Jones of the Nile

Friday, December 30, 2005

All things are connected

I can't end 2006 with a joke about reptiles and their erection problems. I'm leery of the karma that would produce for me in 2006!

So instead, here's a reminder from writer Vandana Shiva about how all of creation is connected, in some form. Shiva has a new book out, "Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability and Peace," published by South End Press. In 1993, she won the "Alternative Nobel Peace Prize," (also known as the "Right Livelihood Awards") which until now I had no idea even existed. Her take on Earth Democracy is that it is an ancient worldview that connects the particular to the universal, the diverse to the common, and the local to the global.

To word it in a way that doesn't fit so easily onto a bumper sticker (unless you use a really tiny font), she borrows some lines from Chief Seattle of the Suquamish tribe, who recognized life as a continuum between human and non-human species, and between past, present and future generations. Hail to the Chief...

    How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us.

    If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

    Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man.

    This we know; the earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites our family. All things are connected.
Here's to a 2006 where the dominant worldview doesn't see the planet as a wealth of private property, but as a commons to be shared.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

To end the year with one last lame joke...

So there's this lizard, and he's not feeling quite himself, so he goes in to visit his doctor.

"Hey Doc," the lizard says, "I don't really know what's wrong with me, but I just don't feel myself lately. I'm tired, not real interested in hunting, or wandering about. I just feel kind of different."

The doctor examines the lizard thoroughly, and after the examination says to the lizard, "Well, truthfully, my hunch is that you are having a know...down there."

The lizard looked confused.

"Tell you what," said the doctor. "I'm going to give you a prescription for this drug. It's similar to Viagra, and..."

"Whoa, wait, wait, wait..." exclaimed the lizard. "I don't have a problem down there, Doc! I mean, come on, I'm a pretty able-bodied lizard."

"Well, I don't know," said the doctor. "Given the symptoms you described, I think this drug might work. I mean, it seems pretty clear to me that you're suffering from some sort of reptile dysfunction."

*applause, applause, chuckles, etc.*

Starting in the new year I'll get serious again...happy new year, y'all!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Saved by the MBAs

When someone says the phrase "business major" my insides tend to tense up. "Why can't you harness your passion for venture capitalism for good instead of evil?" I ask.

As it turns out, some folks are. Check this out from Time Magazine: Meet the Hard-Nosed Do-Gooders. Don't get me wrong...I still roll my eyes when I hear things like "market-based solutions for problems in the non-profit world."

But during these holiday days, it's good to read about people trying to improve the world, rather than exploit it for their own pocketbooks.

And besides, I told myself I wouldn't post about anything depressing until after January 2.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


I haven't had a chance yet to share with many of you an article that I had published on December 2 - a day that commemorated the 25th anniversary of the murder of four U.S. churchwomen in El Salvador. The article was published on, one of my favorite sites, if for the fact that it annoys conservative columnist Michelle Malkin.

You can check out the article here.

It's been a long week, on top of an already long month. As I get ready to break for the holidays, here's a reflection from Guerillas of Grace asking for calm. Which is exactly what we need after brutal periods of storm.

O God,
calm me into a quietness
that heals
and listens,
and molds my longings
and passions,
my wounds
and wonderings
into a more holy
and human

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Long time, no blogging

It feels like I haven't posted something to this blog since Laura Branigan was on top the charts. (Rest in peace, Ms. Branigan!) Things have been really painful at my work, with the departure of two senior staff people, and quite a bit of uncertainty about the future of our organization. Not its longevity...I don't think that's in question. Moreso how we will adapt to the massive changes that are going to take place imminently.

Being occupied by all of this, I've been trying to nourish my life with some passages on change, especially the anxiety that change produces. I think we've all hit crossroad points in life, where all we can do is ride out the major change taking place. A new job, the loss of a loved one, a broken relationship, a major location change, presidential elections (especially in recent history!) and more - all can produce the type of anxiety that takes us into a really dark place.

Today I resonate with something that Joan Chittister wrote more than ten years ago. For those who haven't read Joan Chittister yet, what the hell are you waiting for? She has a way of piecing together common sense wisdom with real spiritual nourishment - the kind of vignettes you'd find in "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff," if that book was written for seriously contemplative people. (Not that I'm even close to being seriously contemplative, but I digress...)

