Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Progressive Perspectives on the Mueller Report, “Russiagate,” and the Real Trump Scandals



So ends one of the more incoherent political scandals in modern memory.

After two long, breathless years of investigation, accusations, leaks, scoops, walk-backs, and wild conspiracies, the main findings of Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump-Russia conspiracy were finally released on Sunday. As most anyone reading this now knows, its conclusions are devastating, though not for the reasons many of Mueller’s fans had hoped.

The excerpt of the report included in attorney general William Barr’s summary reads thus: “The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” Placed just after a list of statistics outlining the massive scope of the investigation – thousands of subpoenas, many hundreds of search warrants and witnesses interviewed, and the like – the message seems clear: there is nothing here.

There’s certainly a chance that Barr, a Trump political appointee, summarized the findings in such a way as to be most politically advantageous for the president (though he did also point out that Mueller did “not exonerate [Trump]” over the charge of obstruction of justice). And many will continue to hang on Mueller’s wording – “did not establish” – to insist the jury is still out.

But those still holding on to a flicker of hope that Mueller will emerge on horseback, thick stack of papers in hand, with details and conclusions running counter to Barr’s summary need to get a grip. If there was something there, it would have leaked a long time ago.

It’s hard to overstate how devastating this all is. This is the culmination of what some declared the “crime of the century.” The idea that Trump “colluded” with Russia was considered virtually a foregone conclusion for the past two years by the majority of the political and media class. It fed a constant stream of breathless, often irresponsible and misleading, media coverage, the definitive account of which was written up by Matt Taibbi and is worth reading in full. And until an approaching election concentrated Democrats’ minds and brought them to their senses in last year’s midterms, it served as the foundational element of the otherwise incoherentresistance” to Trump’s presidency.

– Branko Marcetic
Excerpted from “Closing the Russiagate
Jacobin
March 25, 2019



[w]hatever the substantive conclusions, Mueller has failed to play the cultural and psychological role that some liberals have expected him to play since his appointment almost two years ago.

. . . [Such expectation] reflects a yearning for something, anything, to end the death loop that American democracy appears to be trapped in – for a big, dramatic blowup to fix the system’s ills. In the liberal imagination, that blowup typically takes the form of Trump’s removal from office, an event that sets us back to a path of normalcy and sane politics.

This yearning is understandable – but it is both dangerous and misplaced. Ending the Trump presidency will not fix, or even substantially ameliorate, most of the problems plaguing the American political system. They were mounting for years before he took office – indeed, they made him possible – and will continue to plague us for years after he leaves.

And more importantly, as this week clarifies, there will be no dramatic end for Trump. He will not be impeached, at least not the way the Bill Clinton was impeached, following recommendations from an independent prosecutor. He will certainly not be removed from office by a Republican Senate – that’s one prediction I am willing to make as long as Mitch McConnell is majority leader.

If he’s going to leave office, it’s not going to be because the other shoe drops, and some morsel of information about Trump heretofore unknown to the public is going to force him to resign in shame or be forced out. There’s no revelation that can do that when [gesticulates wildly to literally everything that has happened and been revealed since 2015] was not enough.

If he’s going to leave office, it will be because he loses the 2020 election, is term-limited in 2024, or dies. Barring a surprise 67-vote Democratic majority in his second term, there’s no fourth option.

– Dylan Matthews
Excerpted from “Robert Mueller Was Never Going
to End Donald Trump’s Presidency

Vox
March 24, 2019



This is the essence of Trump’s failure – not that he has chosen one set of policies over another, or has divided rather than united Americans, or even that he has behaved in childish and vindictive ways unbecoming a president.

It is that he has sacrificed the processes and institutions of American democracy to achieve his goals.

By saying and doing whatever it takes to win, he has abused the trust we place in a president to preserve and protect the nation’s capacity for self-government.

Controversy over the Mueller report must not obscure this basic reality.

