Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Calm Before the Storm



Reflections of a hospital chaplain
awaiting the coronavirus “surge”


The calm before the storm. . . . That's how I'm hearing the atmosphere of my work place being described in response to the growing number of coronavirus infections in Minnesota and across the country. It's an increase that is part of the current global coronavirus pandemic, and it's an infection that can result in a potentially fatal respiratory disease known as COVID-19.

As most of you reading this would know, I work as the Palliative Care chaplain at Mercy Hospital in the north metro of the Twin Cities. This hospital is part of Allina Health, Minnesota's largest healthcare system.

I work with a specialty group of providers; we specialize in palliative care, which involves symptom management of chronic and/or terminal illnesses and end-of-life support and care. Although I'm not part of the hospital's Spiritual Care department (but rather Allina's system-wide Hospice and Palliative Care department), I'm nevertheless based at this particular hospital and work with its chaplains.

In the last two weeks I've been aware of a growing sense of anxiety and dread – in society in general (as restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, sporting events and most stores close down) and in the healthcare world in particular. I feel this sense of unease within myself, my team, the hospital in which I work, and the wider healthcare system of which the hospital is a part. I have friends who work in other Minnesota healthcare systems, and so I'm aware that this growing anxiousness is there too. Indeed, news stories make it clear that it's a nationwide reality.

This anxiety and dread stems from the very real likelihood that the nation's healthcare systems are about to be overwhelmed by a surge of COVID-19 patients. The administration of the hospital where I work is doing all it can to try to prepare for this surge, and different responses have been planned depending on various scenarios. (For instance, we'll be using the first floor of our parking ramp to “provide space for rapid triage assessment during a surge.”)

Yet the reality remains that in hospitals throughout the U.S., there are simply not enough ICU beds or the necessary specialized equipment (such as ventilators) to deal with a large surge of COVID-19 patients. As a result, there are very real and stress-inducing concerns that medical professionals are about to be placed in heartbreaking situations where they must decide who will be treated and who must go without; who might live and who will probably die. As in other states, Minnesota currently has a "stay-at-home order in place. The hope is that this will slow the rate of infection ("flatten the curve") and thus spare healthcare systems from being overwhelmed and making agonizing life and death decisions based on limited resources. Sadly, though, in some parts of the country, hospitals are already being overwhelmed.

I must say I never thought I'd be living through this type of crisis. I realize, of course, that plagues and epidemics have long been part of humanity's story, but I'm still often finding the experience we're going through to be unsettling. I suppose a big part of it is just the sense of not being in control; not knowing how things are going to unfold.



Above: Starting today, all healthcare providers in the hospital, including spiritual health providers, are required to wear masks when in the hospital and interacting with both patients and staff. I started wearing scrubs last week .



A center of peace amidst the rising tide of anxiety

It's currently very quiet at the hospital, due in large part to the heavy restrictions on visitors and a low patient census, the result of a very conscious decision on the part of the administration to cancel all elective surgeries and procedures. Yet below the surface of this calm is a slow-rising tide of anxiety.

As a chaplain, I endeavor to be a non-anxious, grounded, and listening presence to my patients. Now I'm increasingly finding that I'm being called to be this kind of presence for my team and for the hospital staff in general. I'm okay with that, though I must admit it's not always easy being this kind of presence at this time, especially when one can oneself be easily caught up in the rising levels of anxiety.

My little corner of the Palliative Care office helps, however, as here I've created a center of calm and peace; a space filled with beautiful reminders (images, plants, artwork, books, objects from nature) that serve to remind me that I can and must constantly and intentionally ground myself and my work in the Divine Love within, around, and beyond me. Only when I open myself to this Divine presence and allow it to infuse me, can I then go out and be this presence with and for others.

Following is the “Work Day Prayer” I pray each morning before leaving my desk to visit my patients and interact with staff.

As I begin this work day
I open myself to the Sacred Presence within and around me.
May this Presence energize and guide me
as I cross thresholds and connect with others.

May I be a clear channel to do my work with calm and grace,
keeping each and every patient’s deepest reality as primary.
May I provide care with commitment and integrity.

May I remember my connection to the Sacred,
present in all things – the earth, my inner knowing,
my colleagues and patients, and all sentient beings.

May I value time for self-care
to replenish my energy reserves
and to wisely and lovingly direct their flow.

May I be open to trusting that
whoever is referred,
whatever work comes,
and whenever this work happens
are all part of a sacred journey
of transformation.

Blessed be.


Adapted by Michael Bayly from a prayer by
the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing





I conclude this post by sharing an insightful and powerful article by Nathan Gray, a Palliative Care physician. In it he explains and explores what Palliative Care specialists, including chaplains like myself, have to both be and do in the midst of the growing coronavirus pandemic.

________________________


Palliative Care in the Time of Covid

By Nathan Gray, MD

Around the country, hospitals are either feeling the opening barrage of a horrifying pandemic or rapidly scrambling to prepare for an onslaught in their own backyard. Every possible niche of healthcare is bracing for the likelihood of a deluge to come.

