You and I Together

We began this journey with
paint brushes and camping gear

We laughed and sang and
danced down the aisle

We traveled the world
you and I

Eucalyptus trees, canals, sandy beaches, forests
memories, time, love, together

Now we, you and I, hold memories close
forgotten in time

I listen as the past closes a door
the future comes to soon

We are traveling a new road,
a road well traveled

Still an adventure
still a journey

So, I light a candle to bless the past
I ring the bell to bless what will come

You are my light
my blessing

We travel together,
always together, never alone
 
We who are one
are never alone

Ruth Jewell, ©July 12, 2020

Genesis 1:26

26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” (NRSV)

To whom were you speaking
when you created humans?
Who did you consult, an unborn Adam or,
other gods just stopping by
to see how you were doing?

I’m asking for a friend
‘cause I think you
need new consultants.

Ruth Jewell, ©July 10, 2020

Image: detail Michelangelo, Creation of Adam

A History Lesson

Since the beginning of civilization humankind has been willing to delegate their responsibilities to one small portion of the community.  That small group became the “elites” who in time thought nothing of using the majority for their own ends, including enslaving them. The elites discovered the best way to further their ends was to use religion (priests were part of that elite group) to control the majority by justifying cruelty, abuse, and war.

 Constantine followed the pattern when he realized the potential of Christianity to control and manipulate the population.  He and those who followed him used the young catholic church to take the teachings of Jesus, twisting them until they became unrecognizable. The Catholic Church destroyed the simple commandments of the Carpenter from Nazareth to keep their place in the government. For 2000 years the church has taken scripture out of context to justify slavery and other acts of abuse and violence. All because it benefited them by keeping them in power and providing the church, and those they served, with a workforce they didn’t have to care about. They twisted, and simply ignored, the teachings of the Carpenter of Nazareth to define those who were weaker, of different color, or from a culture who didn’t believe as they did as less than human.  The Carpenter never taught such rubbish.

When the white Slavic (that’s where we get word slave) peoples was depleted the ruling elites turned to others they could demonize. In 1441 the Portuguese began the African slave trade and it was the Portuguese who developed the idea of racism. In 1492 it was the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere who were enslaved. In 1619 the first African slaves were brought into the Western Hemisphere.  All to further the elitist, privileged, so called rights, of white Europeans.

Human slaves were cheap and therefore even a poor white person could “own” a human being and feel superior.  Yet those same poor whites abdicated their own rights and privileges to others and so ‘enslaved’ themselves, they just didn’t know it. The sad part is even peoples of color owned slaves, people of their own ethnic groups or groups from other cultures. Slavery has always been part of the culture of human history. This is history, this is the reason we must read history. Without history we can’t understand today or change tomorrow.

The only way to change, and repent, is to change our culture of one group ruling, dominating, lording it over other groups. Until we begin to see each person as valuable for who they are, not what they can produce for a small group of human’s changes will not happen.  Many have tried to change us, to awaken us but we humans don’t listen.  Maybe it’s in our DNA now, maybe we will be unable to change.

But unless we figure out how to be a community where the worth of each person is not based on a bottom-line that benefits only a small number of people nothing will change.  You can throw all you want at social programs or try to change all kinds of political and social groups all will fail, it always has, and always will. Our culture of elitism must change and until it does nothing will change.

Humanity has been given many opportunities to be the best we can be. Moses told the Hebrews “Choose Life” (Deuteronomy 30:19); Zechariah said  not to oppress the widow, the orphan, and the stranger (Zechariah 7:10); Jesus taught what we do to the oppressed we do to him (Matthew 25:35-40); The Prophet Muhammad tells us to care for the strangers, the needy, and our neighbors (Quran Sura 4:36); and the principle of treating others as you want to be treated is part of many other faiths traditions, Buddha and Confucius both taught we are to treat others as we want to be treated. The Indigenous peoples of this Hemisphere also taught how to behave in society. For example the Shawnees taught “Do not kill or injure your neighbor, for it is not him that you injure, you injure yourself. But do good to him, therefore add to his days of happiness as you add to your own. Do not wrong or hate your neighbor, for it is not him that you wrong, you wrong yourself.”