– Robert Reich
Excerpted from “The Real Trump Scandal Was Never Collusion
TruthDig
March 26, 2019



According to a new report from the New York Times Mueller has farmed out federal indictments to 1) the SDNY, in Manhattan, 2) the EDNY, in Brooklyn, 3) the EDVA in Virginia, 4) the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles, 5) the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington DC, 6) the DOJ National Security Division, and 7) the DOJ Criminal Division.

So what is the take away from all this? Those who are familiar with Mueller’s investigation understand that “no more indictments from Mueller” doesn’t mean “no more indictments.” It means every single one of Mueller’s existing indictments resides in a “presidential pardon proof” prosecutorial district. Recall how Mueller handed off the Cohen case to the U.S. Attorneys’ office for the SDNY, who sent Cohen to prison.

As his own investigation ends, it becomes clear Mueller plans to handle all indictments/prosecutions resulting from his investigation through these seven federal prosecutorial entities. In other words, the people on Team Trump who are celebrating right now are merely suffering from a lack of understanding about the rule of law and how federal and state prosecutions work.

– Christopher Witt Diamant
via Facebook
March 25, 2019



There will be people protesting: the Mueller report doesn’t prove anything! What about the 37 indictments? The convictions? The Trump tower revelations? The lies! The meeting with Don, Jr.? The financial matters! There’s an ongoing grand jury investigation, and possible sealed indictments, and the House will still investigate, and…

Stop. Just stop. Any journalist who goes there is making it worse.

For years, every pundit and Democratic pol in Washington hyped every new Russia headline like the Watergate break-in. Now, even Nancy Pelosi has said impeachment is out, unless something “so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan” against Trump is uncovered it would be worth their political trouble to prosecute.

The biggest thing this affair has uncovered so far is Donald Trump paying off a porn star. That’s a hell of a long way from what this business was supposedly about at the beginning, and shame on any reporter who tries to pretend this isn’t so.

The story hyped from the start was espionage: a secret relationship between the Trump campaign and Russian spooks who’d helped him win the election.

The betrayal narrative was not reported as metaphor. It was not “Trump likes the Russians so much, he might as well be a spy for them.” It was literal spying, treason, and election-fixing – crimes so severe, former NSA employee John Schindler told reporters, Trump “will die in jail.”

In the early months of this scandal, the New York Times said Trump’s campaign had “repeated contacts” with Russian intelligence; the Wall Street Journal told us our spy agencies were withholding intelligence from the new President out of fear he was compromised; news leaked out our spy chiefs had even told other countries like Israel not to share their intel with us, because the Russians might have “leverages of pressure” on Trump.

CNN told us Trump officials had been in “constant contact” with “Russians known to U.S. intelligence,” and the former director of the CIA, who’d helped kick-start the investigation that led to Mueller’s probe, said the President was guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” committing acts “nothing short of treasonous.”

Hillary Clinton insisted Russians “could not have known how to weaponize” political ads unless they’d been “guided” by Americans. Asked if she meant Trump, she said, “It’s pretty hard not to.” Harry Reid similarly said he had “no doubt” that the Trump campaign was “in on the deal” to help Russians with the leak.

None of this has been walked back. To be clear, if Trump were being blackmailed by Russian agencies like the FSB or the GRU, if he had any kind of relationship with Russian intelligence, that would soar over the “overwhelming and bipartisan” standard, and Nancy Pelosi would be damning torpedoes for impeachment right now.

There was never real gray area here. Either Trump is a compromised foreign agent, or he isn’t. If he isn’t, news outlets once again swallowed a massive disinformation campaign, only this error is many orders of magnitude more stupid than any in the recent past, WMD included. Honest reporters like ABC’s Terry Moran understand: Mueller coming back empty-handed on collusion means a “reckoning for the media.”

Of course, there won’t be such a reckoning. (There never is). But there should be. We broke every written and unwritten rule in pursuit of this story, starting with the prohibition on reporting things we can’t confirm.

