Sunday, August 18, 2019

Further thoughts this morning / "Somebody, after all, had to make a start ..." (Sophie Scholl in 1943)

In the words of Sophie Scholl, "Somebody, after all, had to make a start.  What we wrote and said is also believed by many others.  They just don't dare express themselves as we have."

After posting on my blog earlier this morning about what Never Again Action experienced in Rhode Island and remaining unsettled, an image came to me of a small group of German people gathering at the entrance to Buchenwald one summer evening in 1943 to nonviolently protest what they could not ignore, with the goal of blocking any employees who attempted to enter.  I see the Nazis who ran the camp mobilize immediately to threaten the lives of the people at the gate.  I see a man in a truck attempt to intimidate the nonviolent protestors by driving forward in an aggressive move that could result in serious injury to them.  When they don't disperse, the Nazis in the towers kill them.  The momentum of the Nazi mentality continues to build until World War II ends in 1945, and it never completely dies.

I became aware of Sophie Scholl and the White Rose only recently.  To my mind, she and her young friends did the equivalent of protesting at the gates of Buchenwald.  She and her brother Hans and and another student, Christoph Probst, were beheaded by the Nazis for "treason."

On the day that the three young protestors died, Else Gebel, Sophie's cell mate, has stated that Sophie said, "It is such a splendid sunny day, and I have to go.  But how many have to die on the battlefield in these days, how many young, promising lives.  What does my death matter if by our act thousands are warned and alerted.  Among the student body there will certainly be a revolt."

When I look at the photo of Sophie Scholl, I am reminded of this photo of Greta Thunberg.

"All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up.  It isn't that the evil things wins -- it never will -- but that it doesn't die." (John Steinbeck)

There is no action any one of us can take that is too small to matter.  There is no action that is too small to matter when we join together.

I am reminded of the words of Toni Morrison,

“This is the time for every artist in every genre to do what he or she does loudly and consistently. It doesn't matter to me what your position is. You've got to keep asserting the complexity and the originality of life, and the multiplicity of it, and the facets of it. This is about being a complex human being in the world, not about finding a villain. This is no time for anything else than the best that you've got.”

A message I received early this morning from Starcross Community in Sonoma County, California

Dear Friends of Starcross,

We think there is something our friends should know.

It was a hot evening, Wednesday, August 14, 2019, when a peaceful group of almost 500 people with NEVER AGAIN ACTION gathered to demonstrate outside of the Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Since March 2019 local activists have been calling for the closure of this private, quasi-public prison that has been acting as an ICE detention center for hundreds of immigrants. On Wednesday, just before 10 pm a truck, unprovoked, swerved forcefully toward a line of protesters who were seated peacefully blocking the entrance to the facility parking lot, singing songs and talking. The driver was identified as a captain of the corrections employees of the Wyatt Detention Center. He drove into the group—sending people screaming and scattering for their safety.  The truck jolted forward again, hitting some folks, while other protesters gathered to surround the vehicle.

Some moments later, the driver of the truck was joined by other correctional employees who came from inside the facility, to confront and forcefully move out of the way those who were a part of the nonviolent civil disobedience. In a mere matter of minutes, people were suddenly and unexpectedly pepper sprayed by the guards as protesters scrambled to flee the immediate area. Many were affected as people fell to the ground in pain. Several individuals needed to be taken to the hospital—one for an injured leg and all for extreme effects from the debilitating pepper spray.  All were later released.

This news has been carried internationally by the BBC along with national news outlets, such as NPR. Brother Toby says he is sickened by how close the event in Rhode Island came to the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, where a participant drove a car over and back over nonviolent counter-demonstrator, Heather Heyer, murdering her.

Among these peaceful protesters were two of Starcross’ long-time friends and advisers, Cathy and Lee Clasper-Torch. Lee is an ordained minister and a retired professor of Religion and Philosophy, who works closely with civil disobedience and nonviolent action groups in Rhode Island. Cathy is a professional musician, and daughter of Paul Clasper, a friend who was instrumental in the establishment of Starcross half a century ago. He was someone who was greatly influenced by his many years living in Asia, building bridges between Western and Eastern spirituality, a path Cathy and Lee have followed. Their daughter Chloe, has recently begun working here with us at Starcross.

In the days following this news, Lee and Cathy wrote to us, sharing their experiences. Lee, who was hit by the pepper spray in an attempt to protect others explained,  “We were there in large part on behalf of the children.” Cathy added, “We'll all be there again.  I feel so strongly that our presence, now as Elders and keepers of so many memories/so much cultural knowledge and experience, have an important role to play simply in presence and witness.”

Just before the demonstration on Wednesday, August 14th, Aaron Regunberg a young organizer of the movement, and former Representative for the State of Rhode Island, wrote about the upcoming protest at the Wyatt Detention Facility,
“Once, a young girl wrote in her diary, “Terrible things are happening outside. At any time of night and day, poor helpless people are being dragged out of their homes… Families are torn apart: men, women and children are separated. Children come home from school to find their parents have disappeared.”

It sounds like this could have been written in 2019. But it wasn't - it was written by Anne Frank in 1943. That's why we are coming together on Wednesday to repeat that Never Again means Never Again for everyone.”

In next Friday’s reflection Brother Toby is asking, “Has America reached the point where it doesn’t really care about its kids anymore?” It’s clear that while there are many in power who do not, there are a multitude among us, that care very, very much. This is a time when we must speak up, speak out, and in solidarity with protesters as those did last Wednesday evening in Rhode Island, and with many people around our nation, who assert,  “Never Again means Never Again for everyone.”
We are in a crisis and it doesn’t seem as if its getting better. We may all feel ourselves, where our friends Cathy and Lee were on the 14th. It’s important to remember that we are not alone.