Humanity rarely listens to those who come to off a way towards change. We are stubborn and believe only we are right. We are wrong.  It is time to change. Civilization will not survive if we do not learn to listen to those who have called us to change. It doesn’t matter if it was 8000, 3000, 2000 years ago, or yesterday we need to listen to them.  If we do not learn from  those who speak wisdom, those who came to teach us how to treat each other as we each want to be treated. If we do not learn to value each person for who they are regardless of their gifts, their skin color, their social economic status, or their culture then we are a lost people, our civilization will fall, and rightly so. We will not deserve to survive.  I only pray we do not take the rest of creation with us.

Ruth Jewell, ©June 15, 2020

Breath Prayer

Breathe they said
take a breath in
let the breath out
so hard to breathe

I can’t breathe

Open the bellows of your body
they said
take the air in
now, let the air out

I can’t breathe

My lungs are full
no room for air
a machine breaths for me
pushing air in, out

I can’t breathe

No air in
no air out
block on my neck
lungs bursting

I can’t breathe

A people cry
I can’t breathe
black, brown, yellow
people

I can’t breathe

A people cry
I can’t breathe
LGBQT, differently abled
people

I can’t breathe

A people cry
I can’t breathe
Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, all cultures, all faiths
people

I can’t breathe
I can’t breathe
I can’t breathe
I can’t Breathe

Ruth Jewell, ©June 9, 2020

The Man Who Fell from a Cliff, a Parable

A man was walking along a trail high on a cliff when he slipped and fell.  As he fell, he managed to grab a tree root.  The terrified man had no way of getting back up, so he started praying.

“Please God, come and save me! I know you will come. Please come God!”

From the top of the cliff he heard a voice call down, “hello, I have a rope and I am going to throw it down, grab a hold and I will pull you up.”

The man said, “No that’s fine, God will save me, I know God will come, I’m a good person, God will come.”

“Ok” said the voice.

The man continued to pray, “Please God, I know you are there and can hear me, please come and save me!”

From along the cliff face the man heard a voice, “Hello, I’m rock climbing and can come over and help you get down, can you hold on for 10 minutes?” 

The man said, “No I’m fine, God will come and help me, I know God will come.”

“Ok” said the voice.

Now the tree root was getting a bit weak and the man was getting worried God might not show up in time. So, he prayed, really hard.  “Oh God, please, please! I’m begging you to come and save me!  My tree root is weakening, and I am so afraid! Please God come save me!”

A third time the man heard a voice, “Hello up there, we have gathered some friends and we will get a lot of hay and pillows below you to break your fall. In just a few minutes you can let go and we will catch you.”

But again, the man said, “No thanks, I’ve prayed, and I know God has heard me and God will come and get me down, thanks anyway.”

“Ok” said the group of voices.

Suddenly the root broke and the man fell to bottom of the cliff and died. When he reached heaven and saw God he asked.  “Why didn’t you come and save me, I prayed and prayed?”

God smiled and said, “I did come, I sent a man with a rope and you turned him down.  I sent a climber and you turned her down. I sent an entire village, but you turned them down as well. I simply assumed you wanted to die.”

The moral of this story is our prayers are answered always, but often not in the way we expect.  This story also illustrates a point for today’s world.  We have the answers in front of us, we just don’t want to see them. The Holy Spirit has given us the tools to fix our problems but if we don’t wish to use them, then well, She is going to assume we simply want to die.

P.S.: Notice, It was a man who fell from the cliff, if it had been a woman, she would have grabbed that rope in a heartbeat. Women understand a gift when it is given.