– Matt Taibbi
Excerpted from “It's Official: Russiagate Is This Generation's WMD
Taibbi.Substack.com
March 23, 2019



We thought Mueller was the savior. There should have been huge demonstrations to protest what's happening – we shouldn't have waited for Mueller. Trump is a white supremacist criminal who has separated and detained thousands of families at the border, who has placed a record number of conservative judges in lifetime positions, who is dismantling government agencies, placing corporate shills in important posts, letting his son-in-law make deals with Saudia Arabia, his daughter make deals with China, who is allowing drilling and mining on federal land, who is undoing environmental regulations, etc. etc. He broke federal election laws by paying off women before the election. We have to do more to stop this!

– Terry Burke
via Facebook
March 25, 2019



Related Off-site Links:
Mueller Finds No Trump-Russia Coordination, But “Does Not Exonerate” Trump of Obstruction of JusticeBloomberg (March 25, 2019).
Mueller Leaves Obstruction Question to Barr, Who Clears Trump – Greg Farrell (Bloomberg, March 24, 2019).
Has “Cover-Up General” William Barr Struck Again? – Thom Hartmann (Common Dreams, March 26, 2019).
Trump Administration Losing 94 Percent of Lawsuits Over Illegal Policy Changes – Igor Derysh (Salon, March 23, 2019).
Robert Mueller Was Never Going to Save Us – Juan Cole (TruthDig, March 25, 2019).
Mueller Report Ends a Shameful Period for the Press – Chris Hedges (TruthDig, March 25, 2019).
Mueller Madness: The Media Pundits Who Got It Most Wrong – Sohrab Ahmari (New York Post, March 25, 2019).

UPDATES: Here's What We Still Don't Know About Donald Trump's Links to Russia: Virtually Everything – Bob Cesca (Salon, March 28, 2019).
Adam Schiff Presents His “Evidence of Collusion” – Ryan Bort (Rolling Stone, March 28, 2019).
Adam Schiff Delivers Massive Smackdown: Trump Is “Immoral,” “Unpatriotic” and “Corrupt” – Heather Digby Parton (Salon, March 29, 2019).
On Russiagate and Our Refusal to Face Why Trump Won – Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone, March 29, 2019).
Mueller's Team Finally Speaks; Suggests William Barr Is Running A Cover-Up – Roger Sollenberger (Paste, April 4, 2019).
New Hints of the Mueller Report: Did Trump Simply Get Rolled by the Russians? – Heather Digby Parton (Salon, April 5, 2019).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Progressive Perspectives on “Fake News” and the Alleged Interference by Russia in the U.S. Presidential Election
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump as President of the United States
Progressive Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump
Carrying It On

Image: CNN illustration / Getty images.


Friday, March 22, 2019

O Dancer of Creation . . .



. . . the earth awakens
to an urgent call to grow.

In the hidden recesses of my wintered spirit,
I, too, hear the humming of your voice,
calling me, wooing my deadness back to life.





My soul yawns, stretches, quickens
as the energy of spring
revives my weariness.

I sit with wonder,
observing the steady activity,
savoring the colors and shapes
of earth's loveliness.





For a while my doubts, anxieties, and worries
become like chapters in some ancient book
whose text no longer claims my full attention.


– Joyce Rupp
"Springtime Prayer"
(from her book, Anchors for the Soul:
Daily Wisdom for Inspiration and Guidance

Sorin Books, 2018)


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Day Both Holy and Magical
Spring: Truly the Season for Joy and Hope
Welcoming the Return of Spring (2018)
Celebrating the Return of Spring (2017)
Waiting in Repose for Spring's Awakening Kiss
Let the Greening Begin
Green Destiny

Images 1 and 2: Calvin Royal III. (Photographer/s unknown)
Image 3: Michael J. Bayly.


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A Day Both Holy and Magical



Today saw the spring equinox take place in that part of the world where I live. Also called the March equinox or vernal equinox, this event marks the astronomical first day of spring here in the Northern Hemisphere.

As you may know, the word equinox comes from the Latin words for “equal night” – aequus (equal) and nox (night). On the equinox, the length of day and night is nearly equal in all parts of the world.

