Saturday, September 30, 2017

Out and About – Summer 2017



Well, the autumnal equinox has been and gone . . . which means the "time of transformation" is well and truly upon us. Indeed, here in Minnesota the leaves are turning and the temperature is cooling. Time, then, to take a look back on the summer that has ever-so-recently ended . . . and a summer that actually included a winter – an Australian winter!

But first, regular readers will be familiar with my "Out and About" series, one that I began in April 2007 as a way of documenting my life as an “out” gay man, seeking to be all “about” the Spirit-inspired work of embodying God’s justice and compassion in the world. I've continued the series in one form or another for the last 10 years – in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 . . . and now into 2017.

So let's get started with this latest installment . . .

Above and right: I feel like my summer really got off to a great start with a June 15-17 trip "up north" with my dear friend Kathleen to the Grand Marais on Minnesota's beautiful North Shore.

Over the years I've embarked on many memorable road trips with Kathleen, including to St. Louis in 2008, Wisconsin in 2010, Kansas City in 2012, and Pahá Sápa in 2013.



Above: Grand Marais – Saturday, June 17, 2017. For more images and commentary of our visit to Grand Marais, click here.



Above: Back in the Twin Cities and my home in south Minneapolis.

I'm very fortunate to live where I do and with the best housemate one possibly ever want. First things first, though, where I live. . . . I'm very close to Minnehaha Creek and its surrounding parkland and areas of urban wilderness. The heron at left, however, was not photographed at the creek but on a pond not far from Cedar Lake, which is also located in Minneapolis. I was house- and cat-sitting for some friends in that area early in the summer. For more images of and around Cedar Lake taken at this time of "perfect young summer," click here.



Above: Now here's a photo that was taken by Minnehaha Creek. In fact, the creek is just out of view over on the right!

Since the end of August I've been walking the path that you can see in this picture every day to catch my bus to work. I feel very connected to the large oak that you can see, for reasons which I talk about here.



Above: Playing badminton with Tim, my housemate, in the front yard of our home. He won!

As I said before, Tim is a great housemate . . . and I feel very fortunate to know him that way and as a good friend.


Right: Tim and his girlfriend Colleen. We were all out celebrating Tim's birthday at the the end of June.



Above: Speaking of special friends, here's my boyfriend Brent! Among many other wonderful things, he's a big time Wonder Woman fan! We went and saw the new Wonder Woman movie when it first came out in early June. We both liked it a lot (even though, truth be told, the Scarlet Witch is my favorite superhero!).



At the end of June I "moved on" from my site coordinator position with TRUST Meals on Wheels, a position I'd had since June 2011. On Monday, June 26, 2017, my colleagues and friends at TRUST hosted a farewell reception for me.

Above: With my work colleague Julia and a number of Meals on Wheels volunteers. From left: Margie, me, Julia, Kim, Larry, Ann and Dick – Monday, June 26, 2017.

Left: With longtime Meals on Wheels volunteer Sue and little Leo.

For more images and commentary, click here.



On Saturday, July 1, I had a number of friends over for a party ahead of my July 9 departure for Australia for a six-week visit.

Above: Friends Tim, Hugh, David, Omar, Matthew, Brent, and Zac.

Right: Friends Stephanie, Alfredo, and John.

For more commentary and photos of this and other "bon voyage" gatherings at around the same time, click here.



Above: An Australian sunrise – July 24, 2017. It was, of course, winter in the southern hemisphere when I was in Australia.

To start at the beginning of my "Australian Sojourn – Winter 2017" series of posts, click here.



Above: With my two brothers and our parents – Coogee, August 5, 2017.

We gathered in Coogee, a beachside suburb of Sydney, to celebrate my Dad's 80th birthday. For more images and commentary, click here.



Above and below: Feeling at one with the spirit of Guruk.





Above: On August 22 I returned to Minnesota and my home by beautiful Minnehaha Creek in south Minneapolis.



Above: Friends John and George . . .



. . . whose September 16 wedding in Minneapolis I had the great honor of officiating!



Above: Brent and I at George and John's September 16, 2017 wedding ceremony at The Towers in downtown Minneapolis.




Summer 2017 Wild Reed posts of note:
The Holy Spirit: Giver of Knowledge, Light, Inspiration, and Guidance
Our Lives as LGBTQI People: “Garments Grown in Love”
Vanessa Redgrave: “Just Being Alive, Staying Human, I Think That’s Infinitely Precious”
June, the “Time of Perfect Young Summer”
Progressive Perspectives on Jeremy Corbyn's Achievement in the UK Election
He's Back!
On the First Anniversary of the Pulse Gay Nightclub Massacre, Orlando Martyrs Commemorated in Artist Tony O'Connell's “Triptych for the 49”
Tony Enos on Understanding the Two Spirit Community
A Visit to Grand Marais
Police, Pride, and Philando Castile
Making the Connections
Interiors
Petula Clark: Singing for Us, Not at Us
Moving On
Australia Bound
Ahmad Joudeh: Dancing for Peace
Buffy Sainte-Marie Headlines SummerStage Festival in NYC's Central Park
Challenging Discrimination Through a Modern Take on Traditional Dance
In Charlottesville, the Face of Terrorism In the U.S.