As St. Francis would have closed, “Pax et bonum” -- Peace and all good things to you.”

Then this appeared in my email box:

Friday, August 16, 2019

Linda Rees: Tapestry Weaver

One of the first people I met when I moved to Bellingham, Washington, was Linda Rees.  She and her family lived several houses down the street from where I first lived in Bellingham.  Not knowing that she was my neighbor, I bought one of her early tapestries.  You can see that tapestry and read the story connected with it here.

Since last spring a small group of her friends in conjunction with the Whatcom Weaver's Guild have been working together so that Linda's tapestries can be featured by the Whatcom Weaver's Guild in the Wool Room at the Northwest Washington Fair and then at the Jansen Art Center, both in Lynden, Washington.  These photos were taken by one of Linda's friends who took her to the fair to see her tapestries exhibited.  In the photograph with Linda is Carol Berry, the current president of the Whatcom Weaver's Guild, who did a great deal of footwork to make it possible for Linda's work to be shown at the fair and the Jansen Art Center.

Linda began weaving tapestries 50 years ago, the year her daughter was born.  For most of those 50 years, she woke up early in order to weave, including the years when she had full-time employment.  In the past few years, she found it more and more difficult to figure out how to warp the loom herself, and friends who weave stepped in to do that for her.  In the past year, it became clear that her cognitive difficulties had increased to the point that she needed to move to an assisted living residence, and this past spring she moved to a memory care residence.  Although she finds most activities of daily living to be challenging, her passion for tapestry weaving and her enjoyment of family and friends is intact.  Her sense of humor is delightful.  She laughs heartily.  She has always been aware of and upset by the troubles in the world and until the past few years always held a volunteer position in whichever community she was living in, wanting to do what she could to make a positive difference in the world.

Her tapestries will be featured at and for sale through the Jansen Art Center, beginning in September, if anyone is interested in purchasing one of her beautiful tapestries. 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

"These are hard won lessons spoken by people who have been there and are not crushed."

(Because I didn't have time to sit down and listen in one sitting, I listened over several days.)

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Tuesday, August 6, 2019


(Just in case anyone didn't listen to this on Sabine's blog)

Sunday, August 4, 2019

"... so we can change the world ..."

The volunteers who organized the Farmworkers March for Dignity arrived at the designated meeting placed before 4 a.m.  With sunrise approaching at 5:47, the marchers gathered near the U.S. Customs and Border Protection building in Ferndale, WA, for a brief ceremony and mística*. 

There was a reading of the United Farm Workers Prayer:

Show me the suffering of the most miserable, so I may know my people’s plight.
Free me to pray for others, for you are present in every person.
Help me to take responsibility for my own life, so that I can be free at last.
Grant me courage to serve others, for in service there is true life.
Give me honesty and patience, so that I can work with other workers.
Bring forth song and celebration, so that the Spirit will be alive among us.
Let the Spirit flourish and grow, so that we will never tire of the struggle.
Let us remember those who have died for justice, for they have given us life.
Help us love even those who hate us, so we can change the world.
Following that, a young woman carried what I would call a smudge pot within and throughout the circle of people, after which one person sang and then everyone joined in the singing of this song:
We were instructed to form a single line so that we could walk safely on the country roads which have very little shoulder.  In the small crowd of all ages which then moved into single line, there was at least one toddler, carried by his mother.  At 1.6 miles was the first rest stop, which had been set up outside at the side of the two-lane country road.  There was a table with breakfast option of a chorizo/egg burrito or a vegan burrito), with donations accepted.  Extraordinary volunteer effort goes into organizing a march of this kind.  There were medics and a portable restroom which moved from rest stop to rest stop.  
At the first rest stop, a tiny boy walked tentatively, full of curiosity, as his mother watched closely over him and the adults stood eating their burritos and talking quietly in the early morning light of rural Whatcom County.
*a ceremony used by movements in Latin America to ground and express their work through spiritual, artistic, and cultural traditions.

"We believe that another world is possible ..."

From Community to Community:

"Join farmworker leaders from Community to Community (C2C) and Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ) in an historic march in rural Whatcom County. The march starts with a sunrise ceremony and mística at Customs and Border Patrol facility in Ferndale, and will proceed past several worksites where H2A workers have been contracted. Then march south on Meridian to Bakerview Rd in Bellingham.

This will be a day long reflection on a day in the life of a farmworker; from the time they start work until their day ends. Walk with us on country roads past acres of raspberry and blueberry fields where the fresh berries that are stocked on your grocery shelves are harvested. See the key component of the local agricultural economy, view corporate and NON-organic mono-agriculture fields and reflect on climate change, a contracted captive labor force, our local food system, community building and labor issues in Whatcom County from a farmworker perspective. We will end around 3pm with our vision of a healthy food system, fair and good for workers and eaters; at C2C's Jardín de Agroecología on Bakerview with a vigil, food and celebration, speakers, and music."

Saturday, August 3, 2019

"... Made up my mind and I won't turn around ..." (Mavis Staples in Dublin on June 23, 2019)

A view of Lake Whatcom from Lake Whatcom Boulevard at around 8:00 a.m. on August 2, 2019.

Eye shield after cataract surgery on July 30, 2019.  The eye shield was removed at the ophthalmologist's office on the day after surgery, but I have to put it back on at night for a week after the surgery as well as put drops in my eyes daily for a month.

Wildflower seed mix blooming on my porch.

My father's Norwegian / English / German mother and my mother's German / English / Irish mother.

Oboe turns 14 years old in August.

It's good to be able to read your blogs again now that the cataracts in my right eye have been removed.  Thank you for visiting my blog and for your kind thoughts while I was away.