Anyway, here's Joan reminding us of the potential yield of dark times...

"In a dark time," wrote poet Theodore Roethke, "the eye begins to see." The dark times in life are not our enemy. Dark times empty the world of the things that would otherwise distract us from seeing the important things. Enter the darkness with confidence.

She makes a major point; often times we let dark times take us away from who we are, what we want to do, why we do what we do, etc. We forget what's inside of us that motivates us to make a difference, to be a better person, to create a better world. Here's Joan's challenge:

If what we wait for is not within us in the first place, we wait in vain. To wait with anxiety for peace is never to be peaceful. To wait for public success without feeling good about ourselves is to never know achievement. To wait for the spiritual life without a continuing sense of the presence of God is to be consumers of religion, perhaps, but to miss its meaning.

The waiting out of change. I think that's one of the hardest challenges - to put faith in the struggle rather than faith in worry or anxiety about the end result. Perhaps we are acculturated to approach newness with apprehension. But in so doing, I can't help but wonder if we stray from who we are, and relinquish the control we have over our own pursuit of happiness.

To close with more Joan:

Newness is exciting but not always easy to accept. It often takes a great deal of faith to accept change in life. But then again, newness and change may be one of the few times in life that we really get the chance to believe that God is everywhere, even where we've never been before.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The weight of a snowflake

In the midst of kidnapped humanitarian workers, genocide returning to Sudan (did it ever go away? Or did we just stop paying attention?), Pakistan earthquake refugees overcome by harsh winter weather and more bad news, this story reiterates the necessity of the David vs. Goliath fight for peace in this broken world. Enjoy! Have a great weekend.

    "Tell me the weight of a snowflake," a coal mouse inquired of a wild dove.

    "Nothing more than nothing," the dove answered.

    "In that case I must tell you a marvelous story," the coal mouse said. "I sat on a branch of a fir, close to its trunk, when it began to snow, not heavily, not in a giant blizzard, no, just like in a dream, without any violence. Since I didn't have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,741,952. When the next snowflake dropped onto the branch - nothing more than nothing, as you say - the branch broke off."

    Having said that, the coal mouse flew away. The dove, since Noah's time an authority on the matter, thought about the story for a while and finally said to herself, "Perhaps there is only one person's voice lacking for peace to come about in the world."

Friday, December 02, 2005

I'm one day late, but this is still good

Yesterday was World AIDS Day. I missed commemorating something as important as World AIDS Day, in exchange for a post about ostrich piss. What is my problem?! as amends for my oversight, here's a brief reflection/prayer offered by a Catholic brother who worked very closely with HIV/AIDS patients in New Jersey - Brother Bob Reinke, OFC. Hope this finds folks well. I know it's pretty religious, but I found meaning in this and wanted to share.

    O Compassionate God, we are grateful for the advancements made in the field of pharmaceuticals that have not only extended but improved the quality of life for those infected with HIV. But God, we also remind you that we still do not have a cure. Twenty-five million of your children have perished in the last twenty-four years because of being infected with this constantly mutating virus. Oh God of all Knowledge, lead those who are seeking the cure to find it soon.

    O Compassionate God, we are painfully aware that millions of our infected brothers and sisters have no access to the pharmaceuticals available. Help us and the governmental leaders in the world to address the lack of access and affordability of those medications.

    O Compassionate God, be compassionate to the forty million infected people living with this virus. Be a source of courage and strengh to them. Bless them with your gifts of faith, hope, and love.

    O Compassionate God, being mindful of those who are caregivers of those who are infected, let us be a visible presence of compassion and love as we journey together.

    O Compassionate God, heal the pain we have experienced because of the losses of a planned future, health, and loved ones.

    O Compassionate God, as prayers are raised throughout this state, country and world, be attentive to our supplications and graciously hear us. Amen.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Useless fact of the day

Work has been noodles this past week for me, which is why I've been delinquent on updating my blog.

First, a useless fact:

To keep cool, Ostriches urinate on their legs; it then evaporates like sweat.

DO NOT think that this works on humans. Trust me, it doesn't.

Anyway, that tidbit of trivia is from Useless Fact of the Day which is a list serve I joined the day I started working at my current employer. Here's to worker productivity!