Following is an excerpt from a spring equinox ritual written by Edward Hays. This ritual is one of a number of Earth-based and -inspired prayers and rituals included in Hays' classic spiritual manual, Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim.


As the sun’s rays strike our planet more directly, the earth responds with newness and freshness. [Our spiritual ancestors] set this day apart as sacred, as a feast to celebrate the resurrection of the earth. The sun, radiant and healing, revitalizes the dark and dormant, as days and nights are again of equal length on the day of the equinox.

May the eternal experience of spring prepare each of us for a personal rebirth and resurrection. May it be a pledge-sign that life rises out of death.

A true planetary pilgrim experiences this feast not as a spectator but as a concelebrant with the earth and all creation. This day is both holy and magical, filled with hidden spirits and sounds.

May our ears, eyes, and nose be attentive to the rebirth of green life pushing up through the earth, even if it is still hidden from view. May we feel in our bodies the energy of the sun calling for newness and life.

The ancient ones danced to the mystery of new life and sprouting vegetation. They lit fires to banish the tired, aged spirits of winter and darkness. They built their bonfires to ward off the half-hidden fears that perhaps this time, this year, winter would not leave and they would die in the barren, icy darkness.

With reverence, let us be touched by this hidden memory as we respond to the tidal-gravitational tug of the planet Earth on this feast. Rejoice with all the Web of Life, woven so tightly, as the season of spring begins.

– Edward Hays
Excerpted from "A Spring Equinox Ritual"
in Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim
(Forest of Peace Books, 1989)



Above: Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun) may still be frozen over but spring is definitely in the air here in Minneapolis, MN!


NEXT: O Dancer of Creation . . .


Related Off-site Links:
First Day of Spring 2019: The Spring Equinox – Catherine Boeckmann (The Old Farmer's Almanac, March 20, 2019).
Spring Equinox 2019: Ancient Traditions Echo in Our Modern World – Forrest Brown (CNN, March 20, 2019).
See the First Supermoon on the Spring Equinox in 19 Years – Andrew Fazekas (National Geographic, March 19, 2019).
Welcoming the Spring EquinoxThe Leveret (March 20, 2018).
"Hail to the Seasonal Prince"The Leveret (May 21, 2013).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Spring: Truly the Season for Joy and Hope
Welcoming the Return of Spring (2018)
Farewell Winter
Spring's Snowy Start
The Spring Blizzard of 2018
Celebrating the Return of Spring (2017)
A New Day
Dreaming of Spring
Waiting in Repose for Spring's Awakening Kiss
Let the Greening Begin

Image 1: At the Prayer TreeSpring 2018. (Photo: Raul Fernandez)
Image 2: On the balcony of my friend Raul's apartment which overlooks Bde Maka Ska in Minneapolis – March 19, 2019. (Photo: Raul Fernandez)


Sunday, March 17, 2019

Prayer of the Week


. . . You invite us to be wholeness,
to be co-creators along Love's way.
You hear the cries of the afflicted,
and answer their prayer.

. . . Let all nations declare the beauty
of your Holy Names
and gather together in peace
to honor the Creator of All.

– Excerpted from Psalm 102
as translated by Nan C. Merrill
in Psalms for Praying:
An Invitation to Wholeness


The words of Psalm 102 have been in my heart lately as, once again, I find myself feeling despondent and overwhelmed by the terrible acts of violence we're witnessing in our world. In particular, I'm mindful this evening of the recent massacre of 49 Muslims worshipers by a white supremacist at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Desiring to respond in a prayerful and meaningful way to this and other situations of violence, upheaval, and injustice in the world, I found myself drawn to the Prayer Tree (above and right), where I spent time earlier today in quiet reflection and prayer.

Then later, back at my home, I revisited "Unfolding at Every Moment," one of the "prayers of questioning" in William Cleary's book Prayers to An Evolutionary God. It's a prayer I've shared previously at The Wild Reed. I share it again this evening, trusting that in doing so I am, in the words of Buffy Sainte-Marie, "planting good seeds" – thoughts, words, and/or actions grounded in hope, compassion, and openness to the transforming love of the Sacred Presence within and beyond all things. Furthermore, I trust that my sharing of this particular "good seed" will, in some mysterious way, help move humanity to embody the transformative qualities of hope, compassion and openness to the Sacred.