You might wonder what palliative care specialists have to do amid the rising toll of this viral pandemic. After all, this is the realm of ER doctors, ICUs, and infectious disease experts, right?

Palliative care specialists are used to guiding people through frightening health landscapes, but this pandemic poses a level of uncertainty that most of us have not known in our lifetime . . . and threatens many of our most fragile patients.

The pandemic means that we will be drawn into countless conversations with families who are suddenly having to make difficult decisions about life and death. It means we may be helping deliver awful news that [the measures being taken for] someone’s mother, father, sibling, or spouse [are no longer working]. If this outbreak gets as bad here as it has in many other countries, there will be more of these conversations than our small teams can handle.

This pandemic also means that many of these hard conversations will be had behind the dehumanizing veil of plastic gowns and respirator masks. Some of these awful moments will have to happen over phone when families are not able, or not allowed, to be present at the hospital. In the midst of an outbreak, there are people who will die in relative isolation from their family and friends. For those of us who have built our careers around the idea that people should be able to find peace, meaning, and connection in their last days, that prospect is gut-wrenching.

For us, this pandemic means being ready to support our hard-working colleagues as they face risks to their own health on top of the emotional toll that over-stressed resources, death, and tough conversations can bring to us all.

I have heard many doctors and nurses from various specialties wonder aloud whether some of us will be asked to call on our rusty critical care skills if need exceeds supply. But hearing stories from China and Europe, I also worry about how many providers may be required to call on their palliative skills when resources run short.

If the spread of the virus continues unchecked in our own communities, we will ALL be taking part in hard conversations, managing distressing symptoms in the last days, and stepping forward to support the grief of our patients and co-workers alike.

As we take stock of masks, gloves, and ventilators, we must also be ready to dig deep into our reserves of patience, communication, and compassion.

Nathan Gray, MD
via The Ink Vessel
March 18, 2020


Related Off-site Links:
In Pandemic, Health Care Chaplains Address an “Existential and Spiritual Crisis” – Alejandra Molina (Religion News Service, March 20, 2020).
Hospital Chaplains Bring Hope and Solace to COVID-19 Patients and Staff – Lulu Garcia-Navarro (NPR News, March 29, 2020).
It's Time to Get Serious About End-of-Life Care for High-Risk Coronavirus Patients – Jessica Gold and Shoshana Ungerleider (TIME, March 30, 2020).
Coronavirus: As a Young Doctor in ICU, This Is What Scares Me the MostABC News (Australia), March 28, 2020).
Why America Ran Out of Protective Masks — and What Can Be Done About It – German Lopez (Vox, March 27, 2020).
Joe Biden Says Coronavirus’ Impact on Health System Hasn’t Changed His Mind on Medicare for All – Tucker Higgins (CNBC News, March 30, 2020).
Bernie Sanders Just Laid Out a Humane Approach to Dealing with the Coronavirus. Joe Biden Did Not – Miles Kampe=Lassin (In These Times, March 16, 2020)
Doctors Seek Ethical Framework for Prioritizing Resources and Patients Amid Coronavirus Pandemic – Ruby Cornish (ABC News, March 31, 2020).
COVID-19 Model: Minnesota Saving Tens of Thousands of Lives by Staying Home – Dave Orrick (Pioneer Press, March 31, 2020).

UPDATES: Overwhelmed Hospitals Face a New Crisis: Staffing Firms Are Cutting Their Doctors’ Hours and Pay – Isaac Arnsdorf (ProPublica, April 3, 2020).
Albert Camus Helps Us Understand Our Responses During This Crisis – Dave Hage (Star Tribune, April 3, 2020).
The U.S. Was Beset by Denial and Dysfunction as the Coronavirus Raged – Yasmeen Abutaleb, Josh Dawsey, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller (The Washington Post, April 4, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Hope and Beauty in the Midst of the Global Coronavirus Pandemic
A Prayer in Times of a Pandemic
Marianne Williamson: In the Midst of This “Heartbreaking” Pandemic, It's Okay to Be Heartbroken
Quote of the Day – March 17, 2020
In the Midst of Crisis, Learning Resistance and Vision-Seeking from the Indigenous and African-American Experience
An Infectious Disease Specialist Weighs-in on Covid-19
A Prayer for the Present Moment

Images: Michael J. Bayly.


Interiors







Images: Michael J. Bayly.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Marianne Williamson: In the Midst of This “Heartbreaking” Pandemic, It's Okay to Be Heartbroken

Author and former Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson is, like many of us at this time, hunkering down at home (or in her case, at a friend's home in Florida) as she sits out the current coronavirus pandemic.

True to form, Marianne is not just being mindful of her own heart and spirit during this time but also the hearts and spirits of others. This compassionate mindfulness is being manifested in an ongoing series of videos and audios that she's releasing on her various social media platforms on pretty much a daily basis. I haven't tuned into all of them but I did watch last Friday's video, and it very much resonated with me. In it Marianne talks about why it's okay to be sad and heartbroken at this time. She also says the following.

