Inspire. November.

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November is full of opportunities for gratitude – Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, colorful fall leaves, the smell of apples and cinnamon. We don’t think so much of Election Day as a day of gratitude, but for those of us who cherish our representative democracy, it is definitely a day to count our blessings.

After the last seven months of isolating and after 230,000 covid deaths (and rising), those of us who have been spared have much to be grateful for in addition to respecting the sacrifice made by others, not only the dead, but the frontline workers – in the health care field, in the food field and the fields that grow the food, our first responders, our teachers, and our parents, and so many other unsung heroes.

Tomorrow is Election Day.

It is the final day to vote for the candidate that best represents us, ALL of us. We have the opportunity to vote for the man (this time) who cares; who epitomizes decency and character; who truly feels the empathy this country needs right now. On a more pragmatic note, he also knows how to get things done without divisiveness, without distruct, with honesty and dedication to service, and that is Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris. I proudly voted for them more than a week ago during early voting. You can join the majority of this country in turning around the hate train, the white supremecists who in the last two days tried to run the Biden bus off the road in Texas and closed highways in New Jersey and bridges in New York and today blocking polling places in California. We can take our country back, and it begins tomorrow.

May history be able to say that the end of this chapter of American darkness began here tonight as love and hope and light joined in the battle for the soul of the nation. – Joe Biden

What we do, we do together.

Who Are The Saints We Turn To?

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When I was young, I loved to read about Joan of Arc. It was many years before I discovered she was a saint. It just wasn’t part of my growing up to associate her with religion; not really. I know she talked to G-d; I mean, so did I! I wasn’t Christian so I didn’t grow up attending church. But I knew Joan of Arc. She was a part of my girlhood, like Anne Frank, another young girl, someone I could relate to who also died too young. These were my heroes.

In my recent years of finding Catholicism and spirituality, I’ve added to my “collection” of saints and saintly people. I love hearing that saints are just like us. I’ve also learned that they are an outgrowth of their times. Sometimes their lives are huge and important and sometimes their deaths are, but in a lot of times, they are just ordinary people who do or preach extraordinary things. I know that today is All Saints Day, but I was still taken aback by the number of times I was called by the saints in the last two weeks.

Once I put this topic on my calendar a few weeks ago, I spent a lot of time thinking about it and the saints I look to in my life. They do change depending on the circumstances. I didn’t start reading on any of them in particular, but I looked at the saints for the day, seeing which feast days were coming up and thought a lot of who I felt the closest to.

Throughout October, I had been attending weekly zoom presentations on Diversity in Spirituality. Last week’s lecture was given by Dr. Kim Harris of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. Her focus was on Black Americans, their experience, their worship, and their saints (and lack thereof). In addition to music and talk of the ancestors, Dr. Harris also asked the following question:

In our troubled and tumultuous times, what kinds of saints do we need or what kinds of saints do we need to be?

I was stunned into silence. That is very nearly the exact question I put on my calendar, the one that I’ve been contemplating on for the past two weeks, and here it was as our breakout room assignment!

What kinds of saints do we need in our lives right now indeed?

In conjunction to that synchronism and along with all of these thought provoking happenings, yesterday, I also attended a scheduled Day of Reflection centered on walking and praying with the saints. I had been looking forward to this day for several weeks and it did not disappoint. It also led me in my continuation of thinking about the saints and who I feel the closest to.

This was a question that I had been giving a lot of thought to, although in my mind I hadn’t phrased it quite like that at all. I’ll share a few thoughts with you.

I’ve mentioned Joan of Arc earlier. I was always enthralled by her hearing voices and following as well as being able to command an army. Maybe it was because I grew up in the feminist wave of the 70s that it seemed impossible to ignore and easy to admire.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha is a newer, local saint. Her birthplace is in upstate New York at the village where the North American Jesuit Martyrs died although they weren’t there at the same time. The spring where St. Kateri was baptized is there, and I am hoping to be in good enough shape to go through the woods to the spring sometime in 2021.

St. Elen is my personal saint, the patron of travelers and roads. I chose her for my saint’s name for my confirmation in 2014. Upon finding her, I found so many things about her that I could relate to as well as having been in her homeland, literally where she walked the earth although I did not know it at the time. I was fortunate to be able to pilgrimage to one of her holy wells in Wales in 2017, and it still gives me pause when I remember my times there.