Australian Sojourn – Winter 2017
A Visit to the Art Gallery of New South Wales
Overcast Skies
Austen and Australia
Donald Trump: A View from Australia
Return to Guruk
The Neoliberal Economic Doctrine: A View from Australia
Guruk Seascapes: From Dawn to Dusk
Good Mr. Dawes
A Visit to Sydney's Taronga Zoo
Journey to the Southern Highlands & Tablelands: Exeter and Mt. Alexandra
Journey to the Southern Highlands & Tablelands: Bundanoon and the Sunnataram Forest Monastery
Journey to the Southern Highlands & Tablelands: Goulburn and Canberra
The State of Marriage Equality in Australia (Part 1)
The State of Marriage Equality in Australia (Part 2)
In Coogee, A Very Special Birthday Celebration
Return to Sydney
A Visit to Gunnedah
Last Days in Australia
Guruk Sunrise

Return to Minnesota . . . and to Summer!
Worldwide Gay Pride 2017
Spirituality and the Health Care Setting
Thank You, Frank!
The Prayer Tree




See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Out and About – Spring 2017
Out and About – Winter 2016-2017
Out and About – Autumn 2016
Out and About – Summer 2016
Out and About – Spring 2016

Images: Michael J. Bayly.


Friday, September 29, 2017

St. Michael, "Wave Maker"

That's how an RN at work described St. Michael the Archangel. I have no idea what she meant by this description, but she said it after she heard my name and after I told her that today was St. Michael's feast day.

Oh, and it was just before I was about to go and see a patient in my role as resident chaplain. I'd visited this patient, a young man recovering from addiction issues, a number of times before. According to the RN with whom I briefly engaged outside the patient's door, I was a "hit." Hopefully that meant I was making a difference in this young man's life.

Hmm . . . maybe that's what she meant by "wave maker"?


For more of St. Michael the Archangel at The Wild Reed, see:
The Archangel Michael as Gay Icon
St. Michael the Archangel: Perspectives and Portraits
Michaelmas (2008)
St. Michael: Archangel, Spiritual Warrior, Icon of Homoerotic Love
The Inherent Sensuality of Roman Catholicism

Image: St. Michael the Archangel by Br. Mickey McGrath (via Trinity Stores).


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Progressive Perspectives on Colin Kaepernick and the "Take A Knee" Movement


I dare say that for those Americans unaware of the movement involving NFL players and others kneeling during the playing of the national anthem so as to protest police brutality and racial disparity, things changed in a big way this past weekend. And it was a dramatic gaining of consciousness due entirely to comments made by President Donald Trump about the NFL players who are "taking a knee."

During a campaign rally in Huntsville, Alabama, last Friday, Trump said such player protests were “a total disrespect of our heritage.”

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired’?” Trump said.

Numerous NFL players quickly condemned Trump’s comments, and the NFL itself released an official statement on Saturday calling the remarks “divisive” and disrespectful.

More significantly, NFL player protests swept the entire league this past weekend in response to Trump's hostile remarks.


Colin Kaepernick: American hero

The "take the knee" movement was started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick who, during the 2016 season, began not standing while the national anthem was played before the start of games. Kaepernick's decision to remain seated (and then later kneel) during the anthem was his way of protesting systemic racism and police killings of black Americans in the U.S.

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," he said in a locker room interview on August 28, 2016. In the same interview he also noted that, "There’s a lot of things that need to change. One specifically? Police brutality. There’s people being murdered unjustly and not being held accountable. People are being given paid leave for killing people. That’s not right. That’s not right by anyone’s standards."

How bad is the problem of police in the U.S. shooting black people? Well, just in the year after Kaepernick first began to protest, police and law enforcement officials killed at least 223 black Americans, according to a HuffPost analysis of data compiled by The Washington Post and The Guardian. The latter reported that in 2015 young black men were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by police officers. Furthermore, their rate of police-involved deaths was five times higher than for white men of the same age.




Over the next year, as numerous NFL players joined Kaepernick, police across the United States killed at least 222 other black Americans ― culminating with the death, on August 13 of this year, of Patrick Harmon, a 50-year-old black man shot and killed by police in Salt Lake City.

Kaepernick's protest sparked nationwide controversy both inside and outside of sports. In the eyes of many, however, much of outrage was short-sighted, misplaced, and/or hypocritical, as the following op-ed cartoons highlight.








Kaepernick threw 16 touchdowns against just four interceptions in 12 starts for the 49ers last season. He has been a free agent since he opted out of his contract with the team on March 1 (the 49ers, who went 2-14 last season, would have cut him had he not opted out, new general manager John Lynch said in May).

