Wildfires in Forests

Wildfires can occur in any country –

America, Canada, Australia,

And even in the Western Cape of South Africa

With climate change they have become prevalent.

Natural fires generally start by lightning.

Some begin by spontaneous combustion

Caused by sawdust and dried leaves,

And these fires burn for other reasons

But there are “good” and “bad” forest fires.

Wildfires are “good” when they are beneficial to mankind.

They turn dead trees and decaying plant matter into ashes

Causing nutrients to return to the soil,

Instead of being trapped in dead plant vegetation

So, wildfires clear the decaying trees

Of debris by returning health to the forest,

And some plants depend on the heat for germination

Wildfires are “bad” when they destroy homes

Causing a loss of lives and loss of cultivated acres

People suffer and they wipe out many species

Such fires also kill trees that prevent erosion

Thus, having a negative impact on the environment

In the forests more trees die because of insect infestation,

And disease than from wildfires

So, nature can be both “good” and “bad”,

Fires often help to restore the ecosystem of forests,

And the decomposed organic matter enriches the soil

“God, you have shown that with wildfires there could be mixed results.  So, help us in our quest to have a better understanding of climate change.”

Amen

Celebrating Your Life

Death cannot kill.

The soul will triumph.

Life is eternal.

Your deeds will live on.

You have made your mark.

How will you be remembered?

You were a shining star

Glowing brightly in the sky

People will always talk about you.

They love your glorious works

For you have been a living icon

And friends attest to your greatness

You nursed the sick and poor

Catering for their every need

You fought for their dignity

When some doubted your resolve

So, memories of your life live on

With the citizens of the world

For you lived an extraordinary life

Where everything was a miracle

These were your special gifts

Of a life well lived

Rest in peace Elizabeth!

The Afterlife in Religions

In World Religions & Beliefs concepts of the Afterlife

are perplexing and shrouded in mystery 

Faith traditions have beliefs that range

from bodily resurrection, the survival of the soul,   

merging of consciousness, heaven and hell,

reincarnation to animals, insects, plants, rocks etc.;

Moksha, or salvation in Hinduism,

Enlightenment, and Nirvana in Buddhism 

The Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

believe in the resurrection, judgment, heaven and hell;

while Indian religions – Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism

practice karma (good or bad actions),

some form of rebirth, or transmigration

based on the Samara doctrine of the cycle of life and death

But which path should an interfaith believer follow?

Myths and teachings about salvation must be put into context.

It makes no sense to follow blindly a faith tradition.

A believer’s approach calls for study, prayer, and intuition.

So, let your basis of finding a path for these answers

be through the pursuit of religious literacy

“God, give us the wisdom and insight to understand the tenets of the Afterlife.  Help us to grapple with these concepts in order to develop a rightful path.”

Amen  

Celtic Wisdom

John O’ Donohue’s Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom draws on poetry, Hegelian philosophy, and the mysticism of 13th century mystic Meister Eckhart. O’ Donohue was a successful Irish author, theologian, and philosopher. He popularized this book that was first published in 1997 on Celtic spirituality. In 2000, O’ Donohue left the priesthood in Ireland and found a receptive audience for his work in the United States. At the age of 52, he died in his sleep while holidaying near Avignon, France.

Motifs of this work showed where he was raised in the area of Connemara, Ireland. He spelled out the concepts of the soul. One’s body was viewed to be within the soul. This attachment meant that the soul was bound in a circular way that consisted of three dimensions of the heavens above, the landscape on the middle realm, and the underworld within the depths of the earth.

O’ Donohue examined the importance of the senses – the benefits of sight, the reality of hearing, and the presence of touch. He explained the reasons for the seasons – spring, summer, autumn, winter. For example, when is the best time to start a career? When should people harvest the fruits that were sowed? Why is autumn so significant in their lives? And how should people sustain themselves during the gloomiest days of the winter months?

An overall theme presented in this work is knowing oneself. The author illustrated how this was essential if people were to live successfully. He stressed that understanding begins when they cultivate their mind, body, and soul. O’ Donohue saw this as the only way by which individuals could begin to be of help to others. Other discussions centered around the importance of time and space.

Anam Cara is the Gaelic word for “soul-friend” that resonated throughout O’ Donohue’s writings. It’s a self-help manual for people who are seeking new ways of exploring their spiritual life. With his pronunciations there are some scriptural citations, and other Christian practices reminiscent of O’ Donohue’s experiences as a former Catholic priest with a doctorate in political philosophy.          

Kenyans on Top

When it comes to marathons

Look for the Kenyans

They have dominated

This long distance sports

Where thousands participate

A marathon is 26.2 miles.

It’s an endurance race

That calls for stamina,

Skills, and endurance

Kenyans have competed

In Boston, London, New York,

Berlin, Chicago, Paris, Amsterdam,

And Tokyo among other places

Kenyans hold the world records.