Maximilian Kolbe and Edith Stein draw me back to my Jewishness and my Jewish upbringing. I know that Maximilian Kolbe wasn’t Jewish but he was killed in the camps in Nazi Germany as was Edith Stein. It reminds me that others (in Edith Stein’s case) have walked a similar path to mine.

I was drawn to Mary, Untier of Knots through Pope Francis’ devotion, and it has only grown stronger over the years. There is something very familiar about untying knots as a mother from shoelaces to necklaces to yarn and in needlework, not to mention the untying and smoothing that goes along metaphorically.

St. Dafydd is, of course, the patron saint of Wales, a place that I feel connected to since I first set foot there in 1987.

And finally, in this moment at least, Mary Magdalene. I didn’t know much about her; her life was co-opted a bit and confused with others, but what I do know and believe is that she followed Jesus from very early on. She was the first of his disciples to see him after his Resurrection, and she brought the word of his Resurrection to the apostles, becoming the first to bring the Holy Word of Jesus to others after his death. I love that she is the Apostle to the Apostles and that she is in history as someone who can possibly convert hearts to allow women priest and preachers.

Which saints are you drawn to during these difficult times of chaos and uncertainity?

Art is mine based on the song:
Saints Of God In Glory
Frank Brownstead · Bernadette Farrell · St. Thomas More Group, 1991.
(c)2020

Listen here.

Election Connection: 11 Weeks: I’d Like to Virtually Welcome You to Milwaukee!

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Here are a few links/videos from the Democratic National Convention 2020!

Democratic National Convention Schedule and Speakers

C-Span for Night 1 (you can use this to jump off to the rest of the convention events as well

Voting by Mail

Michelle Obama’s Convention Speech:

Election Connection: 13 Weeks: A Biden Covid Response with Ron Klain

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The following video features Ron Klain, a member of the Biden campaign. In addition to his current role with the campaign, he is a two time Vice Presidential Chief of Staff (Al Gore (1995-1999), and Joe Biden (2009-2011). He is a lawyer and clerked for Supreme Court Justice Byron White as well as a Capitol Hill counsel.

He served as the Ebola Reponse Coordinator from 2014-2015 and has been an outspoken critic of the Trump Administration’s response to the Covid-19 virus which has, as of this writing, killed more than 150,000 people in the U.S.

For a time, he co-hosted a podcast addressing these concerns with Dr. Celine Gounder.

On a personal note, when I’m asked when I’ll be taking a vaccine (how soon after it’s ready), my answer is always, “When this guy [Ron Klain] says it’s safe.

The following video was made for the Biden campaign and outlines what a President Biden would do to curb the ongoing virus and epidemic.

Election Connection: 16 Weeks: Learn Their Names

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This video was created and produced by The Lincoln Project and it reminds us that voting out Trump isn’t the only goal. We need to replace his enablers. They need to go, and we need people who WORK FOR THE PEOPLE and will uphold the Rule of Law.

 

 

Replace Mitch McConnell with Amy McGrath

Replace Cory Gardner with John Hickenlooper

Replace Lindsey Graham with Jaime Harrison

Replace Susan Collins with Sara Gideon

Replace Devin Nunes with Phil Arballo

Replace Kevin McCarthy with Kim Mangone

Replace Joni Ernst with Theresa Greenfield

Replace Martha McSally with Mark Kelly

Replace Mark Meadows seat with Moe Davis

Replace John Cornyn with MJ Hegar

Replace Jim Jordan with Shannon Freshour

ETA: Replace Thom Tillis with Cal Cunningham

ETA: Replace Matt Gaetz with Phil Ehr

ETA: Replace Dan Crenshaw with Sima Ladjevardian

We can do this and take back our country!

Juneteenth

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This will link you to my post last year on Juneteenth. I tried to include a variety of views and thoughts.

I made the decision not to do new content this year for the simple reason to encourage you to search out Black voices about today and what it meant in history and what it means today.

As I see things posted, I may return and link them below.