Kaepernick's free agency status has been the subject of much discussion and controversy, with many believing that his protests, and not performance, were the reason he was not signed with a team for the 2017 season.




Regardless of the reason he remains unsigned, Kaepernick is an immensely popular and inspiring figure. Personally, I consider him an American hero. His nonviolent protest against racial injustice has been likened to the activism of Martin Luther King, Jr. His jersey led the 49ers’ sales from March to May this year, and many are inspired by his generous financial support of organizations working in oppressed communities. It's even been suggested that Kaepernick be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.



Above: Eli Harold, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem last year. (Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)


Following are a number of progressive perspectives on Colin Kaepernick and the "Take a Knee" movement he started.

In demonstration of complete ignorance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s teachings and beliefs, Clemson University’s football coach Dabo Swinney claimed King would not have supported Kaepernick. Anyone with actual knowledge of what King stood for knows he would have rejoiced at a rich, Black athlete risking fame and fortune by nonviolently protesting for justice. If college athletes are being taught something different it is blasphemy, not truth.

Kaepernick isn’t the first athlete to speak out, though he does it without the perils to those who came before him. John Carlos and Tommie Smith [right] raised fists and were kicked out of the Olympics. Muhammed Ali refused to step forward in his draft line; he lost his title. Jackie Robinson was in a WWII segregated military unit and refused to stand up when he was ordered to the back of the bus, taking a court-martial instead.

Today Robinson is an American icon. No player in Major League Baseball wears number 42 — except for one day of the season when all players on all teams wear it.

Robinson wrote about his first World Series game: “There I was, the black grandson of a slave, the son of a black sharecropper, part of a historic occasion. . . . As I write this 20 years later, I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world. In 1972, in 1947, at my birth in 1919, I know that I never had it made.”

Kaepernick surely had it better than the Black athletes who came before him, but there simply is no denying how pervasive racial injustice remains in our country. His critics might not want to be reminded of racial injustice while watching football, but imagine if they had to live with it.

– Jeffery Robinson
Excerpted from "Standing Up for Justice by Kneeling During Anthem"
Inside Sources
September 11, 2017



Above: Colin Kaepernick in 2016. (Photo: Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)


Ever since [. . .] white people first expressed the initial outrage (the kind they’ve sustained and that has resulted in Kaepernick still being unemployed), I’ve been looking to these same people for some semblance of grief at the unapologetic racism on display in this country, some anger at the pattern of supremacy and privilege in this Administration, some outrage at the sickening deja vu Americans of color are experiencing.

But I’m finding none of these things. Instead I’m finding victim blaming and rationalizing and elaborate efforts to tell us why our eyes aren’t seeing what they’re seeing.

I know what my eyes see. I know what they see over and over and over again.

They see humanity ignored, they see fear metastasized, and they see white people excusing away violence and discrimination and murder — instead of facing the brutal truth that maybe institutional racism is real and maybe Colin Kaepernick and his brethren are worth listening to, and maybe they shouldn’t be vilified outliers who we’re trying to shut-up.

Maybe we should all be kneeling right now.

White friends, if your immediate response to the shooting of a man or woman of color is to try and justify why he or she is dead instead of asking why they were shot, you may be the problem here.

If you’re more comfortable calling out kneeling football players than marching nazis with torches, you may want to ask why that is.

– John Pavlovitz
Excerpted from "White America, It’s Time to Take a Knee"
The Intercept
September 20, 2017



Above: Ravens players never protested during the national anthem before last Sunday's game against the Jaguars, who also all knelt. (Photo: AP/Matt Dunham)


Trump directed some of the harshest words of his presidency not at ascendant neo-Nazis or even opposition politicians, but peaceful NFL stars, many of them black, taking a knee to bring attention to a cause they care about deeply. What makes this so unique is that it wasn’t a Joe Biden hot mic moment: It was an intentional attack on free speech.

The outrage was instantaneous. Athletes and entertainers expressed their disgust. Soon, the remarks became a national, and even international, discussion.

Then came Sunday. It was the largest single day of protest in NFL history. Instead of Colin Kaepernick taking a knee, 19 teams had about 200 players who participated in protests of some kind; many took a knee or had a seat during the national anthem. Three teams opted not to come out for the anthem at all.

And they weren’t alone: The protesting players were joined by owners, some of whom even decided to go down to the field to lock arms with their players as a form of solidarity. Front offices from team after team blasted Trump’s words at the Alabama rally in official press statements and tweeted infographics — all saying some version of how much they disagreed with Trump’s divisive tone or rhetoric.

And that’s where we have to pause.

The popular demands on NFL executives and owners to speak out against Trump seem strange. Most NFL owners and general managers are unknown to your average American. But here’s the thing: What Trump said about NFL players who take a knee during the national anthem was hardly different from what NFL owners have not only said, but actually done to Kaepernick.

. . . Kaepernick has been effectively banned from the NFL by owners and management who hate his guts like they do traitors and murderers.