We can't look at this [crisis] as something other people will handle because clearly they didn't and clearly they're not. So if we want an America on the other side of this where we can feel secure in the knowledge that even when bad things happen, we are prepared as a nation to weather the storm in a stronger boat than we have now, we're going to have to make some changes; and those changes are only going to be made if we ourselves become much more active in that decision-making. What we have now is a product of who we've been and how we've operated. And if we want something different, we're going to have to change and we're going to have to change our operating systems.

Martin Luther King said, “Your life begins to end on the day you stop talking about things that matter.” We've stopped even thinking about some things that matter. . . . So it's not too early to think about the changes that we want on the other side of this, because this will be over. Let's think about what we want to be different on the other side of this. We want a country that is far more conscious of investing in the long term good of all of its citizens; a healthcare system that would support us in a moment like this – all of those outer things. But there are some other changes too. Let's pray to be better men and women – more conscious, more responsible, less self-centered.

. . . I cried today. My mother used to say, “You need a good cry; sometimes you just need a good cry.” I was holding it together until I heard Bob Dylan's new song. It's okay that we all have a good cry. Some tears can be very purifying. Just know you're sad and that  everybody else is too. . . . [This crisis is like] a storm . . . but we will make it through.






See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Hope and Beauty in the Midst of the Global Coronavirus Pandemic
A Prayer in Times of a Pandemic
Quote of the Day – March 17, 2020
In the Midst of Crisis, Learning Resistance and Vision-Seeking from the Indigenous and African-American Experience
An Infectious Disease Specialist Weighs-in on Covid-19
A Prayer for the Present Moment

For more of Marianne Williamson at The Wild Reed, see:
In the Garden of Spirituality – Marianne Williamson
Marianne Williamson and the Power of Politicized Love
The Relevance and Vitality of Marianne Williamson’s 2020 Presidential Campaign
Caitlin Johnstone: “Status Quo Politicians Are Infinitely ‘Weirder’ Than Marianne Williamson”
Marianne Williamson: “Anything That Will Help People Thrive, I’m Interested In”
Marianne Williamson On What It Will Take to Defeat Donald Trump
“It's Time to Take a Stand”: Marianne Williamson Endorses Bernie Sanders for President
“A Beautiful Message, So Full of Greatness”
“I Learned So Much From the Experience”: Marianne Williamson on Her Presidential Bid

Related Off-site Links:
COVID-19: It’s OK to Feel Overwhelmed and Be Unproductive – Susan Biali Haas (Psychology Today, March 25, 2020).
Why You Should Ignore All That Coronavirus-Inspired Productivity Pressure – Aisha S. Ahmad (The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 27, 2020).
Coronavirus Has Upended Our World. It's OK To Grieve – Stephanie O'Neill (NPR News, March 26, 2020).
We Shouldn’t Go Back to the Way Things Were – Kandist Mallett (Teen Vogue, March 24, 2020).
David Kessler and Brené Brown on Grief and Finding MeaningBreneBrown.com (March 31, 2020).
Lessons in Taking Things One Day at a Time, From People in Recovery – Zachary Siegel (Slate, April 3, 2020).


Sunday, March 29, 2020

In the Midst of Crisis, Learning Resistance and Vision-Seeking from the Indigenous and African-American Experience



There is a social demand in this [coronavirus] crisis, but there is also a spiritual demand. The two go hand in hand. Without the social dimension, we fall into fanaticism. But without the spiritual dimension, we fall into pessimism and lack of meaning. . . . Do not lose the spiritual dimension of this crisis, have the aspect of the eagle, which from above, sees the whole, sees more widely.

You were prepared to go through this crisis. Take your toolbox and use all the tools available to you. Learn about resistance of the Indigenous and African peoples: we have always been and continue to be exterminated. But we still haven't stopped singing, dancing, lighting a fire and having fun. . . . You do not help at all being [constantly] sad and without energy. You help if good things emanate from the Universe now. It is through joy that one resists. Also, when the storm passes, each of you will be very important in the reconstruction of this new world.

. . . In shamanism, there is a rite of passage called the quest for vision. You spend a few days alone in the forest, without water, without food, without protection. When you cross this portal, you get a new vision of the world, because you have faced your fears, your difficulties.

This is what is asked of you: allow yourself to take advantage of this time to perform your vision seeking rituals. What world do you want to build for you? For now, this is what you can do: serenity in the storm. Calm down, pray every day. Establish a routine to meet the sacred every day.

Good things emanate; what you emanate now is the most important thing. And sing, dance, resist through art, joy, faith and love.