Holy Spirit of Evolution,
creator of the cosmos and its wonders,
how shall we deal with the insidious evil
– epidemic in world cultures and societies –
of human egotism,
cruel in its delusional ignorance
and destructive of human life and its environments?

Egotism produces war, crime, cruelty,
disappointment, isolation,
impoverishment, ignorance, illusion:
we are all too familiar with these.

In the end, along with all spiritualities of the world,
we must trust you, Silent Mystery,
and your evolutionary plan for us
unfolding at every moment.

We will come together in our pain,
to pool our wisdom and our energies of hope,
convinced that in the end, the very end,
all shall somehow be well.

May it be so.


I'll close by sharing William Cleary's commentary on his prayer "Unfolding at Every Moment."

Where evil comes from – with all its resulting failure and heartbreak – is not something we can understand. Some of it arises from human choice, some comes from the natural evolutionary way of things, but most seems beyond human comprehension. Our hearts cry out for reasons; we seldom find them. Some kind of surrender is called for in every spirituality. Theologian Diarmuid O'Murchú speaks of "God's mysterious but wise plan." There is certainly solid evidence of order beneath whatever chaos we may encounter. "God is subtle but not malicious," in Albert Einstein's memorable phrase. However, string theory and quantum mechanics now postulate a pervasive uncertainty beneath any orderliness. There seems to be mystery at every level of reality.

Ultimately, we have no choice but to trust in the world around us, in the marvelous processes of nature that we observe daily, in the forces of healing at work in our bodies and in the earth's apparent ability to govern itself and even heal its wounds, in the ingenuity and heroism of our own human companions. Mystics by and large have been optimists. They lead the way.




Related Off-site Links:
White Supremacist Kills 49 Muslim Worshipers in New Zealand as Islamophobic Hate Crimes Rise GloballyDemocracy Now! (March 15, 2019).
Vowing Gun Reforms and Calling for "Love for All Muslim Communities," New Zealand Prime Minister Praised for Leadership After Mosque Attacks – Julia Conley (Common Dreams, March 16, 2019).
Christchurch Mosque Shooting: The Faces of the VictimsThe New Zealand Herald (March 16, 2019).
“Hello, Brother”: Muslim Worshiper's “Last Words” to GunmanAljazeera News (March 15, 2019).
It’s Time to Confront the Threat of Right-Wing Terrorism – John Cassidy (The New Yorker, March 15, 2019).
Don’t Just Condemn the New Zealand Attacks — Politicians and Pundits Must Stop Their Anti-Muslim Rhetoric – Mehdi Hasan (The Intercept, March 15, 2019).

UPDATE: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Response to Christchurch Has Put Other Leaders to Shame – But Not For Its Compassion Alone – Robert Fisk (The Independent, March 21, 2019).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
President Trump, “We Hold You Responsible”
Discerning and Embodying Sacred Presence in Times of Violence and Strife
Called to the Field of Compassion
Thoughts on Prayer in a “Summer of Strife”
Prayer and the Experience of God in an Ever-Unfolding Universe
Questioning God's Benevolence in the Face of Tragedy
In the Wake of the Paris Attacks, Saying “No” to War, Racism and Islamophobia
"It Is Not Paris We Should Pray For. It Is the World"
Prayer of the Week – June 19, 2016

Images 1 and 2: Michael J. Bayly.
Image 3: Artist unknown.