That’s why what happened yesterday was perplexing. Some of the team owners showing solidarity with their players had made million-dollar donations to Trump’s inaugural committee, knowing full well where he was coming from. And many of the same team executives who were releasing statements and locking arms in support of players have shown their own disdain for Kaepernick — some, presumably, were the same ones who trashed him to Bleacher Report, others simply failed to show Kaepernick solidarity by refusing to give him a shot at playing again.

Trump learned his disdain for protesting players from them. Way before he called protesting players sons of bitches, the team executives were saying, fuck Colin Kaepernick.

Never mind that Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, the two best quarterbacks in the game, say Kaepernick should be in the league. Never mind the fact that some teams are still winless with quarterbacks who are struggling through every single quarter. Before Trump said a single word in Alabama, those teams had already shut Kaepernick out.

What the NFL players did yesterday was genuine — real solidarity with one of their own. But what most of those team owners and general managers did was marketing. It was, in the words of ESPN’s Howard Bryant, “performance art.” It looked and felt real, but was as counterfeit as a $3 bill. These owners and general managers put on a beautiful show yesterday, but as long as Kaepernick, in the prime of his physical career, is unemployed, they clearly lack the courage of their convictions. Kaepernick should’ve been on the field yesterday.

– Shaun King
Excerpted from "NFL Owners and Executives
Who Protested Donald Trump Are the Biggest Hypocrites Yet
"
The Intercept
September 25, 2017



Above: Not just the players. Cheerleader Raianna Brown kneels at her Georgia Tech football game on Saturday, September 23, 2017. (Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)


Black people in protest, be they rich or poor, famous or obscure, have always made the powers that be uncomfortable. Because to be black and to be conscious and to have a voice flies in the face of white supremacy. As a result, while Nazis can be afforded the right to march freely and proudly through American cities, it is conceivably never OK for black people to speak out against what they perceive as injustice and oppression.

Some people, like Browns coach Hue Jackson, have argued that on the field or in the locker room is not the proper venue for protest. But what is ever the right venue, when it comes to black people in protest? Black people march in the streets, and they’re branded as a whole as thuggish rioters and looters. Black people quietly take a knee on basketball courts or football fields, and they’re branded as ungrateful and unpatriotic. Black people share their opinions on white supremacy via Twitter, and suddenly they’re loose cannons who should be fired.

This, of course, is white supremacy at work. The criticisms of the NFL athletes who have largely led this new wave of silent protest during the National Anthem isn’t really about respect (those who have died defending this country also died for the right of American citizens to protest). It’s about controlling black people, and, most of all, actively dismissing the very real concerns and issues that these protests are calling out.

– Zeba Blay
Excerpted from "What It Really Means When
Black People Who Protest Are Called ‘Ungrateful’
"
The Huffington Post
September 25, 2017



Above: Players from the Indianapolis Colts take a knee.
(Photographer unknown)


While [the] NFL protests may be unpopular right now, particularly with white people,1 similar protests in the past — involving race, civil rights and varying definitions of patriotism — came to be viewed much more positively after the fact.

Marches for civil rights during the 1960s were generally seen negatively at the time. As the Washington Post noted last year, most Americans didn’t approve of the Freedom Riders, the March on Washington in 1963 or other similar protests. In fact, many Americans thought that these protests would hurt the advancement of civil rights. In addition, but many Americans held mixed-to-negative views of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. In a 1966 Gallup survey, 63 percent of Americans gave King a negative score on a scale from -5 to +5. Now, the civil rights marches are viewed as major successes, and just 4 percent of Americans rated King negatively on that same scale in a 2011 Gallup poll.

Many Americans also viewed gay rights marchers during the AIDS epidemic negatively. According to Business Insider, the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation in April 1993 drew more than 800,000 people fighting against discrimination and seeking more funding for AIDS research. But in a Newsweek survey conducted at the time, only 23 percent of Americans thought that the demonstration did more good than harm in the fight for gay rights. Today, gay rights organizations celebrate the march, same-sex marriage is legal and much of the platform demanded by protesters seems mainstream.

The polling on the marches for black and gay civil rights underscores a fundamental truth about surveys: They merely measure how people feel at the time the polls are conducted. People can change their minds later. Civil rights protests, moreover, tend to involve a minority making demands of society at large, and so by definition begin as “unpopular” — which means that their initial unpopularity doesn’t tell us much about how they’ll ultimately be viewed.

– Harry Enten
Excerpted from "The NFL Protests May Be Unpopular Now,
But That Doesn’t Mean They’ll End That Way
"
FiveThirtyEight
September 25, 2017


Stay focused. The NFL protests are not about Trump, the military or respect for the flag. They are about police violence against people of color and the systemic racism in the United States that precipitates and excuses them. Every time we talk about these important acts of high-profile resistance in other terms we diminish their impact by diluting their message.