– White Eagle
Excerpted from a Facebook post
March 16, 2020


Related Off-site Links:
Indigenous Arizonans Dance With Thousands Around the World in Online "Social Distance' Powwow – Chelsea Curtis (Arizona Republic, March 27, 2019).
What The Spread of the Coronavirus Means for Black Communities – Tanya A. Christian (Essence, March 2, 2020).
Rethinking Resilience From Indigenous Perspectives – Laurence J Kirmayer, Stéphane Dandeneau, Elizabeth Marshall, Morgan Kahentonni Phillips, and Karla Jessen Williamson (The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry via Journals.com, February 2011).
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Story of Smallpox and Other Deadly Eurasian GermsPBS.org (2005).
How European Brought Sickness to the New World – Heather Pringle (Science, June 4, 2015).
Smallpox in the Blankets – John Koster (History, March 9, 2020).
Out of Africa: The Slave Trade and the Transmission of Smallpox to Brazil, 1560-1831 – Dauril Alden and Joseph C. Miller (The Journal of Interdisciplinary History via MIT Press, 1987).
From Slavery to Smallpox to Freedom – Jim Downs (National Museum of Civil War Medicine (February 2, 2017).
African American Resistance – Charter for Compassion (2020).
How An African Slave Helped Boston Fight Smallpox – Ted Widmer (The Boston Globe, October 17, 2014).
Sydney's Smallpox Outbreak of 1789 – Biological Warfare Against Australian Aboriginal TribesNationalUnityGovernment.org (2019).
Buffy Sainte-Marie on Creative Decolonization in a Global Village – Ayana Young (Unlearn and Re-Wild, November 14, 2015).
The Art of Resistance: Maya Angelou’s Poems Speak of the Universal Fight Against Oppression – Dakshayani Kumaramangalam (Scroll, January 1, 2020).
Then and Now, James Baldwin Is the Voice of The Resistance – Daniel Reynolds (The Advocate, February 3, 2017).
8 Historically Terrifying Viruses – Jessica Bloustein Marshall (Mental Floss, May 16, 2013).
Humanity's Long History of Making Epidemics Worse – Elise A. Mitchell (The Atlantic, March 11, 2020).
Andrew Harvey on Confronting Crisis with Divine Dignity – Ayana Young (Unlearn and Re-Wild, January 27, 2017).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Hope and Beauty in the Midst of the Global Coronavirus Pandemic
A Prayer in Times of a Pandemic
Quote of the Day – March 17, 2020
An Infectious Disease Specialist Weighs-in on Covid-19
A Prayer for the Present Moment
The End of the World as We Know It . . . . . . the Beginning As We Live It
As the Last Walls Dissolve . . . Everything is Possible
Michael Greyeyes on Temperance as a Philosophy for Surviving
For Acclaimed Songwriter, Activist and Humanitarian Buffy Sainte-Marie, the World Is Always Ripening
Buffy Sainte-Marie and That “Human-Being Magic”
The Way of the Wounded Healer

Image: Artist unknown.


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Celtic Spirituality: “A Fluid, Transmutable Affair”

.

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I share this evening an excerpt from Loren Cruden's 1998 book, Walking the Maze: The Enduring Presence of Celtic Spirituality. This sharing reflects my growing interest in Celtic spirituality (including Celtic Christianity), which I'm discovering shares many characteristics with other indigenous (i.e., Earth-oriented) spiritual traditions from around the world, most fundamentally the experience of a deep, abiding, and transforming connection with nature.

As with the writings of Frank MacEowen (which I've shared previously at The Wild Reed), Loren Cruden's insights resonate with me as they remind me of – and connect me to – the spirituality of my Celtic ancestors, in particular those on my father's side of the family who hailed from the county of Staffordshire in England.

With all this in heart and mind, here is that part of Walking the Maze in which Cruden shares her thoughts on “the most enduring cornerstone of Celtic spirituality.”


“Have not all races had their unity from a polytheism that marries them to rock and hill?” asked Willie Yeats, quoted by Maud Gonne in “Yeats and Ireland.”

Marriage to rock and hill is perhaps the most enduring cornerstone of Celtic spirituality, despite overlays of Catholicism or Protestantism. Land sense remains primary, in both subtle and concrete forms. Thus, Celtic spirituality is most easily understood if considered within the environmental context of Celtic lands: Ireland, Britain, Scotland, Brittany, Wales, the Isle of Man.

These are places of mists and standing stones, of vivid green luminosity, of wind-haunted moors, treacherous bogs, and sea-battered islands. In this environment it is clear why Celtic reality is a fluid, transmutable affair. The Otherworld is not only an afterlife domain; it is an alternative reality coexistent with the mundane world, ever present. Burial mounds, the ocean, sacred wells, and sidhe mounds are portals to Otherworld reality. In Anne Ross’s words, “The everyday life of the Celts included the supernatural equally with the natural, the divine with the mundane; for them the Otherworld was as real as the tangible physical world and as ever present.” John O’Donohue says, “The Celts had an intuitive spirituality informed by mindful and reverent attention to landscape. It was an outdoor spirituality impassioned by the erotic charge of the earth.”

Fluidity was expressed through many avenues of Celtic consciousness. Knot-work designs – indeed, much of Celtic art – flowed, figures rising out of abstraction, transforming into other shapes, then back into abstraction: strange and complex. Many Celts deities were triple-aspected, the number three and its multiples being considered mystically significant. The soul was seen as a triple spiral, or as a butterfly, moth, or ball of light. Its name in Gaelic, anan, related to anal (breath), signifying a mobile life force having no predestination but reliant on integrity of heart, mind, and soul. Anan abided in the head and hair but moved in blood and breath and could travel into animal or other shape. Also triple were the “releases” of grief, joy, and repose that restored the soul; these were often embodied in Celtic stories by three harp notes or three bird songs.

