Compassion

As a pantheist, I’ve also become more interested in spiritual/deep ecology.  Joanna Macy is one of the spokespeople for that movement, and I wanted to share this quote from her:

“We are capable of suffering with our world, and that is the true meaning of compassion. It enables us to recognize our profound interconnectedness with all beings. Don’t ever apologize for crying for the trees burning in the Amazon or over the waters polluted from mines in the Rockies. Don’t apologize for the sorrow, grief, and rage you feel. It is a measure of your humanity and your maturity. It is a measure of your open heart, and as your heart breaks open there will be room for the world to heal.” — Joanna Macy

I agree with her. I think we have to feel deeply, even the “bad stuff,” for healing to truly begin, for changes to be made. I have spent a lot of time lately crying over what’s going on in terms of the environment, animals, etc., laws being passed, feeling sorrow and grief and yes, anger. But I don’t think sugar-coating things and seeing only the positive is really helpful, at least not in my experience. Compassion and feeling even the darker feelings, feeling someone’s or something’s pain, not always just the happy and joyous feelings, is part of living an authentic life, is part of connecting on a deeper level. Yes, I’ve been called a Pollyanna because I’m hopeful that things will change, and it’s true, I am hopeful much of the time, and I am joyous over the birds I see or the river I walk beside, but believe me, I spend plenty of time crying and ranting, too, and feeling heartbroken and even, for a short time, a bit hopeless. The two things, feeling the dark feelings and acknowledging them, while still holding out hope, aren’t mutually exclusive.

~Sharon

Copyright (c) 2017 by Raindrop Ridge Press

Sharing Wounda’s Journey

I share a lot of things on Facebook, but this video of Wounda’s journey is one of my favorites I’ve shared several times, if not my absolute favorite.  It’s so touching, and I cry every time I see it.  I think it’s incredibly important to share this video and the work of Jane Goodall.  She is a “hero” of mine, though that’s not a word I really use, but if anyone is, she is.  I love her gentle and kind and patient spirit and all she has done for these beautiful creatures over the years.    I hope you enjoy this video as much as I do.  Humans don’t own love and affection and connection.  They are qualities we share with the other creatures who inhabit this planet of ours.  I hope we never forget that they, too, play and sing, mourn and grieve, laugh and love, and are here in their own right, not to serve humanity.

~Sharon

Copyright (c) 2017 by Raindrop Ridge Press

Video courtesy of the Jane Goodall Institute

One Man’s Trash

….is another man’s treasure. I’ve heard that saying all my life. I have experienced it myself, being someone who likes to walk through antique malls and flea markets. I’ve found some pretty good deals and found some rustic benches and crates and various other items to decorate my house. I like things that look old and have dings and scratches and even a little rust on them. Enamelware coffee pots, bluebirds and irises and yellow roses, tin and glass, window frames, and I like them looking used and worn. in the past, my dad would often offer to paint something for me or suggest it be painted, but I like things rustic.  My house feels warmer when it’s filled with “things” that have a story, relationships, history, and aren’t brand new and perfect.

A few years ago, I was hauling off the remains of an old desk that was in pieces, no longer usable at all, and I also took a lava lamp – well not a real one but an imitation that was pretty and colorful but a little noisy, and I just didn’t need or want it around, plus a little water fountain that had one chip up on the corner, and a swan-neck floor lamp.

I pulled up to the dump/recycling center and proceeded to haul the pieces of the desk into the appropriate bin, then I set the 2 lamps down in a different place, kind of a “swap shop” where you put things that still work and are still decent that someone might want. That day there was a young guy working there, his girlfriend,  and a couple of other men.   They were all just sitting there laughing and talking and watching me dump those pieces of broken desk, but when I set the lava lamp down and was walking back to my car, I heard the girl say, “There’s a lava lamp,” and before I could get the next piece of trash out, her boyfriend had the lava lamp in his hands and was walking towards the office with it, going to try it out, I guess. Then finally finished with the trash, I set out the water fountain. I asked them if I should leave it there for someone to pick up or just dump it in the trash since it was chipped on the corner, but the young woman came up and was asking me about it. She seemed fascinated by it and I told her it still worked. Her boyfriend asked her, “Do you want it?” and she clearly did and took it in her hands and they walked off to the office again. I heard him tell her to come check out the lava lamp, that the colors were pretty. I thought he was kind of sweet to her, like he was giving her a very special and expensive gift. She seemed as happy as if it really was.