How Can We Win – Kimberly Jones

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The following video is an emotional and profound witnessing in the day or so after rioting in Minneapolis. Watch it. Listen to it. Take it to heart.
Below the video are additional Twitter follows that I’ve added to Wednesday’s posts as well as three Wikipedia links to three abhorrent acts of racist terrorism, two of which Ms. Jones mentions in her video. I would remind readers that Wikipedia is a first step in learning and understanding about anything. It gives the gist and then more reading can follow. When people ask what’s the big deal about President Trump’s rallies and convention speech in the places and dates chosen, this is your opportunity to know the racist history. Kimberly Jones Matthew Cherry Ava DuVernay Nikole Hannah Jones (Ida Bae Wells) Michele Norris   Rosewood Massacre (FL) Tulsa Race Massacre (OK) Ax Handle Saturday (FL)

World Otter Day

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Today Wednesday is was World Otter Day. Everyday should be World Otter Day!

Apparently, I had the wrong date in my planner and this makes me sad. My kids, my son especially have had an obsession with otters for several years now. There is a beaver near where we live, and for the longest time, my son called him an otter. When we explained that it was a beaver, he continued to call it an otter….or a skinny beaver. We see him throughout the spring, summer, and part of fall.

When my daughter and I went to Florida a couple of years ago for my aunt’s 95th birthday celebration we went to Flamingo Gardens where we saw real, live otters. We were so excited. They were enthralling.

Two years later, this past February, right before the pandemic, my son was able to go their with my husband and see the same otters. He was thrilled.

I thought I would share this video that I took in 2017, and I also wanted to encourage everyone to check out the work of the International Otter Survival World Fund (IOSF) and donate if you can.

Video of Otters at Flamingo Gardens, 2017. (c)2017-2020

Laudato Si’ Week (May 16 – May 24)

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Pope Francis invites us to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the publication of Laudato Si’, his encyclical on our common home:

Catholic News reported in March about this week long celebration, and the week, beginning today and ending on the 24th with prayer has many activities to do at home and with other groups virtually relating to our home, the planet Earth and some of the ways we can enjoy, respect, and take care of her.

Laudato Si’ Week Activities can be found here. This site has many other resources for you to use. The prayer card for the final day (May 24) can be downloaded and/or printed from here. The prayer is to be said at noon in your local time.

The following graphic is provided by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg. I will be posting reminders of their activities on the mornings of each one. I hope you can find the time to attend at least one. If you can’t, try to get out in nature and see the earth with new eyes.

Activities for Laudato Si’ Week from RCDONY. (c)2020

Something to Smile About (Updated 4/29/20)

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These are fun things I’ve found online from a variety of people, famous and not, offering their talents while we all stay at home and flatten the curve. Please enjoy.

Do What You Can – new song from Jon Bon Jovi. Write and sing the second verse and post on social media with the hashtag: #DoWhatYouCan

Hamilton OBC Reunion on Some Good News

My Free Bingo Cards (Make your own Bingo Cards)

The Broadway Coronavirus Medley – from Zach Timson

Social Distance – a parody by Randy Rainbow – check out his other videos on YouTube

Follow @avantgame on Twitter for a Stay at Home Daily Challenge similar to a scavenger hunt.

Steve Martin Plays the Banjo

Will Smith et al on The Graham Norton Show (2013) This never fails to make me grin from ear to ear. It is the definition of feel good.

Neil Patrick Harris – 2013 Tonys Opening Number

Your Moment of Zen – Hiking, Stream, Woods (Video)

Follow Patrick Stewart on Facebook and he will read a sonnet from Shakespeare daily.

LeVar Burton reads Chivalry by Neil Gaiman

The Rotterdam Philharmonic Plays “Ode to Joy” from their Homes

Daniel Matarazzo on You Tube – he has two Coronavirus Parody songs

Rick Springfield Sings (No) Human Touch

Radio Free Burrito: Wil Wheaton Reads Star Mother (Soundcloud)

Wash Your Hands by Lin-Manuel Miranda

From the NE Ohio Sewer Service: Is it Flushable? Ask them on Twitter and they will answer. As useful as it is fun.

Text the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and they will reply with an SMS message to your phone with a related picture. Text “Send me ____” to 57251. Fill in the blank, and see what they send!

My Dad Looks like the Food Critic in Ratatoille

Andy Slavitt’s Twitter Thread: The Best of Us