Saturday, March 16, 2019

Quote of the Day




Related Off-site Links:
Greta Thunberg Inspires Global Climate Protests – Mark Tutton (CNN, March 15, 2019).
Tens of Thousands Join Greta Thunberg's Global Youth Demo for ClimateThe Local (March 15, 2019).
Students Are Striking for Action on Climate Change — A Truancy Everyone Should Applaud – Haven Coleman and Bill McKibben (The Los Angeles Times, March 13, 2019).
Our Kids Know We're Failing Them on Climate Change – Frida Berrigan (TomDispatch.com via TruthDig, March 17, 2019).
Why Students of Color Are Stepping Up to Lead Climate Strikes – Leanna First-Arai (Common Dreams, March 16, 2019).
Massive Worldwide Strike: Students Demand Action on Climate ChangeNew York Daily News (March 15, 2019).
Greta Thunberg to Politicians: "We're Fighting for Everyone's Future" – Reuters via The Guardian (February 21, 2019).
Swedish Teen Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize – The Associated Press via The Globe and Mail (March 13, 2019).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
As the World Burns, Calls for a "Green New Deal"
Quote of the Day – November 19, 2018
Quote of the Day – August 29, 2017
The People's Climate Solidarity March – Minneapolis, 4/29/17
The Paris Climate Talks, Multilateralism, and a "New Approach to Climate Action"
Earth Day 2017
"It Is All Connected"
Standing Together
Quote of the Day – September 19, 2014
Quote of the Day – May 31, 2011

Image: Artist unknown.


Friday, March 15, 2019

President Trump, “We Hold You Responsible”



Earlier today the following was announced by Nihad Awad, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, in response to the massacring of 49 Muslims worshipers by a white supremacist at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Today, the terrorist has quoted the most powerful person in the world, President Trump. And I would like to address Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump, your words matter; your policies matter. They impact the lives of innocent people at home and globally. And you should condemn [today's attack in New Zealand] not only as a hate crime but as a white supremacist terrorist attack. And you need to assure all of us – Muslim, Blacks, Jews, immigrants – that we are protected and you will not tolerate any physical violence against us because we are Muslim or because we are minority. You need to condemn [such attacks] clearly today.

During your presidency and during your election campaign Islamophobia took a sharp rise, and attacks on innocent Muslims, innocent immigrants, and mosques have skyrocketed. We hold you responsible for this growing anti-Muslim sentiment.



NEXT: Prayer of the Week, 3/17/19



Related Off-site Links:
Does Anyone Doubt That Donald Trump Inspired the New Zealand Massacre? – Chauncey Devega (Salon, March 15, 2019).
New Zealand Suspect Wrote in Manifesto He Supported Trump as a “Symbol of Renewed White Identity and Common Purpose” – Rachel Frazin (The Hill, March 15, 2019).

UPDATE: Why Won't Donald Trump Talk About White Nationalism? Because He Enables and Supports It – Heather Digby Parton (Salon, March 18, 2019).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote of the Day – October 28, 2018
On International Human Rights Day, Saying “No” to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
Trump's America: Normalized White Supremacy and a Rising Tide of Racist Violence
Trump's Playbook
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump
Opposing the Trump Administration's Inhumane Treatment of Immigrant Families
“What We're Seeing Here Is a Tipping Point”
2000+ Take to the Streets of Minneapolis to Express Solidarity with Immigrants and Refugees


Thursday, March 14, 2019

Winter . . . Within and Beyond



Something happens in that quiet place, where we’re simply alone and listening to nothing but our hearts. It’s not loneliness, that aloneness. It’s rather the solitude of the soul, where we are grounded more deeply in our own internal depths. Then, having connected more deeply to God, we’re able to connect more deeply with each other. Our connection to the divine unlocks our connection to the universe.

Marianne Williamson
Excerpted from "Christmas for Mystics"
The Huffington Post


As I've noted previously, ever since moving to the U.S. from Australia in 1994 I've had somewhat of a love/hate relationship with winter in Minnesota.

I loathe, for instance, the cold and the ice (the snow, it's true, I'm not quite as adverse to). On the other hand, I appreciate the pronounced seasons of my second home here in the North Star State, seasonal changes that are quite different from those in Australia.