Ruth Jewell, ©June 2, 2020

Photo: Microsoft Word, Stock Image

I Am Tired of Crying

For the last two months I have been in tears or close to tears. Every time I hear of someone dying unnecessarily from the Covid virus because they are poor, an immigrant, or an indigenous person, I cry. Every time I hear someone has to go to work without the proper health care or safety precautions because they need to survive, I cry. Every time I hear of a black man, woman, or child being harassed by a police officer who should not be on the streets, I cry. Every time I hear of a black man, or woman being killed by police officers who have no place carrying a badge, I cry. Every time I hear a person of color cry out “I can’t breathe,” I cry. Every time I hear of a political leader speak callous, cruel words because they want to exert their power, I cry. Every time our state or federal legislators refuse to acknowledge the humanity of every person in this country, Black, brown, yellow, white, womxn, man, LGBQT, or differently abled because they are poor or just different, I cry. Every time I hear white men with guns verbally and physically abusing those who disagree with them, I cry. 

I am tired of crying.

All I want are the children of this country to grow up without tears, without pain, and without suffering. I want each child to know that those in authority care for them no matter their skin color, religious affiliation, or who they are. I want every child to know they are loved, cared for, because without the children we have no future, no life, no anything.

All I want are the people to recognize how racism, hate, white privilege and white supremacy are destroying our country. All I want is each person to be seen for who they are rather than what someone labels them. I want an end to the injustice meted out to people only because they are different from those who wrongly call themselves the elite. I want people to see each other as members of the same species, Homo sapiens sapiens, not different, all the same. I want the insanity of hate and greed of those in power to end. Is that too much to ask for?

I am tired of crying.

I am a white womxn, an old white womxn and am no longer able to go into the streets and carry banners, but I can scream, really loud.  I am screaming right now, through my tears. 

STOP HURTING EACH OTHER!
STOP KILLING EACH OTHER!
STOP TREATING EACH OTHER AS LESS THAN YOU!

START CARING FOR EACH OTHER!

START HOLDING EACH OTHER!

START FINDING HOW EACH OF YOU ARE ALIKE!

START LOVING EACH OTHERS’ DIFFERENCES!

BLACK LIVES MATTER!

WOMXNS’ LIVES MATTER!

HISPANIC LIVES MATTER!

ASIAN LIVES MATTER!

INDIGINEOUS LIVES MATTER!

LGBQT LIVES MATTER!

THE DIFFERENTLY ABLED LIVES MATTER!

YOU MATTER!

Ruth Jewell, ©June 1, 2020

I Apologize

I have been watching the protests, the reports of the violence and I am heartbroken and angry all at once. I am ashamed of white people who have profited from the abuse and suppression of Black lives, and all persons of color who seem to think that creating chaos and violence will make people of color submit to their will. I want to see them severely punished for disrupting peaceful demonstrations held in the memory of lives abused, oppressed, marginalized. 

But I too am white, and I have benefited from my privilege as a white person. Whether or not I have directly done anything, at some level I AM also responsible for marginalizing, abusing, and oppressing blacks and other peoples of color.

Whenever I have been silent in the face of abuse, walked on the other side of the street in fear, or purchased products at “reasonable rates” I have contributed to the culture of racism. I can claim I had no choice in how others are treated. I can claim that I am afraid of somone in a black skin. I can say at least those who make my clothes have a job, or it’s not my business, but that is just to make me feel better. It does nothing to change the cultural systems that perpetrate them.

For thousands of years, communities have allowed so called leaders to dominate, abuse, and, in most cases, enslave them, all in the name of community safety. When communities began to resist that enslavement, they turned to the communities around them. When white populations resisted systematic oppression, those rulers turned to Africa and the indigenous populations. They destroyed communities as old and culturally advanced as Europe’s and after the destruction lying that they never existed. Racism was created only because white leaders, and their willing communities, wanted cheap labor, and someone to feel superior to.

We who are white have much to repent for. We have perpetrated the lies of racism for hundreds of years. We have perpetrated lies of less intelligence, less sophistication, less humanity for hundreds of years. There is only one human species, Homo sapien sapien, all humans are brothers and sisters, all have the same humanity.