. . . Ritual and daily life merged for the ancient Celts, with no segregation of place of worship from the land. Both spirituality and life were naturalistic. The priests – Druids – were not peasantry but were nonetheless oriented to the land, not to cities or ostentatious cathedrals. Celts worshiped in groves and at holy lakes, wells, and springs, and what shrines they built were simple, transitory structures or banked earthen enclosures. . . . There is an old Celtic saying that translates thus: “The land of eternal youth is behind the house, a beautiful land fluent within itself. The Gaelic phrase fighte fuaighte, which means “woven into and through each other,” describes this fusion of ordinary and Otherworld realities.

– Loren Cruden
Excerpted from Walking the Maze:
The Enduring Presence of the Celtic Spirit

pp. 81-85




See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Mistwalking
Holy Encounters Where Two Worlds Meet
The Mysticism of Trees
The Prayer Tree
Thomas Moore on the Circling of Nature as the Best Way to Find Our Substance
“Radical Returnings” – Mayday 2016
Balancing the Fire
“I Caught a Glimpse of a God”
At Hallowtide, Pagan Thoughts on Restoring Our World and Our Souls
In This In-Between Time
Cernunnos
Beloved and Antlered
Integrating Cernunnos, “Archetype of Sensuality and the Instinctual World”
Prayer of the Week – November 14, 2012
Magician Among the Spirits

Image 1: Kerry Darlington.
Image 2: Book cover design by Tim Jones with photography by Adam Woolfitt and artwork by Michael Macliamoir.
Image 3: George H. Hayes III.


Monday, March 23, 2020

Something to Think About . . .




Related Off-site Links:

The 2020 Democratic Presidential Race
Can Bernie Sanders Still Win? Here’s What the Delegate Math Says – Michael Grothaus (Fast Company, March 11, 2019).
Who Wants a Revolution? No One Who Owns a Major Media Outlet – Julie Hollar (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, March 16, 2020).
CNN’s Coverage of Sanders Was 3x More Negative Than Biden Following Their Big Primary Wins – Juan Caicedo and Sarah Lazare (In These Times, March 9, 2020).
Is the DNC Once Again Orchestrating the Defeat of a Socialist Candidate? – Marjorie Cohn (TruthOut, March 16, 2020).
New Analysis Proves Attacks on Sanders Supporters Are Part of Establishment Smear Campaign – Ed Sykes (The Canary, March 11, 2020).
Democrats Debate: Neoliberal “Pragmatists” Vs. People Pushing for Systemic Change – The Real News Network (March 16, 2020).
Don’t Blame Progressives: Trump’s 2020 Win Will Be on Centrists – Ted Rall (LA Progressive, May 20, 2020).


Joe Biden
Democrats, You Really Do Not Want To Nominate Joe Biden – Nathan J. Robinson (Current Affairs, March 7, 2020).
Joe Biden, The “Impulse Buy” Candidate – Sonali Kolhatkar (TruthDig, March 6, 2020).
Joe Biden Is “Completely Unelectable,” Says “Bond King” Jeffrey Gundlach – Kevin Stankiewicz (CNBC News, March 5, 2020).
Joe Biden Has Built a Career on Betraying Black Voters – Branko Marcetic (Jacobin, March 5, 2020).
Joe Biden Didn't Just Compromise With Segregationists. He Fought for Their Cause in Schools, Experts Say – Janell Ross (NBC News, June 25, 2019).
Ta-Nehisi Coates: “Joe Biden Shouldn’t Be President”Democracy Now! (June 20, 2019).
Socialists for Biden? – The Power of Corporate Media – Jeff Cohen (BillMoyers.com, March 16, 2020).
Joe Biden's “Woman Pledge” Is a Red Herring – Bridget Read (The Cut, March 16, 2020).
Joe Biden Is Still Lying About His Positions on Social Security Cuts, the Bankruptcy Bill, and More – Akela Lacy (The Intercept, March 17, 2020).
Six Times Biden Described Major Events in His Life That Never Happened – Alana Goodman (Washington Examiner, August 19, 2019).
The Americans Joe Biden Left Behind on the Bankruptcy Bill – Adam Levitin (The American Prospect, January 9, 2020).
House of Cards: How Joe Biden Helped Build a Financial System That’s Great for Delaware Banks and Terrible for the Rest of Us – Tim Murphy (Mother Jones, November/December, 2019).
A Biden-Trump Election Is a Win-Win for Wall Street and a Loss for Our Democracy – Kenneth Peres (Common Dreams, March 18, 2020).
“Zionist” Biden in His Own Words: “Name is Joe Biden, and Everybody Knows I Love Israel” – Ramy Baroud (CounterPunch, March 19, 2020).
Millennials Are the Most Indebted Generation. They Can Thank Joe Biden – Carl Beijer (Jacobin, March 21, 2020).
Joe Biden Will Lose a General Election to Donald Trump – Carl Beijer (Jacobin, March 21, 2020).
Joe Biden, the Cipher Presidential Candidate – Rich Lowry (Politico, March 26, 2020).
Joe Biden Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Senate Aide In 1993 – Alanna Vagianos (The Huffington Post, March 27, 2020).
A Sexual Assault Allegation Against Joe Biden Has Ignited a Firestorm of Controversy – Anna North (Vox, March 27, 2020).
Joe Biden Said He Believes All Women. Does He Believe Tara Reade? – Robby Soave (Reason, March 26, 2020).
The Slow-Motion Disaster That Is Joe Biden – Jeremy Riddle (Extra Newsfeed, March 26, 2020).
Why Did Joe Biden Disappear Right as the Coronavirus Pandemic Exploded? – Branko Marcetic (Jacobin, March 21, 2020).
#WhereIsJoe: Biden Campaign Tries to Stay Relevant Amid Coronavirus – Daniel Strauss and Lauren Gambino (The Guardian, March 28, 2020).
Biden Says Coronavirus’ Impact on Health System Hasn’t Changed His Mind on Single-Payer Health Care – Tucker Higgins (CNBC News, March 30, 2020).
“Poor Omen”: Just 24% of Biden's Supporters “Very Enthusiastic” – Less Than Half of Trump's 53% – Julia Conley (Common Dreams, March 30, 2020).
Why Progressives Lack Enthusiasm for Joe Biden – Ronald W. Dixon (Medium, March 30, 2020).
How “Never Bernie” Voters Threw In With Biden and Changed the Primary – Astead W. Herndon (The New York Times, April 1, 2020).


Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders: We're Trying to Transform This Country, Not Just Beat Trump – MSNBC (March 4, 2020).
As the Economy Weakens, the Case for Bernie Grows Stronger – Eric Levit (New York Magazine, March 9, 2020).
Bernie Sanders Isn’t Like Most Candidates – That’s Why He’s Not Quitting – Joe Garofoli (San Francisco Chronicle, March 11, 2020).
Bernie Sanders Has No Reason to Drop Out. Here's Why – Saib Bilaval (Films for Action, March 12, 2020).
Bernie Sanders: We Are Winning “Ideological” & “Generational” Debate, Now Need to Win “Electability”Democracy Now!, March 12, 2020).
Bernie Sanders Is Not ‘Biden’ TimeDemocracy Now! (March 12, 2020).
The Christian Case for Bernie Sanders – Nyle Fort (Essence, March 12, 2020).
Ironically Enough, Bernie Sanders' Policies Could Have Saved Us From Coronavirus – Bonny Brooks (The Independent, March 11, 2020).
“Now Is the Time for Solidarity”: Bernie Sanders Addresses Health and Economic Crisis Facing US as Coronavirus Spreads – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, March 12, 2020).
Bernie Goes Full FDR in National Address on the Coronavirus Pandemic and Suddenly, All Too Briefly, He’s the President We Need – Dave Lindorff (Nation of Change, March 13, 2020).
The Uncharted Territory of Bernie Sanders and the Movement Behind Him – Steve Fraser (Jacobin, March 17, 2019).
Stop Blaming Young Voters for Not Turning Out for Sanders – Ibram X. Kendi (The Atlantic, March 17, 2020).
Biden Is Winning, But Sanders’s Ideas May End Up Salvaging the Country – William Rivers Pitt (TruthOut, March 18, 2020).
The Sanders Worldview Wins Even as Bernie Loses – Janan Ganesh (The Financial Times, March 18, 2020).
While Mainstream Democrats Fumble, Bernie Sanders Is Modeling a Serious Response to Coronavirus – Natalie Shure (In These Times, March 19, 2019).
Bernie Sanders Is Trying to Rescue America’s Frail Democracy – Thomas Piketty (Jacobin, March 19, 2019).
Bernie 2020: What Went Wrong? – Anis Shivani (Common Dreams, March 21, 2019).
Too Late, Coronavirus Proved Bernie Sanders Was Right. Now We Have to Settle for a Recession Led by Biden – Carli Pierson (The Independent, March 24, 2019).
Why Bernie Sanders Is Still Running for President – Chris Cillizza (CNN, March 25, 2019).
Why Everyone Is Thanking Bernie Sanders Right Now – Even His Critics – Britni de la Cretaz (Yahoo! News, March 26, 2019).
Bernie Sanders Has Less Reason to Leave the Race Now – J.T. Young (The Hill, April 1, 2019).
Reality Has Endorsed Bernie Sanders – Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (The New Yorker, March 30, 2019).
The Coronavirus Proves We Need Bernie Sanders Now More Than Ever – Ronald W. Dixon (Medium, April 3, 2020).


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
“Let Us All Unite!”
Progressive Perspectives on Big Tuesday and Beyond
Marianne Williamson on the Contest Being Played Out by Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders
Something to Think About – March 5, 2020
Bernie Sanders’ “Revolution” is Ultimately One of Values – the Values of Justice, Hope, and Love
Thoughts on the “Sanders Surge”
Thoughts on the Eve of the Iowa Caucuses
The Case for Bernie Sanders
Progressive Perspectives on Joe Biden's Presidential Run
Beto, Biden and Buttigieg: “Empty Suits and Poll-Tested Brands”
Quote of the Day – September 7, 2017
Quote of the Day – January 21, 2017
Quote of the Day – November 9, 2016
Progressive Perspectives on the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump
Carrying It On
Hope, History, and Bernie Sanders


Sunday, March 22, 2020

Out and About – Winter 2019-2020


Well, the spring equinox has been and gone. . . . High time, then, to take a look back over the recently ended winter in Minnesota. . . . And what a winter it was!