I appreciate, too, how winter stirs in me the desire to go deep, to retreat and take stock of my life in ways that are quiet and mindful. And, of course, I love the festivals of this time of year, Winter Solstice and Christmas, with all their rich and interconnected symbolism.




I'm definitely not one who tries to conquer winter. By this I mean I'm okay with allowing winter's adverse attributes to influence my decision-making around where and when I go places. True, such attributes don't totally dictate my movements, but for sure I'm much more inclined to bend like a reed to the season's call to hunker down, rest, be reflective. I really think that when we do this we honor and say yes to winter's invitation to become that bit more attuned to the natural world around us; a world to which, because of all our technological advances and their accompanying expectations, we can easily forget we are connected. I've come to believe that when we establish a resonance with the seasons and connect accordingly with the natural world, we honor Sacred Mystery immanent in all things.

I share all of this as a way of introducing this year's installment of "Winter . . . Within and Beyond." Inspired by my previous seasonally-focused posts (here, here, and here), this evening's post is a compilation of words (excerpted from various writings that have been especially meaningful to me these last few months) and photos taken since November last year. The images taken outside ("beyond") are mainly from the area around my home in south Minneapolis, located close to Minnehaha Creek and its parkway. It many ways this area is like being in the woods! This area is also the location of what I've come to experience as the "Prayer Tree" (right).

Most of the interior (or "within") images were taken inside my home, specifically in my room with its "meditation nook," as one friend calls it. This "nook" basically serves as a focal point when I pray and meditate, and contains John Giuliani's beautiful portrait of the Compassionate Christ along with an assortment of icons, stones, prayer beads, and other meaningful objects that I've collected over the years.

Also featured in this photographic collection are portraits of four men who, in different ways, hold very special places in my heart. In the words and symbolism of Winston Graham's sixth Poldark novel, they are my "four swans."

One last thing before I let the images here speak for themselves. And that is this: My photography, like this blog, is a creative endeavor that grows out of my desire to discern and embody my unique oneness with Sacred Mystery, and my desire to be continually discovering how this embodiment can best serve my deepest self, others, and the world.

My hope is that this collection of images and words of winter may stir something deep and meaningful within you as well.




The wisdom you seek is inside you.

Take a moment to feel the truth of those words.

One of the most important aspects of shamanism is that within every one of us is the light, the divinity. Each one of us has our own truth inside ourselves. The quest of the shaman is to find, live, and express it.

Unlike some other traditions, shamanism is not based on hierarchy and deference to past teachers or following a sacred text with blind belief, but on uncovering the truths within yourself and bringing them out into the world to become a messenger of truth, a messenger of love.

Don Jose Ruiz
Excerpted from The Wisdom of the Shamans










There's a mystery keeping me strong
Even the darkest moments come
and then they're gone
I will cry tonight heavenly tears
Veils fall to the floor as trouble disappears

Will I see my one and only love?

Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri
From "This Heart of Mine" (a track from the
2008 album, Where Rivers Meet)










Will I see my one and only love?
Will I know the touch of your hand?
I will wait for you
I will understand

Will I see my one and only love?
Feel your body closer to mine
until the end of time?

I will meet you by the river
Or is it too deep,
is it too wide
for you to reach
this heart,
this heart of mine?

Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri
From "This Heart of Mine" (a track from the
2008 album, Where Rivers Meet)





He won't speak to me
His crooked mouth
is full of dead leaves
. . . full of dead leaves,
bits of twisted branches
and frozen garden,
crushed and stolen grasses
from slumbering lawn.

He is dissolving,
dissolving before me.

And dawn will come soon.

Kate Bush
From "Misty" (a track from the
2011 album, 50 Words for Snow)






One of grief's lessons is patience – an attitude of self-compassion. . . . On the other side of all disillusionment and even despair, there will also be joy, and goodness, and beauty. Gratefulness and celebration have always sprung from the soil of loss and grief. We will be alive, and life will be good. However difficult circumstances become, we will be able to savor the beauty of life in each present moment.