My black friends are different from me only in their passions, there interests, there desire to do things in ways different from me. What they do differently complements what I do, that is why we are community. My black, brown, yellow sisters and brothers are not objects for ridicule, abuse, or enslavement, rather they are kind, compassionate, loving, merciful, peaceful, intelligent, amazing people who I am proud to call friends.

I apologize to all my friends, Blacks and persons of color, if I have ever, ever, been less than respectful of your humanity. I hope you will forgive me for my stupidity and I will, I am, trying very hard to be a better defender and ally for you in your struggle to end the injustices being perpetrated today, and right the injustices of the last 4 hundred years. All I ask for is your forgiveness.

Ruth Jewel, ©May 31, 2020    

Here’s the Thing

Ok, here’s the thing,
I like to cook,
I like to garden, I like sleeping too,
     but don’t do it well.
What I really like
is to read.

Television is a bore
all that crime, and corruption . . .
     and that’s just the news.
It’s Ok for emergencies, but . . .
for real entertainment
give me a book

Newspapers for news please,
every other day only.
But books for fun,
    enlightenment,
        education,
             re-lax-a-tion.

Hardback or paper preferred,
real books with spines and pages
to turn with your finger —
No batteries, no cords —
carry them anywhere, and . . .
no limit to my imagination.

Books are my passport
that carry me to faraway places
for adventures mysterious, exciting for sure.
They introduce me to ideas,
challenging, mind bending,
astounding ideas.

Books that teach,
    history, cooking, and gardening of course.
But I want theology, science, and politics too
I want to meet people different from me, who
open my mind, my heart, horizons new.

I also want books that are fun.
Cozy mysteries to curl up with
    to hunt down the culprit.
Poetry from Euripides to Frost
    to sing songs in my mind.
Adventure books to carry me to
    the stars and lands of the heart
and back.

Books are my ticket to
lands and ideas I can’t travel to.
They give me doorways and roads,
highways to many to name,
adventures, exciting, insightful and new.

You can keep your TV,
Your Kindle, and phone.
Give me a book, paper or hard,
I will be reading when your
batteries die.

Ruth Jewell, ©May 25, 2020

Some Quarantine Observations

In the roughly 2 months since the stay home order was given, I have made some very un-scientific observations:

  1. I haven’t been much affected by the stay-at-home order.  It is what John and I did before this started. Except for going to church and groceries we didn’t go anywhere.
  2. I have actually heard from more people in the last 2 months than we had all last year. 
  3. Wearing a mask while shopping is kinda weird, I keep wanting to go into a bank, not to do anything, just go in.
  4. I am shocked at the level of ineptitude we, as a nation, are accepting from our federal government.
  5. I am totally grateful for the leadership of our faith community, my state and local governments. They deserve medals.
  6. I am heart broken by the number of people who have been exposed to and sickened by the virus, some because of people so selfish that they pass the virus on only because they don’t want to be inconvenienced by a face mask or a stay at home order.
  7. I am amazed and stunned, by the heroism of the nurses, doctors, medical house cleaning staff, postal carriers, grocery store clerks, police, and fireman who have continued to be the front line of defense. (I apologize if I have forgotten anyone.)
  8. I am angered by those who, with guns and lawsuits, attempt to intimidate our hero’s. They also sadden me because they are being manipulated by wealthy, greedy, power hungry, men who are following a corrupt leader.
  9. I have discovered some wonderful benefits to being told to stay home. I have been able to attend and participate in the Westar Institutes Seminars online and will take a poetry class this summer from the Grunwald Guild. All via ZOOM.  I would not have been able to do any of that if this hadn’t happened. (One of my questions even lead to a commitment to include gender roles in the next phase of the Westar’s Christianity Seminar, WOOT!)
  10. I have also been able to see all of our family, from across the country, on a regular schedule because of ZOOM meetings.  It has been so much fun to see everyone.
  11. I love it that I have a legitimate reason to read books by the bushel, as if I ever needed one.
  12. My garden is amazing, our garage is now cleaner that it has been in 40 years, and I have developed 5 new recipes that came out really good.  I have also created more that a dozen really bad recipes.  I am pleased that John has been a good sport and eaten the good and the bad.
  13. While church has been a bit weird and awkward, it has shown me how much our weekly sessions mean to me. Seeing each congregation member and our devoted and amazing pastor Luke and his assistant Mary make my week.

