.  But going to church right now simply isn’t an option. So, I decided we would hold our own Eucharist, Lord’s Supper, Communion here where we are.  I have everything I need, pitcher, chalice, paten, bread, grape juice and put all those together with John, me, and Jesus and our table is set.

Communion, Lord’s Supper, Eucharist

I will admit we added three more. We added Charlie, Esmerelda, and Louis our Chihuahuas. Yes, I know some would say “what sacrilege” to give communion bread to my dogs. But I would tell them that no purer souls exist than the souls of my dogs. For they embody love, compassion, mercy, and yes justice as well. I know that Jesus would welcome them because they are Gods Children just as I am. And, since the table isn’t mine but Jesus’ then I know they are welcome. They are welcome just as any human who came to the table Jesus sets would be welcome. Just as anyone who came to my home and shared what was laid out would be welcome.

My Congregation

So, in need of Communion, Lord’s Supper, Eucharist?  Then come on over, no matter who you are, no matter what your faith, no matter your economic status, no matter your medical status, or creature type you are all welcome at the table.

Ruth Jewell, © September 5, 2021

A Morning Prayer for Suffers of Mental Illness

I have lived with depression for many years and in all that time few people have known about it.  That is not unusual for those of us who suffer from depression. Depression, well all mental illness, is a hidden disease, a taboo disease. When someone suffering from a mental illness speaks up, they are given a lot of advice, most of it worthless, then people walk away and avoid you from then on.  Yes, the medical professions have finally begun to address mental illness for the disease it is. But, within the general population mental illness is still a stigma and affected individuals and their family go to great lengths to keep it hidden. You see most of our ideas of mental illness come from history where sufferers were thought to be possessed by demons or were the result of some shameful act in their or their family’s past.  So, keeping sufferers of mental illness hidden has a long, painful, and cruel history.

In fact, today it is only when a person with mental illness becomes a threat to themselves or others does anyone know about it. When that happens it is not medical personnel who become involved it’s the courts or the police and the sufferer is then stigmatized and hidden away either in a mental institute, or prison.  Mental institutes may or may not be helpful because they are poorly funded, and prisons, well they are simply store houses for the mentally ill.

In the last week a new spokesperson, Simone Bile, become the one who unlocked the door of mental illness and let in some light.  She admitted she was suffering, which was causing her to lose focus when she needed it most. For her safety and the safety or her Olympic Team, she withdrew from competition. That took courage, great courage, for her to say no when many would have been pressuring her to remain in the games.

What follows is a prayer for sufferers of mental illness, who like me have been living in the shadows for a long time.  I have lost friends to suicide because they couldn’t find the help they needed to crawl out of the darkness.  I know too many who today struggle just to survive in a world that doesn’t understand or care about them. I do not know the number of people who suffer from some form of mental illness.  But if we knew that number, I have no doubt that it would be the number one disease in this country. If we knew that mental illness affected more people than say cancer or heart attacks maybe we would have more funds to fight it, more personnel to treat it, and more compassion for sufferers.

A Morning Prayer for Suffers of Mental Illness
(Opening Prayer for Queen Anne Christian Church, Seattle WA.)

Creator, Partner, Friend,
I wait for light
In the darkness of my mind.
I call out but
I hear only echoes in the emptiness around me.

I am afraid to speak of my pain.
People do not want to hear,
To listen, to sit in silence with me,
I frighten them.
They fear not what they don’t know
But what they might learn.

Creator, Partner, Friend,
come to me and sit with me,
Listen to me.
Hold me in silence and give me comfort.
Don’t let me go,
be my light in the darkness
You are all I have, If I lose you
I am afraid I will lose myself.

Creator, Partner, Friend,                                               
I ask in humble prayer
For myself and others like me.
Open the hearts and minds of
Our loved ones, of strangers,
Give them courage
To confront their fears and
Reach out to touch us,
To hold us,
to listen to us,
To sit in silence with us,
To be with us in our suffering, our pain,
To be the light in the darkness.

I ask this, Creator, Partner, Friend
In the name of the Carpenter Rabbi
Who welcomed us,
Who sat in darkness with us,
And brought us into the light.

Ruth Jewell, ©August 1, 2021

Grief Comes

Grief comes
one step at a time
one moment
one breath

I watch you
slip away from me
each word
each look

My sorrow grows
every day
little
by
little

I don’t want you to go
I want you
to stay
to laugh
to sing
to dance with me

Yet I know you,
you have no choice
your world is shrinking
the door is closing
the window is being shuttered

So my grief comes
one step at a time
with each closed door
each shuttered window
my grief comes

I have only memories
falling stars upon the deck
laughter at silly dog antics
cuddles on the couch
memories I hold
in the golden box
of my heart

Love won’t overcome
my grief
love will hold it
and cradle it
giving me love back

Ruth Jewell, ©June 3, 2021

My Ministry

I have been taking break from reading and writing lately and doing more work in the garden. It has been a needed break. But, I am participating in a retreat on May 8th and the question was asked what does ministry look like to us and to provide a picture of our image. Well this is how I see my ministry:

I realize this may not be what many would see as ministry but it is how I see it, for me. At my age this is what I can do.

May each of you find your own path.

Ruth.

A Lord’s Prayer for Earth Day

Abiding Spirit, surrounding us in love,
Honored be your name.

Your Kingdom grows in all Creation.
Sacred is the work of the
Greening and guarding of the earth.

Your breath moves about and through us
As we walk your ways.

Fill us with the bread of your word,
Forgive the errors of our ways,
Just as we forgive the errors
Of those around us.

Guard the greening path we walk,
And keep those who would do us harm far from our travels.