Now, ain't it good to know
That you've got a friend
When people can be so cold?
They'll hurt you, yes, and desert you
And take your soul if you let them,
Oh, don't you let them

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come running, oh, yeah,
To see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there, yes,
You've got a friend

Carole King
From "You've Got a Friend"
(as sung by Dusty Springfield on the album, Faithful)










Compassion is a way of life – an inner posture of how to be with suffering, both our own and others, and a desire to move that attitude into action. Compassion involves an "inside-out" movement. A radical change unfolds in us when compassion becomes a way of life, a transformayion as far-reaching as an acorn growing into a tree . . . or a caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly.

The greatest challenge of compassion may well be that of recognizing the dignity and worth of every person – regardless of race, gender, culture, creed, political stance, or personal behavior. The light of divinity swells within each one, no matter how hidden that goodness might be.

Joyce Rupp
Excerpted from Boundless Compassion:
Creating a Way of Life










The journey of each soul is cyclical. It inevitably requires repeated expeditions into the underworld, times when we must face terrible truths we had previously avoided. These self-discoveries shock us, break our hearts, humble us, and ground us. Each time we are shaken. Like the hero who narrowly avoids defeat, we are driven to the brink of despair. It takes great soul strength to find the inner resources we need to bounce back, despite everything. It takes the reclaiming of our naive, intense vitality, our "will to power," our "third intelligence" (centered in the hara, or gut), and the genius of will – which powers all success, for good or ill.










How can I describe you?
You're my shining star

You give me direction
Such an intimate connection

You're my star
So glad I found you
Love to be around you

Yeah, you keep me connected
You're my shining star

Carl Anderson
From "You Are My Shining Star"
(a track from Carl Anderson's self-titled 1986 album)







This is the time
Nothing can stop me now
This is the time to spin the wheel
This never-ending circle
Is going to end soon
One way or the other
I will reach a breakthrough

Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri
From "Wild As Can Be" (a track from the
2008 album, Where Rivers Meet)







The hare is an archetype, is numinous. . . . Ideas about transformation, especially the sympathetic magic underlying the process of metaphor, interest me greatly, and the naturally elusive and mythic qualities of the hare readily embody this. . . . I have tried always to keep faith with the creature itself, bearing in mind its behaviour in the wild as well as the mythic, magical values it has acquired in human consciousness over the millennia.

To see a hare is to be reminded of the mystery of lives tangential to our own, their beauty and vulnerability.

– Anna Crowe
Excerpted from "A Calendar of Hares"
(The Leveret, December 4, 2007)






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.

– Michael Bayly
Excerpted from "The Prayer Tree"
The Wild Reed
September 18, 2017







Our individual awareness and personality is like a standing wave in a flowing river. That wave has a unique form, but the form is created by motion. And the substance of consciousness is not unique; it is common to all filaments and currents of the river. . . . If our consciousness is like a standing wave, then Deep Self is the underlying rock that creates the form our awareness takes. Deep Self shapes our fate, lines up the lessons we need to learn, and guides our evolution.

When we are in contact with Deep Self, we feel a sense of rightness in our choices and actions – not self-righteousness or complacency but a visceral sense of knowing we are on the right road. Whatever happens, whatever the consequences of our actions, we know we are doing what we are meant to do.

Starhawk
Excerpted from The Pagan Book of Living and Dying
pp. 72-73



NEXT: A Day Both Holy and Magical



See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Winter . . . Within and Beyond (2017)
Brigit Anna McNeill on the Meaning of Winter Solstice Time
A New Snowfall Record
In Minneapolis, a Snowy February Friday
Winter of Content
Winter Beauty
Interiors – February 1, 2017
Photo of the Day – December 11, 2016
Winter Light
Winter Storm (2016)
Winter Storm (2012)
A Winter Reflection
Shadows and Light
Winter's Return
A Winter Walk Along Minnehaha Creek
Photo of the Day – December 9, 2012
Prayer of the Week – February 22, 2011
Autumn . . . Within and Beyond (2016)
Autumn . . . Within and Beyond (2018)

Images: Michael J. Bayly.