I was smiling because this time my trash was their treasure. They seemed as pleased as they could be with the lamp and the fountain, and I’m reasonably sure the other lamp (which also worked, as I had checked it out before I took it) didn’t stay there long either. I’ve had that happen several times in the past, too, with some lawn chairs once that I didn’t even get set down on the ground. A lady took them out of my hands and put them straight into her car because they were in good shape, I just didn’t need them anymore, and also with a coffeepot and a printer.  Once, a couple of people almost got over an argument over a couple of pieces of Fiesta ware I was leaving.  I should also add that I’ve been on the other side of the swap, too.  I drove up one time just as someone set out two checkered-fabric-covered rocking chairs, and they were exactly what I was looking for, right color, style, everything.  Somehow I managed to get them both in my car.  The friend I was with looked a bit embarrassed, but I didn’t feel bad about it at all.

I have so much stuff that I don’t use (some of it is my mom’s from when she lived here with me), stashed away in closets and cabinets and drawers, and periodically I make a real effort to clean some of it out and if it’s anything I think someone else might like or want then I take it to the “swap shop” or the hospital auxiliary or donate to my parents’ church for their flea markets. I think it’s good to circulate “stuff” around and recycle it and make new uses for things. I like the idea of old things and sometimes try to imagine who used it before, what kind of people they were, or what kind of house they lived in, and now I also try to get rid of some old items before I buy new ones to bring into my house so I don’t get overtaken with too much clutter and too many “things.” After all, you just never know what will strike someone’s fancy, and I was glad that day I had made that young couple pretty happy with an old lava lamp and a broken water fountain. I hope they enjoyed it. I told a couple of people about that experience and one of them asked me if it made me happy to see their excitement about those things, and I said yes, it really did. I was smiling when I drove off that afternoon. The other one asked me if they had thanked me. I said No, they didn’t. I didn’t really expect it. After all, I wasn’t really giving them anything; I was dumping it, and they just picked it up. It kind of made me think, though, about how someone can be so excited by or satisfied with something that I thought was too broken to use or too noisy. One woman’s trash truly is another woman’s treasure.

The original version of this post was written back on June 22, 2006, and posted in a different blog I had back then.  But in light of a recent discussion about recycling, it seems just as relevant now as it did those years ago, maybe even more so, because I think more and more people are latching onto the idea of recycling and re-purposing and decluttering.  Living a more simple life can be liberating, I’ve found, and makes me feel good to be living a little lighter on the planet

~Sharon
Copyright (c) 2017 by Raindrop Ridge Press

More About Eating Meat

The Universal Pantheist Society has a “Ning” site and we have a group about Ethical Eating.  There was a post with the following quote:  

“Food for us comes from our relatives, whether they have wings or fins or roots.  That is how we consider food.  Food has a culture.  It has a history.  It has a story.  It has relationships. ”  (Winona LaDuke, Honor the Earth)

Here are some of my thoughts about it.  I get that about our food having wings or fins or roots and have lived it for my whole life, albeit with some years of inner turmoil over the suffering, the violence. It just no longer serves me and my inner peace to eat food that causes suffering to a creature who can look at me, hear and respond to me, feel pain, suffocate, cry, mourn, smile, or sing.  And how do we as a society, or an individual, decide which animals are fair game for food and which are not?  Which are okay to wear and which are not?  In the last few weeks and days, I’ve made a decision to change my eating habits, not perfectly enough to suit hardcore vegans in terms of every single ingredient or item in my house, but certainly a big change in what I feel is the right direction for me and the animals and even the planet.