– Unknown
via Facebook
September 25, 2017


Related Off-site Links:
ColinThe Leveret (June 22, 2017).
U.S. Veterans Are Coming to Colin Kaepernick’s Defense in Droves – Maxwell Strachan (The Huffington Post, August 31, 2016).
A Tale of Two Christianities on Its Knees: Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick – Michael Frost (Mike Frost.net, May 3, 2017).
Colin Kaepernick Has Donated $700K of His $1 Million Pledge to 24 Different Organizations – Mark Hinog (SB Nation, June 3, 2017).
The Unexpected Connection Between Slavery, NFL Protests and the National Anthem – AJ Willingham (CNN, August 22, 2017).
Star-Spangled Bigotry: The Hidden Racist History of the National Anthem – Jason Johnson (The Root, July 4, 2016).
Why Colin Kaepernick Matters – Samuel G. Freedman (BillMoyers.com, August 15, 2017).
The Awakening of Colin Kaepernick – John Branch (The New York Times, September 7, 2017).
Calling Kaepernick "Son of a Bitch," Trump Urges NFL to Fire All Protesting Players – Jon Queally (Common Dreams, September 23, 2017).
Colin Kaepernick’s Mom Has No Time For Trump Calling Her Son A ‘Son Of A Bitch’ – Sam Levine (The Huffington Post, September 23, 2017).
I Tried to Defend Colin Kaepernik and This Is What I Learned – MarquetteAlumProgressive (Daily Kos, September 23, 2017).
NFL Players, Coaches, and Owners Lock Arms and Kneel During National AnthemESPN.com (September 24, 2017).
NFL Players Kneel for Anthem In Unprecedented Defiance of Trump – Bryan Armen Graham and Martin Pengelly (The Guardian, September 24, 2017).
Take the Knee: Athletes Unite in Historic Protest Against Racism and Police Brutality, Defying TrumpDemocracy Now! (September 24, 2017).
Why Is Trump Condemning Football Players More Harshly Than White Supremacists? – Jacqueline Thomsen (The Hill, September 24, 2017).
The Long History of Civil Rights Protests Making White People Uncomfortable – Judd Legum (Think Progress, September 25, 2017).
I Understand Why They Knelt – David French (National Review, September 25, 2017).
Dallas Sportscaster on NFL Players Taking a Knee: "All of Us Should Protest How Black Americans Are Treated in This Country" – Emma Baccellieri (Deadspin, September 25, 2017).
Jesse Williams: NFL National Anthem Is a "Scam" to Boost Military Recruitment – Cavan Sieczkowski (The Huffington Post, September 25, 2017).
Trump Fixates on NFL Protests — While Ignoring the Disaster in Puerto Rico – Heather Digby Parton (Salon, September 25, 2017).
It's Bigger Than Trump. It's Bigger Than Kaepernick – Charles Pierce (Esquire, September 25, 2017).
All of the Work, None of the Credit: Don't Drop the Ball on the WNBA's Activism – Britni de la Cretaz (Bitch Media, September 26, 2017).
Congresswoman Takes a Knee on the House Floor to Protest Donald Trump’s NFL Remarks – Lee Moran (The Huffington Post, September 26, 2017).
Why Do Whites Oppose the NFL Protests? – Steve Chapman (The Chicago Tribune, September 26, 2017).
Sponsors Are Dropping NFL Players for Protesting. This Is What We Mean When We Say ‘White Supremacy’ – Michael Harriot (The Root, September 26, 2017).

UPDATES: Colin Kaepernick Is Named Citizen of the Year by GQ Magazine – Chuck Schilken (Los Angeles Times, November 13, 2017).
Colin Kaepernick is Recipient of 2017 Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award – Michael Rosenberg (Sports Illustrated, November 30, 2017).
Colin Kaepernick Named Face of Nike's 30th Anniversary of 'Just Do It' Campaign – Tim Daniels (Bleacher Report, September 3, 2018).
Don’t Speak for My Military Family: A Veteran’s Wife on Colin Kaepernick and the Nike Boycott – Lily Burana (Salon, September 5, 2018).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
In Charlottesville, the Face of Terrorism In the U.S.
Trump's America: Normalized White Supremacy and a Rising Tide of Racist Violence
On International Human Rights Day, Saying "No" to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
Welcome to America . . .
"This Doesn't Happen to White People"
Remembering Philando Castile and Demanding Abolition of the System That Targets and Kills People of Color


Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Price I Pay

For "music night" this evening at The Wild Reed I share the promotional video for Jenny Morris's cover of the Billy Bragg song, "The Price I Pay."

Jenny's 1993 recording of this song was her last appearance to date on the Australian ARIA top 100 singles chart. The track was later included on her 1995 album Salvation Jane. (For another track from this album, click here.)

About Billy Bragg's original 1986 recording, Dan Seeger writes:

The clarity and directness of . . . “The Price I Pay” (There’s something inside that hurts my foolish pride/ To visit the places we used to go together/ Not a day goes by that I don’t sit and wonder why/ Your feeling for me didn’t last forever) is enhanced by the studio care that’s been brought to [it], the kind attention that becomes the production equivalent of a sympathetic ear, always listening with the goal of complete understanding.