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 11 years – in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 . . . and now into 2020.

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

A definite highlight for me this past winter was seeing and hearing Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speak at a campaign event in downtown St. Paul on Monday, March 2, 2020 (opening image).

Before she suspended her campaign, author Marianne Williamson was another presidential candidate I supported. I wore my "Marianne 2020 – Department of Peace" jacket to Bernie's rally as the establishment of such a department is something I hope he'd consider if elected president. Marianne officially endorsed Bernie on February 23.

Something like 8,000 people attended Bernie's March 2 event in St. Paul. I was with several hundred in the overflow space of the venue, and before he delivered his speech in the main auditorium, Bernie, accompanied by his wife Jane O'Meara Sanders, came and spoke to us for about fifteen minutes. I'm sure there's no way I would have been as close to Bernie as I was if I had been part of the main crowd inside!

For more images and commentary on Bernie Sanders' March 2 event in St. Paul, click here.





Above: Sitting at right with friends at a Christmas Day 2019 celebration. From left: John, George, Ian, Joan, Matt, and Zach.



Right: With my friend Deandre – Christmas Eve 2019.







Above: I do love me some Christmas baubles!



Above: My friends Matt and Joan.



Above: A Christmas portrait of my friend Deandre.



Above: Celebrating my friend Adnan's birthday (and his return from Somaliland) – December 27, 2019.



Above and left: On Sunday, January 5, 2020 I joined with around 200 other people in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis to rally and march against U.S. military intervention in Iraq and the growing danger of a U.S. war on Iran.

For more images and commentary on this rally and the events that precipitated it,click here.

For the January 7 statement from Veterans for Peace condemning any and all U.S. aggression towards Iran, click here.



Above: With friends (from left) Mary, Brigid, Kathleen, Darlene, and (at far right) Tom – January 10, 2020.




Right: With my buddy Raul – January 7, 2020.



Above: With friends Rick and Brian – January 10, 2020.



My friends Joan and Matt hosted the tenth Queer Movie Night on Sunday, January 26, 2020.

Pictured above (from left): me, Joan, Jim, Brent, Omar, and Daniel.

The film that Joan and Matt chose for us to watch and discuss was Between the Shades, a 2017 documentary by filmmaker Jill Salvino. In this film, Salvino interviews a diverse group of individuals in a quest to put faces to the letters that make up the LGBTQI community. The film also explores how these letters have evolved.

For more about our Queer Movie Night series, click here.



Above: Friends (from left) Pete, Jeffrey, John, and Jim – January 26, 2020.



Above: At left with (from left) Pete, Jeffrey, and Brent – Puerto Vallarta, Sunday, February 2, 2020.

My friend Brent and I flew down to the beautiful resort town of Puerto Vallarta, on Mexico's Pacific coast, early Sunday morning, February 2. Here we stayed for four days with our mutual friends Pete and Jeffrey, and Pete's parents Gary and Ruth, in a condominium in the Molina Del Agua complex, located in the Old Town of Puerto Vallarta. Throughout the duration of our stay the weather was unseasonable crappy – overcast, rainy and cool. But we definitely made the most of our time in this beautiful place.





Above: I call this my Puerto Vallarta portrait! (With thanks to my friend Pete.)

For more images and commentary on my time in Puerto Vallarta, click here, here and here.



Above: Back in Minneapolis, where my mate Deandre helped me set up my new smart TV on the evening of February 11, 2020.



Above: A visit to the Prayer Tree – Saturday, March 7, 2020.



Above: The winter view from my skylight – January 22, 2020. For more images of winter, click here.



Above: In the last weeks of winter 2020, events began unfolding across the globe that I think it's fair to say, are unprecedented in living memory. As I write, the coronavirus pandemic continues, as does panic buying by some of certain goods and products.

It's a strange and stressful time, to be sure, as whole cities and even countries impose lockdowns in an effort to slow the spread of infection and spare health care systems from being overwhelmed.

Yes, these are bleak and troubling days in many ways.

But there is also a lot of inspiring and hopeful energy being generated and actions being taken in response to this crisis. To see what I mean, click here and here.

And in the challenging weeks and months ahead, may we all stay safe, hopeful, and lovingly-connected with one another!