What does any of this mean, well, probably nothing. I keep trying to remember that none of us are alone. We have each other and the Holy Divine still walks with us. Still despite all that I know, have seen, and experienced I am sometimes afraid. Afraid for our grandchildren, and the children of our friends.  I am afraid for those who work with the homeless with little to no protective gear and pray every day for their safety.  My fear leads to anger when I hear of the lack of concern for our indigenous neighbors, all people of color, people who are disabled and therefore especially at risk, and the elderly who, unlike John and I, are confined within an institution.

I am also afraid for our nation, I am afraid for my family, and I am afraid for my community. I do not know what the future will bring. I pray, I hope, I pray,

Ruth Jewell, ©May 24, 2020
Photo: Troublesome Creek, WA, 2006, by Ruth Jewell

Protecting the Vulnerable

Lately I have been listening to more news than I should, and I really must stop mainly because it makes me so angry.  To listen to those who would open-up our country just so they can get a hair cut just makes my blood pressure go through the roof. How can people be so, I don’t know, stupid.

All this complaining reminds me of the Israelites after they were rescued from slavery.  Several times the Israelites complained to Moses about the hardships they were encountering in the wilderness.  Exodus 16:1-3 is one of my favorites, it really showed what a bunch of complainers they were.

 1The whole congregation of the Israelites set out from Elim; and Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2 The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

I doubt it was the “whole” congregation, more than likely, just like today, it was a bunch of sniveling twits who just wanted their own way and thought they could bully God.  That’s what we have today those who only want their own way and want to bully us into doing their bidding, with no thought about who they put at risk.  Not at all unlike those who complained they would have been better off as slaves in Egypt.

 Selfishness has always been a character flaw in humanity. Sometimes it is to our good, such as when we need to take care of ourselves in order to care for others. But all to often selfishness becomes something that destroys our ability to empathize with our fellow travelers in this world. If we care for ourselves to the exclusion of those we are asked to be mindful of our selfcare becomes destructive of those around us and separates us from the Holy Spirit who calls to us.

What has always confused me is why the rest of the Israelite congregation didn’t refute the bullies? My only speculation, and it is speculation, is that they were afraid of what the bullies would do to them.  Not all that different than what is going on today. We too are afraid of the bullies. We are afraid of what we might look like if we go up against them. Fear is a force that keeps us from being everything we are meant to be. To fight against our own fears is the hardest battle we will ever have. But fight we must, and many are, in many, different, ways. But we need to be more vocal, more visible if we are to combat those who would put all of us at risk of the Novel Corona Virus.

So, the majority of Washingtonians are following the guidelines advocated by our state and local governments and we understand the reasons for them even if we don’t like it. We know that what we do will protect those who are at the greatest risk of this virus and we care enough for our neighbors to do what we can. However, we also must call out and resist those who would rush back to some kind of normalcy before we have the tools defend ourselves from the virus.  Those tools will take upwards of a year to a year and half and rushing supposed cures will only create greater harm.

What I personally would like to do to the bullies, who would put us all at risk, is not for publication, except for one method. If they want to go unprotected, then isolate them. Let them congregate together in areas away from the rest of us.

Our local and state governments must provide support for those who need financial, housing, and food assistance and all of us must support our local business’ so that they can care for their employees and themselves. We need to help our neighbors survive and protect them from infection just as they protect us. 

To protect each other is what we are called to do, as good citizens, good neighbors, and as people who find faith in each other. It is not easy, but as my father used to say: “what is worthwhile in this life is never easy, but it is rewarding.”

Ruth Jewel, ©May 23, 2020