To my ears the same can be said of Jenny Morris's recording, beautifully and knowingly produced by Andrew Farriss and Mark Moffatt, together with Electric Hippies' duo Steve Balbi and Justin Stanley.

So without further ado, here's Jenny Morris and "The Price I Pay" . . .




My friend said he could see no way ahead
And I was probably better off without you
He said to face up to the fact
that you weren't coming back
And he could make me happy like you used to
But I'm sorry to say I turned him away
Knowing everything he said was true
And that's the price I pay
for loving you the way that I do

And there's something inside
that hurts my foolish pride
To visit the places we used to go together
Not a day goes by
that I don't sit and wonder why
Your feelings for me didn't last forever
But I love you so much that sometimes it's such
I'd walk a mile with a stone in my shoe
And that's the price I pay
for loving you the way that I do
That's the price I pay
for loving you the way that I do

So keep that phone out of my way
for all the things I must say
Are empty if you don't believe they're true
And that's the price I pay
for loving you the way that I do
That's the price I pay
for loving you the way that I do

I love you so much that, baby, it's such
I'd walk a mile with a stone in my shoe
And that's the price I pay
for loving you the way that I do


For more of Jenny Morris at The Wild Reed, see:
In Too Deep
Saved Me
Crackerjack Man
Sometimes I Wonder . . .
Tears
Break in the Weather

Related Off-site Link:
"I Didn’t Find It a Joyful Experience Anymore": Singer Jenny Morris Reveals She Was Forced to Quit Music After Battling Rare Neurological Condition That Has No Cure – Monique Friedlander (Daily Mail, October 12, 2015).
Jenny Morris: Singer Reveals Career-ending Spasmodic Dysphonia Diagnosis, Hailed a "Real Hero" for Charity Work – Ben Cheshire (ABC News, October 12, 2015).
Jenny Morris Honoured for Fight for Musicians’ Rights as She Reveals She Was Assaulted on Stage – Kathy McCabe (The Daily Telegraph, March 25, 2017).
Singer Jenny Morris on Sharing a House with Michael Hutchence – Christine Sams (Domain, March 27, 2017).
Singer Jenny Morris Honoured in Sydney Ceremony – Iain Shedden (The Australian, May 20, 2017).

Previous featured artists at The Wild Reed:
Dusty Springfield | David Bowie | Kate Bush | Maxwell | Buffy Sainte-Marie | Prince | Frank Ocean | Maria Callas | Loreena McKennitt | Rosanne Cash | Petula Clark | Wendy Matthews | Darren Hayes | Jenny Morris | Gil Scott-Heron | Shirley Bassey | Rufus Wainwright | Kiki Dee | Suede | Marianne Faithfull | Dionne Warwick | Sam Sparro | Wanda Jackson | Engelbert Humperdinck | Pink Floyd | The Church | Enrique Iglesias | Yvonne Elliman | Lenny Kravitz | Helen Reddy | Stephen Gately | Judith Durham | Nat King Cole | Emmylou Harris | Bobbie Gentry | Russell Elliot | BØRNS | Hozier | Enigma | Moby (featuring the Banks Brothers) | Cat Stevens | Chrissy Amphlett | Jon Stevens | Nada Surf | Tom Goss (featuring Matt Alber) | Autoheart | Scissor Sisters | Mavis Staples | Claude Chalhoub | Cass Elliot | Duffy | The Cruel Sea | Wall of Voodoo | Loretta Lynn and Jack White | Foo Fighters | 1927 | Kate Ceberano | Tee Set | Joan Baez | Wet, Wet, Wet | Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy | Fleetwood Mac | Jane Clifton | Australian Crawl | Pet Shop Boys | Marty Rhone | Josef Salvat | Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri | Aquilo


Friday, September 22, 2017

A Time of Transformation


Given how much of my spirituality resonates with themes and images of journey, balance, and transformation, I find myself drawn to today's Autumnal Equinox and moreover to Cliff Séruntine's eloquent and insightful reflection on it.

September: Time of the darkening equinox, the balance between sun and shadow. Full of the magic of change – not always a comfortable magic. Its twilight empties the heart of its mortal dream. Yet, September is not a bleak month, but a time of transformation. There is no dream as fair as the host rushing “twixt night and day,” a symbol of the continuance of life in the Otherworld. This is the Celtic spiral of life – death and rebirth. This balance . . . it is the mystery of the time of the Autumnal Equinox.


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Autumn . . . Within and Beyond
Photo of the Day – September 22, 2016
O Sacred Season of Autumn
"Thou Hast Thy Music Too"
Autumn Hues
The Beauty of Autumn in Minnesota
Somewhere In Between

Related Off-site Link:
Autumn Equinox 2017: Why Is Today Important But Also Depressing? – Andrew Griffin (The Independent, September 22, 2017).
Autumnal Equinox 2017: First Day of FallThe Old Farmer's Almanac (September 22, 2017).