NEXT: Spring 2020


Winter 2019-2020 Wild Reed posts of note:
Winter Solstice Blessing
The Joy of Christmas
Finn and Poe Revisited
Ben Ehrenreich on the Global Uprisings Against Neoliberalism
Let Us Be the Wise Ones They're Waiting For
In Australia, “the Land As We Know It Is No More”
Saying Farewell to 2019 in a Spirit of Gratitude
A Blessing for the New Year
Saying “No” to War on Iran
The Case for Bernie Sanders
“A Beautiful Message, So Full of Greatness”
Mistwalking
Remembering Patrice Lumumba
Moderates, Radicals, and MLK
Holy Encounters Where Two Worlds Meet
Winter . . . Within and Beyond
D’Angelo’s Voodoo, 20 Years On
A Prayer for the Present Moment
Quotes of Note Regarding the Senate’s Impeachment Trial of President Trump
Thoughts on the Eve of the Iowa Caucuses
Winter Round-Up
Puerto Vallarta – Part I | Part II | Part III
Thoughts on the “Sanders Surge”
George Yancy on the “Unspoken Reality of Death”
Carl Anderson: On and On
Bernie Sanders and the Corporate Media
Carl Anderson and The Black Pearl
“I Learned So Much From the Experience”: Marianne Williamson on Her Presidential Bid
Happy Birthday, Buffy!
Carl Anderson in The Color Purple
“It's Time to Take a Stand”: Marianne Williamson Endorses Bernie Sanders for President
Carl Anderson: “Let the Music Play!”
The Mysticism of Trees
Interiors
Bernie Sanders’ “Revolution” is Ultimately One of Values – the Values of Justice, Hope, and Love
Marianne Williamson on the Contest Being Played Out by Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders
An Infectious Disease Specialist Weighs-in on Covid-19
Progressive Perspectives on Big Tuesday and Beyond
A Prayer in Times of a Pandemic
Hope and Beauty in the Midst of the Global Coronavirus Pandemic
“Let Us All Unite!”

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Out and About – Autumn 2019
Out and About – Spring & Summer 2019
Out and About – Winter 2018-2019

Images: Michael J. Bayly.


Saturday, March 21, 2020

When Spring Returns . . .



. . . a festival of life abounds


This past Thursday (March 19) 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.

Given all that's going on in the world, especially in terms of the coronavirus pandemic, it seems all the more vital to be reminded of and celebrate the return of spring and all the hopeful things it signifies, both in nature and in our hearts.

For as my friend Andrea so beautifully writes: “When it seems as if nothing is the same, that everything is changing, as if there is no solid ground beneath you, take a deeper look. The birds are coming back to their summer homes, the lake ice is melting, the sun continues to rise and set in a predicable rhythm of grace. Regular life is still happening. Look beyond your (very normal) fear into the depths of your own heart. There you find stability. In that place, find peace. See grace. And out of THAT heart space of stability, peace and grace . . . live.”

And so in this spirit of invitation to live from the heart space of stability, peace and grace, I celebrate the return of spring today by sharing an excerpt from Joyce Rupp and Marcrina Wiederkehr's wonderful book, The Circle of Life: The Heart's Journey Through the Seasons. Accompanying this excerpt are images of dancer Calvin Royal III, photographed by Ken Browar and Deborah Ory. Enjoy!


When the season of spring returns to the land, a festival of life and light abounds. Suddenly, there are longer days of sunlight, earlier dawns, later sunsets. Earth sails along in her faithful rotation. With each cycle, she leans in closer to the light and heat of the life-giving sun. What once appeared dead begins to stir. Each wintered thing wakes up, raises its drowsy head, and stiffs the air to confirm the truth of spring's arrival. The slow pace of winter is left behind and there is a surge of invigorating activity for humans, creatures, and vegetation. . . . Vibrancy and fresh beginnings of growth are what dominate spring. These lively energies awaken and move through the heart of creation.

The human spirit also experiences seasons of springtime. The periods of depression and discouragement that visit our inner landscape do not last forever. Like walls of sunlight breaking through storm clouds, currents of hope flow through the dark walls of despondency. Blessings arise as new growth takes place.

. . . In the heart's springtime, the inner self awakens. Seeds of growth, hidden in the midst of winter's bleakness, germinate and sprout. That which has been longed for and greatly desired is gradually brought forth and heralded with gladness. Visions, dreams, and yearnings for the future unfold. The gray moods, the frozen love, the sorrow and grief, the overwhelming angst, the dread and depression, all this slowly slips away as trust and enthusiasm rejuvenate the wintered spirit. Like the springtime land, so the inner land is thawed and re-energized. A sense of loving and being loved warms the interior places that were cold and dormant in wintertime.

The emotional clutter and the old debris that prevented clear thinking are cleansed. Spaciousness and openness expand like the wings of a great swan. Inner freedom is discovered. Confidence returns. Creative endeavors begin to emerge. Like the songbirds chirping as they return from the south, the heart begins to sing again.

. . . In this season of the soul, there is awe and wonder at the changes taking place. Spring generates surprise, delight, unmitigated joy, and newly found optimism. Now is the time to enjoy what is emerging from within, to savor the taste of hope, and to trust in what the future promises. It is the time to believe in growth and to give oneself to it wholeheartedly.

– Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr
From The Circle of Life: The Heart's Journey Through the Seasons
Sorin Books, 2005
pp. 65-67





See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Day Both Holy and Magical
Following the Footprints of Spring
O Dancer of Creation
Spring: Truly the Season for Joy and Hope
Welcoming the Return of Spring (2018)
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
Green Destiny
In the Footsteps of Spring

Images: Calvin Royal III, photographed by Ken Browar and Deborah Ory.