Eliud Kipchoge sets the men’s record

In Berlin in 2018 with a time 2:01:39

The International Amateur Athletic Federation

Recognizes Brigid Kosgei 2019 record

Of 2:14:04 in a race contested by men and women,

And Mary Keitany in 2017 for a “Women Only” race

That she won in London with 2:17:01

So, hats off to the Kenyans

They have shown the world their mettle

When it comes to being champions

In a very international and competitive field   

Aloe Vera Plant

O behold the green aloe with succulent stems

It’s Godsend

And people see this plant as an angel

Strangers – ordinary folk, gardeners,

And farmers do their part to grow this plant

They are sure to care and nurture it the right way

And that’s the love they share with nature

Aloe Vera must be watered infrequently to discourage rot

So, its caretakers have to be sure the soil is dry before watering it

The aloe needs six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily

And there must be sandy soil if the plant is grown in or outdoors

If the tips of the aloes become brown

It’s a problem with too much watering

This plant even grows well indoors with indirect sunlight

But still growers must check the soil

To remove roots that rot

Aloe Vera is an angel because of its life-generating properties

And it’s a popular ingredient in Indian and South Asian dishes

It can be eaten cooked or raw

But what else is this plant good for?

For centuries it has been used as a tropical skin cream

It’s a laxative that helps with constipation.

The meat inside its leaves treats skin conditions like psoriasis

And aloe creams have a calming effect by reducing itchiness, and inflammation of the skin

“God, thank you for Aloe Vera – the flourishing plant that provides us with an abundance of health benefits.”

Amen

The Warmth of Other Suns

Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration is a compelling work. It won the national book critics circle award for nonfiction. In its acknowledgement she expressed the greatest measure of gratitude for Ida Mae Gladney, George Swanson Startling, and Robert Pershing Foster, the people who gave so much of themselves to a book they did not see.

Wilkerson captured what it was like for Blacks to live in America. She focused mainly on the living conditions in the Jim Crow South and their experiences in the North and West. Her antagonists had previously lived in Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Florida. With the great migration they moved to New York, Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, Wisconsin, and California among other places.

Many of these migrants worked in the cotton belt and or picked fruits in Florida. They were abused, worked extremely long hours, feared for their lives, and witnessed lynching. They escaped such brutality of extreme pressure as trains brought them to their destination in northern cities. Robert Foster was somewhat different because he had a medical education, and decided to drive to California to establish himself. His trials were just as bad as the laboring class because it was difficult for him to find lodging at hotels, set up a practice, and to have getaways to Las Vegas.

Although many Blacks who migrated from the South were better off from those that were left behind, still they were faced with opposition from whites where they settled. This was because of the color of their skin. The jobs they were able to get was the lowest on the totem pole. This was particularly hard for Black women. Often, white workers at factories refused to work with Blacks. Housing was also a problem, so Blacks were mostly crowded in the less desirous districts of northern cities.

These conditions led to riots in the North. Undoubtedly, there was a caste system that favored whites whether they were Western or Eastern European immigrants. It was NAACP that took up the cause of Blacks and were fighting for their rights. Gradually, Civil rights leaders emerged like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., the Kerner Commission was a landmark decision, [ET1] and President Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964 that paved the way for social change.

It was estimated that over six million African Americans migrated North and West. They accounted for America’s diversity of mayors, politicians, actors, singers, teachers, business men and women, musicians, sportsmen and women, government and non-governmental professionals, and workers of all sorts.   


 [ET1]

Move Slowly

As we grow older

It’s wise to learn to move slowly

That’s because people age,

And they have to watch their steps.

People should do so for their own safety.

As young adults we’re on the move.

We walk quickly to do our chores.

It’s as though we’re always in a race.

But, later in life our pace diminishes.

This is because people tend to slow down.

So, when you’re taking a trip

Be sure to do so sensibly.

Take your time climbing stairs.

Watch where you’re walking.

For, the ground may be uneven.

At night make sure that paths are lit.

If they are dark use a light.

It’s a good idea to have a companion.

A friend can be a good guide.

So, make the most of your adventures.

These simple joys depend on

How you care for yourself,

And by the precautions you take.   

Community Service

It’s a delight to be

Of service to your community.

Many people depend

On your help

To make their lives better.

So, why don’t you do your part?

Give a helping hand to others.

And in your own way

Do what you can.

Anyone can help

At a soup kitchen in town

Where you’ll be able

To serve the poor and homeless.

There are some churches,

And community centers

That have these facilities available.

They cater for people in need.

Others may volunteer

In their city

Especially by working

At a hospital, school, or library.

These institutions have opportunities

For you to help in various jobs

That will benefit the community.

Monetary gifts are always welcome.

“God, help those that volunteer in their communities.  Let them see that the people who they serve are their brothers and sisters.  Bless their efforts.”

Amen

The Soul of America

Jon Meacham’s The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels analyzed the sweep of American political history. It showed how power, and social movements intersect to produce rather hopeful, and sometimes disturbing results. Meacham stated that America has had some good and bad presidents. But they inevitably made political decisions to further their chances of being elected or re-elected to this office.

Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of September 22, 1862 that freed the slaves later led to much Southern resistance. Edward Pollard’s Lost Cause became the rallying cry for many Southerners. The rise of the Ku Klux Klan to epic proportions served as a reminder that their struggle continued. Huey Long and Father Coughlin were demagogues that further fanned fears during turbulent times. Senator Joseph McCarthy stirred up Americans about communism before he was brought down. These were moments that led to terrorism, injury, death, wrongful dismissal of workers, and citizens being ostracized.

Presidents like Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Lyndon Johnson had to lead during such dysfunction. FDR had the Great Depression and a world war on his hands. Yet, he successfully put in place economic growth and social programs for Americans. A Southerner, Lyndon Johnson became president after John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Johnson was the architect of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legislation providing for gender protections, and outlawing segregation in public accommodations. Nor must we forget the work done by the civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, and John Lewis.