Image: Michael J. Bayly.


Monday, September 18, 2017

The Prayer Tree


Compassionate Creator,
within and beyond all things,
holy are your names.
May your ways of wisdom and compassion,
clarity and courage
be known and embodied by all.

Grant what we need each day
in bread and insight.
Loose the cords of mistakes that bind us
as we release the strands we hold of others' guilt.
Do not let surface things delude us
but free us from all that holds us back
from our true purpose.

From you radiates all life and love,
the song that beautifies all.
From age to age it renews.
May your compassion be the ground from which spring
all our actions of body, speech and mind.

Amen.




This prayer to the Compassionate Creator is one I've being praying a lot lately. In fact, I've been praying it at least twice a day – and always at the same spot: beside the tree that features in the photos of this post. This particular tree grows beside Minnehaha Creek, not far from my home in south Minneapolis.

I pause at this tree each morning and afternoon as I walk to and from my bus stop. You see, each week day morning I catch the #5 bus on Chicago Avenue, which takes me to Abbott Northwestern Hospital where, since the end of last month, I've been working as a resident chaplain. I've discovered that my time of prayer at this tree is a beautiful way to prepare me for my chaplaincy work . . . as well as to start and close my work day. It has become a holy place and time, to be sure.

Perhaps not surprisingly, I feel very connected to this tree. Also, the prayer I pray beside it is one which has long been very meaningful to me. I shared part of it at The Wild Reed back in 2009. Later in a 2013 post, I shared it in its entirety for the first time.

You might be wondering where this prayer comes from. The short answer is that it's a version of the "Our Father" which, in large part, is Neil Douglas-Klotz's translation of the Aramaic words of Jesus. I say "in large part" because I have adapted it somewhat. Douglas-Klotz's version can be found in his book Prayers of the Cosmos: Reflections on the Original Meaning of Jesus' Words. It can also be found online, here.




Much of the beauty of this experience of prayer is due to the tree by which I pray, along with this tree's location. It really can feel like I’m in the woods. Yet it’s woodland located in the heart of the city: a paradox, of sorts – a world within a world.

In many pagan and indigenous spiritualities, any tree can be representative of the tree, i.e., the World Tree or Cosmic Tree. In numerous religious traditions the World Tree is represented as a colossal tree which supports the heavens, thereby connecting the heavens, the terrestrial world, and, through its roots, the underworld. The Tree of Life, which connects all forms of creation and is mentioned in the Judeo-Christian Book of Genesis, is a form of the World Tree.

To get to the oak tree by which I regularly pray, one must go off the paved pathways. There is a track, but no doubt for many, it’s a hidden, unknown one. And yet it’s one that leads to the “Tree of Life.” All of this brings to mind the Beloved and Antlered One, “seeker of the forest’s hidden paths,” a powerful and beautiful way of acknowledging all the different, unorthodox ways that one can seek and find the Sacred.

During my forays into this urban wilderness, I rarely encounter other people, especially in the early morning. I have no problem with this. Indeed, it appeals to me. I also must admit that the incongruence of my walking this dirt track in the woods dressed in my work clothes – tie, vest, and all – appeals to me.

There’s a sense of two worlds merging, of crossing over into a different time and/or dimension. If the experience were to be visualized, say, in a graphic novel, it could be as a Victorian gentleman traversing some future and/or alien world. Indeed, I’m drawn to such characters, stories, and images – from the time traveler of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine to Nathan Appleby (Colin Morgan) of the BBC series The Living and the Dead (left and below).

They are men – cultured and sensitive – who, in some inexplicable way, find themselves out of place and/or time. And yet they deal with this – despite feelings of trepidation and even of fear. They take risks, and are prepared to venture into the unknown – while all the time snappily dressed! So, yes, they are definitely hero-figures for me, but not so much in an action-hero sense but rather a grounded-hero sense.




Without trivializing the matter, I think it is possible to ask the question: Are the things that inform and animate these rather fanciful depictions – the sense of journeying, of boundary crossing, of encountering the unexpected and unknown – are they that far removed from the often nebulous role of the chaplain?

Deeper still: Do I not potentially enter a whole new world, another’s life, each and every time I enter a patient’s room?

Are there not unknown and strange realities, truths, even specters that I may encounter and be asked to engage with in my pastoral interactions?

How do I stay grounded in my own embodied reality and truth while still being present, attuned, and attentive to others?

I have no definitive answers, but I do know that I’ve come to experience groundedness through my daily prayer by and with the oak whose roots are nourished by the waters of Minnehaha Creek.