We praise the Kingdom of your Universe,
Filled with the power of your love in all our
Yesterdays, todays and tomorrow’s,
Now and forever more.

Amen

By Ruth Jewell, ©April 20, 2021

So, the story goes . . .

It all began because I wanted a cake for my birthday. With the pandemic, and social isolation, I knew we would not have visitors and I rarely ever celebrated my birthday anyway, so I did not care if anyone other than John and I were here to enjoy my day. But, for some reason, this year I really wanted a cake.  I found a recipe for a Lemon Meringue Angel Food cake and decided that would taste lovely.  Angel Food Cakes are low in fat because they only use egg whites and no butter so this would be perfect me, can you say high cholesterol.  They are easy to make, as well. The hardest part about an angel food cake is separating the 12 egg whites from the 12 egg yolks.  So, I whipped up, literally, the cake and when done took it out of the oven.

Now one thing you should know is you have to invert an angel food cake as soon as you take it out of the oven to let it cool or it will collapse.  Well, my perfect cake came out, I went to invert and . . . wait for it . . . dropped the pan. My angel food cake was now a “fallen angel” food cake.  I was in tears.  I so wanted this cake.  Instead of being light, fluffy, and about 8 inches tall, it was dense, soft, and 4 inches tall.  It tasted ok but had the consistency of one of the Easter peeps!  ACK.  My husband John tasted this demon cake and decided it was wonderful and has been snacking on it ever since.  Maybe I have found a new treat for him. 

Now I had no cake, but I did have 12 egg yolks.  To paraphrase an old saying “when your angels fall, make a pound cake.” I dug out a recipe for a 12-Egg Yolk Lemon Pound Cake and while this would not be a fat free cake the only cholesterol would come from the yolks because this cake did not use butter either so not too bad health wise for me.

However, the universe’s jokes were not yet done with me.  I began to beat the yolks with my stand mixer, and it went well for about a minute then . . . wait for it . . . the mixer began to slow down and finally stopped.  I turned it off, unplugged, waited a minute, felt the motor (it was not hot), then plugged it back in, started it up, and it barely turned on. Now I have a dead mixer.  Ah, but wait, I do have a hand mixer and grabbed it and finished my cake. 

After I put the cake in the oven, I looked at my lovely Kitchen Aid stand mixer, which my mother gave me some 22 years ago, and wanted to cry. She has been my baking buddy for a long time and now she was dying. Together we made bread, cakes, cookies, and rolls and I am going to miss her. I will look forward to a new Kitchen Aid Mixer, but I will miss this old girl. 

Well, the second cake of the day came out perfect and I had my birthday cake. At the end of the day I wondered if, somehow, I was not supposed to make a cake? Sometimes I just do not listen to the universe when it says stop. Most of the time when I do that it does not turn out well, today it did and I ended up with a nice cake, John discovered an interesting snack, and I was not too frazzled. All-in-all not a bad day, or birthday.

Ruth Jewell, ©March 11, 2021

Image: Ruth’s Birthday Cake

We Need Justice

Well, by now everyone knows 43 Republican Senators denied their oath of office, their duty to the country and failed to convict Donald Trump of Insurrection and High Crimes and Miss-demeaners. Every senator knows he was guilty. There is no doubt that they voted the way they did because they are afraid of not being elected by the very people who attacked the capital on January 6, 2021. Those 43 men and women are cowards and, some, possibly traitors to this country. Their actions show their Fascists beliefs. The are no different than those who supported Hitler in the 1920’s-1930’s and have revealed themselves for who they are. If you do not believe as they do then you are un-patriotic and un‑American.

Let me make this truly clear. When Donald Trump’s mob screamed the 2020 election was stolen from the ‘people’ of America, and those 43 senators voted to acquit, all were making an extremely specific point. They were not talking about you and me. They were saying everyone, you and me, who voted for President Biden, “you are not an American, you are not patriotic.”  The only Americans Trump and his mob recognize as Americans are those who voted for Donald Trump. Let me restate that, if you are a Biden supporter you are not a true American.

Elections always have winners and looser. One side, i.e., the majority wins, and the other side, i.e., the minority, is the looser, which is the nature of elections. The minority will of course be disappointed, which is also part of the nature of elections. In 99.99% of the time the minority accepts their defeat with grace and waits for the next time. What happens in that 0.01%? January 6th, 2021 happens.

We are not Myanmar, we are not Afghanistan, we are not other countries where coups occur on a regular basis. We are the United States of America. In this country we accept our losses and work toward the next election. We may not like it, but we know that our turn will come again. Yes, elections may not always seem fair, there are always winners and losers and the losers will always be unhappy, at least for a time.

Life is not fair, people loose elections, people win elections. But, winning or losing does not make you less of a citizen of America.  Donald Trump is calling me un-American because I voted for President Bidden and yes, I take great offense at that. Donald Trump’s followers are calling me un-American because I do not like their candidate and that makes me very afraid to live in my own home. So, do I want this man, and his family, prevented from ever holding an office?  Yes, yes, I do for my safety and the safety of my, MY, country. I want Donald Trump, his family, and his mob to be held accountable for attempting to prevent the peaceful transfer of power and the overthrow of my government.  I do not think that is unreasonable.

I want justice for my Senator who hid in terror in her office that day. I want justice for Officer Stickney and the officers so demoralized they committed suicide. I want justice for the officer who lost an eye and the other injured officers.  I want justice for Speaker Pelosi and Vice President Pence who fled in terror as the mob hunted them to kill them and I want justice for me. Yes. I want justice. I do not think that is unreasonable.

Ruth Jewell, © February 16, 2021