Years ago, my now ex-husband was a deer hunter. By the time the meat got to the table it was packaged in various forms. I cooked it and ate it and enjoyed it. Then one day he brought home the whole dead deer, and I saw that beautiful face, the eyes still open, and that was it for me and deer meat. Never again. We each have our moments. I have not eaten veal, the other side of the dairy industry, or pork for years. I know my daughter stopped eating pork when she read how intelligent pigs are, like a 3-year-old child. We each take our steps and have to live with ourselves. But I seriously do believe that eating food that’s a product of violence contributes to overall violence on the planet.

I’m just here to share my own position and any info I may have picked up along the way, not to convert people, at least not yet as, again, this has been a serious and big struggle for me for years and isn’t an easy thing, and I get that.  Like many others, I’ve gone back and forth, guiltless for awhile, then racked with guilt. But now my physical and most importantly mental/spiritual health depend on me making a change.  Each person has to decide for themselves about the food they eat and the clothes they wear, but I can provide facts and my perspective.

Regardless of what we eat, though, I think it’s good to sit down to our food with an air of gratitude for all that went into it, human and other animal efforts, earth, sunshine and rain, everything.  Here’s a special grace that I love and have shared with Pantheists before:

“Bless our hearts to hear in the breaking of bread the song of the universe.” 

(Father John Guiuliani)

~Sharon

Copyright (c) 2017 by Raindrop Ridge Press

Pure Sweetness

It’s so sweet when you haven’t seen your little granddaughter in a few days and she runs to the car to meet you and give you a big hug.  Precious memories are made of simple things like this.

~Sharon

Copyright (c) 2017 by Raindrop Ridge Press

Dairy and Milk

Earlier today I read an article about the dairy industry.  You can read it here:  Free From Harm: 10 Dairy Facts.  A lot of this information I knew already, but some was new to me and was certainly the kick in the pants I needed.

Dairy is such a cruel industry and makes no sense. As the saying goes, cow’s milk is for baby cows. Humans are the only animals who continue to drink milk as adults, and from another species yet. It’s pretty crazy, but we have been convinced by a billion dollar industry that milk is the perfect food for everyone. So far from the truth unless you’re a baby drinking mother’s milk. I never drink milk, I hate it, always have. It creates a lot of mucus in the body, which leads to infections, and I already suffer with a lot of nasal allergies and ear problems. I have some unpleasant memories of having to drink milk as a kid at school and at my grandmother’s house on the farm. At her house, though, if I was lucky enough to say no to milk before it was poured, I got homemade grape juice, but if the milk was poured already, I was expected to drink it, and this was fresh milk from their cows.  I would literally hold my nose and drink the whole glassful down in one long gulp.  I do admit I’ve been guilty of eating cheese, ice cream. I love ice cream as long as I don’t think about what I’m eating, and I love pizza, but there are lots of good nondairy options here now, and I have no more excuses. Besides, I adore a good almond milk/peanut butter/banana smoothie anyway. And many of us have given up veal years ago, which I never liked so I didn’t actually eat it to start with, but because it’s the other side of the cruel dairy industry, the babies. I no longer want to contribute to a business based on forcing cows to be pregnant all the time, then taking away their babies. Mother cows cry and mourn for their babies when they are taken away like human mothers would do. Then when they’re old and worn out, the mothers become hamburger. I’ve known a lot of this for awhile and have abstained from dairy intermittently, but then slowly compartmentalizing the cruel facts in some hidden part of my brain, that cognitive dissonance thing, away from the pleasurable taste and texture, I went back to my terrible habits, oblivious to my contributions to animal cruelty. I’m not proud of it and I can’t do it any more. It’s killing me inside. Reading articles like this one and facing the facts is uncomfortable, I know, but for me things must change. I must change.  It’s good for animals and it’s good for the planet and it’s good for me.

~Sharon

Copyright (c) 2017 by Raindrop Ridge Press

Rainy Night

Another late night, early morning really, and I’m having trouble sleeping. I have no trouble at all falling asleep on the couch trying to watch a movie, but I get in the bed and I’m wide awake. But now the rain has started falling, a nice gentle rain like we need. Sounds so peaceful and cozy it almost makes the insomnia worth it just to be able to hear it.

~Sharon

Copyright (c) 2017 by Raindrop Ridge Press