Which brings to mind and heart another realization: When I first started walking along the creek in late August it was still summer. The foliage was full and deep and green. In the last few weeks, however, things have changed. Of course, this is not surprising, given that September is very much a time of transformation, the time in the northern hemisphere of the “darkening equinox,” the balance between sun and shadow. Given how much of my spirituality resonates with themes and images of journey, balance, and transformation, it’s little wonder I find myself drawn to the Autumnal Equinox in a few days' time, and to the very sensually-discernible ways it is manifested in the woods I walk through every day. One can see it in the changing colors, hear it in the softly falling leaves, and smell it in the wet and decaying vegetation underfoot.




For the ancients, autumn was full of the “magic” of change. For the Celts, among whom Cernunnos walked, this time of year was a profound reminder of the spiral of life – birth, growth, death, decay, and regeneration. This mystery is at the heart of the Autumnal Equinox . . . and indeed of all expressions of pagan spirituality.

And here’s yet another realization: it’s a very different experience walking through the woods and being with the oak in the morning than it is in the afternoon. It even looks in some mysterious way, like a different place. I’ve come to understand that this is because of the light. In the afternoon, there is what I would call regular or normal light, while in the morning there is the light of twilight – that mysterious in-between time that is neither yet also both night and morning. In this eerie light all looks different – enchanted, if you like.

I’ve discovered that I’m drawn to and have an affinity for in-between places. One of my favorite places in my homeland of Australia is a rock platform in Guruk (aka Port Macquarie), a place that at times can be both sea and land; a place where it can feel as though I’m walking on water!

I can’t tell you how much I love being at this place – this sacred place. By this I mean that whenever I'm at this particular place I always feel at one with the energizing and transforming presence within and beyond all things.

This Presence goes by many names: Life Force, the Universe, Divine Love, Great Spirit, Holy One, Sacred Mystery, God. I don't believe what name we use ultimately matters. What is important is that we find the name and/or image that best attunes us to this Presence, and that we then immerse ourselves in it, allowing it to awaken, energize, transform, and guide us. My experience of this place, this little rock platform on the south-eastern Australian coast, never fails to open me to all these things. And I’m finding my time with the oak tree by the creek, here in Minnesota, half-the-world away, is doing the same thing.





* Writes Angie O'Gorman in the Pax Christi USA booklet, Coming to Consciousness: Reflections for Lent 2011:


From the work of Neil Douglas-Klotz and others who have studied ancient Aramaic – the language of Jesus – we know that "The Lord's Prayer" is not as neatly translated into English as the biblical versions would have us believe. Most Aramaic words have several possible "literal" translations. The following analysis is based on Douglas-Klotz's book, Prayers of the Cosmos.

Abwoon d'bwashmaya, the first line of the Our Father in Aramaic, does not simply translate as "Our Father who art in heaven." Abwoon does not specify gender but rather the birthing process, and d'bwashmaya does not mean a far-off place in the sky where God reigns over us. It has more the sense of light and sound emanating throughout all creation. And Jesus would not have used the phrase "Kingdom of God." The image did not exist in ancient Aramaic. The closest form transliterates as teytey malkuthakh and carries a sense of unity rather than a style of government. Teytey meant "come," but also had a sense of mutual desire and fulfilment of a goal. Malkuthakh referred to a quality of governing that guided life toward unity. The word shares its root with Malkatuch, the name of the Great Mother (Earth) in the Middle East long before Jesus' time.

Jesus' message largely passed through Greek translators before coming to us, and thus we get a Greek rather than a Jewish or Aramaic worldview. Was Christianity lost in translation?




Above: My friend Mahad at the Prayer Tree – Sunday, August 12, 2018.


For other prayers I find particularly meaningful, see:
Prayer of the Week – August 3, 2015
The Most Sacred and Simple Mystery of All
Prayer of the Week – November 5, 2013
Prayer of the Week – November 14, 2012
The Art of Gentle Revolution
Prayer of the Week – April 12, 2010
A Prayer for Compassion




See also the following related Wild Reed posts:
Move Us, Loving God
Andrew Harvey on Radical, Divine Passion in Action
Active Waiting: A Radical Attitude Toward Life
Called to the Field of Compassion
"Window, Mind, Thought, Air and Love"
The Soul of a Dancer
The Art of Dancing as the Supreme Symbol of the Spiritual Life
Balance: The Key to Serenity and Clarity
Memet Bilgin and the Art of Restoring Balance
Sufism: Way of Love, Tradition of Enlightenment, and Antidote to Fanaticism
The Sufi Way
The Pagan Roots of All Saints Day
Celebrating the Coming of the Sun and the Son
In the Garden of Spirituality – Jeanette Blonigen Clancy
Beltane and the Reclaiming of Spirit
"I Caught a Glimpse of a God"
Integrating Cernunnos, "Archetype of Sensuality and the Instinctual World"
The Body: As Sacred and Knowing as a Temple Oracle
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Autumn . . . Within and Beyond
Winter . . . Within and Beyond





Images of the Prayer Tree: Michael J. Bayly (April 2017, May 2017, June 2017, September 2017, December 2018, and August 2018).