Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer

 The porch is a great place to just sit on hot summer days.
Photo Credit: Roger Rhinehart

The first time I heard the phrase, "Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer," I wasn't sure why summer days would be called "lazy," when everywhere there is activity, especially if you live by a river, lake, or the ocean.  But, such are the ideas of a young person.

Now as I travel through my 59th summer, I realize that when the temperatures reach over 90 degrees, the body just doesn't want to work.  My mind is saying, "Go weed the garden, then cut the shrubs, then write, then..." but my body is saying, "Whoa there!  We're not doing anything but sit in front of the fan!"

All kidding aside, when the temperatures get this high, I think of the thousands of people who have no fan, no relief from the heat.  I think of people who have not experienced high temperatures before and do not know that they must stay hydrated. My heart goes out to the babies, who inevitably teeth at this time of year...nothing makes them happy, poor dears.  And, I remember being nine and a half months pregnant during the hottest summer the Upper Peninsula of Michigan had up to that time.

Fortunately, this too shall pass.  In a few months, we will be shocked at how cold it has gotten.  The seasons change...and each has its beauty and glory.

As you pass through these hazy, lazy days, may you find respite from the heat.  May your body be quenched by cold, clear water and your heart be quenched by those you love.


Friday, July 12, 2013


Amid the background noise of lawn mowers and traffic, I am being serenaded by the birds.  Their song is so breathtaking.  I must pause in my work and listen.

What is it about listening to birdsong that relaxes us?  I can be in total frantic mode, yet, if I stop to listen to the birds, my entire being relaxes.  I become calm, centered and at peace.

Could it be that these small winged beings are the Divine's messengers?  Is this, or could this be where humans got the idea for angels?

I don't know the answers, but I do know that when I stop...when I open my ears and heart to listen, something happens deep inside that brings me back to center...brings peace.

May you hear the birdsong that surrounds you and may it bring you peace, also.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Freedom and Justice for All

Last year, I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the swearing in of 50 new Americans.  This year, I will once again participate in this inspirational process as people from around the world stand before a local judge and promise to take on the responsibilities that many of us never think about.  

The oath that each new citizen says is:

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I 
  • absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; 
  • that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic;
  • that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; 
  • that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; 
  • that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; 
  • that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; 
  • and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."

Last year, I wrote that perhaps it should be mandatory for all students, before graduating from high school, to raise their hands to pledge to protect and uphold the freedom we enjoy before receiving their diplomas.  Perhaps, this would help to make them more mindful citizens.  Citizens that got out and voted. Citizens that realized that their voices counted.  Citizens that stood up for what was right, rather than what was popular.

Being "American" isn't about wearing red, white and blue, or tooling around in a truck decked out in flags, or even recognizing the sacrifices of others.  Being an American is witnessing and celebrating the millions of acts of courage, patriotism, compassion and creativity that are performed daily.  Being an American is realizing that we are a Nation great because of its diversity; that we do not have to be the same to love this country or each other.  Being an American is seeing the pain and suffering caused by oppression and making a stand against it, regardless of whether it occurs in the bedroom, the boardroom, another country or within the very walls of Congress. 

As we celebrate this July 4th, may we begin the day in thanksgiving for all those who came before us, sacrificing to make this country great.  May we continue through our day remembering that hard-work, creativity, courage, trust, and compassion are the foundations of our Nation.